followers…

(update: so, yes there is a PR thing about how many followers you have. and i’m not dissing everyone who has the follower widget. It has its legitimate purposes. What irks me is when I see all these blogs doing follower pushs and events, and I have to wonder how many of those followers are actually reading – even just a little.

But then, it’s dastardly hard to unfollow a blog, it seems….)

It’s all about the followers, and other uglies…

K. First, blog giveaways is very much just a chance game. And to even your odds, make your chances of winning high. That means twitter. And blogging about giveaways. And finding smaller blogs with fewer entries. If you want higher chances of winning, don’t follow big blogs with millions of followers. The downside to this is that you’re not entering to win a trampoline or a camcorder. 😛

Second, once you’ve been following giveaway blogs for a month or more… or less, you are going to start thinking, “Why don’t I do this? I keep trying to win a fill-in-the-blank. I could just start my own giveaway blog and get it that way. And other cool stuff. That would be awesome.” Just from the few months I’ve been here, it seems giveaway blogs have. hm. quadrupled? … you know you’re an old hand whenever you see a UPrinting review/giveaway and go, “yup, they’re trying to become a giveaway blog”.

Giveaways are an instant ticket to getting your blog noticed. And you have to get your blog noticed to get giveaways. So it becomes a fun, or vicious, cycle.

I guess over in the blog PR world, there must be something about “how many google friends do you have?”. It’s what every blog wants.  A leveling game. A status symbol, too. Either that or it’s a fuzzy-feeling widget.

Then there’s captcha. I swear. Every blogger who has multiple entries should try out their blog themselves. My pet peeve in giveaways is when you fill out the form, press enter, and then the whole page reloads (with all those hyperlinks) then asks you to fill in the captcha. It’s not as bad now, but when we were on a weaker connection, wherever my hubby was playing something online, I could only load one page at a time lest I kill his character…So….

enter “google friend and i like this item best. [email addy]”

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

enter captcha.

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

enter “email subscriber entry #1 [email addy]”

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

enter captcha.

click submit.

wait for page to reload.

mmk… they have 3 extra entries for email subscribers, an extra entry for rss readers, another for networked blogs. another for twitter follower. another for following the sponsor’s twitter. two for liking the sponsor on facebook. three for liking them on facebook. five for having their button on your blog. and a tweet. At least.

It gets old. Fast.

If you have to do captcha, either have it on the same page, or do a pop-up window for comments. Please. (And for those who have changed it…. Thank you!)

And while I’m complaining about giveaway entries… are they really serious that you’ll be disqualified if you enter your email address “emailaddy at yahoo dot com” instead of “emailaddy at yahoo.com” … um, seriously? at/dot is the standard. Be nice.

And talking about entering your email address…. I didn’t like entering mine at first, but soon I didn’t care anymore as long as I had it in the at/dot format, but I know it bugs some people. So kudos to those who are sensitive to that and have done google docs, disqus, or moved to wordpress.

But if you move to wordpress, don’t keep your multiple entries. It gets even more agonizing over there with the “You are commenting too fast, please slow down.” page.

And don’t you dare say, “I’m not going to email the winners, I just don’t have time. I’ll just put up a post with the winners and they have 48 hours to claim their prize.”  If you don’t have time to email winners, don’t run a giveaway blog. Or do less giveaways. Or whatever.

And if you extend a giveaway, post a blogpost explaining why. Not enough entries? That’s ok. Going on vacation? Sure! But tell people. No one likes an extended giveaway without notice. And one cut short even less.

Which comes into a big issue. Is it about you and your blog, or about your followers and your sponsors? It shows more than you realize.

And then there’s the ethical issue… What do you do with all that stuff that you end up not wanting? Give it away? Donate it? Do a giveaway (haven’t seen that yet, but it would rock)? Or sell it?  There’s this one blog I once followed… ran a diaper event. Towards the end of it they said they found their favorite diaper. So they decided to sell the diapers they reviewed at a reasonable price (lower end of used, $8-12) to their readers via email, first come, first served. Someone bought the whole lot just before I emailed (I had just started cloth diapering and needed diapers). The deal fell through and then they sold them a different way, directly on their blog at a higher price ($12-18, if I recall). Now they’re planning to do another diaper event. Including reviewing some of the diapers they reviewed, then sold, the first time around. What the heck? At the same time they were pushing to, what was it, 1000 followers? That’s the type of blog that needs to go on a thumbs-down giveaway blog list.

But there is no such list. Wish there was. It would benefit followers and sponsors. And be so much more valuable to bloggers than being #1 on Top Mommy Blogs.

