I have had a lot of emails recently asking how to start doing product reviews, which surprised me because I am no expert. There are many many bloggers out there who have been doing this longer and have a much bigger following than I do. I have only been doing this since the end of last year, but I’m having a blast! I thought I’d share a few of the groups/websites that I have joined that help you learn how to do product reviews plus a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way. If any of the groups ask for referrals, I don’t get anything for it, I don’t think. But if you want, you can put my user name, it’s usually Heather Manning.
Product Review Place – They just opened the Blogger Select area. There’s a small monthly charge, but it is fabulous, and to me totally worth it! Love the ladies over there!
Pitch It To Me – This is a newer group, but again, fabulous ladies!
Twitter Moms – They sound out RAMBO alerts a lot.
Mom Bloggers Club – just cuz I love them too – and you can post your giveaways there
Business 2 Blogger
Mommy PR Blogger connections
The first few are the ones I use the most. The others I check in with every once in awhile.
The SITS Girls is a fabulous group for networking with other bloggers!
That being said, a lot of the products I review comes from doing cold calls. I go to the website and see if they have a media contact, if not, I email through their contact us link. I keep it short and sweet. I tell them who I am, why I would like to work with their company, who my audience is, and if it’s a company that I know has worked with bloggers before, I send a long my stats for the previous month (unique page loads, unique visitors, google followers, email subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, etc). I usually include a blurb about where I show off my reviews and giveaways, for example – I post all of my reviews/giveaways at the Product Review Place (with a link to it so they can find it) which will get your product in front of an additional 2200 readers, plus, this site, this site, this site.
I also always include my contact info. That way there isn’t a bunch of emails back and forth giving them my address, phone, size if they need one, etc. I usually get an email back saying, I’ll drop this in the mail tomorrow. It makes it easier for the public relations person if you include all relevant info in your first email, but don’t get too complicated. They get hit by hundreds, if not more, of us bloggers when they have a campaign going on.
I’ve found that when I shortened up my pitch emails that I have been getting a much higher response rate back and a much higher yes rate.
I also include in an attachment my media kit, which is basically all of the information found here, but with a shorter description of our family, so they know if we fit their demographic. I also link to that page in the email because while some PR contacts prefer a media kit, others won’t even open it, because of how many bloggers they work with.
There have been a few companies who have said that I need to make the request in writing on my company letterhead. I have an image that matches my blogger header put at the top of a word doc. I just type up my request, with the same info above, print it out and drop it in the mail. 2 months later, after I’ve given up hope, I usually have a product to review.
Another huge tip I have, make sure your blog is eye appealing. If you pitch your blog, they go to visit it, and it looks unappealing to the eye, unprofessional, they may not want to work with you. In some of the Nings listed above, you can ask other bloggers to review your blog, see what they think would make it look better. I’ll tell you one of my biggest pet peeves. When I go to a blog and I have to scroll right another page and a half to see the post I am looking at. If you, like me, don’t have a lot of extra money to invest in blog redesign, there are lots of tutorials if you google them.
With my theme, I drew the picture of the girl, then added the pictures of my family. Then I searched for a wordpress theme that had an image at the top. I easily replaced that image in my FTP with my own that I made. Then I looked for tutorials on coding to change the color, add or remove things that I did or didn’t want, etc. Took me hours the first time I did it, but now when I want to change my blog, it doesn’t take me nearly as long because I figured out how to do it. If you notice at the bottom, I left the theme creators info. They were the ones responsible for coding it originally, I just changed a few lines here and there. I would always leave them their credit.
If you don’t have a photo program to design your own header in, Gimp is free. There is lots of royalty free clip art out there if you google that also.
Hopefully those tips help some to get started! I didn’t really have anyone to help me when I decided to do product reviews. I just jumped in, searching, Google was my friend. I learned from trial and error. Now I’ve found resources to go to when I have a question, use those, make some blogger friends, it’s wonderful to be a part of a group that does the same thing you do. Bounce ideas, respond to their posts for help, ask your own questions. I wish I would have joined them from the beginning.
Have a great day!