While review blogging began as a hobby for me, it has slowly evolved into a part-time job. In five simple steps, you can become a review blogger too.
1. Start blogging: Decide on a blogging platform and create a blog using a customized design template to stand out from the crowd. You can always start with a free template and pay for one as your blogs become successful. I’m more familiar with resources designed for bloggers. While Mashable has a great list of free Blogger templates, you can find many others by Googling “free blog template” or “free blogger template” as long as you don’t mind spending time sifting through ones that aren’t actually free. Next, find other blogs in your genre and begin looking at them. What kinds of plugins do they use? What ideas can you get for your own blog? How will you stand out from the crowd? Subscribe to these blogs and begin to read them regularly to get insights for your own blog. Also, begin adding to your blog roll those you love the most.
2. Grow your blog: Add your blog to directories, both general ones and some in your particular niche. Technorati should be your first stop, but others such as Blog Catalog, Blogarama, and Blogflux are great ways for readers to find you. Then keep posting. While getting the word out about your blog, remember to write and post regularly, at least a few times a week. Start reviewing what you already love, and don’t worry about getting products samples just yet. You need to develop your writing style and blog first, so review things you own and love to get started.
3. Networking comes next: This is essential for improving your blog rank, developing the blog itself, and becoming recognized in your niche. Use sites like Entrecard, Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon regularly. Check out Inside CRM for additional social networking sites.
4. Now for the fun part…review blogging: Review bloggers must decide upfront the terms of their reviews. Will you review both good and bad? Personally, I only review products I have used and love, so I require a product if I don’t already own the item. If I don’t love it, I let the company know and send it back if possible. However, I don’t write negative reviews. As for samples…you should wait until your blog is established, making it a worthwhile endeavor for companies. But do not apologize for asking for samples. After all, eventually, you will run out of your own products, and review blogging would be an expensive habit if you purchased everyone you wanted to highlight for your readers. On the other hand, do approach companies you legitimately think are a good fit for the blog and offer your services as a promotional tool in exchange for product.
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5. Giveaways: One surefire way to bring in traffic is to run giveaways on your site. Often companies are willing to give products to give away to your readers. Check out Cool Baby Kid for an example of a contest. Offer extra entry possibilities which help promote your site. List the contest with sites like Prize or Online Sweepstakes. I prefer to have the company ship direct since shipping costs add up quickly.
Once you’re established and work to improve your blog, think of ways to separate yourself from other blogs in your niche. For instance, I recently launched “Blog Popz,” which is a blogger recognition program. Rather than Valentine’s gift guide, which I knew other mom blogs would already be creating, I tried to think of how to have some fun with Valentine’s Day while keeping it unique. Fantasy Book Lists is an example of a brand new blog doing everything right. Keep posting quality content, and reading Ask Baby Kid and your review blog will be off and running in no time!