Then there’s that whole no-contact or no-show deal. I’ve just not bothered stressing over it, even though I’ve never seen many of the prizes I “won”…

Then there’s the other side of the fence. The entrants. Yes, I was one of the fly-by giveaway followers. I wouldn’t look at your Wordless Wednesday post. I won’t comment on your personal posts. Why? Straight up, I was there for the giveaways. Is that selfish of me? Sometimes. But at the same time, if you write well, I’m going to start noticing and reading and following- not for the giveaways but for your blog. So if you want blog readers, write good! If you want giveaway followers, do great giveaways. If you want both, do both well and kudos if you do. If you don’t, it’s your fault – do one or the other.

Oh, and if someone comments or queries on a blog comment… don’t answer there and assume they’ll see it. Email them back. Or answer in another blogpost.

“You may tweet once daily” is pretty common and very nice. “You may tweet once per hour” is fun, but time-consuming. “You may twice twice a day”, “three times”, “up to five times”… is frankly kinda frustrating, because I’m going to forget which blog giveaway is which. Unless you are running a large event with several giveaways at a time. Then it’s fun. 😉

“Please vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs” — please state whether this is a one-time entry, or once per day. And it helps to assure people that one vote will give an entry into each giveaway on your blog, not just one. Unless you’re stingy and say so.

And don’t do giveaways for something you haven’t reviewed. That’s just scary and stingy. I’ll be afraid of the sponsor if you’ve had no personal experience with their product.

Speaking of reviews… do one! C’mon, you’re getting “paid” to do it, so do it. Tell me about the product, not just that you liked it, or repeating what the sponsor has on their own website. And 5 out of 5 stars for every review is unhelpful. You are a reviewer. Be one.

And finally, if a winner doesn’t get a prize, help them. At the very least, communicate! Don’t avoid their emails and tweets and direct messages and facebook comments.  Word gets around… and it won’t be long before there is some kind of giveaway blog rating system. So focus on making a *good* giveaway blog, not just a mega big one. Because I think that’ll come back to bite you.

It’s an interesting, new, and rapidly growing world, giveaway blogs, and something I’m intrigued to watch unfold.

From a distance.

Goodbye big ole giveaway blogging world… hello, friends.

I don’t know how other mamas do it with more than one kid.  I barely can keep up with the essentials of life *and* keep up with blogs and giveaways. I’ve won some really cool stuff, found some neat blogs, learned a lot, found some awesome friends, and discovered favorite products and shops that I’m sure to recommend and return to. But I can’t do anything else in a day besides eat, sleep, clean, take care of baby, play with hubby, and keep up with giveaways and the cloth diapering world. There is another project, another community that has been waiting for me, and it’s time to spend my day doing what God has told me to do. My diaper stash is complete at 25 pockets and 4 covers with misc prefolds & inserts…. I know what I like, I have a good stash, and even though there’s brands and types I want to try, and I want more of my favorites… I know this delightful madness doesn’t stop at 40, 50, or 60 diapers. 😉

I’ve learned a lot and plan to do another blogpost soon with rants and tips about giveaways and blogs. But meanwhile, I’m ending subscriptions and clearing out my reader. It’s soo nice to be able to open my google reader and look at each blog, of friends and favorite shops, rather than just be skimming titles. Used to be, on a rushed day, I would skim the titles for the words “giveaway” or “winners” and only read those posts and, with a handful of exceptions, mark everything else read. That sucked. Now I will actually follow blogs. and read them.  That makes me happy. 🙂

And meanwhile, I am secretly building a stash for my preggy sis-in-law. It’s so exciting now that I know what works and what doesn’t. I can tell her how to take care of her diapers and build her stash and why. For example – figuring out what system of diapering works best for her. Pockets are still my favorite. I thought I would go more for AI2s once we had our own place and I did most of the diaper changes, but I change the wriggling kid on the floor wherever we happen to be,  so swapping out a wet insert just doesn’t work.

I’ll still be here, I just won’t be reading many blogs or entering many giveaways. Just following the blogs and people I love. This will be something I do in my extra time, rather than doing everything *else* in my extra time. 😉

But keep following. There’s more to come….

I need a baby carrier

It all started when Nathaniel was an infant and I wanted to carry him while I worked. I grabbed one of his blankets and tried to put it into some kind of knot. Needless to say, it didn’t work. At all. In the midst of carrying some books, baby fell through and I just barely caught him in time. Yes, I was an idiot.

So I looked online to figure out how to tie these things. The info was overwhelming and unhelpful. I couldn’t fork over $50-100 for a carrier. I would if I could. Finally I found instructions on how to tie a Moby Wrap. It was just a loong piece of fabric with a complicated tie! So I grabbed the only long piece of fabric I had (some shiny deep blue rayon) and learned the tie. It worked for a little while. Until baby put some more weight on and the slipperiness of the fabric wouldn’t hold knots anymore.

