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How To Start A Review Blog and Get Free Review Products

By:     Topics: Blogging

Today I have persuaded my good friend Robb Sutton to share some information with you that a number of you have been requesting. Namely:

How Do I Get Products For FREE to Review On My Blog?

Frankly, few people know as much about this subject as Robb does – as her demonstrated in his recent interview for this site.

I think you will agree, Robb has done an awesome job, and just for the record, he is not paying me or rewarding me in any way for featuring him here. Armed with the information Robb has supplied I am confident a good number of you are going to set up some amazing review blogs – gee, I am even considering it myself 😉

Enjoy the interview – I look forward to your comments.

Best Wishes

Michael

How To Get Products For FREE To Review On Your Blog

An article by: Robb Sutton

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Robb Sutton

With the recent fire from the FTC in the United States requiring full disclosures from bloggers on their relationships with firms in regards to product reviews – product reviewing on blogs has gotten its 5 minutes of fame. The thing is that in reality, legitimate product reviewing on blogs and other media outlets has been going on since the beginning, and they can be a tremendous source of traffic, subscribers and revenue for your blog.

If you take a minute and scour your favorite blogs on the web, you will find a very high percentage of those blogs review a product related to their niche periodically. As you look around, you might find that your favorite blogs are reviewing product a lot more than you originally thought! Before we jump into the how…let’s look at the why on both sides of the fence.

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Why Do Bloggers Review Products On Their Blogs?

As a blogger, this is an easy question for you to answer, but lets break it down to the basics. Why do you want to post product reviews on your blog?

Useful, Quality Blog Content – Product reviews are a source of quality content for your blog. Your readers want to know what you think about products and services that relate to your niche. Your blog is their resource for topic related information, and – by providing this resource – you can assist your readers by providing useful information that impacts buying decisions. By offering product reviews on your blog, you are expanding the resourcefulness of your content for your readers.

Search Engine Gold – For quite sometime now, I have been calling product reviews search engine gold for a reason. Properly written product reviews can bring a massive amount of new visitors to your blog. By writing product reviews, you are targeting long and short tail keyword strings that have very low competition. Over time, you will create a massive library of content that is extremely search engine friendly. On top of that, product reviews are attractive link bait as other bloggers, forum users and general internet emailers will link to your review articles as a resource for information.

Increased Blog Revenue – Product reviews are still the number one way to increase affiliate revenue on blogs. Want to increase your affiliate sales outside of the pennies you are generating from banner ad placement? Review that product on your site and include your affiliate link at the bottom of your review to increase conversions. Little tip: Honest reviews that outline both the good and bad on a product convert at a much higher rate than glorified advertisements.

Why Do Companies Give Bloggers Product To Review?

Now we know why you want to review product on your blog, but why do manufactures, firms and service providers actually want to give you their product to review for nothing (or even for a fee!)?

Cheap, Long Lasting Advertising and Promotion – Once a newspaper or magazine hits the newsstand, you see the ads and then throw that mag away until the next issue comes out. That advertisement is only good until the next issue. With the web, your product review stays on your blog unless you decide to shut it down. The company that provides you with the review product get the increased benefit of long term promotion by giving you something to review on your blog. Future readers will find the article in the archives, search engine users will find your review in the results and you will refer back to your product reviews over time. For the company in question, you – as the blogger – provide more value with a product review over the larger media competition.

Did I Mention Cheap? – What many bloggers fail to realize is the true cost of the review product provided to the blogger. For the company involved, their true manufacturing cost is the cost to them. What did it cost the company to product the product for review? Not nearly what it costs off the shelf for the typically retail buyer. When you convert this to software and services, all of their costs are in the back end development, so they are even more willing to work with bloggers to get the word out because the true cost is an email!

Social Media Is Changing The Retail Environment – If someone would have told you 10 years ago that Amazon.com would be the largest book retailer in the world and the iTunes music store would be the largest music retailer in the world, would you have believed them? The online world has completely changed how people shop and make purchasing decisions. Firms, companies and service providers know this and they want to tap into your audience. Free review product is their ticket to the big show that converts into increased sales.

How Do I Get Free Product To Review On My Blog?

Unless you are an internet hot shot who already has a huge amount of credibility online, you are going to have to cold call, email and fax your perspective review product companies. For many bloggers, this can be a nerve racking road as they have little experience in the corporate sales and marketing world. Here are a couple of tips to get you going…

Research Before Contacting – If you are just starting out in review blogging, do some research and see which companies in your niche will be receptive to giving out free product for review purposes. Check out other blogs in your niche and look for patterns. Is there one or two companies that seem to have reviews on every site? Contact those companies first with your idea and try to look for one of their products that is not well represented online (not a lot of reviews). This will be a great starting point to get things rolling and increase your chances of success on the first go ’round.

