Has a brand ever approached you or emailed you asking for free product reviews? It’s exciting to get an email like this for the first time because you realize that someone is actually communicating with you through your blog. You may just go ahead and say, ‘Yes!’ without even understanding how free product reviews will affect your blog.
Or perhaps you weren’t excited. Instead, you were pissed off because you think these brands are spamming you. So you hit reply angrily and tell them to ‘buzz off’ without thinking about the consequences that it might bring to your blog.
Or maybe you just absolutely ignore them without even considering the opportunity.
Since I came back to blogging early this year after vacationing from it for three months, I’ve been getting email requests for online brands or companies to give them free product reviews. But it’s not really this year that I received emails like these for the first time. Even before I’ve found my niche, I’ve been getting these requests and I’ve actually entertained some of them.
I made a few mistakes but actually learned a lot about communicating with online brands and companies in ways that my blog can benefit from. So before you hit another reply button saying, “Yes! I’ll give you free product reviews.” or, “F#*%k off, you effin’ spammer!” you have to read this post.
I’m sharing with you the steps you need to take so your blog can also benefit from brands asking for free product reviews.
Every blogger will have different reactions to a situation like this. Like I mentioned, you might get excited, angry, or just bored.
The first time I received a request like this, I was offered $20 to review an online shop. (Ok, so it wasn’t a free review but it was almost the same thing, and all of what I’m going to share here applies the same way).
At that time when I received the email, I didn’t feel excited, angry, or bored. I actually felt scared and worried.
I always say that fear is the human way of responding to something that we don’t know or don’t understand. That’s exactly how I felt.
Being the pessimist that I used to be, I started thinking about crazy things. What if this person just wants to hack my PayPal account and get my credit card and bank account details? What if I respond and this is a robot I’m responding to? (Ok, so that one actually sounded stupid).
I didn’t know what to do so I ended up not responding at all.
From that, I learned that the very first thing to do to when getting emails or requests like this is to just calm down. Don’t get too excited, don’t get too angry, don’t be afraid.
Just calm down and tell yourself this, “This could be an opportunity, stay open and proceed to the next step”.
What You Need To Understand
Before proceeding to the next step, there are two things that you need to keep in mind.
Why do you think these brands are coming to you for a free review?
As a blogger, you should already know that blogs are actually very powerful marketing machines. So when brands come to you asking for a free review, they are actually asking you to market their product.
You’ll be marketing their product to your readers and giving them a link back from your blog, which will boost their SEO.
So you need to understand that if you agree to give out free product reviews, you’re giving away valuable marketing services.
Here’s another thing you need to keep in mind. These people who are emailing you usually aren’t the real owners of the website or the product that they want you to review. They’ll most likely be part of a marketing team tasked to reach out to bloggers like you to spread the word.
So it may seem like they are hopping and leaving spam emails or messages on your contact box because you see all other bloggers are publishing the same reviews. But not all marketing teams spam, at least they won’t send you copy or paste messages.
They should at least know your name, especially when you have your picture and bio out in the open on your sidebar. If not, they should at least mention that they’ve checked out your blog, indicating your blog name or link to it.
If you still feel like you’re just being spammed after this, then you can stop right there, don’t go any further and just chuck the email. Don’t waste your time responding to it because it will do you no good.
Don’t Respond With Hate
When a brand reaches out to you, it’s most likely that a real person is sending you the email or message. Or, at least, if you respond, a real person is at the other end to receive it to be able to negotiate with you.
So don’t send out an email filled with anger and hate. Think about the person who’s going to receive it.
If you’re not concerned about the person who is going to receive your hate email, think about your image.
Remember that these are brands or companies that you are communicating with. Most companies have a tendency to become successful. In the future, if they become one of the big companies on the internet they might remember you. And they might even tell stories about how they’ve received angry emails from when they were still developing. Don’t put yourself as an example.
Emails are a form of documentation. So if you are hating, make sure not to document it. Protect yourself from being exposed to possible risks. Just don’t respond if you don’t want to do free product reviews.
Check Out The Website Or The Product
After all those insights, we’re only moving on with the very first step that you need to take for your blog to benefit from brands asking for free product reviews.
Check out their website and learn what their products are.
When you’re considering to do the review, the first thing you need to ask is, “What are you going to review?”
Because this is a post that you’re going to publish on your blog, the content should be relevant to your niche.
If you’re a fashion blogger, you should be reviewing clothes or accessories. If you’re a food blogger, you should be reviewing restaurants. If you’re a blogger like me, you should be reviewing products that are related to blogging.
Here are examples of my product reviews early this year.
Visme is an online tool used for creating visual projects like presentations, infographics, and more. I took this gig of reviewing this product because it is very useful to my readers. I write about blogging and content marketing after all. One of the best ways to improve blog content and marketing is to include images, and you can use Visme for that.
