Jerri Ann Reason Mom-E-Centric Blogger An Interview
Jerri Ann Reason is a woman who blogs and blogs. She isn’t afraid to share the spotlight either and was happy to recommend lots of other bloggers.
Tell me about your Blog –
Amazingly enough, I’ve narrowed my blogging down to two main blogs, Mom~E~Centric and Education Uncensored (as I proof read this, I realized, I have one more, Don’t Eat That, well, one more if you don’t count my media blog Jerri Ann Reason and my two blogs that I keep up just for paid posts, Hey! A girl’s gotta eat!). Previously I was spread extremely thin trying to write six, eight and sometimes 10 blogs. Circumstances changed and now I am able to focus on the subjects that are most important to me, my children, my husband, our family on Mom~E~Centric and educating children, educating adults and a bit of parent education on Education Uncensored. I have a B.S. in Education and a M.A. in Counseling. Over the years I’ve tried to write about the various topics on different blogs, now, I’m focused on these two…I mean three….mostly.
What was your first blog?
My first blog wasn’t actually a blog. It was a editorial spot that served the same purpose as a blog, I wrote for iParenting. That began in 1999 and I moved to the blog format several years later. My first true blog was known as A Crack ‘n Life. That blog rarely gets any action now. It is dedicated to Michelle Obama and I hope to have more time in the New Year to resurrect that one.
What is the biggest tip you would give to product reviewers?
The first person I met at a blogging conference that I didn’t read her blog or tweet with her was Lori Falcon. When someone asked her how to go about getting products to review, her answer was “Just ask”. I took those 2 words and went back to my room that night. Some of the ladies had this awesome product they had received to ‘pimp out’ at that conference and I wanted one. So, I dug through the website, found a contact and asked. By morning, I had an email from that company asking what color did I want and where they should ship it. From that minute on, I have been asking for any and everything I want before I go purchase it from the store.
As for actually writing the product reviews, remain positive yet honest. No matter what the product is, if I don’t like it, I can usually find someone who does. For instance, I received some cereal once that I really didn’t like at all. I asked several others to taste it until someone said “yummy”. I gave them the box of cereal and then wrote my review stating that I wasn’t fond of the cereal at all but after several taste testers, I found someone who liked it. So, I was honest that my family didn’t like the cereal but that everyone has their own likes and dislikes. It must have worked, that company still sends me other cereals to try out.
Another example is one where I was offered an online service to try. And, I tried it. And no matter what I did, I simply couldn’t even get the service to work properly. So, I contacted the person who asked me to do the review. The next thing I know I was talking to the technical consultant for that site. Still, even with his help, we could not make it work on my computer or phone. So, I wrote my review stating that I never managed to be able to use the service but they had good technical support for those who might want to try it. I wasn’t expecting to get paid for doing that review because I never actually used the product. As it turned out, I was flipping through email one day and saw an email that said “Thanks for not trying our product”. I kind of chuckled as I opened the email to see what was inside. And I was indeed paid. See, the thing is, I was paid to review a product. And the fact that I put my time and energy into the review process was still taken into account by this company and I was paid. I wasn’t paid because I said something nice about their product. I was paid for the time I invested trying to use the product.
In all honestly, I think that’s where outsiders are confused. I am a working woman. The fact that I am paid to review products doesn’t mean I am paid to receive the product. Heck, anyone can open the door for the UPS guy. But my time is valuable. And, that was one of my first revelations that I deserve to be paid for my work and if that payment comes in terms of product, cash, public relations (a mention of my blog on someone else’s blog), gift cards or speaking engagements, the fact is, my time is valuable. I’m not sure when or where the notion came about that what we (product review bloggers) do is for freebies. I’ve only received two items that were out of my normal purchasing habits. My washer and dryer worked and were only a few years old so obviously I wouldn’t have purchased new ones at the time I received them. Would I now purchase this brand if I had to go buy some? Absolutely, I just need a maid now too. The other was for a product that I have used the heck out of but would not necessarily have purchased it at the time I received it to review. It was for a stationary vacuum called Vroom. So, no I wouldn’t have purchased one but hindsight…that thing is awesome.
Are you contacted by advertisers or do you contact them or both?
I’ve read other interviews and it seems that I may be the dissenting voice here. Various online sites do contact me about various products but for the most part, I am constantly looking for advertisers for products that my family actually uses. A big portion of what I receive also goes to my son’s school. As it is, our teachers did not receive any supply money this year. So, I made it my focus this school year to help them in any way I can. I’ve worked with OfficeMax to get supplies to our teachers, I’ve worked with Wal-Mart with donations and received gift cards for the teachers and I’ve approached online sites that the teachers can use in the classroom.
At the first PTO meeting, one of the teachers stood up and asked the PTO to purchase a subscription to an online site that they used frequently in their classroom. They wanted one subscription and it was $150. The PTO agreed to pay for it. After the meeting, I asked the PTO to wait about paying for that until I could see if I could help them. All I did was asked and in a matter of a week, they had 3 subscriptions instead of 1 and now 3 grades use the site instead of one. Anything I can do in the name of education, I will do. I’ll take any kind of heat from anyone that wants to put it on me for taking products in exchange for review when the benefactor of the product is children and educators. Bring it on! All that to say, I think I probably contact about 70% of the advertisers that I work with and the other 30% comes from various PR companies.