Contact Perspective Companies By Email – Email rules the world at this point in time, so you are going to have to research the company and find a valid email address. Many times, this email address will go to a default inbox, so it is essential that you cut the fluff at the beginning of the email and get straight to the point to insure it gets on the right computer screen. When contacting companies about review product, 100% honesty about traffic, subscribers and expectations is essential to success. With a little research, web savvy companies are going to be able to tell if you are stretching the truth and your credibility is shot. Even small blogs can get a ton of review product if they are creative and stick to the honest truth.

Do Not Limit Yourself To Email – Especially with larger companies, your email can get trashed without even being read. If the companies website lists contact information for sales and marketing professionals within the firm, contact those specific people via fax or snail mail with what you would like to accomplish on your blog. Most bloggers are not doing this and it will show your dedication to targeted results.

Stay In Contact – Once you have reached an agreement, stay in contact with updates. Send an email when you receive the product, when you finish the review process, once the review is posted and a follow up email with educated results. It is your job as the blogger to keep them informed, so take that part of your job seriously.

Reviewing Tips That Equal Affiliate Conversions

There is a misconception among bloggers and other review naysayers that there are glorified advertisements on the web to convert into sales even when the product is terrible. The truth…those glorified advertisement convert at a rate that is much lower than an honest review from a blogger. As a blogger, the credibility of your content is everything. New and old readers are going to absorb your content and present their own educated opinions based upon how you presented the facts. If you throw up a review that is blatantly positive in an attempt to increase revenue on your blog, the reader is going to see straight through it and leave your site (without clicking your affiliate link).

The #1 best way to increase affiliate sales is to be completely honest and fact based in your reviewing.

Spell Out The Perfect Consumer For The Product In Question – A perfect way to convert visitors into affiliate income is to spell out exactly who you think the product would be perfect for! Is there a certain group in your niche that would greatly benefit from that product while another might not see any benefit? Lay that out for them. Your readers want to know if that product will work to fill their needs…so tell them!

Show The Good And Bad – There is no such thing as a perfect product. By specifically stating the good and bad points, you are showing that there is also room for improvement. The side affect to this is that companies eat this information up as constructive feedback to make their product better in future revisions. By stating what you think the high and low points are…you are adding value to your review process.

Keep Things Fact Based – Your opinion is your opinion, but it needs to be based off of fact. If you throw up a review that is a bunch of opinion with no reason why…you are going to have a difficult time with review blogging. Every one of your opinions on the product need to be backed up with facts.

Review Blogging – The Big Picture

Review blogging is a great resource to companies within a niche, the blogger and the readers when done correctly. As with most things in life, when you stay honest and work hard at completing a task, good things result. The reason for the FTC disclosure regulations is from black hat techniques that are completely monetary focused by questionable internet marketers. As a blogger, you should want to continue to provide valuable resources for your readers and your niche. By providing 100% honest product reviews, you are achieving just that.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Footnote By Michael:

If you have not already done so then you should check out the recent announcement by the FTC in the USA that Amateur Bloggers must Disclose Freebies when doing a review or be fined (Actually, there is much more to it than this one point)

I know many of you are thinking, well I am not in USA, so this does not apply to me. My view is that is is good practice to have Full Disclosure in any case no matter where up are located.

Here is helpful link that goes into more details:
FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined

I should also here do my usual Legal and Financial disclaimer – namely, I am not qualified to provide such legal or financial advice, anything you read here is merely discussion, you must do your own due diligence before making a decision.

  • http://www.cruisinaltitude.com jeff

    This is good stuff Michael. I think you would do well with reviews as well. As I look at different ways to monetize my blogs, especially http://www.cruisinaltitude.com for travelers, I’ll take Rob’s suggestions into account. I’ve tried before without success, but will try again. I’m gonna start with Kodak to review their new hd video camera.

    Thanks to both you and Rob for this post.

    Jeff.

    • http://robbsutton.com/ Robb Sutton

      Camera companies are probably the most difficult to get review product out of. I just looked at your blog and there are a lot of things in the travel industry that you can review with a lot of success.

      Luggage Companies
      Airplane Accessory Companies
      Items that can be used in a small space
      Etc.

      Start looking into creative ways that you can review products that would be relevant to your readers…there are a ton of outlets you can go into.

      • http://www.cruisinaltitude.com Jeff

        Wow, Rob! Thank you for taking a look, I truly appreciate that. I will look into areas you suggested.

