Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Blog, My Reviews, My Experience, My Opinion

Yesterday, I was made aware of an ABC News internet article entitled, "Parenting Blogs May Be Held Liable for Product Reviews".

In light of that article, I want to make sure my readers understand the intent of my blog.

One of my children is a 9-year-old girl who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum just after her second birthday. We began intervening a few months before the official diagnosis.

Early intervention is expensive. We paid for most of it out of pocket, because insurance covers very little and our public school district offered a measley 2.5 hours a WEEK in group intervention. Even when we used the public school system for a child on the autism spectrum, we were still purchasing products to use at home in order to supplement what the school system was doing.

I never thought to look at resources marketed to homeschoolers until I withdrew my daughter from public school.

When I did begin to consider homeschooling resources, I discovered, to my delight, that there is a resource for pretty much every need. In fact, there are so many resources, I felt overwhelmed. At the same time, I was thrilled to see that many of the products were similar to more expensive products sold in catalogs of products marketed to individuals who work with people with special needs.

Enter TOS Homeschool Crew. A focus group. Viral marketing. In order to participate, I agreed to accept free products to use at home with my daughter and write an accurate review of the product and my experience (which are not always positive) for a medium like a blog. When I applied to be a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I applied with two goals in mind. One was to figure out how to teach my own daughter and to do it affordably. The other was to share what I was given with others in a way that they could see resources that are available and maybe find something that works for them, too.

The ABC article makes a point about word-of-mouth marketing being very effective. They're right. I'll buy a product on the recommendation of another parent before I'll buy it based upon a TV commercial or magazine ad.

Families who have children with special needs like autism have a unique and unspoken bond. We all spend a lot of money out of pocket on therapies and intervention. If we find a product that is AWESOME, we TELL one another about it! And I trust another parent's recommendation before the recommendation of a professional or a company or vendor.

From the beginning of t his blog, I have been very clear about which reviews are about products I bought and which reviews are about products I was given as part of the Crew. One *is* a form of advertising. One is not.

To be perfectly clear: Reviews marked "A TOS Homeschool Crew Review" (or something similar) are a form of advertisement because they are products that I accepted (free of charge) in order to use at home and review on my blog.

My motive is not to sell products for a vendor, but to introduce families to products, to tell the story of how we were or were not able to use them, and to give families a starting point for research. If the product works for us, I try to explain why and how -- I want the reader to get a sense of whether it is worth buying for the reader's individual situation.

If the company offering a product for review has free samples, I always share that information, and I expect that interested readers will try the free samples before they buy. I expect readers to read my opinion, my experience, and seek out other opinions and experiences. You as a reader have the obligation to check out for yourself anything I write about a product before buying that product for your family.

My pocketbook is not affected if you buy a product that I have reviewed. I receive no monetary compensation for my reviews, nor any monetary compensation for products that folks buy after they've read one of my reviews. I have no financial interest in your purchasing products that I've been given to review.

When my daughter and I began homeschooling, I could not find a resource like my blog, and I wanted to be that resource for other families.

I hope that's exactly what I'm doing.

HERE is my disclosure policy.

1 comment:

The Glasers said...

Yes, what would we do without the nanny state thinking for us for our own good? Don't believe me? Check at these warning labels!

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