What is your favorite product that you have reviewed?
This is a tough one. First of all, I would be crazy not to mention how awesome my washer and dryer are. I was on the test team and was suppose to receive a dishwasher, which I needed really bad. My husband has this notion of hot-wiring our broken dishwasher so I was excited. However, when I found out that the dishwasher team had the option of choosing a different appliance(s), I quickly jumped for the washer and dryer. The best part of the washer and dryer is the efficiency that they provide. The worst part? My mom has always helped around my house and doing laundry was something she basically handled exclusively. She refuses to use my new appliances because it has “too many buttons”.
Another specialty involving the appliances came as I was about to put my old appliances in storage. My cousin asked if he could buy them from me to give to his neighbors. He told the story of a family of 7, living in a two- bedroom mobile home, the only working person made $7 an hour and they didn’t even have a washer and dryer. It was an easy decision. I gave my old ones to that family. My cousin encouraged me to let him pay for them. I couldn’t accept it. Giving just did seem like good Karma considering the new ones had been given to me. You can read the whole story Frigidaire – I have photos but first…
As for other favorites….definitely my Vroom, my Solobags Laptop bag and Otterbox. And, in reality, I could go on for days. My Upside Down Christmas Tree ranks right up there at the top of the favorites lists too.
What do advertisers do that you wish they wouldn’t/ do that you like?
I’ve been doing this “gig” for 10 years. I’ve seen it all, or at least I think I’ve seen it all. My only complaint would be that the rich just get richer and the poor just never seem to get anything. It’s just natural that companies want to advertise on sites with larger readership and rarely are the products a variable related to need. That’s why I say, this is work, I am a working woman and I deserve to be paid for what I do. Regardless of how I am paid, the details are my personal business, the fact is, products aren’t distributed based soly on someone’s need or desire for a specific product. When I look at the situations, in case of the appliances for instance, I honestly don’t know how I would have chosen the receipients myself.
What do bloggers do that you wish they wouldn’t/do that you like?
Honestly, I wish bloggers would be more loving. It’s easy to sit back and judge what others are doing, what they are blogging about and how they are handling success (or failure). It’s an entirely different idea to be in the rat race every day, taking the good with the bad and letting it go. I think women by nature are more critical of other women, jealous of other people and do so usually as a defense mechanism. But, honestly, when did everyone quit reading Emily Post’s Guidelines for Etiquette?
What advertiser would you like to work with given a chance?
Naturally my first response is a car or travel company. But the truth is, my dorkiness comes full circle when I say that I’d love the opportunity to review products that I can turn over to my son’s school (much like I do any books I review that are age appropriate). So many people (in general) have the philosophy to look out for number one. My philosophy is more about looking out for my children. I’ve had my go at the world. And my parents provided me with excellent skills to do it. I just want to make sure that my children have the best education, the best friendships, the best of the best, no matter what it is. And, if there is a company out there willing to work with me and the teachers around me, I’m more than happy to comply with all the restrictions in the world.
Where do you see growth in the blogging field?
Honestly, I’ve seen the blogging field go full circle. I started writing for an online group site, submitting content and having the online sites handle the rest. From there, everyone seemed to turn their head at the thought of group sites and everyone wanted to have their own site and be responsible for the design as well as the publications. Now, we’ve made the turn and writers are returning to the editorial articles submitted to group sites where someone else handles the specifics. I am an excellent example of this. I wrote for iparenting for several years, then, I embraced the phrase “Blogging is the New Black”. That lasted several years. Now, look at group sites like Type A Mom and Collective Bias, Parenting.com (all of which are sites you can find my work) and more. They get a bulk of their material from bloggers just like you and I. You don’t have to look far, ABC.com, USAToday.com, Lifetime.com and the list goes on.
So as for growth, we are obviously on the verge of another big turn. Many bloggers handle all of their site specifics, the coding, the photos, the background and writing post-dating of articles. I think sites like Twitter and Whrrl have taken some of the words out of our mouths. And my thought is that before long, the more popular bloggers are going to return to writing for the larger companies and individual blogs may very well turn into nothing more than Twitter Feed or in Whrrl terms “Footstream”. That doesn’t mean I like the idea, that just means that’s what I foresee happening.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
LOL! This is a tough one. I’m very transparent online. The only subject that I haven’t broached has been sex. I’ve ruined family relationships because I thought no one I knew could possibly be reading my blog, I’ve had stalkers threaten to burn my house down because again, I had no clue that anyone was aware of my site. My blogs are a fairly open, so to figure out something that no one knows……..that might slip into that one unacceptable topic…and I think I will keep that one piece of my life to myself.
What’s your favorite book?
