Have you ever read a detailed product review and thought, “I have to try that!”
Well, sales professionals across the globe sure hope you do.
Marketing, advertising and public relations firms love first-person insight on the products and services they’re being paid to promote.
Ok, so back to that blog post. Do you ever get to the bottom of the text and scan the disclaimer about the product being complementary for the purpose of a review and say to yourself, “Heck, I could write these types of blog posts!”.
I did. Now, I write those reviews too.
Lately, writer friends have been asking how I get free goodies to review. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no magic website or list to join. I’ve earned the free items by networking.
Actually, this process is almost easier than joining some special website or program. I’m happy to share the two main ways I’ve received enough beauty products to fill my bathroom cupboard and cookbooks to keep me whipping up new recipes until I’m 103.
Get More Social
If you’re on social media to promote what you’ve written and offer your wordsmithing skills, you’re halfway there. Simply put more social into your media. Have conversations. Don’t just post, post, post. Participate.
Most major brands and companies have someone monitoring their social media accounts daily. Ask questions. Offer tips. Join Twitter chats. Make intelligent comments on posts.
Then ask if you can try one of the company’s new products. The hardest part of this process is putting yourself out there. But, really what do you have to lose? If they decline your offer, move on. If they agree, you’ll usually get a free product in the mail, a coupon for a free product at the store or a coupon to get the item at a discount.
Just a few weeks ago, I noticed a bottle of bee pollen that I purchased at the farmer’s market sitting in the refrigerator. I hadn’t looked at it in a while, and thought I should do some more research about the nutritional value of the little granules. It’d make a fun blog post for my healthy foodie blog, Whole Foods Living.
So, I asked around on Facebook and Twitter if anyone likes to eat bee pollen. Or, if they’ve even heard of eating bee pollen. One conversation led to another, and Bee Healthy Farms offered to send me a sample of their new bee bread product. Guess what it’s made with? Bee pollen!
So, my foodie blog post magically morphed into an informational product review, and I now have a tasty (it really is yummy!) product sample to enjoy for the next few weeks.
No, this product review didn’t pad the bank account.
But, it did give me the chance to try a product I was interested in, gave me a great topic for the blog, helped me create a relationship with a potential source for a future (paid article) for a client and will show other companies that I’m happy to review health-related products.
And, Bee Healthy Farms received a free thumbs up from a consumer point-of-view along with a link to a great article they can share with their potential customers.
It’s really a win-win for everyone involved.
Work Your Sources
I should back up a bit. I didn’t seek out my first few product reviews. They actually found me.
Since I interview experts and sources for my daily paid writing assignments, I meet a lot of people. Sometimes people don’t do interviews directly. You have to work through their agents and public relations folks. I don’t mind. Hey, I’m meeting even more people to network with and build relationships.
After an article publishes, I email my sources and let them know where they can see the finished piece. Often this turns into a back-and-forth communication via several emails. Some sources turn into LinkedIn contacts and Twitter friends.
Some translate into product reviews.
If the source liked my article, they keep tabs on what I’ve been doing. I might get a mass email about an upcoming topic of interest to my readers, or wait for it…news of a product launch. Then they ask if I’d like a sample to review.
Boom! There’s the magic, folks.
Now, before you get too excited about doing product reviews, you have to remember it’s still work. You need to honestly sample and critique the product. Give readers insightful feedback and important details. I’ve blogged, Tweeted, Facebooked, YouTubed and Pinned what I think about products to keep my new-found clients happy.
If you’re sloppy, you won’t get any repeat interest from your sources.
With that said, I’m also very honest. Along with the perks of a product, I discuss any potential concerns or drawbacks I notice as a consumer. Be real and unbiased at all times to maintain your integrity as a writer.
And, don’t get too caught up in product reviews. You can’t pay the water bill with free shampoo.
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Note: This post was updated on Septemeber 27, 2018.