So You Want to Get the Free Stuff??

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Blade-Logo.jpgI get literally hundreds of emails from people asking me how do I get all that free stuff to do reviews? To put it very bluntly…work! Even though this is a hobby, it still involves a great deal of my time. In fact, I do have to pay for some of the items in order to be able to do an article or even a video demonstration on a product. The items I do receive that are free I work just as hard on those reviews as I do any others. There is a lot of time that goes into research of a product in order to make what I call “contact.”In a lot of cases someone will write me asking about a specific product. From there I basically brainstorm it and find out if it is worth putting in the effort. I have found a lot out there that I would not do or even try to make contact. Others, I found to be a challenge. This means I had to find the positive and work from there. For example, a pair of sunglasses is pretty difficult to write 1,500 words on let alone do a 7 minute video covering the product. This is where research is so important. Also the amount of time I end up putting into a product usually means the item is never free. You are still paying for it and if you are professional, you will usually pay double the price with your time.

 Once this happens I have to come up with the “Pitch” I will get deeper into what all of these are in a moment. In order to get to this point you have to have something to offer the company you are trying to contact. In my case, I have an established YouTube channel, I have good social networking followings, I also have good web site traffic. All these things work together so they can use me for advertizing.

 Initially, people think its all fun and games. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing this, what I don’t like doing is a simple table top review. In the beginning of many of my review videos, I will do a preliminary tabletop…or in my case a tailgate top. I will then proceed to the field to show the product being used. I do this because the company that is taking the time to send me a product, on their dime mind you; deserves to get a return on their investment. Whether you want to see it that way or not it is an investment, they are looking to you to do an honest review and hopefully you can help them make a few sales so they can keep the business going.

 Let us look at the first key elements of what you need before you can start:

_MG_8355 copy A following: Do not expect to get a 100 or 300-dollar knife for a review if you do not have the numbers to reflect a return for the company. In a lot of cases, a simple YouTube channel is not going to be enough. Consider taking the time to buy a website and build it.

 Tact: This one is pretty important, don’t put up just any old content on YouTube, your website, or social media pages. Think before you post and use a little professionalism. Trust me this will show not only in your videos, but in everything you do online. When you take photos of the product, do not just take a cell phone photo. Use a “real” camera of at lest 6 to 12 MP and study up on light, angles, setting, background, and host of others. It pays to put the work in!

Another part to tact is knowing how to speak. NEVER use a lot of ummm’s or uuuhhh’s. This will only show you do not know the product. Also, using these types of words or pauses show you have to think about what to say next. It is unprofessional and it not only looks bad it sounds bad too. In the very beginning of my YouTube video making I was guilty of that very thing. I had to teach myself not to do it, even if it meant redoing the video 5 and 6 times. Believe it or not, this is the beauty of YouTube. It is a training ground for professionalism.

 Courtesy: Know how to talk to company reps, sales teams, and PR people. The biggest thing here is WATCH WHAT YOU SAY! Be clear and to the point, do not make them write back and ask you what you meant by this or that. Most importantly be polite! I find that I deal with a lot of companies via telephone. This helps them to better understand who they are dealing with. It also shows that you take what you do seriously.

 Honesty: Here is another big one. If you say you are going to do something then do it. Most companies want a video and an article to go with the review. If they ask you for web stats then give them up, never make up numbers because they will know.

 Respect: DO NOT trash a company publicly; you can be sued for that. If you have done your research then there is no need to trash talk because you would have chosen a reputable company that produces a quality product. If something breaks while in use talk to them first. Let them know and they will make it right. There is never a need to publicly slam a company for any reason. That is up to the Democrats and liberals, as a reviewer you are not to take sides.  

 Dinner!Politics: This one is big right now, never by any means sound political during a review. Companies do not usually cater to one group of individuals or to one political party. To them everyone’s money is good. Anytime you start to inject politics into a review, it will put a black mark against you and you may not have opportunities in the future.    

 Once you know the basics you can move on to contacting the company which as I referred to earlier as making contact or the. This is where knowing how to write up a short proposal comes in handy. Do not just write a short email asking for a product. Be specific in what you are asking for and offer numbers up front. Make the proper introduction by telling who you are what you is that you do. This is what I said earlier as being the pitch. Do not be discouraged if you do not get a response, this can be for a few reasons. They may be pretty busy and your email got buried. They may have read your email and they weren’t interested, or they may be sending along the proper channels and it could take a week in some cases for them reply. Either way a decline or a non response is not the end of the world. Keep working at it, build your numbers, and try again later.

 A college degree is not necessary, but having a basic understanding of how advertisement and business actually work is a huge plus. Having a good resume in the field will also be an advantage.  These will take you above most in the field and help you stand out from the other reviewers. Have something to offer and you can go pretty far with your reviews.

Experience: This is one that is up for debate, but I see it as being very important. The reason for this is the amount of people that do table top reviews and nothing more. If you do not have the experience in the field to show how to use a specific product, it will show. Spend the time in the field to gain the experience, this will go a long way for establishing credibility and show you know what you are talking about. To a business, when they look at who they are sending their gear out to, they want the reviewer to be a good fit and represent their product in a professional manner.

100_2757Once you begin building a good appearance and healthy web numbers you can start to think about taking the next step. Personally, I am not to this step yet. Once your videos begin to reach 100,000 to 1,000,000 views in a short time you can start looking at product placement. This is where a company will send you a sign or even a product to simply place in the setting of the video. You can at this time work out a deal with the company for one time or even repetitive placement of their product or logo. You can also work out advertizing fees that you will charge for this placement. However, be reasonable. If you jack up the cost too high for what is being viewed you may get black balled.

 I have personally noticed it has become very hard to get gear for reviews as of recent. This is because everyone and their uncle is trying to do the same thing. This is where hard work and perseverance will put you ahead of the others. As things get more difficult, develop the tools to stay in the game. It is great to get free gear, being able to keep getting it is where the work comes in. You will also find those that will tell you that “you are wasting your time” or that you are simply “hawking” gear to people. Don’t worry about them, they can stay at the bottom of the barrel and never try to work for or toward anything. Because in the end, they too will buy the product. There are a lot of haters out there. However, from my experience gear videos will get a ton more views than a skills or how to video. Sadly, it’s the nature of the beast. The satisfying part is even the haters will view them and yes, even their view helps your numbers.  I hope you enjoyed this short article and the very basics of becoming a good reviewer. Please share and like!    

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