Leveraging a Product Review for Maximum Benefit

by Jimmie

Has a company approached you about doing a product review on your blog? Fantastic! But before you make a commitment, negotiate the product review so that you get maximum benefit.

I have certainly done my share of free product reviews where all I got in exchange for my detailed review was just the product. When you are a new blogger without a large audience, huge traffic numbers, and influence, free product in exchange for a product review is about all you can expect. So if you are just starting out with product reviews, go ahead and do them in exchange for the item only. Consider it practice.

But once you turn the corner and start getting compensated your product reviews, you are on your way to being a professional (rather than a hobby) blogger. 

When you are approached by a company to do a product review, don't just agree. Think carefully about the project and write a proposal that outlines what you expect and what you will deliver.

Asking for Compensation

Your Time is Worth Something

If you are approached by a company to do a product review, go ahead and ask for compensation. You can keep it low at $50 if you are new to this. Once you gain experience, you can bump it up to $75, $100, and onwards. All they can say is no, and if you really want to do the product review, simply admit it and offer to do it for free. 

You can't really lose by asking for compensation. My first ever paid review was for only $50, and I had around 25,000 monthly page views at that time. For me, it felt very "big time" because it was my first time to ever be paid for blogging.

I have blogging friends who won't touch a product review for under $125. Their traffic is much higher than mine, and they have more experience, so companies are willing to pay them more. And they ASK FOR MORE.

If you are getting 20,000 monthly visits, you can ask for $50 compensation for a product review. Remember, the company is paying for access to your audience. How else could that producer reach so many targeted customers for such a small amount? No where. 

No company is going to come back with my $50 offer and ask to pay me more. Remember that there is a negotiation process for product review agreements. You may feel uncomfortable negotiating, but you need to work through that if you want to move into the professional blogger realm. If you would like, add a note to your proposal saying that the terms are negotiable. That lets's the company know you are willing to compromise.

Thinking About Compensation
Thinking About Compensation

Compensated for What?

If you feel that being paid for a product review is less than ethical, remember that you are not being paid to promote a product.

You are being paid for your time.

Does that change it for you? When you write your disclaimer, add that you were compensated for your time to use the product, write the review, and hold the giveaway.

Don't Be Selfish

Make Your Proposal Attractive

Of course, your proposal should not be one sided, only explaining what you want. Convince the company that you are worth every penny that you are asking for -- and much more!

You should share your traffic data, Facebook and Twitter followers, and subscribers to demonstrate the audience you can reach. Reassure the company that you will write an honest and thorough review and then promote it as much as you can. If you will post photos or make a vlog, share that too. 

If your blog's niche or readership has a special connection to this product, share that.

Can you throw in some free ad space in your sidebar or at the bottom of some posts? Will you add a review of the book or product at Amazon or another retail site? Clearly explain what you are willing to do in your proposal.

Offer the company enough so that the amount you are asking for compensation seems paltry in exchange for what they are getting.

Asking for Extras to Giveaway

Another great way to leverage the product review is to ask for two or more additional items for a giveaway. 

Techically, according to legal terminology you are holding a sweepstakes because the winner is chosen by random selection. But since no one uses that word, I'll call it a giveaway.

A Giveaway is Good for You

Yes, a giveaway is a bit more work. But the upside is that your readers are excited about the possibility of getting something for free. You want your readers to be excited about your blog posts and not roll their eyes, clicking away with a sigh, "Another product review! Ugh!"

Instead you want them to think, "Oh, goodie! I might win!" They are also more likely to tweet and share your post which means more traffic for you.

A Giveaway is Good for the Company

When your readers are engaged, there more eyes to see the product you are reviewing. When there is social media buzz surrounding a giveaway, companies receive more branding recognition and reputation. 

Giveaway Helps

If you use Wordpress (and you should), get the And the Winner Is WP Plugin for managing contests. It's a dream!

When you send your product review proposal to the company and ask for extra product to giveaway, ask the company to ship it directly to the winners. This saves you hassle and cost of postage.

Rules

State your rules clearly. I usually add a disclaimer that it is only for ages 18 above and for residents of the continental USA. (This leaves out your international readers, so when at all possible, have an ebook version or offer to pay the postage for them if they should win. I was an "international" once; it stinks to always be left out of the fun.)

In the giveaway post, tell exactly when you will choose the winners and that they will have X number of hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. This saves you from waiting days and days for a winner who never sends an address.

Partnering With Another Blogger

Ask a trusted blogger to join with you in revewing the product and posting your reviews on the same day. Then interlink your reviews. If you have negotiated for the review to also be a giveaway, then you can promote your friend's post as another opportunity to win the product. This drives traffic to each other's blogs and hopefully gains you some subscribers.

I have done projects like this, and the energy is amazing! Partnering is really powerful!

If possible, create a cute button or banner that you can both use on your blogs for instant indentification. 

Using Twitter to Maximize Your Product Review

For all your readers who entered the giveaway but didn't win, offer a second chance to win more prizes -- a Twitter party!  As part of your product review proposal, offering a Twitter party for a set price and ask the company to contribute additional prizes. 

A half-hour party can run from $200-$500 (and up, of course) depending on your number of Twitter followers, your experience, and the company's size. It is a good idea to enlist a partner to aid you as a panelist during the party. 

More Twitter Ideas to Give Your Sponsor the Most Value

  • choose a hashtag and use it every time you tweet the product
  • tweet when you get the product in the mail
  • tweet about using it, enjoying it, learning how to use it, etc.
  • take a photo of it with your smart phone and tweet that

Join the Escalate Network

More Opportunities to Monetize Your Blog

The Escalate Network provides payment for blogging about various deals and bargains. You can share them through your blog and other social media outlets.

Updated: 04/07/2013, Jimmie
 
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Angel on 12/21/2011

Very Informative article. Yours always are. I need all the help I can get. I am new to all of this. Thanks.

mulberry on 12/02/2011

Wonderful article. I have been approached to do product reviews many times, but I've never taken them up on it. I just wasn't sure about it all. Maybe I'll have more time next year to devote to writing and I can do a bit of this. Thanks for this info!

Holistic_Health on 11/26/2011

Great tips I never would have thought of. Thanks for showing us how to leverage this type of opportunity.

thepurpleturtle on 11/25/2011

Aplify is a great source to help get the word out as well. You have to remembet that when doing a product review that it is more than just saying ' wow this is a good product buy it'. Your are sure to increase article traffic by following the steps that you listed above thanks Jimmie.

thefont on 11/23/2011

Wow, this is so useful, thank you. My traffic is only a few thousand a month at the moment so I have a little way to go- but I'll get there in the end!

Michey on 11/17/2011

Very good and solid ideas, as in the mix of such a dynamic field we sometime forget what we suppose to do to brand and which are the elements for making the most of the Internet leveraging.
Thanks

ohcaroline on 11/17/2011

This is all new to me. Great information.

DrDarko on 11/16/2011

I love the sweepstakes idea. Not only does it promote the product, it also promotes your blog. Great article!

Digby_Adams on 11/16/2011

Thank you so much for writing this!!! I didn't know any of this stuff. Especially about the tweeting, the giveaways, the twitter party. What to charge - that people actually charged. I've got to get organized about this. Thanks again.

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