As is evident here on momdot, there are bloggers of all types that are wild on the net. From mom blogs to adoption blogs, to specialized fields, and contest hosters, there is a bit of everyone. But no one is more revered then the Review blogger. The blogger with free product to test, to show, to give. It’s what Christmas dreams are made of, right?
Getting into review blogging isn’t much different then getting into any other types of blogging. It simply takes dedication, time, and tenacity, but you have to have the drive to do it.
First things first.
1) To be a review blogger, I believe its fair to say…you should be fair! Don’t just take “free” products and say wonderful things-especially if they are not wonderful. Nothing is worse then a sell out. While its honorable to find the good things in each item, its also smart to let your readers know if there are parts of what you are sharing with them, that you don’t like. You want them to come back to you as a reputable source of information.
I know I have done reviews on items and have had visitors say they purchased based on my review. I know I can stand behind those purchases and try to give as much information as I can.
2) Second, be fair to your sponsors. While its up to the sponsor to decide if your a good fit for their product, if you don’t like it, contact them and let them know, send them reasons why you didn’t like it, and give them an opportunity to make things right. I always try to give the sponsor a heads up to make sure there wasn’t a unique problem with the product I received first. I have had shipping errors or even my own mistakes in usage that have affected my view.
3) Third, review blogging is not as glamorous as it seems. It takes time, dedication, willingness to really test out a product and find its pluses and minuses, and then conveying that to a reader in a way that they understand the product. It sometimes takes me hours to write a review post. Make sure you take personalized pictures of the item, which are so much better then just a pro shot from the sponsors site, so your users can really see the product in “real life”. You should use professional editing programs like Adobe.
Many people do vlogging reviews as well. On products that really deserve some testing, like a stroller, its nice to see the product in action. Also, don’t take so many reviews that you are overwhelmed and cannot give proper attention to each product. I have been there and it can be frustrating. The second you feel like its a bother, you need to take a step back. Its OK to say NO.
To assist the beginning blogger, there are quite a few companies out there that work with bloggers on reviews, that you can sign up for.
1) MomCentral: Mom Central has a mom testing panel and they send out products and information for bloggers to blog about. They guide you with the links they want shared and the company information. You also generally get paid in amazon gift certificates for your assistance. You can accept what you are interested in, and not sign up for the rest. They send out a variety of helpful links and products weekly and can be great for a mom who not only wants to review products, but to make a few amazon dollars in the process.
2) Team Mom: Team mom sends out samplings to its bloggers directly to their house, wtih press kit information on the product and gives you a time frame to blog it in. In the past, I have worked with them on Cabbage Patch and the Bubble Maker. Team Mom allows you to be open and honest about your opinion and encourages both sides of the story
3) MomDot! We host a VIP network on our momdot blogging forum and a review network via Brandfluential.
Now you will find reviews all over the net, paid, unpaid, free products, or even moms reviewing prizes they won or products they bought at the store. Keep adding content, keep working on your craft, and keep building your traffic.
A great way to start is to actually pick products around your home that you love and you hate and talk about them. Make sure you link back to company websites and provide information on where to purchase the products. Eventually, google picks you up and you start to attract PR reps, who are constantly on the prowl for online talkers.
PR reps can really be wonderful for a blog. They offer chances to work with large prizes, and have multiple giveaway winners. They often come to you many times a month and give you many opportunities to review awesome products and great giveaways. You can accept those if they pertain to you or pass and wait for the next one. MomDot currently works with 100s of PR reps and they have brought this site amazing product, trips, and ambassador programs. PR reps can be a wealth of information.
But single handedly, the best way to get reviews, is to ask for them. Its not really a mystery behind finding a sponsor. You simply find the type of product you are interested in, and approach the company in doing a review. In the beginning, you may hit some road blocks like low traffic, but doing exchanges and getting to know other bloggers is a great way to boost that. There are so many social networks like twitter, ning sites, facebook, and StumbleUon, that the opportunity is always out there to bring in new people to your site if you work at it. Providing good, changing, and honest content is one of the best ways to keep people returning time after time and build a network of interested consumers. Also, working with small mom based companies or hand made products, is a nice way to get started.
While it can be nerve wracking to simply ask a company for a review, remember that most companies need to put their product in front of an audience and gain exposure through google ratings, links, and branding. Be confident in what you are providing, let them know your interest and why you believe that product would be beneficial to your user, and overall, sell yourself! I try to take the time to personalize my pitches just like I enjoy when PR takes the time to personalize a pitch to me. Get a media kit and keep it updating. You can edit PDF files and search pdf files and its easy to attach them to make it easy for PR firms to keep on file. Remember, the worst someone could tell you is no.
One thing I like to do, is run a contest along side a review. I love to test a product and then give someone else an opportunity to win it. While its not a requirement by any means, I always ask a company for a review AND a giveaway side by side. Its usually a stronger feedback over all for our sponsors and also allows you to build up some contests on your blog as well. Plus, its fun to be Santa Clause on some days.
The more you start to do reviews and giveaways the more organized you will need to be. Make sure you have a program like excel or even get onto google where you can create spreadsheets to keep track of your posts, winners of contests, dates of publishing and all your pertinent information.
One last thing. While it may not be proper protocol to go to a bloggers site and click on all their sponsors and ask them each for a review or giveaway, its a great way for a beginning blogger to know which companies are outright sponsors of blogs. Check out the sidebar links of review and contest bloggers to find a good start of companies that are interested in supporting and participating in mom bloggers. Remember that as a blogger, its our job to get the information out there if you are a review or contest blogger, so you should welcome when another blogger discovers a link on your page and helps that company move forward to a new spot on the web. We should not be selfish or afraid or upset when we see our sponsors on a variety of sites, but rather, excited that we had a part in a company getting their name out there.
My motto is Desire Creates the Power. So work at it, live it, breath it, and it will become!