Get free stuff, make money, and help small businesses: What every blogger should know about working with a business like ours

Danielle Vincent

Posted on September 20 2015


Did I get your attention?

No kidding. It really is so easy to get free stuff (and money) from us.

Here's what we get out of it (in case you're not sure):

  1. Product exposure to people outside our network (hopefully resulting in more sales)
  2. Improved search ranking for key terms (hopefully resulting in more traffic, which means more sales)
  3. Feedback about the benefits and drawbacks of our products (hopefully resulting in product improvement, which means more sales)
  4. A feeling of happiness from helping you (isn't that warm and fuzzy?)

In fact, I regularly contact bloggers to see if they'll review our products. I'm actively trying to send out free stuff to bloggers just like you.

And it's good for you too! Here's what you get:

  1. Free stuff (obviously)
  2. MONEY! Hell yeah, you get money! We have an affiliate program! For the first 5 new customers you send us, you get 10% of the sale. For every one after that, you get 15% of the sale. That's better than Amazon's affiliate program!
  3. Tons of exposure - when we get written up, we share that post EVERYWHERE. We plaster it on our social media (sometimes many times, and sometimes those get RTs by our network) and put it on our press page. This gets you more traffic, which gets you more credibility, which gets you more free stuff and maybe even sponsorship (and maybe even sponsorship from us).
  4. Improved search ranking from having more of your links around the internet.
  5. Giveaway/contest stuff (if that's your dealio), which brings you TONS more traffic and generates lots of interactions/engagement. Heck, we'll even ship it directly to the winners! So easy! You don't even have to pay postage!
  6. Content for your blog. Are you stuck what to write about? NOT ANYMORE! You can even pull images and text from our website. We even have a dropbox folder with high res images just for this purpose!

But we almost never send out products to review based on our contact form just because people don't know how to ask.

Here's a really standard request we received on Friday:

  Name: [removed]
  Email: [removed]
  Source: Google Search
  Body: Hello my name is [removed]. I run a blog called [removed]. I have, what I consider to be, a large following and a successful blog. I have worked with other companies in the past, Schoola and Jeannie-O Turkey just to name a few. I love your products and would love the opportunity to try and review one (or more!) of your products. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me. Thanks again!

 

This is clearly just a copied and pasted email probably sent to hundreds (if not thousands) of companies. And I don't think I'm even going to bother responding. It doesn't meet even the most basic criteria for a blog request, outlined here (and elaborated below):

  1. Indicate even the faintest awareness about our products and company
  2. Give me your blog URL
  3. Give me your social media links and stats
  4. Give me your traffic stats
  5. Tell me your story
  6. Follow up with me if you haven't heard back

(the funny thing is that aside from point #1, all this stuff can just be copied and pasted if you're sending to tons of small businesses)

Side story: Let me tell you about Kirsten from OMG Goodies.

She is the perfect example of someone I love sending products to. I even do giveaways with her. I think we've put over $100 in product in her hands for two reviews and a couple giveaways.

When she first wrote, she included all sorts of information about her site, her family, her reviews. Kirsten followed every one of the items below, and she follows up like mad. I don't know how she does it (I wish I could be as good at this), but if three days go by and I haven't responded, she follows up.

I look forward to hearing from her now because it's so nice to work with someone who has their shit together.

Cheers to you, Kirsten! You're one of a kind!

In the interest of getting some good bloggin' exposure, I've decided to put together a "quick" playbook for bloggers requesting product. Hope it's helpful!

1. Indicate even the faintest awareness of our products and our company

We have some truly effing awesome products. Our writing is pretty good (or so I've been told). There is a wealth of information about us and our company on the site. It's so easy to just spend two minutes getting even a little familiar with our offering.

And yet almost no one does it.

Everyone loves to be flattered. Everyone loves to feel important. Everyone loves to feel unique.

When I hear "I love your products," I think "sure, sure, everyone 'loves our products.' But which one do you love?"

Spend a minute to find even a single name of one that sounds interesting to you and tell me why it's interesting.

2. Give me your blog URL

It's surprising to me how few people even give me their blog URL.

I don't care if you're just getting started. If you don't send me your URL, I can't see what your writing is like. I've sent products to really green bloggers just because I like their writing, their story, and their message.

If you don't have a URL yet, please just write some stuff. Get started. Don't wait for me to send you free stuff. Review stuff around your house if you must, but actually have a blog.

