A fantastic golf blog related Twitter discussion happened a couple of nights ago. There was some tremendous discussion and a few important points I thought I’d talk about today. Here’s the tweet that started it below. Click it and follow all the commentary. It is great.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but its been awhile since I’ve read a negative review from a golf blogger re: products they get for free.
— John K. (@UWedge) May 19, 2015
People have a misconception about me, and bloggers who work hard to build a reputation and following who trusts their opinion. Often people say to me “you’re lucky you get free stuff sent to you all the time.”
Lucky? Puhlease. Like Gary Player says, the harder I work the luckier I get. I have to chime in because I have a very strong opinion on this. I’ve worked my ass off on this blog for over TEN years. I’ve spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of my own dollars on web hosting, design, travel, trade shows, software, computers, photo gear… all things I use to produce what I hope is entertaining and original golf content. When I go to the PGA Show in Orlando I pay my own way. The PGA Show costs me thousands in airfare, hotels, rental cars, food. The biggest cost is being away from my super wife and my little 2.5 year old boy. So when I come back from a golf trade show with a new pair of shoes, a bag of tees, and a dozen golf balls, that is far from free. Dollars for dollars the last PGA Show netted me a $3500 pair of $129 shoes and a week’s worth of constipation.
If I receive a box of golf balls, a shirt, a driver, a book submitted for review here the stuff is NOT “free.” I spend HOURS researching, testing, writing, painstakingly taking photos, working on web content. At the hourly rate I charge my day-job web design and development clients that $29.99 box of golf balls would cost hundreds in my time. If it was free I might as well quit this blog thing and just spend the $29.99 and save myself 5-10 hours of trouble.
Why Little or No Negative Reviews?
If you saw my house you’d know I’m not full of it when I say I can’t go to the bathroom without tripping over a golf accessory or some golf gadget. Seriously. It is out of control. I’ve experimented with having other writers here, but I prefer to have this blog be MY blog, good or bad. Therefore it is not possible for me to review every item I receive. Maybe I could do it if I snapped one photo with my camera phone and wrote two sentence reviews about the products, but that’s not how I roll. I like to get into the products and try to translate my experiences in much more depth.
It is because of that time factor that I can’t review everything. So what do I choose to review what what do I abandon? I made the decision to try and limit most of my reviews to products I believe in and can convey a positive message about. So any product I feel is junk, crap, irrelevant, useless, or not well made or poorly designed gets no airtime.
That said, in every review I write I try to put in a critique paragraph or two if I can. I try to point out product weaknesses or ways the product could be improved.
Blogs Who Mail It In
I do have a beef with crappy and lazy bloggers who mail it in. You know the ones. They are the golf blogs who spend NO time on their reviews. Their content is a copy/paste of the PR firm’s materials and the photos are stock PR photos, or shitty photos they took in their kitchen with a couple of rotten pieces of lasagna from last night’s dinner in the background. Their poorly lit photos have the ratty carpet in focus and the product out of focus. They never played that club or tested those golf balls! They never REALLY tested it for a MONTH or more on a real golf course like I do. They’re mailing it in.
PR firms and golf companies love those types of blogs. Whatever PR stuff they send gets automatically posted. It’s like a free advertising outlet. Those sites are easy to spot because their content is the same as the others who are doing the same thing. Sorry, not here.
I have my reasons for keeping my reviews positive as I stated above. When it comes to others is that the same reason? If so, great. I suspect however that those sites are AFRAID to post a negative review for fear that their golf gear gravy train will run out.
Unfortunately the digital golf world is flooded with these sites which dilute the space and hurt the search rankings of good sites, making it even tougher for them to survive. I know. I’m one of them.
Many golf blogs come and go. Most don’t have the balls, time, or dedication it takes to keep it going and to produce ORIGINAL content. That wedge I reviewed last month was not free. I spent dozens of hours testing it on a real golf course, taking photos, and writing about it with a passion for what I’m doing.
The day that passion is gone or does not translate to an entertaining, original, and informative outlet is the day I leave. Could be tomorrow. Could be in a decade.