        The other site I have is for airline employees at http://www.passrider.com, what are your thoughts for product reviews on that one? I get a ton of uniques there.

        PS: I’m in the process of making it into a full fledged blog. You can see the interim blog at http://blog.passrider.com.
        Yup, it is in need of a proper redesign.

        Jeff.

  • Mike Crimmins

    I’ve done really well with review blogging, in a large part from advice on Robb’s blog and in his ebook.

    One thing that I would add is smart small with the review products you want and work up to larger things. Smaller companies that have a social media presence on the web are also good places to start.

    • http://robbsutton.com/ Robb Sutton

      I’m starting to get jealous of all of the coffee you have been getting in!

      Starting small and working your way up is key. That way…you can build a reputation in your industry of getting targeted results that lead to bigger items down the road.

      • Mike Crimmins

        The amount of coffee I’ve been getting is starting to get out of control. I’ll be well caffeinated for a very long time. Plus there’s a steady trickle of other coffee related accessories and products that’s starting to get interesting.

  • Learn Creative Visualization

    These perks are not FREE, it goes in exchange for traffic and that costs. if the blog contains only reviews that are ads, this will scare hard earned audience away. It also good to have products that blends with content. I use reviewme.com and blogvertise a lot and they are great payers. Never though of cold calling. as usual great post.

    • http://robbsutton.com/ Robb Sutton

      Very true…there is also a lot of work that goes into properly reviewing a product.

  • http://www.optional.com Joe

    Three words: GET RICH QUICK

  • http://www.twitter.com/marcellpurham Marcell

    I just purchased Robb’s book and I have to say it is truly a book to read. I am starting my site up very soon and I hope to succeed and follow Robb’s advice. Never give up even when times are hard!

    • http://robbsutton.com/ Robb Sutton

      Thanks for the feedback Marcell. Never give up!!

  • http://www.goldfries.com goldfries

    It’s very important to build a reputation first – companies won’t give to people they can’t get advantage from. :)

    In my case, I started small. Nowadays companies approach me instead of me approaching them. 😀

    And yeah I’m starting to get stuff from Camera companies. 😉

  • Muzi Mohale

    You’ve opened up my mind into new possibilities Robb, I’ve never thought that I could tap into reviewing products, considering that my blog is about travel. I recall receiving press releases from a PR firm about travel bags and I always ignored it…without thinking that could be my source of contact from reviewing such products. The only shortcoming though here in South Africa, retailers use don’t affiliate programs.

    Now in such a case, how would I work around getting a benefit from reviewing?

    My blog is mainly about business to business news, what would you suggest I review for my target readers?

    • http://robbsutton.com/ Robb Sutton

      Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. I review products that are sold and manufactured all over the world because my blog is read by almost every country.

      Unless you are specifically limited to your geographic region for some reason…the doors are wide open on affiliate revenue opportunities.

      Other benefits:

      Highly searchable content for increased traffic.
      The review product.
      Increased worth to your readers in a field they are directly participating in.

      Start looking around you for products and services you use that are related to your niche and start reviewing.

  • Umer Hayat

    Surely a Product Review is one of the bet way to earn money online.

    I’m just preparing my writers team for this purpose and I believe in writing a comprehensive reviews with everything in it.

    I think that will work out :)

    Anyway Thanks Sutton for your guidance

  • Robert Black

    Wow, great post! Make sense to recieve products for reviews. Why not? The owners of such companies either pay for advertising or they give away products. Good stuff!

  • http://maiconweb.com Maicon Sobczak

    Valuable tips. Great post!

  • http://www.defactomind.com Claudiu Geanta

    Great tips! Thanks Robb. I knew about reviewing products and/or services but I wasn’t ware of the impact this mgith do to your blog.

    In fact I just purchased a notebook which I love typing away articles for my blog in the local coffee shop. I think I will start with that. Next – my beloved tripod.

    Keep up the good work and don’t stop on spreading the knowldge,

  • Nibras Bawa

    A review can be either positive or negative, thats how honest reviews are done. But here’s the challange. Its also about relationships than one off stand alone reviews. So how do you offend a company with negative feedback and still be friends for long term benefits of both parties? May be you can enlighten me…. Do companies come back when you’ve done a bad review about them in the past? I’d think NO. This also means you’re obligated to a certain degree. Otherwise you will have to keep looking for new companies all the time right? Have you been in situations where you felt the company was taking undue advantage of you and your blog? If so, how did you handle the situation. I’d like to know… Thanks for the tips.

    • http://robbsutton.com/ Robb Sutton

      Actually…you’d be surprised. Over the course of my reviewing on my cycling site, I have only had 1 company not want to continue after a bad review.

