Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to Start a Product Review Blog

So, you want to know how to start a product review blog…  Well, you have come to the right place. While I’m no expert, I have tried my hand reviewing products on my blog and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only do I receive free products to review, but I occasionally I get paid to review the products and most importantly, I get to work with other amazing bloggers and with many great companies and brands.

It's important to note upfront that starting a product review blog does not just happen over night. It takes time and dedication to become a successful product review blogger! It takes time to build an audience, build a reputation in the blogging network and find great companies to work with. The good news is that with a little hard work and consistency, you can start your own product review blog and have fun while possibly making a little (or sometimes a lot) of money. Ready to get started? Grab your notebook and start taking notes... 
This is one of those posts that could really be broken up into several topics depending on whether or not you are already a blogger or starting from scratch for the first time. To avoid info overload for the newbies and boring content for those who already have a blog, I’m going to touch on the basics of setting up the blog and then go forward with the more important part of getting started in product reviews in general… I will also update it with new links and suggestions often to include other great content that I find on other blogs that I think would be useful. So, here we go! Good luck!

How to Start a Product Review Blog

The first step is to obviously set up a blog. You can use a free site or a paid site, it’s really up to you. Many bloggers use WordPress  or Blogger, and some set up their own blog using a webhost such as WP Engine. I’m not too technical and haven’t quite made my way to hosting my own blog and being 100% in control of my blog… but that’s another post for another day.

Regardless of what platform you choose to set your blog up on, I STONGLY suggest you go ahead and get a URL for your blog. Most product review sites require you to have a dedicated URL. For instances, I use Blogger and my Blogger URL is sosimplysteph.blogspot.com. Most companies, brands and blog networks don’t allow those types of URLs so instead, I got my own URL of SoSimplyStephanie.com. Not only is it going to open doors to more opportunities, it’s also looks more professional. Plus, if you ever move your blog to another platform, you can still keep the same URL.  There are dozens of sites  you can purchase a URL from, many of which will also offer hosting options. Here are a few of the top URL and hosting sites:
WP Engine (especially for WordPress users)

There are also website builders like Weebly that allows you to create a website for bloggers like me who aren’t 100% tech savvy. They have both free and paid options and will let you create your own URL with them to avoid having to move URLs. You can set up a blog their while also creating a professional looking website that allows you to create different pages/tabs at the top. A great idea if you plan on blogging several topics or want to keep everything nice and organized.


Set Up Your Blog with an "About Me" Page & a "PR Info" Page

Once you have your blog design and layout complete, the next thing you need to do is set up an "About Me" page and a "PR Info / Review Request" page. You can call it several different things but, the main point is to have a page about you and also a separate page for brands/companies to check out your PR info to see what you have to offer. You will want to include your site statistics, social media statistics, requirements for review (price, type of products your review, ect.). Also, Google blogger media kit for several great tutorials on creating an awesome media kit. You can also use the media kit as your PR Info page. 

Getting Started with Reviews for Your Blog

After you initially set up your blog, you are then ready to start writing product reviews. Exciting, huh? But, where do you get your products to review on your blog? Well, that takes time and consistency. Not many, if any, companies are willing to send you a product not knowing your review style and more importantly, if you will even review the product at all. Before a company will risk the expense of the product and shipping, you will have to show them your best work. Start by reviewing products you already have. 

Go through your house and pick out some of your favorite products and write a review on them. I would recommend at least 5-10 good reviews on your blog before you look to start receiving products. I suggest your favorite products because you will enjoy writing about something you love. Whether it be the new coffee pot your mother gave you for Christmas, the new nail files you picked up at Wal-Mart or that awesome hair straightener your sister bought you last week for your birthday. Whatever it is, write a review and share it on your blog.
Keep in mind, that a ‘product review blog’ doesn’t have to be just product reviews. It can be any type of blog related to the products you choose to review. I have a ‘lifestyle / family ‘ type blog and I share product reviews on a variety of products, recipes, gardening tutorials and anything else that strikes my fancy at the time. The good thing about incorporating other types of posts is that you build your audience and page views which mean more influence and more items to review.
Of course, if you decide to go with a parenting blog, you would primarily want to review things related to parenting, children, education, ect. Obviously a new fishing pole wouldn’t be the most appropriate. A cooking blog would benefit from cooking utensils, cookbooks, cookware and similar items… you get the idea!

Set Up Your Social Media

increase social media followersAfter you have set up your blog and have 5-10 great posts published (whether or not they are reviews or other topics) then it’s time to work on social media. I can’t stress this enough!!! It’s 2015 and social media is a crucial key to building your audience, raising you page views and getting the most attention for both you and the products/brands you are working with. Plus, most companies are going to require you to have at least a Twitter and Facebook to share your post on because they too, know how important social media is when it comes to influencing your readers.

At a minimal, I would strongly recommend you set up a Twitter, Facebook Fan Page (Fan Pages are in addition to your own regular Facebook profile), and Pinterest. My top social media platform is Pinterest! Pinterest has become a must for bloggers, especially if you write about cooking, parenting, gifts, gardening and anything else that would have a great photo! Don’t limit yourself by not setting up your social media accounts.
You can also check out my posts, How to Get More Twitter Followers and 5 Ways to Increase Your Pinterest Followers to get more fans/followers and increase your page views.