3. Give me your social media links and stats

Not only can I tell how popular your blog is, this really gives me an idea of the kind of people I'll be reaching. Even if you have 100 people following you, if they're 100 people who I want to reach, I will do what I can to reach them. We're tiny. Getting 10 more sales from those 100 people would be huge for us.

I don't think people realize quite how easy it is to impress me.

If you don't have social media set up, go do that now. Stop reading this. Stop writing people. It takes TWO SECONDS to set up a basic Twitter handle and a Facebook page, and just post every post to it. Share it with your friends and family. Get a hundred or so followers.

Make sure it's public. Someone wrote me the other day and referenced her personal Facebook page. If I wanted to read what she was writing, I had to friend her. And nothing's wrong with making friends, but if you are trying to build a following, you want to set up the ability for people to follow you.

4. Give me your traffic stats

Yeah, this is kind of sticky. If I'm lookin' at the numbers and you only have a hundred or so pageviews per month, I can see how you might think that doesn't look good. You might be hesitant to share that.

So sauce them up a bit! Like I said, if you only have 100 readers, but 10% of those readers buy the things you recommend, I AM GOING TO FALL OVER MYSELF to send you product.

Tell me about your audience!

Are they stay-at-home moms? I'm probably not going to be very interesting to them.

Are they video game geeks? OMG SEND ME ALL THE VIDEO GAME GEEK BLOGS.

Are they rough-and-tumble feminists? LET ME HAVE THEM! I WANT ALL THOSE PEOPLE!

Are they outdoors adventure people? YES YES YES LET ME HAVE YOUR ADDRESS I WANT TO SEND YOU A BOX OF STUFF!

Are they rugged gentlemen? I WANT TO DRIVE THIS TO YOUR HOUSE PLEASE LET ME GIVE YOU FREE STUFF!

Are they rowdy drinkers? THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! LET'S GET DRUNK AND BLOG!! HECK YEAH!

5. Tell me your story

Truly, I am interested! When did you start your blog? What led you to want to start it? Where are you from? How do you like writing? What are some challenges that you faced and overcame?

Who are you and what meaningful contribution are you making to the world?

6. Follow up with me if you haven't heard back

Ok, I know this is hard. I have a hard time following up with the bloggers I reach out to as well.

But I'm a small business owner. I have a thousand things going on at any given moment and I lose track of emails all the time. Even wholesale customer inquiries sometimes go unanswered for weeks just because I missed them in the inbox.

Never feel like you're bugging me if you follow up.

I get it. You write, you put yourself out there, you feel judged, and ultimately... [cricket sounds] rejected. It's hard to feel like trying again.

But seriously, I think I have given samples to literally every person who has taken the time to follow up. Just because I like that kind of gumption and I know it is hard to do.

And if I say I'm going to send product and I don't, follow up again.

Cheerfully ask if I am still sending product. Ask for a tracking number. I have mega-Attention Deficit Disorder and I can sometimes lose my train of thought while holding the thing I'm working on. Getting packages not in our order system in the mail is SO HARD.

So sometimes I forget.

 

And then actually write the review

When I first got a blogger inquiry three years ago, I eagerly and excitedly sent a whole box of full-sized soaps - probably $50 worth of product - without even doing research about her audience, traction, etc.

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

A month or two later, I wrote to confirm that she had gotten the package and was not disatisfied.

She had received the package and was backed up with reviews to write (must be tough to have too much free stuff to review!) and I could probably expect to see my article in the next couple weeks.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then I wrote again. She assured me that I was still in queue, but it was going to be another few weeks.

Which it was.

And then I wrote again. More weeks to wait... I bet you can see where this is going: that was so frustrating. It soured me on the whole blog product review thing permanently.

Finally, when the post came out, it was awful. The photos were blurry and taken on a kitchen counter, the review was really sparse, and she didn't even post it on Facebook or Twitter. How disappointing.

Please don't be the person who ruins this for other bloggers.

HOLY SH!T YOU MADE IT TO THE END OF THIS POST!

Are you a blogger who gets hundreds of product pitches every week? Help a sister out and tell us what would make our pitches get a response! 

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1 comment

  • Jennifer : January 03, 2017

    I loved this.. I got my start from a couple nice companies willing to take a chance on me.

    I love reviewing products and after over two years I am more excited today about what the future holds.

    Thank you for sharing this insight!

    Jennifer
    PS. Be on the lookout for a pitch from me :)

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