When a blogger reviews a service, product or website, they are investing time to promote for someone else. Time is money for bloggers. Do you know how much to charge for a product review and how much time it will take to produce a worthwhile review?
What is a Product Review?
Bloggers are often presented with opportunities to review products, services or websites. Brands need exposure and bloggers can provide it. Try not to associate a sponsored post with blog product reviews. They are different. A review, assuming it’s an honest one, is intended to share information about the product or service and the blogger’s experience using it.
As a newbie blogger a request from a marketer or PR representative asking you to talk about a product can be an exciting feeling. It’s a feeling of recognition. A big brand has found your blog and found it worthy of promotion. I know, I have been there. It feels goods, but as I always say,
If your goal is to make money with your blog, you must value your time, effort and your blog’s impact.
My first offer was from AXE personal care products for men. They offered me 5 travel kits of products to send to my audience. I was psyched! I eventually received them in the mail and I ended up passing them out to some friends. The travel packs were valued at $5USD each. I had planned to publish a post and send out these $5 travel kits to 5 people. Seriously, what was I thinking. The amount of time I would have invested for $25 worth of product didn’t make sense. I realize now that AXE was interested in the post, nothing else. The freebies I received were a tactic to make me feel valued and entice me to create a post. A post that is worth well more than $25.
When is a Product Review Worth Doing?
This is going to vary based on a blogger’s individual needs and wants. For example, if you are a foodie blogger that is being offered a set of knives to review that have a high value to you personally, you might be willing to write a review for less. Measure the value of the product or service to you AND your audience.
Does Your Audience Benefit?
A marketing representative may ask for a free review, while providing a giveaway. A hotel might offer a 2-nights stay voucher. The idea of the giveaway is to draw traffic to your article (blog). A product review without a giveaway would yield little traffic if you audience isn’t used to these posts or the product is of little interest to them. If people follow you because you provide product reviews, then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Honesty in a Product Review
Besides the negotiation, an honest review is a difficult review. Here are the conflicts:
- You want them to be happy they gave you a product / giveaway.
- You were already offered a free stay at the hotel, can you really talk bad about it?
- You don’t want other marketers to see a review on your blog that bashed something.
- They are paying you!
- And you might not be paid until the review is published.
All these factors create a great conflict of interest, but bloggers will still write product reviews.
You goal is to avoid pissing off the client while being an honest blogger. In following this strategy I write about the pros and cons. I use the term, “Improvements I Look For,” and place it at the end of the post. The details of the product or service are written first, then the pros or first impressions and finally improvements I look for. I stress the word “I”, because what a blogger seeks in a product might not be what the majority wants. And this is a reason not to bash a product you are being paid to review, unless of course it’s absolutely terrible.
Approach the article as you would an end of year performance review with your subordinate. List the pros first, and the cons last, but always with care.
What to Charge for a Product Review
This one is tough, but I will give it my best estimate. A lot has to do with the product’s value to you and your audience and the amount of time the review requires of you. A review of a website can be quick and easy, but a review of a gadget or travel booking site can involve much more time and scrutiny.
Do I need to disclosure?
According to the FTC, in this case you would be required to disclose freebies or be fined.
“Bloggers who receive cash or in-kind payment (including free products or services for review) are deemed endorsers and so must disclose material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”
Tips for a product review
- Choose products or services that are relevant to your readers
- Don’t over promise and under deliver. Some product reviews can include a lot of work, such as creating a online profile, testing a website service, doing comparison studies
- Limit the number of backlinks
- Realize product reviews can be useful content to an audience and rank well in search engines
- Ask for images to be provided by the client
- Always include the positives and negatives, or room for improvement
- If you find a product or service to be absolutely horrendous, don’t publish it, because you probably won’t receive payment anyway
- Most marketers or PR representatives won’t pay you until you publish the article (make efforts to change this)
- Be aware of requests for free promotion, you don’t work for free
Disclosure: I am not legally qualified to provide financial or legal advice. My intent is to provide my opinions and spur discussion.