I find this one a bit ironic too. I loved to read when I was younger. Then, without realizing, all my reading was done online. I don’t read the newspaper because who wants to get that nasty ink on your hands when you can just click and read? I don’t read magazines because the only time I read them in the first place was in the bathroom and with 2 small children, that’s not even possible. And then, I met Jen Lancaster. She spoke at a conference and instantly I knew she had the humor that I kept buried inside my gut. She was able to say (write) the things that I often thought but didn’t say (write) because living in the Bible Belt just meant it was unacceptable. (I bought three of her books right then.) My own mother read about 3 pages in one of her books and hurled it at me declaring “this sounds like something you wrote”. I couldn’t be more proud of that statement. So, my favorite book? Bright Lights, Big Ass. There I said it. My mother disinherited me because I used one of “those” words in print. Ahhh the nerve of me, this truly is the Bible Belt when you can’t say a$$. It’s a tough life here in the south.
What is on your iPod?
As in music? I’m not a music person at all. When it comes to music, I definitely live in my youth and by the radio. The 80’s, the early 90’s and maybe some late 70’s. Just enough of the old stuff to drive my husband nuts. My father died when I was 19 and those songs from the 70’s and 80’s remind me of him . I embrace those years with a big heart.
What are your contact details?
jareason@(nospam)gmail.comRemove the nospam
Education Uncensored (www.educatinouncensored.com)
Jerri Ann Reason (www.jerriannreason.info)
Don’t Eat That (www.donteatthat.net)
Facebook: Jerri Ann Head Reason
LinkedIn Jerri Ann Reason
Beyond Eleven Moms
Mom Bloggers – jareason
Twitter: The_Jerri_Ann (That name is iconic as I don’t actually know another person named Jerri Ann so I thought it would be easy. However, the shock of finding that someone beat me to that name was brutal. I even offered to pay her for the name, I was serious. When she refused, I decided if Shaq could be The_Shaq, then I could certainly be The_Jerri_Ann. (Don’t laugh where I can hear you ok?)
What events do you attend?
I broke my leg while tweeting (I know you’ve all heard that story a hundred times) and walking at the first conference I ever attended. It was in Miami and I was walking to day one. That was The Social Networking Conference that I fit in because it was sponsored by a group of online dating company’s. I met my husband online and thus I had a story to tell. From there I was in a cast for 7. 5 months but I managed to get to Blissdom, Mom 2.0 Summit and Blogher along with the Florida Conference for Women and a Mashable Event in Atlanta.
In 2010, my goals are clearly the same but since I didn’t do SXSW or BWE due to the amount of walking it required (and I did have a cast on my leg), I definitely hope to get to those this year too. And, how could I forget, I spoke at WordCamp Birmingham, how could I forget that? The truth is, anywhere there are people meeting and greeting, I want to be there.
How do you prefer to communicate?
Email, email, email, instant messaging, twitter, text messages, phone (and being such a jabber jaws, it’s quite amusing that now I prefer any method of conversation over the phone)
Who would you recommend, and why?
This one is easier for me than most. Most of the people that I profess to “know” hide behind a computer screen anyway, so here goes…. I am recommending others based primarily on what the bloggers have allowed me to know about them.
My husband, Boy Genius as he is known on my blog, and his own blog is just getting started. His blog is Gadget Magnet. The man is a super genius and it is awesome.
John Andrews Collective Bias
Ted Rubin of e.l.f
Rebecca Weeks-Watson from Divine Caroline and Real Girls Media
Buck Rogers from Buck Daddy
Jenny, The Bloggess
Katja Presnal Skimbaco Lifestyle
Lori Falcon, A Cowboy’s Wife (where would I be had I not been introduced to this lady?)
Beth Davis, The Plus Size Mommy
Kim Janocko, Crafty Mommy of 4
Carole Hicks, OH Social Media
I could go on forever here….
Linda Sellers, from Short Pump Preppy (she introduced me to Lori Falcon)
Esther Brady-Crawford who allowed me to snore her right out of a peaceful nights sleep
Yvonne from Joy Unexpected
I decided to throw in 2 speakers that were very popular and I would go almost anywhere to hear them speak again. Guy Kawasawki spoke at Mom 2.0 Summit and Matt Mullenweg spoke at WordCamp Birmingham. If one of these guys are on the agenda, get me there pronto! Honestly, do you want me list everyone? I’ll stop there….maybe Ok, that’s enough, I guess I should hush now, but I have like 300 blogs in my feed reader so choosing just a few is really hard.
What is one thing people can do for you?
Right now, if I had a maid that would solve a majority of my problems. Anyone just dying to send over a good cleaning service would be met with great applause. I have dishes piled up, laundry piled up and mounds of Christmas stuff (Toys R Us really did throw up in my house) just waiting on someone (me of course) to organize and re-arrange. Other than that, I will be the first to say that I’d take a shameless plug from some of the bigger bloggers any day. I have no humility anymore. However, the biggest thing someone could do for me right now would be to help me put away enough money to fund my children’s college education. I told you, I’m an educator and it runs really deep, one might say I am obsessed.