How to get sample products for review for bloggers


Many bloggers wonder how other bloggers are getting access to many devices and sample products for writing reviews. In this article, I will cover how it works and how I started getting products for hands-on reviews.

Even though I have been running some of the most popular blogs and websites in India since 1998, I was completely isolated from the blogging community here since I was living in USA. I knew very few fellow bloggers in the country and rarely got any product samples for writing reviews. Once in a while, I got some random emails offering me software licenses for testing the software and writing reviews. But I never got any devices like mobile phones or computers for reviews.

After I quit my job as a software architect in USA and returned to India as a fulltime blogger, I started wondering about various activities to keep me engaged. I did not know much about the blogger communities and events. I was into software and educational blogging till then but decided to switch to tech and gadget reviews after Microsoft files a domain dispute against my Windows blog. But I had no clue how to get access to the products for review. Initially, I thought the bloggers are buying the products because I have seen some bloggers selling used products after finishing the reviews.

IndiBlogger.in - My first step into a blogger community


A quick research about the Indian blogging community led me to IndiBlogger.in, the biggest bloggers community in India. I registered myself and started interacting with others through the forum. I was listed as a "Bangalore Blogger" in the "Technology" category.

Nothing else happened on my aspirations to dive in to the blogging community for next several weeks. Then, all of a sudden, I got an email from a PR company inviting me to a Gaming computer launch event in Bangalore. That was the first official blogger event I attended in my blogging career in India.

The event that was held in a small closed room in Bangalore was really boring. But I was really excited since I was just learning how things work for the bloggers. I spoke to PR company people and learnt it is the PR companies which invite bloggers for the events and not really the product companies. I shared my contact details to the PR people who were present there and also offered my interest to attend future events.

NOTE: Print a vising card for you. It is essential to share your contact information to companies and PR agencies. You can get it done easily through sites like Printo.

Nothing happened next 2 months but I slowly started getting calls from few PR companies and attended many more events. I think some of the PR people share the contact details of bloggers to their friends in various other PR companies too. Also, they find popular blogs by looking at the ranking of blogs in IndiBlogger.

NOTE: It is important to include your contact information in your contact page so that PR agencies and companies can contact you easily.

Within about 6 months, I attended many more blogger events. I was really excited to meet many popular bloggers from Bangalore and other parts of the country. It was quite disappointing when some bloggers even refused to talk to me because they consider themselves as "professional bloggers" and did not consider me as a person worth taking their time. I saw some bloggers proclaiming they get 1,000 page views per day but I kept quite about the 300,000+ page views I get for my websites!

How to get products for review


During next several months, I focused on writing lot of product reviews in this website. I never got any products for reviews still, but I reviewed all the products I use and the products I could borrow from my friends. I wrote reviews with the label "hands-on review" to get the attention of the PR companies. Even though I started getting invitations to all blogging events, I still hadn't received any sample products for review. I tried to ask few professional bloggers, but they were not willing to share their secrets on how to get access to those devices.

NOTE: If you attend some blogging/product launch events, share your contact information and give good coverage of those events/products in your blog. That's the best way to please the PR companies and get invited to many more events. Companies will give flights tickets, 5-Star hotel accommodation and let you travel to other cities to attend product launches, with no expense for you. They will even offer you many goodies when you attend such events to please you and get good coverage from you.

Finally, I decided to try my luck. I wrote a hands-on review of Lenovo G570 laptop, which I bought recently for my home office. After writing the review, I sent out emails to all PR agencies I know. I projected myself as a professional blogger who write product reviews and even included the url of the hands-on reviews I wrote.

I was impressed on my smartness. Shortly after those self promotion emails, I started getting calls from PR agencies, offering me product samples for review. Whatever products I received, I did my best and wrote the best reviews I can. I even made a video review of Dell XPS 13 with my son talking about the tablet, which impressed the PR. (But my video review experiment didn't work well since my English language expertise is not great for video reviews. )

NOTE: Most product manufacturers do not interact directly with bloggers. They work through the middle men called "PR agencies". Almost every company outsource their public relations to some PR agencies and it is the PR company which interact with bloggers and invite for events and give products for review.

Let me admit the reality - initially, I focused on the positive aspects of the products in my reviews so that the PR agencies will like to give me more and more products for reviewing. And it worked.

How to contact companies to get products for reviews


It has been about 1.5 years now since I started doing hands-on reviews. These days, I receive a lot of offers for product reviews but I no longer accept many products since it is very time consuming for me. Many small companies call me directly and offer their products. Sometimes, when I come across interesting products, I will contact the companies directly and ask for review units. Some of the typical examples where I called the company directly and asked devices for reviews are e-Diary, e-Touch Pen, Huawei E355, LEO-WIFI-USB etc. In last few months, I never received a negative response when I contacted any companies for sample products for reviews.

The best way to contact a company and ask for a unit for review is, send an email to them. Take care of few points when you contact them:

  • Send the email from the official email id, preferably from your blog's domain. Do not send mails from hotmail, Gmail etc

  • Introduce yourself and your blog. Give some statics of your blog like number of page views etc.

