This post is a continuation of:

Blogging 101

Blogging 102

Blogging 103

Blogging 105

As was the case with the previous posts, this is in no way a comprehensive or exhaustive list.  Rather, I am touching on a few aspects of blogging based on reader requests and each and every point is my opinion only, of course.

Picking up where we left off:

13. Product Reviews

Bloggers must make the decision if this is something she wants to do or not.  Some bloggers do them, some don’t.  I have run the gamut from doing lots to doing almost none.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts, knowledge, and opinions about various products that I am sent for review but I also don’t want readers to get turned off or feel like my blog is an informercial for that product or products in general.

To each her own where she draws the line with how many product reviews she does, and how in depth, she reviews them.

For me, it’s usually a quick and more causal mention:

“Hey, I was sent these cookies from ABC company.  I liked the way they tasted but I like my own cookies better.  However, if you’re short on time and can’t make your own cookies, these are good.”

Other bloggers go into much greater detail analyzing the cookies’ taste, texture, price, etc.  And that’s her prerogative and if her readers care that much about the cookies she ate, awesome.

I don’t think they really do, though.  Which is why my product reviews are more product “mentions” and I make all companies aware of this before they send me things.  I have a Press Page with links for vendors to view how I typically review things so they understand my style and format.

Things that a blogger should disclose when doing product reviews:

The products were sent to you for free and/or you did not pay for the product.

You were not compensated for the review.

The FTC has establish very strict rules governing this and you could be fined $11,000+ if you don’t disclose these things.

I always use language that reflects that the products were sent to me, such as:

I received

I received for free

In the mail I was sent

And so forth,  so it’s very clear that I didn’t use my own money to buy that $2.99 box of cookies.  It’s certainly not worth an $11k fine!

For a few recent examples of product reviews see:

Stevia & Chocolate (food)

NuStevia vanilla

Barre3 (dvd/product)

Barre3 dvd

and On a Stick! (book)

On a stick sign

 

14. Receiving Free Products as a Blogger

Readers, and other bloggers, often ask me how do I get free stuff?

Two ways:

1. If I truly want to try a product out, very occasionally I will write to a company asking to receive a sample.  I describe myself, my blog, my stats, daily page views, readership demographics, and what the benefit to the company would be for having me review their product.  I used to do this more but rarely, if ever, do it now.  It was how I got my feet wet with doing product reviews but those days have passed.

2. What happens is that as your blog grows, companies find you.  Somehow they find you and will write to you asking if you’d like to review their products.

I used to say yes to almost every company that contacted me.  However, not every company is a great fit for me, my blog, and my readership.  People don’t want to read a review about power drills on a food blog.

And in addition, it goes back to the informercial thing I touched on in point 13 above.  I don’t ever want to turn readers off and review or feature too many products.  This is a my blog, not contract ad space or a corporate free-for-all and I won’t feature everything I am asked to review.

Plus, the pressure of feeling like I have to write out reviews can be stressful at times and I hate letting them pile up

Above all else remember: Nothing in life is free! Including “free” products.  I have to photograph the items, blog about them, answer reader questions about them, and work with the company’s point person and arrange shipping, link back info, product details, etc. and that all takes time.

So it’s all a balancing act which is why some bloggers just say no to the whole thing.

15. Running Reader Giveaways or Contests

All the considerations just discussed re product reviews apply to running giveaways.  Now you’re giving things away to others, not just reviewing them and keeping them for yourself.

I never buy things with my own money and give them away.  It’s always companies/vendors who supply the product or service.  It’s very important per the FTC rules mentioned above to say this or write this in the fine print of the giveaway/contest post. i.e. “I have partnered with ABC company and they are supplying one lucky reader with a dozen granola bars.”

With giveaways, me and my site become a “host” of sorts.

The vendor/company is happy because they are featured on my blog and get lots of free press and advertising.

My readers are happy and rewarded with the chance to win something.

I on the other hand deal with lots of excess emails from contest entries for a few days, but not a biggie.

Make sure if you are with an sponsor like FoodBuzz or BlogHer or similar that you are can run giveaways.  I pre-clear all the giveaways or contests that I run with my sponsor, FoodBuzz.

Most bloggers choose winners by using a site like Random.org and then relay the winner’s shipping info to the vendor, who ships directly to the winner.

There is a lot of behind the scenes leg work that can go into running giveaways but as a blogger, I feel it’s one way I can reward my readership for their loyalty and reading by hosting giveaways.

For an example of recent contests and giveaways and how I drafted and structured them, see:

Coconut Oil Giveaway

Business Cards Giveaway

 

And that concludes Blogging 104.  Whew.

From my last post showcasing some of my favorite sights from my local Farmers Market over the weekend, thanks for the compliments on my photos.

Various produce at Farmers MarketI truly loved just walking around with my camera on my birthday click-click-clicking!

And it was interesting to hear who thinks they get better deals at their farmers market and who believes they do better financially-speaking at the grocery store.  As discussed, I believe that later.  But of course, there are reasons why supporting farmers’ markets are beneficial and wonderful even if it means paying somewhat more.

All that blog talk makes me want to dive into some chocolate + peanut butter and go dig into some of the remaining Nutella & Peanut Butter Graham Bars with Chocolate Frosting

Nutella & Peanut Butter Graham Bars with Chocolate Frosting stacked on plate

Questions:

1. What was helpful?  What did you enjoy reading about?  Did you learn anything?

2. What do you want me to answer in the future?

I plan to do one last post in this series, Blogging 105.   One question I know I am going to tackle is how to handle revealing yourself to the world when starting a blog.

Anything else?

These posts are also linked in my Popular Tab so in case you need to find these again, that’s where they’ll be.

Have a great day!

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