Last week, Brilliant Bloggers focused on working with brands, and part of a relationship with a brand could be receiving items for review. I definitely don’t think that you should blog for free stuff, unless what you’re getting are cars or something. Just remember that cookie samples and free books don’t pay the rent. Even if it’s something your family uses, think to yourself – is this $5 sample of laundry detergent worth the hour I spend writing about the product? $5 per hour isn’t even minimum wage.
But enough lecturing about monetization of your blog. The fact of the matter is that in some cases it isn’t just about the value of the product you receive. Reviewing products could also be really good for your readers. A well-placed review can draw readers via social media, SEO, and more, so much so that it even makes sense to buy the product to review it. If you can be part of an affiliate program, it makes even more sense to review a product.
Paying for a product certainly isn’t optimal if you can get it for free! So here are five places you can find items to review:
1) Contact brands directly.
Brands love working with bloggers in many cases, but few have the time and manpower to spend all day looking for bloggers who would be a good fit for review items. Don’t be afraid to approach them. In your email, make sure you highlight what you can bring to the table – what’s your pagerank? Traffic numbers? Network size? This doesn’t just apply to brands – contact individuals as well if someone within your niche is launching a new product. Some brands/people will say no. That’s okay! But some will say yes. If you never ask, you’ll miss out on every yes.
2) Attend conferences.
When you go to conferences in the blogging world and within your niche, you’ll be able to talk to lots of brands on the expo floor most events have. Many are giving away free samples – just go up to the booth and talk to the representative for a few minutes. Even those that don’t have free samples are willing to work with bloggers if you make a case as to why you’d be a good fit for a product review. Take their card and follow up as soon as the conference is over. Remind them of your conversation and your continued interest to do a product review. You might have to follow up a few times to get a response, since lots of other bloggers are probably doing the same thing.
3) Walk around your house.
Again, buying your own products isn’t optimal, but if you take a quick walk around yourself, you might have dozens of products that you already own that would be great for review. For example, if you run a blog about cooking, what kind of baking chocolate is your favorite? You probably have some in your pantry right now – talk about it! Or if you run a blog about fashion, why not write about your favorite pair of reliable go-with-anything black heels? The things that are part of your everyday life are interesting to readers not because they’re new, but because you think they’re the best!
4) Network with other bloggers.
When I launch a new product, I’m always will to send free review copies to people I know via social media…if they interact with me long before I have something to give them. If you approach me on Twitter for a copy of my book and I have no idea who you are, I want to know about your traffic numbers and such, and I might say no. If we’re already Twitter-friends, I’m probably going to say yes, even if your blog is brand new or you have a small network.
5) Network with other bloggers.
Wait. Wasn’t that tip number four? It’s not a mistake that this is tip number five as well, because there’s a second way where networking with bloggers could help you get review items. I have long-term relationships with some PR companies and brands, and if I know other bloggers who would be a good fit for review products, I pass on their contact information. Like I mentioned before, most companies don’t have the time/manpower to go out and find bloggers. If a blogger they already like and trust recommends another blogger, they’re happy to send products.
Remember, if you’re going to get free items, especially expensive items, you want to make it worth the company’s time and money to send you products. If you don’t have a lot of traffic yet, think about what else you can add to the equation – Will you tweet about the product? Run a giveaway? Wear their t-shirt to a conference? Think about what you can do for the brand and what the brand can do for you – and make sure it makes sense for both of you to work together.