Ninja Outreach, on the other hand, is the ultimate guest blogging tool. We all know that one of the fastest ways to grow your blog traffic is by guest blogging. Ninja Outreach is a sort of search engine that has hundreds of bloggers, marketers, and influencers online listed with their details including contacts. So you can use this tool for outreach to build your online network or guest post.
Keep on reading and I’ll tell you what benefits I got from these brands.
Your First Email Response
After you’ve checked out the product or website for review, and finally decided to do the review, it’s time to draft your email response.
The content of your email should be an offer to the brand or company. Don’t think about what you can benefit from it yet, think about what they will benefit from you.
Turn the situation in a way that the brand or company that approached you is now your customer. This tactic is basically how telecommunication companies work, or most companies for that matter.
Have you ever tried going to the customer service section asking a question but then you come out with a new product that they were able to convince you to buy?
That’s what you do. So this brand is coming to you asking for a free review. You can definitely do the review, but add more to it. What else can you give to this brand that they will actually buy?
Social Media Marketing
The most common thing that you can offer them is additional marketing not just on your blog but on other platforms where you’ve already built a good following.
List down all your other platforms like social media, your email list, youtube channel, and more. It’s quite appropriate to publish their link on these platforms because you’ve already decided that your audience will like them.
Make sure to note the number of followers you have on each platform. It’s even better if you do have large following. That’s something they won’t be able to say no to.
If you don’t have a good number of followers yet, you can always offer them a spot on your sidebar, footer, or if you’re open to it below your header.
When you offer something like this, make sure to be specific and lay down all the details.
Include the duration of the ad, which can be one month or more. The size of the ad, which can be square, skyscraper, or leaderboard. Be sure to give the dimensions.
To make your blog look clean, use static ad. You can even let them know if you’re going to design the ad or they should provide you with one.
Another creative thing you can offer them is privileges. Let them know that they will also be included in your favorite’s list for more future opportunities and collaborations with possible marketing offers.
Sounds good, right?
So in your email, write that you will do the products review and then give them the “But wait, there’s more” offer.
Of course, your email is not going to end there. It’s time to wrap it all up, keeping your ultimate goal in mind. How can your blog benefit from it?
This now where you get to ask for something in return.
So what is the best benefit that you can get for your blog to keep on running smoothly?
*Ding, ding, ding!*
You’ve guessed it. It’s MONEY!
Most blogs are considered a business and need funds. And even when it’s just a hobby, you’re going to need money to sustain it.
But don’t ask for money in a way that you’re suggesting that they should pay you.
Ask it as a sort of donation for your blog, but still, be specific with the rate.
Don’t be cheap. Even if you’re only just a newbie blogger, you should treat your blog as something of high value and with all the offers you have on the table, it should be at least $20 to $30. Or more if you think you’re marketing strategy is going to really help their brand.
Send out the email without hesitation.
If they reply, you’ll be lucky to receive a, “Yes, I’ll donate $50 to your blog.” The content of the response will likely be negotiating terms.
They might offer you less, or they might offer you nothing at all.
When this happens, stay calm, you can still turn things around.
Go back to their website and snoop around to see what might be interesting for you to get.
If they are asking for you to review their online tool, check it out again. Online tools usually have free and premium accounts. If you really like their product, you can ask for a free premium account for at least 3 months of the package.
For physical products, they will usually give you the products for free. But there are also brands that will only lend you the product for only a week or so. Enough time for you to only review it, especially when it’s a techie gadget. I normally say no to that and make sure that I get the product for free and own it for life, or at least for its lifespan.
Of they can’t provide you with free products or a free account, snoop around some more and check out their social media accounts. If they have a good number of followers, you can ask for them to help you market the review post on their social media.
This will help with your blog traffic. That is if you think doing the review is still worth it.
If all these fail, just simply explain to them that you’re also trying to grow your blog so it should be a two-way deal. Ask them what they can offer you and your blog in exchange for the free products reviews.
Here’s what I was offered by Visme and Ninja Outreach.
Visme – 3 Month Premium Account (Total Cost: $21)
Ninja Outreach – 1 Year Premium Account (Total Cost: $348) with Social Media Shares of the Review to help with my blog traffic *I know. They are so much more generous!* I still have my active account which now costs $588 since they raised their rates to $49/month on the blogger package.
Put Them On A List
If the brand or company still comes back to you with nothing, don’t freak out. You’ve just experienced negotiating with a brand. I’m pretty sure you’ve learned a lot from it, and that’s what you take.
For your last response, it’s not going to be a hate mail where you vent out your frustrations. It should be an explanation of why you simply can’t give them a free tool, website, or product reviews.
Because your main goal is to grow your blog, you can’t be wasting your time giving away reviews even if you really like the product. But if you think publishing a review about their product is going to grow your traffic or your email list, then go for it.
When brands or companies reach out to you, always think of it as an opportunity and be sure to look for ways in which you and your blog can benefit from it. But before anything else, make sure to prioritize the brand or company who reached out to you.
Put the client first and everything else will follow.