Product reviews are one of the most read topics on a blog, especially in the technical niche. There are many products, including the Gadgets, Software, Digital Products, Web services etc. which many users wouldn't directly purchase without reading or hearing about them from some trusted sources or websites. Many tech bloggers and networks would purchase the products and review them, for their personal benefit of the blogs, and to gain a reputation for being one of those who do the natural unbiased reviews which are not based only on the specifications listed by the company of the product.
Let's start by listing out how the companies and blogs get the product for a review:
Purchase – Irrespective of the product, the prolific blogs on the web would purchase a product that is newly launched in the market, as paying for something promising won't hurt them as they would be one of the first on the web who would review the same.
Request for a review unit – Many product companies ignore it, but the bloggers don't stop trying their luck in getting a review unit of the product, and this product is sent for a limited period of time which should be good enough for the actual purpose.
Link up or make network of reviewers – A worthy mention here would be of a website named YBuy which sends the products after the users register themselves with the site on monthly or yearly plans, and the products can be kept by the users for a month during which they can review or use the product, and the next month, another product can be selected.
Now, how can one directly attract people / companies for their product reviewed on your blog:
A few companies would give away nothing but expect the bloggers to review their product based on what they have listed on the website. This is the most challenging task, because although one won't need much time to write up something based on the specifications and features given on the web, it would be a hard time later on for the blogger to answer the comments with no knowledge of the actual product as they haven't used it anytime.
To start off, you need to build two properties of yours very strongly:
Blog content – Quality, Quantity and Age
Social Media profiles – How much following you have got
The blog content management is very important for any blogger, to gain trust in the large product companies who might be your potential advertisers too later on. When you have a decent blog of the age of few months, having some normal content with nothing much catchy or what-they-call-as “exclusive”, the companies don't show much of their interest in getting their product reviewed. Wait, build content, let the blog and content get older and more valuable, the results would start coming later on. Being in a hurry doesn't help in the blogosphere.
Social media promotion is what the tech companies lately are directly asking the bloggers for, and we have seen many of them asking “How many followers do you have on Twitter, How many fans on Facebook”? Only a few of them would go deeper into that and ask how well the sharing of the articles is. The blog too needs to show it on the front that there are several options set up for the ease of social sharing of the content.
Let me show an example of the same:
I had once contacted a paid Windows software company to ask for a review copy of their software, and they agreed to send me one, with the condition that I would do a video review along with the standard written review. We accept these things in most of the cases, as it's a win-win condition for both the parties.
After the review was done, it was socially promoted to an extent where the company noticed that they were getting benefited quite well, and they later on agreed to pay us for the reviews of their other paid products. Just having an excellent review wouldn't have worked, it was the social sharing which did the trick.
Run regular contests on your blog:
It isn't any harm for your blog if you ask repeatedly (literally not forcing them, but politely asking) for a few licenses for the contests in your blog, and if you are lucky with a few companies accepting it, the effect of those contests would attract other companies of similar niche to directly contact you and host contests on your blog. You could set a deal and get the products for free, but that doesn't happen directly from the beginning.
Stay unbiased. If paid to write “positive”, Declare about it:
The title says it all. You didn't like something about the product, write it out. Let the readers know about your genuine thoughts on the product, only then you would see more readers and companies coming your way to ask/respond/interact and make things bigger. Giving a “WOW” to something that really serves no purpose, would degrade the value of your blog, if you don't provide a declaration in the beginning of the review that you are doing a paid review of the product.
Writing unbiased reviews would build the trust in companies, who always look out for such bloggers who write their thoughts out irrespective of how famous/infamous the product maker is.
Share, share and share:
Wrote an original review with the product in your hands? Share it. There are so many social networks and bookmarking sites where you would be able to share the review and make an impact and the social media team of the tech companies could notice and wonder how much their product review might be getting socially shared if they give you the product as an incentive for an unbiased review.
The mobile phone makers keep the social media in their view always, and we have got contacted directly from them few times, with the reference being our other reviews which they read through the social media sites.
Set your own guidelines:
You don't need to follow someone else, or try to adjust the way you write or review based on the company, because if you are always strict and set your own guidelines and policies, the companies would respect that and learn about the standards of reviews and content that you publish on your blog. This is another way of impressing the companies.
Ping the company social profiles:
Most of the tech product companies these days have themselves available on the web through the social media sites like Twitter, Facebook etc. Getting noticed there is sometimes enough to get into their list of contacts, and whenever you post or write anything about their products, may that not be a review too, pinging them would keep them keen to learn more on what you write about, and they might approach you soon with their request of product review on your blog.
There are no direct tricks except than having contacts of company heads, but the above mentioned ways are always helpful and have done the trick for us many a times, and having yourself as a Brand rather than a blog would make an impact in the minds of the tech companies. When you are just a single blog, the level of promotion and noticing is different than what it would have been when you call yourself under a brand name.