I am a member of a number of wahm groups online, and recently I've seen a lot of questions regarding review bloggers.
A review blogger is a blogger who generally buys or receives for free a product or service that you are selling. They review it, with pictures, video or otherwise. Post it on their blog for their readers and the world to see. Sometimes they also offer some kind of freebie or discount from your store to their readers in the form of a giveaway or contest.
Many of us have probably seen a large rise in these types of bloggers in the last few years. They are popping up all over the place, and a lot of them seem to gain quite a large following in a short amount of time.
That said, I know a lot of wahm's are not quite convinced about the world of blogging as advertising. But it can work! If you're looking for some good-quality, honest reviews from bloggers here are some things to keep in mind:
- Research the blogger! Read her past reviews, read her non-review posts, read her comments especially! A blogger is only as good as her readers. If the blogger is engaging her readers in conversation or otherwise, that's awesome! A blogger who builds a relationship with her readers (aka potential customers to you) is great, this means the readers trust the bloggers opinion on products for their family.
- Know the difference between readers and followers. Followers are people who simply click "Follow" on the blog once and never come back to read the posts. Readers are people who enjoy the blog, take part in discussions and comments, and usually also like the blogs other social outlets like Twitter or Facebook. I'm sure you can tell which ones you want more.
- It's not all about the numbers. Don't be fooled about the amount of followers the blogger has or how many hits/per day she gets. This is mostly irrelevant, and rarely means that the blog has a large following of interested and engaged readers.
- Don't be afraid to ask the blogger to pay! This falls under one of the biggest faults of new business owners, under selling yourself. If you make some amazing quilts, and it is very time consuming and costly in materials and shipping, don't be afraid to ask the blogger to pay at a discount, or even ask them to pay for shipping only.
- Put/Make an item specifically for a blog review. You should have money in your business budget for some advertising or marketing. If you have $50 a month you can spare for advertising, then use that for extra materials to cover the cost of an item made for a blog review one month.
- Give the blogger some guidelines. When you just send a product to someone to be reviewed, it's a pretty big gamble. Are they gonna come back with an amazing review with pictures, or two sentences? To help avoid the latter, ask questions about the main features of your items that need to be answered in the review. The great workmanship or the super cool unique to you only feature of your product. Also check out questions from your past or potential customers that pop up the most, and ask for those to be answered.
- Learn to say No nicely. I'm guilty of just sometimes hitting the delete button on a bloggers request to review a product. That said, I have found this is very rude and I wouldn't like it if someone did it to me. So, I highly suggest writing up an email and saving it as a draft, that basically tells the blogger you are flattered they like your products, but you're not able to give out anything for free at the moment or you are not looking for blog reviews. But in a nice way.
- You don't always have to give a freebie for a give away. Bloggers know that a great way too boost their followers and hits is to host a give away for their readers. But this is not, and should not be mandatory for your blog review. There are a number of better ways to promote sales coming back to you, and from my experience and many others, giving away two freebies is just a loss to you and rarely, if ever leads to more sales. Something like a discount code or special promo just for that blogs readers is not only more likely to lead to sales, but it is traceable as well.
- Don't give in to every blogger who emails you. Yeah, they all sound great at the beginning, especially if they have a sales pitch that is flattering to your store. Take it for what it is, a sales pitch! Review bloggers are often not only doing reviews but making money from ads and other ways on their blogs, they are a business too, so try and keep that in mind before replying with an enthusiastic "Sure!"
- Stick with what you like. If you work with a blogger who does a good review, has good readership and actually sends some business your way, stick with them! It's great to have business contacts like that. Some bloggers have thousands of readers and most are growing more every day. If you are having a new product come out, or anything else happening with your business, develop a friendship with a blogger who does a good job for you and do some cross-promotion together.