I have been asked several times by many, many people, “How did you start your product review and giveaway blog?” So, I have decided to share my personal process with you, and if I can help you as others have helped me, it will be a way of me paying it forward. I started my blog in November of 2010, and if you go back to my beginning posts you can see that I have grown a lot. In a short 9 months I now have over 5500 GFC followers and 27,000 unique monthly visits. I got most of this through hard work, tons of hours, and networking; but it was relatively an easy process, just time consuming. **Update 4/8 I know have 58K in unique visits and GFC is obsolete. I have 150K in page views a month.
Let me preface by saying that I am by no means an expert. This is just what I did and how I did it. Now that I am looking back I will give you different options of what I wish I would have done versus what I did.
- The first thing I did was establish a blog. I used Blogger because my sister did, and I am already so intertwined with Google it just seemed to be the logical choice for me.
- What I wish I did was start of with WordPress. Everyone who is serious about blogging moves to WordPress sooner or later, and it is much better to move when you do not have that much to move. You make more money, brands take you more seriously, and when I moved my pitches to me tripled. If you have WordPress or even Blogger, here are 5 quick tips to fix your blog. Be careful when choosing a host too!
- Own your own domain name. If you do not already have your own name, but one. It is also better sooner than later to establish who and what you are going to be. I had already had the site www.makobiscribe.com from a failed transcription business. It seemed silly for me to purchase another domain name when I already had a perfectly good one that already incorporated my three boys names into it. It also made me feel good to turn my lemons into lemonade. The “Blog Graders” like Google, reward your site when you own your own domain, and they like it when it you buy it for a long period of time. You can get it cheaper that way also, usually 10 bucks a year. This shows you plan on staying, and you are not going to be a fly by night business. I only purchased mine for a year because of money constraints, but I have since purchased the five year plan.
- What I wish I did was buy the five year plan to save me money up front. I have since done that with the new websites I set up.
Must Have Tools For Setting Up A Product Review And Giveaway Blog
- Google Analytics. This needs to be set up on your blog so you can give page views and monthly uniques.
- Twitter account. Don’t forget to add Makobi Scribe. I automated mine to auto follow back people who follow me. FYI the post there refers to Tweetme which is now Socialoomph, but the links are still right. Most brands will want your Twitter followers.
- Feed Burner. Feed Burner is pretty user friendly and self explanatory. I just went through every setting and read it to see if it would apply to me or if it was something I wanted. I have read and researched a lot through this process. If you go to edit Feed details you can get your Feed address. Mine is http://feeds.feedburner.com/makobiscribe/Qbzz and you put it Blogger under Settings > Site Feed > Post Feed Redirect URL. Now when people subscribe to your Feed you are ready to go! Make sure you opt for the email subscription as well. A lot of brands want to know what your email or RSS reach is and this is where you get that info.
- Since FeedBurner has been discontinued, I use MadMimi for my newsletter & RSS Feed.
- Facebook. Mine is Makobi Scribe Fans because the first account was a personal account with a business alias which is against Facebook rules. If you open one of these, you are in danger of having Facebook remove it and all your friends forcing you to start from zero! What I wish I did was start a Facebook page right off of the bat, then I would not have lost my 1000 fans trying to get them to switch over. Most brands want your Facebook page stats. While you are on Facebook sign up for:
- Networked blogs. Do not syndicate to your page, it will get lost in the sea. It is always better to hand post on Facebook to engage your readers. You want Networked blogs because it creates some nice back links.
- Klout. This is relatively new and some brands ask for it. You can see my Klout here. A nice bonus is that you get products for having Klout called Perks.
- Triberr. You can read my posts on it: Introduction to Triberr ~ Triberr Part 2 ~ Gripes about Triberr This is a great networking tool and traffic driver. Make sure you are in the right niche though, and make sure you read the rules of the Tribes.
- Alexa. Register your blog with Alexa. Put a widget on your blog, and download a tool bar. Set your blog as your home page.
- Linked In. This is mostly a networking tool, but I received a handful of opportunities through Linked In.
- Technorati. Sign up for this right away. This was the FIRST stat I was asked for and had no idea what it was.
You are now ready to blog!
The following is an excerpt of what I posted in April...
But wait, I had 0 followers. Who was going to let me review them?? Big market I was reaching huh?? Well, I figured everyone loves free stuff.
My Marketing Strategy (at the time … I would not advise this)
I had a bunch of stickers left over from my kids craft projects (like 1,000 of them I bought from Oriental Trading Company for 4.99 on clearance) and they were super cheap to mail. I posted to a few Freebie sites and made it a requirement in order to get the stickers they had to follow my blog. Make sure you say while supplies last or you might end up in over your head. I received over 700 requests for stickers, but only 60 people had joined my site, so I was okay. After I had reached my limit, I bought 1 more bag of stickers and offered them free with paid postage. Since then, I have found a super way to gain followers is through blog hops (Memes ~ Mine is A Not So Moody Monday). The more you participate, the more followers you get.
Then I started searching the Internet for free samples and other free stuff and posted it daily.
While these numbers were slowly building up, my sister had a blog, Jamie’s Precious Peas, and she was kind enough to let me be a contributor to her blog. As I posted to her blog, I also published these posts to my blog. I made it a requirement or a bonus entry to to win to subscribe to my blog as well as hers. Then I posted every giveaway I blogged about on different marketing sites such as online-sweepstakes.com and contestgirl.com. This brought me up to about 80-100. I then felt I was ready to start marketing my own blog. My first go-to resource was Tomoson. Apply for everything you qualify for and make sure you advertise EVERY giveaway you do to build up your following. If you do not advertise it will be slow building a following. Now on to how to find products to review and giveaway.