Before I start writing this post I would like to make my intentions clear. As a blogger a lot of people have asked me how I grow my following and how I get free samples. Compared to a lot of bloggers out there I don’t get that many samples and products from brands, I only review what I think is relevant to my blog and if you are thinking of starting a blog just for samples let me tell you that this will not work. A blog takes hard work and with plenty of blogs out there you need to stand out and earn those products. Now that you understand that, here’s my tips.
1) Understand the market
It really does depend on what you are blogging about but if you’re covering beauty, fashion and lifestyle then there really is a lot of competition. In honesty, the beauty blogger market is very saturated which means that there’s way more bloggers than you may think. When contacting a brand or trying to ask for samples you need to understand your USP (unique selling point) what can you offer that other bloggers don’t? It could be that you have a strong social media following or perhaps you have a polished writing ability but know your strengths and think about how that will benefit a brand. To be considered you must have something that your target brand wants.
2) Don’t be greedy
A lot of bloggers refuse to work for free and whilst I understand that photography, social media and blogging takes time you do need to be realistic. I’ve never been paid for reviewing a product and in honesty I personally wouldn’t want to be. If you’re targeting high end brands then you need to be aware that unless you can ultimately help to market the brand and boost sales that fifteen pound lipstick is fifteen pounds that they’re not making. Similarly, don’t get a bad reputation for emailing and spamming every brand and public relations company out there and if you are a small or new blogger start small and work your way up.
3) Maintain your integrity
I’ve seen beauty bloggers suddenly rave about pet food when they have been sent it because they want to impress a brand. Let me tell you now only accept collaborations and products that match what your blog is promoting. Similarly be honest! Every single product I have reviewed on my blog (whether I purchased or it it was sent) has an honest review, that’s not to say that you can’t like a product but if you start to lie it will become obvious, samples are a benefit but at the same time integrity can’t be bought.
4) Always disclaim what has been sent to you
In the UK as far as I’m aware there’s no law saying that you have to disclose what was sent but if you don’t then other bloggers won’t be impressed. I personally have a disclaimer for everything that is sent to me because I want you guys to know that I did not buy this product, hiding that fact makes people question your integrity. I remember instantly unfollowing one large blogger, she had a disclaimer that said she was sent the products then began her review by stating “Whilst browsing the aisles of X I couldn’t resist buying Y” don’t bullshit me, if you’ve been sent a product then you didn’t buy it so tell the truth!
5) Approach brands professionally
Whenever I approach a brand (which is rare to non existant if I’m honest) I think about what it is that I want. Let’s say that you want to try a skincare brand perhaps you could ask them that you would like to try some samples to see if they work for your skin. This is totally reasonable, but again be fair. I like to also request to be added to a press list so I can get the latest press releases on your launches and advancements in the industry. Constantly demanding samples won’t impress if you like the product consider buying it and never repeatedly ask for samples of products that you’ve tried before unless you want to look like you’re in it only for the freebies.
6) Do your research
Yes large bloggers may get full sized samples and whilst that is attractive starting small can help you build a rapport with a brand and it gives you something for your press pack (I’ll get onto this next). Some of the samples that I’ve reviewed have been magazine freebies, a sample in a magazine, from online websites that sometimes give away free samples, through social media and through being emailed. There’s endless resources and ways to try products, so don’t think that it’s full size of nothing. I still review perfume samples because although I may not be able to talk about packaging I can tell you about the notes, the longevity, the scent and if I would recommend it.
7) Don’t take on too much
If you are promising brands reviews in exchange for samples then stick to it and this means not going for every sample and opportunity out there. Whilst this may be disappointing you have to turn down opportunities, it’s better to really invest time into each opportunity than to have stacks of questioning emails and feeling overwhelmed.
8) Be wary of personal details
A lot of bloggers use PO boxes but these can be quite expensive to get so the rest of us will have products sent to us directly, this means that you have to think about your personal details. DO NOT give out your phone number EVER and b very careful where your address is going, identify theft is still a think and slapping your home address on social media is never a good idea. I only ever send me address via email and even then I have a separate email for my blog than my personal email. It’s not worth getting hurt or having your identify or personal details stolen for a freebie.
9) Grow your following and get analysing
Bigger brands demand a high following and plenty of engagement and they have every right to do so because they have bloggers queuing to work with them, this means that you have to put effort into your blog. Practice your photography, refine your writing style, proofread everything, grow your social media and think about SEO, Google Analytics and page rankings. I’ve spent nearly three years growing my following and I still think that I have a long way to go. If you’d like to work with brands as I said above start small and work your way up and be willing to put the effort in. Remember, nothing worth it in life comes for free.
10) Create a press pack and rate card
Whilst this may not be as necessary for reviewing products if you’re thinking of doing sponsored posts then you need to create a press pack and a rate card. A rate card has the price and costing of hiring you to promote or produce content, consider the services that you would like to offer and how much to charge. There’s no set rate for bloggers but typically the bigger you are the more you can make so do your research. A press pack details professional information about your blog, this can include your ethos, your following on both your blog and social media, page rankings, previous work you have done with brands and generally information that will encourage a company to work with you. Press packs take time but do it right and it will add a nice accompaniment to any email.
That concludes this post! If you enjoyed it please hit the like button and feel free to leave your questions or advice in the comments section, also if you’re not already following me on Bloglovin or WordPress feel free to do so.