The Traveling Sisterhood: How to Start Your Own Product Review Blog

Friday, February 19

How to Start Your Own Product Review Blog


In the last week or so, a couple people have asked me about how to get started blogging and I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, so here it is!

About 3 years ago, I wasted away an afternoon entering blog giveaways.  At the end of those few hours, I thought, "Wow, Celena, that was really a complete waste of time. You could spend less time reviewing things yourself and wouldn't have to enter contests to get them!" Here are a couple of my best tips for getting started:

Set Up Your Blog
I use blogger.com which is free and which I have found to be more user friendly than the other main platform bloggers use, which is wordpress.com. Try both--maybe you'll love wordpress! Who knows?

Make Your Blog Pretty
I then make my blog pretty by heading over to thecutestblogontheblock.com where you can get blog backgrounds and add-ons like you see here, on my lovely blog.  Most of them are very easy to change around with a simple html code copy-and-paste. "Html" may sound frightening, but I promise, blogger makes it so easy!

Host  A Giveaway
After I set up my blog, I posted my first giveaway--a couple free item coupons for some organic shakes.  Giveaways are the best way to build up your numbers, and the more readers you have, the more companies will want to send you free stuff.   

Use Nice, Big Pictures
Make your photos extra-large! That may seem super big at first but they look so much nicer than smaller pics!  I promise--make them as colorful and big as they will fit.  The more eye-catching the better.  They grab the readers interest even if they don't read all of the words in your post, and they impress companies who are considering sponsoring your blog.

Write a Post or 2 About Something You Care About
Readers and companies don't want to come to a blank page when you give them the link to your blog!  I shared my page with friends and family and started requesting products after I posted my first giveaway and some personal stories about my experience as a new mama.  They're now in my "Devotionals and Stories" section if you would like to read them.

Start Pitching Companies
There are a couple product review blogs I follow by e-mail.  Everyday, I skim over their posts in my inbox and start a quick "draft" e-mail of any companies they're reviewing that I want to review but haven't yet.  When I first started, I found a blog I liked and made a list of all the companies they reviewed, headed to the company websites, and found their contact me section. I recommend scrolling through my website and noting the products you'd like to review.  Make it worth your time. Your time is valuable.  If you're going to spend an hour taking pics and writing a review, you don't want to request a product with only a $5 value! I like to try to request products with at least a $30 value, but the higher the better! I keep my pitch e-mail short and sweet. It goes something like this:

Subject: Traveling Sisterhood Blog Review

Dear Sun Basket,
Your food delivery service sounds both delicious and inspiring! If you're
currently able to provide product samples to bloggers, I'd love to review
it at The Traveling Sisterhood.
Hoping to hear from you!
Best,
Celena Janton

Host Giveaways
After I have received the item and have decided to review it (a few times I did not at all like an item and didn't feel right about promoting it, but that is very rare), I send another e-mail that goes something like this: 
Hi Nicole,
We loved the box so much!  I'll be posting my review next week. When I do, would you like to offer my readers any type of promo and/or giveaway?  Thanks again and hope you had a merry Christmas!
Celena

9 times out of 10, a company will want to do a giveaway.  The company generally sends the products themselves so that you don't have to pay out of pocket shipping costs. You simply e-mail them your winner's mailing info after the giveaway ends.  I use Google Docs for my giveaway forms, some bloggers simply have you comment (I don't personally like that b/c of privacy issues--I'd rather protect my reader's e-mail addresses in a secure form), and some bloggers use Rafflecopter which I've tried but which has always seemed like quite a hassle. Post your giveaways on TightWadInUtah-- their giveaway listing is free and gets me a lot of hits!

Buy a Domain Address
My blog has always been about saving money, never spending it!  The only thing it costs me is my yearly $9 fee for a domain address which makes your page seem more professional.  I purchase mine through GoDaddy.com. Dot com addresses cost a bit more, .info is less which is why I went with that.  This is definitely not necessary, though.

Start Making Money
I wrote another post -- Part II, if you will, all about how to get started making money blogging. You'll find that here.
 
Budget Your Time
I spend an average of an hour a day on my blog.  Sometimes, I won't post anything or send any e-mails for a week at a time, and then I'll spend a few hours a few days in a row. It's very flexible, a fun hobby, and it's also started making me money which is an added bonus!  Like I said before, our time is valueable. Don't spend your life in front of a screen.  I spend my days homeschooling my kiddos, spending time with my family and friends. I spend many evenings when the kiddos are in bed working on my historical fiction novel, brushing my pooch, Lucy's, hair while I enjoy Reign or Indian Summers, and leave the blogging for another day.



13 comments:

  1. I love this! I want to blog or vlog someday..I can't decide what would be better for me! This was very helpful! :)

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  2. Thank you for your time and for laying this out to make it seem so possible!! I'm very interested in starting just haven't had something like this post to find where to start! I love your blog!

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  3. This is really great advice. It was nice of you to explain how blogs work. It would be fun for me one day to have my own.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

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  4. Thanks for the advice! I've tried blogging once before and it became so time consuming after taking another bloggers advice that I soon quit. I spend my free time reading or writing. But mostly reading as I feel it's developing my inner voice as a writer. Anyway. I think I'd be happier sharing the burden of a blog with someone else. Like I have an almost 4 year old and will never need maternity or baby things, I'm strictly gluten free, etc. Thanks for being so honest, and now I think maybe I can give it another go after all! Possibly find a partner with a baby to review baby products as well. Yay :)

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  5. Awesome. :) Pretty much everything I assumed by observing bloggers. Only problem, is I am a horrible photographer.

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  6. Thanks a Lot Celena! This is really great post I keep coming back to your website to learn more!

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  7. Thank you so much for your list of affiliates and this post on how to start a review blog. I have already been approved by a few using your links. I have a really new (about 2 months old) blog and I am kind of lost on where to go next to start making money. Thank you for giving all us new bloggers hope that it can be done with a little hard hard work and planning.

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  8. I love your blog! so many great tips. thanks!

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  9. I enjoyed this post. I loved that you included a brief sample of what an email to a company should be when asking for product to review or give away.

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  10. I have started a blog, but need to delete old posts. I had started on wordpress. Let me know if you think the other service is better. Love all your help!

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  11. I had a blog on the blogger.com! It was my photography page's blog. Let me know which site you think I should pursue for my complete blog with affiliates. http://clickingthroughmylife.blogspot.com/

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  12. Thanks for all the info!!!

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  13. Thanks for the tip about where to list giveaways. I'll give that a shot!

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