Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Promote your site and get free stuff.

Now there’s a deal you can’t beat, right? Want in on the secret? Here it is:

There are lots of kinds of blogs out there in the world. There are news blogs, where wannabe reporters expose the latest word. There are commentary blogs, where we get to pretend we’re Op-Ed columnists. Personal blogs share our lives, photoblogs share our sights.

A recent addition to the “bloggosphere” is the product review blog. Very simply, you offer to try out a product and write a review of it in exchange for some of the product. There are a number of advantages to doing this kind of a blog:

1. You get free samples of products. People like having their products in the news and they’re often willing to send you some if you’ll spread the word.

2. When the blog is picked up by search engines, people searching for that product will pick up on your blog, and then possible link to your site.

3. The people selling the product will likely link back to your blog, bringing traffic to your blog and to your site, as well as boosting the search engine ranking.

4. If the product dealer/manufacturer has an affiliate program, you can sign up and link to it and collect commissions. One blog I read about was making hundreds of dollars monthly this way.

5. It’s also a great way to build up connections to manufacturers and distributors of products that you might want to carry at your main site.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Clearly define your audience. If you review cosmetics one week, then car batteries the next, you’ll be too scattered. People won’t know what you’re about. Of course, you’ll want to define your audience by the traffic coming to your main site.

2. Once you know who your audience is, then you can start to define the kinds of products that audience is likely to read about and buy. Go looking for these kinds of products. It’s not a bad idea to begin with products your site is carrying already. If you want to find products you can set up affiliate links with, begin at to find good affiliate companies.

3. The next step is to get samples of the products. There are lots of ways to do this. To begin with, you might just have to buy them yourself, so you might want to start off with lower-priced items. You can contact the manufacturer/distributor/dealer and tell them about your blog. Ask them if they could send you a promotional sample in exchange for a review. The more traffic you’re getting to your blog, the better your chances of this, so it might take some time to build up to this. Still, even if your traffic isn’t high yet, you can still boost their search engine ranking by providing a link!

4. When you’ve got the product, use it! Play with it, test it out. Try and think of innovative ways to use it. Go a little crazy. Keep safety in mind, though. You don’t want to risk your life over a product review!

5. Writing the review is the next step. Tell about how you used the product, and how it reacted. Test it out. Here’s the challenge: You want to be honest, so that you can be fair to your audience. You can’t lose your credibility with your readers. But at the same time, you want the people who sent you the product to be happy with the review. When I review someone’s CD at my blog, I try to be positive. I’ll find things that I honestly like about it, and write primarily about those things. If there’s something that flagrantly, obviously wrong or dangerous about the product, I’d recommend contacting the company and possibly not running the review. At least not until they’ve had the chance to respond.

6. Lastly, you’ll want to link to the products. This can be done directly to the product ordering page in your own catalog, or as an affiliate link to a larger retailer. You do want to make some money at this, after all, right?

This is just one more way to use a blog to improve the impact of your website and your bottom line!

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