Since I started blogging a few months ago, I discovered that one of the biggest ways to drive traffic to your site is by doing giveaways. While it would be nice to have more readers, I am not only using this blog as a way to receive an income. I know that I may never achieve what other bloggers have, and I am OK with that. I have a place where I can express my thoughts and opinions, without being asked to revise what I said or write something differently, which often happens when you are a freelance writer.
Yet, I still find the whole prospect of reviewing items and offering giveaways fun and exciting. I love trying new products, and I always have an opinion that I am willing to share. I also enjoy being able to give back to my readers through giveaways, whether I sponsor the giveaway myself or a company sponsors the giveaway.
Business 2 Blogger: Since I started blogging, I have found a few websites that are designed to bring businesses and bloggers together. I first posted about Business 2 Blogger, which I still think is an interesting site. I like their site and I have checked the job board a few times. I have not made any connections through that site, but I still think it may be worth looking into for other bloggers.
Bloggerdise: The newest site I found is Bloggerdise. I admit, at first I was afraid to contact companies about doing reviews or giveaways. My blog was still fairly new, so I didn't think anyone would be interested in sponsoring a review and/or giveaway on my blog. When I finally started contacting companies, I shared information about my stats, knowing that my rank was not as high as other top mommy blogs. Yet, I do think my numbers are steadily growing and I have noticed an increase in traffic to my site. I was pleasantly surprised to find that some companies were willing to sponsor reviews and giveaways on my blog. I currently have a review and giveaway in the works right now that came from Bloggerdise. I definitely recommend this site, whether you are a new blogger or have been blogging for years.
Etsy: Another site I recommend is Etsy. There are many talented and creative people who have shops on Etsy, and some of them are very willing to sponsor reviews and/or giveaways. Some shop owners want to know your stats and the number of visitors to your site, while others are more concerned that you at least have some amount of traffic. If you visit the teams section on Etsy, you can find groups that are designated to bringing shop owners and bloggers together. I have had some success with Etsy. I have both been contacted by shop owners and contacted some myself. I truly appreciate the interest that they have shown in my blog, and some have even given me compliments and asked to work with me because they like my blog, which means a lot to me.
A special note about Etsy, make sure to contact shop owners outside of the conversions system on Etsy. I was not aware of the policies at Etsy when I first started browsing the site, but I have learned that you are not supposed to use the message system to ask owners about doing reviews/giveaways. So, the best thing to do is to look up the company online through a Google search and try to find an email address or other contact information.
Find Products You Like: Are there products that you really like using? Are there items you have seen advertised that you would like to try? Don't be afraid to send the company a message. Look on the company's website and find PR contact information (if there is no marketing email address, you can try using the contact form on the site). Write a nice pitch letter that explains why you want to review their products and what you can offer (How will it benefit the company? What are your stats? How will you promote the review and/or giveaway?). Some companies may not be interested, but you may be surprised to discover that many will be willing to work with you.
Participate in Group Giveaways and Network With Other Bloggers
The best advice I can give is to join in on group blog giveaways. There are plenty of wonderful bloggers who love getting a large group of bloggers together to offer their readers a chance to win something big. Browse through some of the blogs you read and check out their events or giveaways section, and I am sure you will find a few giveaways that you can participate in. While this option does require you to pay some money out of your own pocket, you will get the chance to have your blog shared on numerous other sites that have a lot of traffic, which will increase the amount of followers you have.
There are also many wonderful groups on Facebook for bloggers where people share information about writing pitch letters and potential companies to contact. They also give each other encouragement and support. You will also be able to find information about blog events, blog hops, and just have a place to chat with other bloggers.
I also recommend networking with other bloggers through sites like Mom Central, Mom Blog Society (MBS), and Mom Bloggers Club (MBC).
With MBS, you can read through the forum and find other great blogs to
follow and possibly an event to participate in. You can also join the
Blogger Opportunities group and apply to review products and do
giveaways. (I have since learned that Mom Blog Society now charges a monthly $5 fee to be a member of the Opportunities Program. Each blogger will have to decide if that fee is worth it to them. Personally, I think it is better to do your own research and pitch companies yourself, rather than paying the fee.) At MBC, you can also read through the forums, meet other
bloggers, and join their Bloggers Program group.
Join Social Networking Sites
Once you gain a few followers, make sure to keep posting content, so your new followers will become readers. Don't forget to sign up for all of the social networking sites, such as Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. Sponsors like to know your numbers, and they want to know that it will benefit them to have you do a review and/or giveaway. If you have multiple accounts with social networking sites, you can let sponsors know how many people you will be able to reach.
Determine Your Fee's
One other point to consider is whether to charge or not. I know some bloggers charge to do reviews, while others do reviews for free. Some also do it for free if the sponsor hosts both a review and giveaway. Another approach is to say you will do a review if the sponsor pays for one month (or more) of advertising on your blog.
As a newer blogger, I do not charge for reviews. It is a bit odd for a freelance writer to not charge for what I write, but I am more interested in making connections and finding great products to review at this point. I also love doing giveaways, so my readers have the chance to win something nice. I currently offer sponsors one month of free advertising if they host a review and giveaway on my blog.
I do charge for giveaway only posts, and treat those as sponsored posts. When I am reviewing an item myself, I am able to receive a free product which I consider payment for my time. If I only do a giveaway, I do charge a fee. It takes time to create a well-written blog post, run and promote the giveaway, and monitor the entries. As a blogger, whether you or new or not, you should be compensated in some way for your time. You are helping the business gain exposure with a post on your site, so you should decide what will make it worthwhile for you to do the reviews and/or giveaways on your site.
Decide What Type of Items You Will Accept
You also need to determine what products you are willing to review and what prizes you will accept for giveaways. If you are not a fan of a certain product and a sponsor wants you to do a giveaway, don't be afraid to turn down the offer. You should stick with products that are things you would actually use in your daily life. Readers want to know you are endorsing a product honestly and truthfully, so make sure to complete a fair review on all products you review.
For giveaway prizes, some bloggers will only accept items that are worth $20 or more. For my blog giveaways, I am not as concerned about the total amount the prize is worth, but if it is something worthwhile that I think my readers would like, and something that I would endorse. Some people who find something wrong with a product will contact the sponsor and let them know before posting the review. In these cases, the sponsor will most likely ask for the review to not be posted or they may offer to send another product. You should let sponsors know your terms up front, and let them know that your reviews will be honest and accurate.
Have a Disclosure Policy
The final point I want to mention is to make sure you have a disclosure policy on your blog. By law, you must have a disclosure policy on your blog, and you must also disclose in every review that you post that you received an item for free or were paid to complete the review. You can create a free disclosure policy at http://disclosurepolicy.org/.
Do you do reviews and giveaways on your blog? What tips would you offer bloggers who are new to doing reviews and giveaways?