First, I don't say this to scare you off at all, so please don't take it that way, but I do want to tell you that blogging is a LOT harder and more time consuming that you realize. It may only take you 3 minutes to read a post, but writing that post, editing that post, taking pictures, uploading pictures, making a giveaway entry form, promoting a giveaway, etc--all of those things add up time wise. On average, I spend about an hour on each of my blog posts (not including the time away from the computer when I'm reviewing the product.) Now yes, some of that you can chalk up to me being somewhat of a perfectionist, but blogging takes time!
Now, add in maintaining a Facebook page, a Twitter page and responding to emails every day and you're talking a part-time job, at least! Again, I'm not saying this to scare you off. I love blogging and I'm really glad that I got into it--I just look back and realize that I was SO naive when I started out! I never knew it would take up so much of my time! If you are considering starting a product review blog and don't have, at the very least, 7 hours of free time in your week, then I probably wouldn't recommend it for you.
That being said, I'm going to hit on a few basics for this post. For starters, when you begin your blog I would suggest starting out with these:
- A Catchy Name. Think hard about your name. Some days I wish I had thought harder about mine. You want it to be easy to remember!
- Sign up for your blog with Blogspot or Wordpress. I use Blogspot and generally like it. I know nothing about Wordpress. One nice thing about Blogspot is that if you DO decide one day to purchase a domain like I did, they make it very easy to switch everything over!
- An Email Address. Make an email account for your blog next. You'll want to keep that email separate from your personal email account.
- A Facebook Page. Facebook is a great way to connect with possible fans!
- A Twitter Account (blog specific). I waited a long time-too long-to get a Twitter account. I didn't understand it and didn't want one. I also felt like I didn't have the time for it. I linked my Facebook page to Twitter though, so whatever I post to Facebook posts to Twitter. Twitter is a big deal these days though and if you want to reach people, you should really sign up (if you haven't already!) Since I was able to link it, it really has been a lot easier to maintain than I thought!
- Design a Logo/Button. My first button was HORRIBLE! Luckily, my husband is better at designing graphics than I am, and he made me the great button I have now. It's not something he does all the time, but does design buttons on occasion and only charges $10. Email me if you're interested in that.
- Get a few tabs up on your blog. There are a few that I feel are most important. Those would be: About (you), Open Giveaways (so much easy to find if they are all in one place!), Disclosures and PR information. You will most likely have more tabs eventually, but I'd start out with at least those.
Now, everyone wants to know how they can get companies to send them products to review/giveaway. Here are my tips for that:
- Take your time and write a nice, grammatically correct letter that can be used for a variety of review items. Make it a basic letter that you can "tweak" depending on the type of company you are contacting. In the letter you'll want to explain to the company what your blog is all about and why you think featuring them on your blog will be beneficial to them and your readers. As you are sending this letter to companies, try to add in things that are in reference to that particular company. You don't want the letter to sound like a "one letter suits all" kind of letter, even if it IS. Does that make sense? Let the company know that if they are willing to send you a free, full size sample of their product, you would be happy to review it (and host a giveaway if they'd like) for free on your blog.
- Next, look for other new blogs like yours. Look to see what companies they have been reviewing for and contact those companies. Odds are, they are looking for bloggers and willing to work with new bloggers. One big name company that was really friendly when I started out was Tommee Tippee. As far as I know, they are still very blogger friendly! Send them an email and see!
- Email, email, email! Any company you can think of you'd like to review for, send them an email! You are bound to get a lot of "no" answers, but eventually you'll get some positive answers too!
- Lastly,enter others giveaways. If you enter often enough, you are bound to win. Contact the company you won from explaining that you won a giveaway and you'd be happy to review the item you won for free on your blog if they would be willing to provide another item for giveaway.