Backstage Pass: Behind the Review & Givewaway Posts #BloggerBackstage

Hi everyone! I appreciate all of you and wanted to give you a little sneak peak into what occurs backstage (aka behind the scenes) of a typical review and giveaway post.  I admit, before I got into blogging, I thought "What could be so hard about that?! It looks like it's quick and easy and you get free stuff!"  Now that I've been doing this for nearly two years I realize it's just not the case.  So, I wanted to give you a little peak into the typical process of posting a high-quality review and giveaway on a blog.

Step One: Contact potential sponsors. When you are first beginning your blog, this is something you are doing during any spare moment you have.  You basically need to hit the ground running and start sending out personalized e-mails to potential review/giveaway sponsors.  Often these are companies that you actually have their products and love and would love to host a review of the products you own from them and potentially a giveaway for your readers.  Yes, you read that right.  In the beginning you work for free. Pitch letters must be professional, yet personal and free of errors. Nothing is worse than getting a copy/paste letter with the sponsors name filled into a specific spot. Make sure you personalize it and tell them why you think their products are a good fit for your audience.  As your blog grows, you still spend many hours a week reaching out to sponsors, but you also have sponsors reaching out to you.  Now you have the added task of weeding through the tons of e-mails you receive in a day and find the sponsors that fit your blog's mission.

Step Two:  Coordinate with Sponsors. Once you have a sponsor on board, you start coordinating what (if any) review items they are sending, as well as what the giveaway prize will be.  This includes getting high-res product photos and any product/company information the sponsor would like to include.  In terms of the giveaway, you need to coordinate with the sponsor what the prize is, what entries the sponsor would like included, and who it is open to (i.e. U.S., Canada, Worldwide). It's important to have very clear communication during this process, so that you and sponsor understand and acknowledge each other's terms.

Step Three: Testing the Product. This is a step that can take one day or several days.  When it arrives, you first have to take high-res, good lighting photos in the original packaging.  Sounds easy, right?  Imagine trying to do it as many excited little hands grab at the item, begging for you to open it. After opening it, you then need to take photos of the review item(s) in action.  The goal of the photos is always to get clear, high-quality pictures that are still candid.  Also, not only do you need to get your kids to stop moving, but you also need to get a good shot of the product.

Step Four: Writing the Review.  Once you have fully documented and tested the product(s) in your home, it's time to write your review.  Reviews include a personally written account of your family's experience with a product, edited and copyrighted versions of the pictures you captured, any stock images/logos and product/company information the sponsor would like included, links to all of your sponsor's website(s) and social media accounts, FCC required disclosure before any links as well as at the bottom, any giveaway rules  & requirements, and a giveaway form which you have to create separately on a third-party website (could technically be another step in the process).
Reviews must be grammatically correct, appealing to your audience, descriptive and HONEST! Nothing is worse than reading the same generic statements over and over on every review a blogger posts. It's just not genuine and the sponsor and readers will know you didn't put the effort into reviewing the product.

Step Five: Promotion. Once your post is written and publish, you can't stop there.  Promotion is the key to success on your blog.  Not only is it expected by the sponsors, but it's also good for getting traffic to your site.  Promotion includes scheduling posts for all your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and many more), as well as adding your post link to sites such as StumbleUpon for increasing internet browsing traffic.  You should also post your link to the sponsors social media pages and provide them with a link via e-mail with full disclosure to share your post.

Step Six: Managing the Community.  This isn't as much about working with the sponsor as it is driving your blog "community" engagement. It's extremely important when you review a product to read any and all comments and reply to as many (preferably all) as you can.  This drives reader satisfaction, which drives engagement, which drives blog success! It's an absolute must!

Step Seven: Maintaining the Relationship.  It's very important that after you work with a sponsor, you don't just forget about them. Many sponsors will like to work with you multiple times over a year if they had a positive experience.  You need them as much as they need you.  It's a partnership!

There you have it! It's a basic explanation of the behind the scenes of every review I do.  Definitely not as easy as "People just send me free stuff and I write about it", but much more rewarding that I ever thought it could be.  Many families don't have the time to research every single product out there or the finances to buy and try them all out, so that's where I come in.  My passion is to provide my readers with an insider's look at family-friendly products and services.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts! 

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