So, here’s the thing about product reviews.
I think they’re fun – fun to write and fun to read. I appreciate creatively crafted reviews that have a personal touch. It’s super helpful to read another mom’s take on things and I often make purchasing decisions based on reviews in the blogosphere.
There are really two ways to get products to review on your blog:
(1) Join a blog review “network.” This is how it works. You fill out a form with some basic information about you and your blog. You are then contacted with review “invitations.” You can accept or decline at will. If you accept, you typically receive a product (that is yours to keep), write your review, and then also typically get some kind of nominal compensation as well (a gift card to Amazon, entry into a giveaway, etc.).
Here are a few review networks for you to consider:
- Mom Central’s Mom Testing & Survey Panel (my favorite review network)
- MomSelect (open to non-bloggers too!)
- Prizey (become a free member and you may get connected with PR companies as a result)
Blog networks are excellent for new bloggers because they give you an opportunity to “get your feet wet” with reviewing and to grow your audience. All the “work” is done for you and you just wait for your products to show up (how cool is that?).
The downside of review networks is that you don’t have “control” over what product invitations you receive. You may want to review a MacBook Pro (don’t we all?), but instead you may receive invitations to review Ghirardelli Chocolates or the latest laundry detergent. I participated in “blog tours” with Mom Central quite a bit in my early blogging days, but now I almost never do because I like to focus on personal content…and I like to pitch for products myself (which leads me to my next point).
(2) Ask. The second way to get products to review is to…ask. Find a company that you would like to work with and send an e-mail, asking if they would be interested in sending you a product to review on your blog. Give a few details about you and your blog…and press “send.”
Can it really be that simple? Well, yes…and no. It’s hard work to craft articulate and persuasive inquiries (maybe someday I’ll share my “top secret” formula for this) and to establish positive relationships with PR agencies and brands. But it’s well worth it. And it’s tons of fun too.
Sometimes people ask me how “big” their blog has to be before they can start doing this. There’s not a specific “number” to reach, but you should have a decent amount of solid, high-quality posts on your blog and at least a moderate number of followers.
So, go for it. Send an inquiry.
Oh, wait!!! Before you do, keep this in mind:
*** Don’t sell your soul for a 3-pack of juice boxes. It’s totally cool if you want to try out those new juice boxes or that bathroom cleaner, but be sure that you can present the review in a creative and interesting way. And be sure that the product is something you can “stand behind.”
Example: I was recently offered an invitation to review a Coach bag. At first, I said “yes.” Then, I decided to decline. Not because I think Coach bags stink (they don’t…in fact, they’re beautiful), but because I would never pay $300+ for a purse (come to think of it, I don’t think I would spend over $20…). It’s just not ME.
I actually decline more product review offers than I accept because (a) I don’t want to “clutter” up my blog content and (b) I want my readers to trust me. 100%. I want them to know that I’m giving them the real deal, all of the time – review post or not.
This is precisely why I will usually decline reviews for medications (we’re kind of anti-medicinal around here), baby DVDs (we rarely watch TV), and low-fat/fat-free snack items (yucky!). I will, however, accept products that help me cuddle a baby and type one-handed more effectively…or that help my hair not to be so frizzy in pictures (since I clearly need help in that department):
Note: This picture was completely “unstaged.” No make-up. No fixing of the hair. No moving away from my “favorite spot” on the couch. This is me in true colors.