Where to Find Products to Review On Your Blog

After you have set up your blog, started publishing reviews and set up your social media profiles, it’s time to start moving on to the next phase. Here’s where you will start finding products to review and where you can also earn money while reviewing products…
There are dozens of blogger review sites out there looking for awesome reliable bloggers who will test and review products for companies and brands they network with. Some of these companies require pretty high stats, while others understand that we all have to start somewhere and are willing to let the little guys participate in their campaigns. In addition, the majority of these sites will allow you to work on certain review campaigns according to your stats. While a $500 Dyson may require high blog stats, they will still be willing to let a newbie review a $25 baking pan. As you work with these sites and companies you will build a relationship that will lead to greater opportunities.  Just don’t expect to come out the gate and immediately receive a new Whirlpool washing machine on your first review opportunity. You have to work up to those bigger products, which can sometimes take a couple years depending on the quality, consistency and most importantly, your audience.
Some of the top product review sites for bloggers that to start with are Social Exposure PR,  Mommerce, Tomoson,  Sverve, and Double Duty Divas. Again, there are several dozen sites out there but these are a great start for the little guys. You can also check out ShareASale. Not only can you monetize your blog with their ads, but I have found a large list of brands that work with Share-A-Sale that sent me products to review on my blog. Not only did I get the product to review, but I was also able to incorporate my affiliate links in my posts so that after the readers read my review, if they wanted to purchase the item they could follow the link to the site. Not only was I helping them with finding a great product, but I also earn a small commission if they purchase the product.

monetize your blog
You can learn more about ShareASale with my post How to Monetize Your Blog With ShareASale :Commission, Sponsored Posts, Review Opps & More .  Also check out Are You a Part of Mommerce another great site that helps you monetize your blog and also find products to review.
*Never, ever, ever, and I mean never, ever, ever pay to review a product. Occasionally, you will see a few brands that will send you an Amazon Gift card for the item and tell you they will refund the shipping costs via PayPal. This is normal. However, you should never have to pay for the product. I sometimes see scams where the company wants you to pay for the product. Hello, you are simply buying the product and posting a review. If they genuinely want your honest review, they will send the product to you. If not, there are hundreds of other companies who will!*

Continuing to Grow Your Review Blog

After you have gotten the ball rolling on your product review blog, it’s important to note that in order to be successful you must be consistent and follow through. If for any reason you cannot share a review, then you need to contact the brand/company/site immediately and let them know. Don’t leave them hanging and make them think you were the next fly-by-night blogger who took their products and ran. I personally do not post negative reviews on my blog. Have I received products I wouldn’t recommend? YES! A few times.  I didn’t want to post a negative review on my blog so I contacted the person I made the arrangement with and let them know that I could not recommend the product to my readers so I would not be sharing a review. I don’t post negative reviews for two reasons. One, the company sent the product to you to get positive feedback and to reach your audience. It’s bad enough that they are out of pocket the price of the product and shipping, but even worse if you go bashing them to your readers. Plus, I don’t want other brands coming to my site, seeing bad reviews and then being afraid that they may end of up my bad list and then I miss out on a great opportunity. So, if I can’t recommend the product to my readers, I simply let the company know and I don’t mention it on my blog. Simple as that.


Promote, Promote, Promote!

If you want to continue to build your audience and build your network, it’s important to promote your blog. Not everyone will know your blog exists if you don’t tell them. This is the important part – you can publish the most amazing review ever and it not be worth one-cent to the company if you don’t promote it. Be sure to share it on social media outlets. Not all of your readers, fans and followers will stop by your blog everyday so it’s important to make sure you get it out there to the places they do go… like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! It will take time- a few months even a year or so to build a great audience but, if you work hard you can do it sooner. Join in on blogger events to build your social media, makes sure you get an RSS feed for your readers to subscribe, and blogger-world-happenings. Us bloggers like to stick together and have found that when we all work together we all succeed. It’s not near as competitive as I thought it would be. Yes, there are some campaigns that only the big-time bloggers will get but, it’s not cut-throat like I thought it would be. Everyone in the blogging world is so friendly and I have found several awesome bloggy-friends in the blogger-world.

Now that you have the general idea of how to find product to review on your blog, you are ready to get started. Keep in mind, that when you are creating your blog, you will want to include an About Me page,  and a PR Info/Review Request page so that companies know who will be reviewing their products, what you expect of them and what they can expect of you. You can find a variety of great articles on how to create a great About Me page and also a PR Info page. Just Google it and you shall find it!

Any questions?  
Did you find this page helpful? Have suggestions? Please be sure to leave your feedback in the comments section below. 

How to Start a Product Review Blog was featured on Turn it up Tuesday! 


Epic Mommy Adventures

6 comments:

  1. I started a few children's product reviews when I started my blog but found it hard to get noticed as there are so many reviews out there! I'll probably start back and use some of your tips above. Thanks for sharing on Mommy Monday Blog Hop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Minh, you can do it! The key is to be consistent! Keep at it and you will get noticed. Join in on the blogger opportunities and check out the sites that help connect you with brands.

      Delete
  2. I first started blogging about the products I bought but found it was hard to get noticed since there are so many reviews out there! I strayed a little to other topics but I'd like to go back to product reviews soon and will use some of your pointers. Thanks for sharing on Mommy Monday Blog Hop.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm glad i found your blog. You have great info. I currently do product reviews but I need to get better and be consistent. I have a lot of reviews in draft mode that I need to finish and post but I kinda feel like there missing something. I look forward to reading your other posts!
    #homemattersparty #linkyparty

    India

    ReplyDelete
  4. awesome! Very informative.. Stopping by from Home Matters Linky Party. Pinned this!

    Cristina
    http://abountifullove.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great information! Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Broad.

    ReplyDelete

I love feedback! Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think about this post. {All comments are moderated.}

Popular Posts