Tuesday 15 February 2011

Paid Content on your Blog/ Undertaking Reviews

A while back I asked new bloggers what they would like to see posts on during New Bloggers Fortnight and the question asked by JoJo was 'How do you get to review products?'.  Chatting to people over time I have found that many new bloggers are interested in this area. Let's be honest who does not like a little something for nothing?  but is it really something for nothing?

First things first:  What to Think About
  • The first thing I would say when you start to think about having paid or sponsored content on your blog is to think long and hard if this is the route you want to take.  We have to be realistic, some readers hate reviews and any kind of paid content and they will stop reading.  Are you prepared to see your follower numbers drop?
  • Be realistic, remember there are literally 1000's of parenting blogs and well over half of those will all be vying for the same reviews and paid for links or posts. How are you going to make your blog stand out?  What makes you different?  Try and find a USP (unique selling point) for your blog.  Mine is my honesty.
  • Will you get stressed?  When you have 6 freebie products that you then need to write reviews on and you are wondering how to space them on your blog so it does not just look like a sell out. How will you feel?  Only you know, personally a while back I realised I had to be far more picky with the reviews I accepted and I also set up a separate review blog.  However, I now find I am struggling with time for both blogs!
  • Have you got enough time for this?  Running competitions takes time - tweeting, getting them put on comping websites, dealing with the PR, keeping track of all the entries.
So if you have had a good think and you decide that you do want to do reviews then read on.  I am sure some of you are thinking 'So and so does and my blog is much better than theres, so why not!'

The First Practical Steps
  • Set up a blog dedicated email address and make sure your contact details are easy to find on your blog.  Have a contact page or put it in your side bar.
  • If you want to accept paid content and work with brands have this stated on your blog. You'll see I have a separate page called PR/ Reviews.
  • Think about having a disclosure policy.  Look for examples on your favourite blogs or visit http://www.disclosurepolicy.org/ where you can set yourself one up for free.
  • Consider displaying the British Mummy Bloggers Integrity badge to show that you understand the need to be transparent in your dealings with brands.
  • Decide how you will label your sponsored posts. There has been a lot of conversations in our community recently about whether the title should state review or such so that people do not feel let down when they get to the end and find it is sponsored content.  This is your call, you are accountable to you! I have moved to being very explicit in my description of what I received for a sponsored or review post, see here or here.  Read this article on blogger.ed blog, it is about how you might disclose your working relationship with the brands.
Your blog is set to go - What now?
  • Do a couple of trial reviews.  Something that you use everyday or a venue that you visit.  This way you have something to show to a potential brand and they can see your writing style. My first unpaid review was of Chessington.
  • Or have you got friends/ a partner who has a business/ product that you could review?
  • Make sure you are a member of the working with brands group on British Mummy Bloggers and join the Blogger.ed Forum you will find that bloggers will post opportunities to review/ attend events that are not of interest to them but they want to pass on.
  • If you see a review or a blog you read and you feel you have a relationship with that blogger, ask them to pass your contact details onto their PR contact.  This does work, I have attended a fab event due to this and been able to gain other bloggers nice review opportunities when I recommended them to my contacts.  Don't be greedy, I don't think any blogger will pass you their little black book but most people do not mind helping a newbie get their foot in.
  • Be prepared to start with products that you might think are not sexy and are boring.  I had a wonderful event invitation because I believe my details were passed over by a PR that I did CD and batteries review for.  Small acorns and all that...
  • Think about whether you want to promote your blog by joining a ranking of parenting blogs such as the Tots 100 or Wikio.  Once you join the Tots100 you can select if you wish to be contacted by PR's.  Again be realistic, I think there is about 1000 in the Tots100 system now days. If you blog is new, it may take time...
  • Lastly you can always approach companies direct.  Take a look around their websites and look for the contact in marketing who deals with social media and send them a friendly email and see if they work with parenting bloggers.

All that is left to say is good luck!  My personal opinion is that you should give your blog a few months first before you start to take on too much sponsored content, this will give you time to develop your voice and establish a good readership.

Tomorrow Mummy at Bod for Tea will talk about her experience of running her first two giveaways on her blog.
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