Well, another TOS Crew Review year is finishing up.
I just posted my last review, which is number 28 for the 2013 year.
This has been another interesting and busy cruise full of lots of hard work and abundant blessings.
I have worked diligently to blog about other things this year and was successful at getting my 4 posts other than reviews in. I try really hard to keep our 4-H activities updated because that is a HUGE and meaningful part of our lives and our homeschool lifestyle.
For the upcoming year we will be required to blog once weekly, so that will be another challenge to face if I am accepted to the crew again.
We discussed together whether our family should continue on with the crew and I prayed a lot about it.
I weighed the pros and cons just as I have in past years, and find that things really do change a lot as the years progress, both with the crew and with our homeschool and with my own time and energy.
As with everything, the crew has changed, matured, grown and more/different requirements and expectations have come about.
I have been able to meet those changing rules time has progressed, and I am still within the guidelines this year. The biggest obstacle for me is time, as I have way too many irons in the fire.
I do work outside the home, and have to really work to keep our schoolwork moving in the right direction. The only real way it can happen is that my older two girls have become wonderfully independent and have that fire burning within to learn and succeed. It’s a bit harder with my 7 year old, but we are making progress as well.
I do have to pass on the blogging extras like linking up on certain themed blog cruises, blog carnivals, blog giveaways, etc. I know that cuts my traffic down for “regulars”.
This year there was some concern on the part of one or more of the vendors about the exposure/traffic on our blogs. They were concerned that some of our blogs only had a few “followers”, as well as the concern that not very many of the posts/reviews had comments.
This kinda really stressed me out because my blog doesn’t have tons of followers because I don’t have hours and hours to sit at the computer. I don’t spend tons of hours with giveaways, facebook promotions, social media. I just don’t have the time to devote to sitting at the computer like that. I’m not putting anyone down who does- I’m actually pretty jealous of those stay-at-home-moms who do have the chance to stay at home and take care of “home” stuff. But I am not one of them. My life runs 1000 miles per hour all the time.
So the comments really ruffled me up a bit. But mostly because the “followers” are not really the ones who are interested in “yet another” review. They are really not the ones “buying” all of these things we review.
And when people click through the TOS review crew blog to check out multiple reviews on something, it’s rare that they would leave a comment on it. I NEVER really leave comments. I just don’t. Especially when I am reading through reviews for information on something I’m looking to buy.
I get lots of emails and “outside” comments from my reviews if someone is really interested in something. I give LOTS of recommendations for the products we love, both when asked, and when NOT asked.
I take my job as a reviewer VERY seriously, and it kinda just really still ruffles my feathers that a vendor would think otherwise.
I consider QUALITY to be more important than QUANTITY.
My blog is quality. There. I said it. I feel better now. 🙂
So that WAS a consideration as it has been EVERY YEAR I have been on the crew- whether or not I am doing a GOOD job, or even a GREAT job for these vendors. My work ethic has always been to do the VERY best job I can at whatever I am doing.
In the end, I feel my reviews are golden to the vendors I represent, and even more valuable to my homeschool community. I have helped a LOT of folks find just the right product, as well as helping some not waste money on something that might not work for their family.
I have met so many amazing and awesome vendors that have been and are STILL on my prayer list, because I really do appreciate. more than I can express, when people use their gifts and talents to bless others.
With my older girls moving on into more time consuming and more challenging schedules and studies, it’s been harder to include them in reviewing. The crew does review high school and upper level products, and we have had to pass on many because my high schooler and even jr high student just cannot fit full course studies into their already full schedules most of the time. But there have been times that we have worked some very valuable programs and products in with them.
My Jr. High student is super-great about working with my 2nd grader, which is also a wonderful aspect of review for the crew. It’s a whole different perspective that our family brings to the table. Just one among many.
In the end, I feel our family does a wonderful job and brings a unique and honest perspective to the crew, vendors, and homeschooling community.
My kids all voted to stay, and so I reapplied. If it’s time to move on, we will certainly understand, but if not, then we will see y’all to set sail again in 2014.
For now we are back on land, and ready to enjoy the holidays.
Stay tuned for “Our favorites” post along with the crew favorites that we voted on!
Enjoy Your Journey,