If you review products or services on your blog, the ultimate goal is to have companies and vendors send you free stuff in exchange for an honest review. But you may have already realized that it’s not that easy—simply creating a review blog doesn’t guarantee a steady stream of packages showing up at your door.
The good news is that you can attract companies, even big ones, to your blog and have them send you free products for review. It will take hard work and dedication to bring your blog up to the next level—but once you’ve built up your reputation and a healthy flow of traffic, you may find yourself with more free product offers than you can possibly review. Then you’ll be in the enviable position of turning down free stuff in favor of better free stuff.
Here are four steps that will help you generate more interest and receive more cool products or services to review on your blog.
Step 1: Specialize
It may seem like a good idea to say that you’ll “review anything,” but a catch-all review blog isn’t usually attractive to readers or companies—unless it’s a blog run by multiple contributors with different specialties. It’s also not attractive to search engines, because you won’t have enough of a concentrated topic to rank high for your keywords.
The first step in attracting free products from companies is to choose a category and stick with it. Credibility can help here. People want to know who’s writing the review and if you’re someone they can trust. If, for example, you’re an IT professional and you want to review tablet hardware or software, you’ll be more believable to consumers (and therefore more attractive to companies).
You can still succeed without that kind of credibility, as long as you’re passionate about what you’re reviewing. You don’t have to be a professional cyclist or Tour de France athlete to review bicycles, but you do need to love cycling and have the ability to articulate the positives and negatives of bikes and gear.
Step 2: Work With What You’ve Got
Whether you’re just starting out with your review blog, or you’ve been at it for awhile without success in attracting companies, you need to post as much content as possible to your blog on a regular and consistent basis. The more you post, the more likely the search engines will favor you. Companies prefer sending free stuff to review blogs with high search engine rankings and traffic numbers, as the idea is to increase their online visibility.
If you’ve already reviewed all the products or services in your category that you’ve tried on your own, start asking friends and family members about borrowing any they might own or have access to, for the purpose of reviewing them. Build your review backlist, and you’ll get more attention for your blog.
Step 3: Ask For Stuff (The Right Way)
Very few companies seek out new review blogs to offer free product, so at first, you’ll have to ask. When you contact companies to offer your review services, make it personal. That doesn’t mean you have to find out the name of the company president’s wife, children, and pets, and start sending Christmas cards—but it does mean that you need to do your homework.
Research each company you plan to pitch, and prove that you actually have an interest in their products or services by including details in your initial contact. Tell them about your experiences, and what makes you qualified to write a review—whether it’s your professional credentials, or your passion for retro hair accessories (or whatever your blog is about).
Don’t limit your pitch efforts to email, either. Emails are easy to forget about or delete. Consider sending a fax or mailing a personal letter, either as an initial contact or a follow-up to your email pitch.
Step 4: Go Above and Beyond
When you do start getting offers for products or services to review, make sure to deliver on your promises—and then some. Never write a short “this is great!” review—they are worthless to companies. Make your feedback thorough and detailed, and include product photos or screenshots to enhance the presentation.
If you’ve agreed to a time frame when you’ll post the review, make sure it’s up on or before the deadline. Don’t forget to include links to the company’s website (with caution of course). If the product is for sale on third-party retailer sites like Amazon, ask if they’d like you to cross-post your review to the other sites.
If you consistently over-deliver, more companies will discover the value in your review blog (and hopefully send you more free stuff!).
On a side note, don’t forget to properly disclose your review, just to make sure that you are in compliance with FTC guidelines.