…finally, the most requested and coveted part of my “Building a Better Blog” series! No joke about it, receiving products in exchange for PR has been a huge part of my blogging career. It is, in fact, why I began blogging in the first place. I had heard of other people getting “free” products to review, and I knew that I needed the next size up in cloth diapers for my daughter but that I couldn’t afford them. Thus, my blog was truly born.
The first big step in Life More Simply’s history was our Cloth Diaper Extravaganza. What began as an entire month of cloth diaper related product reviews and giveaways led to thousands of dollars worth of merchandise that I have been fortunate enough to receive over the last two years. While it’s no easy task to review and giveaway products (think it’s a breeze? Think again!), it has been a huge blessing to my family as this has been my primary source of procuring birthday and Christmas gifts for my children, “green” cleaning supplies for my home, and those “want but not need” items for myself, plus a LOT more “fun” stuff that I randomly review (like wine, chocolate, and music).
It is absolutely possible for you to do the same thing for your family, and even more, if you develop your blog further so that it is an actual source of income. Before you leave your day job, though, consider the following:
1) A review/giveaway will take an average of 3 hours. You will have to find a company who wants to work with you, arrange the review, use the product, take photos, upload everything, write about your experience, run a giveaway, market the giveaway, and then contact the winner and follow up with the company. Whew!
2) Your blog needs to be focused. Whatever sort of products you want to review, that’s what your blog needs to be about. If you write a blog about golf, don’t expect to receive the newest Haba doll for your child.
3) You have to be honest, even if it’s uncomfortable. Let’s face it, you are going to get items that don’t meet your standards and some that are downright awful. However, there is going to often be a name and story behind the item you tried, and it’s going to be very awkward to contact that work-at-home-mom and tell her that the dog-lasso she sent you was ugly, didn’t work, and looked unprofessional. You will need to be able to be honest in your reviews and tactful in your communications if you want to be a blogger who still has a heart at the end of the day!
4) It’s addictive. Yes, I said it. Getting “free” stuff (even if it really isn’t “free” when you consider your time and blogging costs) is addictive, and you must have a checks and balance system in place or it has the potential to take over your family life. Nothing is worth sacrificing your relationships, spouse, children, and family for.
Still want to do reviews? The next post will explain the process, so while you are waiting, here is homework for you:
1) Describe your blog (and link it below!). This should be one or two sentences long and clearly state your purpose. My description is this: “Life More Simply is a blog written by a working mother about natural living and parenting in the real world.” Keep it simple!
2) Write down your plan for doing reviews. How long will you spend on it each week, and when will that time be? For me: 1 hour contacting companies/researching products at home and 1 hour writing articles during my “down” time at work. My goal is to write one blog entry in 20 minutes. Yeah, I’m on a tight time budget. :-\
3) Sign up with “Blog with Integrity” –you will be agreeing to keep your blogging, and thus product reviews, honest! http://www.blogwithintegrity.com/
4) Review what Word of Mouth Marketing is so that you can be knowledgeable when speaking with companies. http://lifemoresimply.blogspot.com/2009/05/marketing-inquiries.html
5) Review the other segments of “Building A Better Blog”. Nothing is worse than ruining your chance to work with someone because your blog isn’t up to par! (toward the bottom of the page) http://lifemoresimply.blogspot.com/p/best-of-writings.html