      As long as you keep everything fact based and provide honest feedback, everything is fine.

      I have seen it go bad with others when they start reviewing on emotion over facts. If you have valid, negative things to say…then that is quality feedback for the company involved. It all boils down to how you handle the situation as the blogger.

  • http://thechacogirl.blogspot.com Brenda

    Hi Robb, I’m very interested in doing product reviews, but do you think companies will send me products to Paraguay, South America. I’m interested in crafting products and maybe recipe books. Also anything to do with laptops and cellphones, but this is maybe reaching too high:)

  • Tamara

    Hi there!

    I stumbled upon your article my total chance, but glad I did. I will be bookmarking it for sure!

    I author a mommy blog and just decided to venture out into the saturated world of product reviewing. I created a disclosure policy and guidelines for reviews/giveaways, which is posted on my blog for all to see. In addition, I’ve noted that I write honest reviews and am looking only for mom/family-friendly products so I can stay true to my targeted audience (and not sell out!).

    I “cold call” emailed a cookie company that isn’t that big yet and inquired about doing a review. I provided blog statistics (including my blog stats and stats from the blogs I contribute to), as well as highlighted the other avenues with which I could spread the word about the product (i.e. groups I am a member of, such as mommy groups).

    Not even 24 hours later I received an email back stating they’d be happy to have me review the product and they would be sending not only a giveaway basket, but also samples to take to clubs/get togethers I will be attending in the near future. So “cold calling” certainly can work!

    I also plan on doing reviews of products I currently own and love. I have one in mind and I know their Twitter ID and have conversed with them. I plan on letting them know about my review once I publish it.

    A quick question I do have is this:
    Do I have to state in my actual review that I received the product for free to review? Or does my general disclosure policy do the job?

    I plan on checking out the FTC link you posted.

    Thanks again!

    Tamara (aka The UnExperienced Mom)
    http://www.theunexperiencedmom.com

  • James Rayers

    With the new trade commission guidelines it is very important that you make full disclosure on your blog if you have received review products for free. It is hard to emphasise how important this is as there are huge fines in place for people miscommunicating, even in a personal blog.

    Although it is not a major problem, you should write a disclaimer to be posted with each review.

  • Pingback: A Look At RobbSutton.com in 2009 | Robb Sutton dot com()

  • Ken

    Hey Robb,

    Your advice is very helpful. I am in the process of starting a new website with my wife doing product reviews. I am very new and am confused with the whole “Affiliate Marketing” aspect. Does every company offer affiliate options? I would like to be able to link my visitors to the manufacturers site, but more so I can earn some money.

    Also, I have started e-mailing different companies in my particular niche, as well as made a few calls. How long should I wait before trying to contact them again?

    Our site is dedicated to baby product reviews. Thanks for your help!!

    Ken

  • Farai

    Robb, thanks for sharing this information on IncomeDiary. I have been blogging since 2008, but had not thought about Product reviewing. I think all the advice you shared is cool provided one puts in extra effort to get companies to review their products.

    Thanks a ton

  • http://andreisteinbach.wordpress.com Andrei Steinbach

    I like your blog. This is a very well done blog, and you know how to write. You can check my blog right here it’s about products reviews, take a look, and tell me what you think :)

  • Name (required)

    With a static internet site it is just people today reading words on a page. When you might have a blog they can examine and even remark again! You want to get that type of interactive spirit heading so you’ll be able to create a loyal readership along with your webpage. Thank you for sharing with every person.

  • JD

    I was just approached by a local company to do a review of their product. This reviewing products thing is all new to me, so this article has been very helpful. Thanks so much!

  • http://www.AngliciousGiftsandMore.wordpress.com Glenda Cates

    Thanks for sharing your advice with us. I am in the Process of having a new Blog made called Mommies Point of View as I am going to start to do reviews and giveaways and I picked a niche I know a lot about which is Affiliate Businesses such as Mary Kay, Avon, and Tupperware since I am with Mia Bella Candles and Usborne Books so I figured small business owners would like the chance to ge there businesses seen as I do this quite a bit with the companies I am in.

  • Bells

    Thanks for the post – very interesting.

    How do you get products to review if you’re just starting out? What the best way to word the email? I want to be as perfect as possible.

    Thanks

  • Next Big Internet Hit

    Well how do you get review products for a Internet Tv show, im about to get 1hr on this internet tv channel http://www.cosmovisiondigital.com

    They have a great deal of hits/users so i think that my show will be great but i want to know where to email or who to contact….

    I hope someone can help me out here

  • Omar

    Great Article, I’m in the process of contacting companies for free review products for computer / gaming niche, I would like to know whether you can provide example of emails which you sent.

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