So I looked online again. And figured out what fabrics are being used. And found that it’s as expensive as a Moby. Argh.

Meanwhile baby is teething more, able to get into things, and wanting to be held a lot. So I try. I came across Babywearing Videos which is awesome, but of no use without the proper fabric, or wrap.

So it’s either save up and buy one, try to swap for one, or win one. But I want one now, bygolly! (And I don’t know if I should apologize for my whiny post… it’s how I feel, because it’s how baby has been all day. 😦 )

So… Babywearing Videosblog hosts giveaways occasionally… here’s the current one:  Chic Papoose Pouch Sling Review and Giveaway

My New Life as…MOM! has an Ergo giveaway

Mommy and Me Giveaways has an UV Moby Wrap giveaway

Go Green Street has an Organic Sleepy Wrap giveaway

Loving My Life Reviews has a My Baby Nest giveaway

Rave and Review has a Boba Organic 2G Baby Carrier giveaway

And finally, CSN stores has various carriers like the Baby K’Tan, My Baby Nest, and Moby Wrap. Here are a few CSN stores gift card giveaways:

Tara’s View of the World

Hip Tips 4 U

Eco-friendly and Frugal

[Updated july 12:]

Another CSN giveaway!!

Mommy Saves Money

of diapers

So we just moved into our own apartment! *sqee*

Most things are settled… kinda bare on food and missing a few things like pots, so made a store run today and will make a sam’s club run tomorrow. And I’ll be figuring out how to do cloth diapers with coin-operated machines soon (or rather, how to not spend a fortune when using a coin-op).

Nathaniel is switching to solids, and whenever he has a sound meal the day before, he always has a fairly solid number two the next morning. Soon after he gets up and starts playing quietly, he will get still and start grunting away. I so didn’t want to deal with a dirty diaper today, so once he started up, I grabbed him, took his diaper off, and held him over the toilet. Without breaking stride (morning grogginess 🙂 ) he kept grunting away and soon there it was in the toilet, by golly. Boy am I glad I didn’t have to clean a diaper. The sprayer will be hooked up soon, and I just don’t know how people manage to swish (I’ve done it. twice. don’t want to more). Since his body is pretty regular about number two’s (when he’s eating enough solids)… I think I’ll make this a morning tradition!

And then today, my husband surprised me. Not only did he start praising cloth diapers to our new bro-in-law, he tried to convert him before they’re even expecting! His sister (the wife) is already converted, thanks to seeing how easy and great it is for us. And then he said something new in his cloth diaper spiel. “And even if they were more expensive than disposables, I’d still do them.”…. Say what?! Wowzers. Money is what motivated us to make the switch. Now he is completely disgusted by sposies and loves cloth! Yay!  😀

Newborn settings on one-size diapers

This is something I’ve been curious about, and today I gathered together all the one-size diapers I had on hand and adjusted and snapped away! Hope this photo album helps you too.

http://www.bluemelon.com/simplymerry/one-sizediapersonnewbornsetting

Giveaways and events

Katrina at My Life as a Married Girl is hosting a week-long cloth diaper event! And Lulu’s in the Fluff will be there, yay!

And Happily Domestic is having a Celebrate the Joys of Homemaking event, which is rather timely as we just got an apartment (yay!):

And yes, once again, a few giveaways to blog about:

Me and My Boys is having their Summer of Fluff event

Preston’s Pants — I LOVE these diapers. I have two minky larges, and i so want a minky one-size. these are incredibly soft and cute. 🙂

Nifty Nappy — I’m a bit scared of wool, but Nifty Nappy keeps beckoning…

Wee Little Changes Tiny Tush — Tiny Tush Elite is awesome. I only have one, and I so want another! or two! Chocolate and Kelly Green, please! Btw, Wee Little Changes is an awesome cloth diaper store!

My Little Legs — I need more babylegs. I only have 4. Nuff said.

Mama B is still running her Mama Essentials event, and I have my eye on the My Baby Nest baby carrier giveaway – all I have is a piece of cloth for wrap carriers and it is totally the wrong kind of fabric, I’m finding out. This carrier looks so easy, too, which is a big plus for others who will wear baby!

Then Babywearing Videos, which I’m just beginning to tap the vast knowledge base, has a Sleep Wrap giveaway – I like the stretchy-ness of the fabric, and a good fabric to use while figuring out all those ties would be soo helpful!

And then Loving My Life Reviews is hosting an Applecheeks giveaway – whoot, one of my favorite diapers! And because I need to go to bed and can’t think of anything more to say, about this giveaway or anything else, I will leave you with this picture of Nathaniel in an Applecheeks!

And sorry for the repetitive boring giveaway-entries blogposts. Yuck. I have something I do want to blog about, but that’s for another time…