  • Explain your interest to review the specific product. Do not ask for all products. Mention a specific product name and mention that you are focusing on reviews of that specific category. For example, if you are contacting Huawei asking for E355, explain that you are reviewing some WiFi hotspot devices and mention you want to include Huawei E355 as well since it is one of the best products in that category. Make the company feel that if they do not give a unit for review, they will be losing an opportunity to be showcased in your blog when you are reviewing their competitors.

  • Include the urls of some of your best hands-on reviews in the email so that the company will get a feel of what kind of reviews you are going to do.

  • Mention how many days you will keep the product and give some assurance on when and how will you return it. Include some "Review policy" in the email and if possible, publish a page on "Our Product Review Policy".

  • Receiving and returning review units


    If the company/PR agency is located in your home town, in most cases, their agents will come and deliver the product to you. Sometimes, they will ask you to sign a delivery note so that they can track who is holding the unit. If the company is in a different town, they will courier it to you.

    Most companies allow you to keep the units for 1 to 2 weeks for review. After the review period, they will come and pick it up from your home/office. Very rarely, companies have asked me to courier the device back, which I do in my expense.

    NOTE: Sometimes the companies will forget to take the device back. It is a good idea to call them and return the product on time, so that the companies will have trust on you. If you get a lot of devices for review, buy a few plastic trays and keep the accessories/boxes of the units in separate trays and label them to make sure you do not mix up pieces of different devices.

    Please note that most review units are supposed to be returned. In case of some low cost samples like mobile phone skins, cases etc, they may allow you to keep. (So far, the only unit I was able to keep was, the KFC Chicken sample I received for review through IndiBlogger!!!)

    Update (November 2014): Now I do have a lot of gadgets lying in my office and home that are not expected to be returned. It took few years of product reviews to reach the stage where companies offer review units to keep for ever.

    Sample email to contact companies for review units


    Here is an email template you can use to contact companies asking for product samples for review:

    Hello,

    Greetings from www.Techulator.com

    We are a product/gadget/technology review company from India, focusing on reviewing various gadgets like smartphones, routers, wireless devices, tablets and so on. We are one of the popular tech product review companies in India.

    We came across your pocket WiFi devices while reviewing some of the popular wireless routers available for Indian market. We are interested in reviewing your pocket WiFi products. We will be doing extensive review of the products and if the product qualify in our tests, we will publish detailed reviews in our website, which may include video reviews as well.

    There will be no cost to you for this. The review will be done in our review center in Bangalore.

    We do reviews for major brands like LG, Lenovo, Samsung, Karbonn and many more. Typically, this is how the process works:

    - The company or public relations office will send us the products for review
    - We will use the product and review it in our Bangalore review center. In case of products like GPS, we will use the devices while driving around.
    - After about 2 weeks long testing, if we find the product is qualified, we will publish the review. In case of some products, we will publish a video review as well. If the product does not quality, we may decide not to publish the review
    - The product will be returned after the review.

    At this time, we are interested in reviewing the following products:

    <Product Name>

    Please let me know if you like to send us review units of the above for review.

    Here is our office address to deliver the unit:

    <Address>

    regards,
    Tony John
    Phone: <Phone Number>
    ________________________________________
    Director: SpiderWorks Technologies Pvt Ltd
    Founder & Webmaster - dotnetspider.com, Techulator.com
    IndiaStudyChannel.com, AspSpider.com


    Hands-on reviews: the best way to build authority and reputation for blogs


    Doing extensive hands on review and sharing the feedback with your readers is one of the best ways to build authority and reputation for your blog. If you are writing professional reviews, in many cases, the manufacturer itself will promote your review by linking to your blog. Usually, I will ask the company if they can link to the review page from their blog and it has worked most of the time.

    When you publish product reviews, share them in your social media channels and tag the corresponding brands and PR companies.

    Buy devices and sell them after reviews


    Some companies do not give their products for reviews. I think Apple is a typical example. As far as I know, they do not offer their products for reviews in India. In such cases, you have a couple of options:

    1. Buy the units and sell it at a lower cost after you finish the reviews.

    2. Buy it and use it for yourself.

    3. Borrow the products from your friends for a few days and review it.

    4. Walk in to a nearby shop or dealer, ask for a demo, try it for few minutes and write the reviews.

    5. Visit the offices of the electronics companies in your city and watch the demo of their products. Many times, they will arrange a cab for you to visit their office to see their demos. Same is the case for product launch events as well - if they consider you as a valuable blogger, they will provide you transportation to attend the events.

    6. Tie up with other bloggers. Make some agreements to share review units each other.

    I no longer accept many products for review since the number of review requests I receive these days are beyond my capacity to handle. So, I have started refusing review requests since I have a lot of other work in hand. Eventually, I want to hire one full time reviewer and assign the reviews to him/her.

    Are you considering blogging as a full time career? It is an interesting field! Read my experience as a fulltime blogger.


    Article by Tony John
    Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.

    Follow Tony John or read 636 articles authored by Tony John

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    Comments

    Author: thomas jose22 Mar 2013 Member Level: Silver   Points : 2

    Thank you, that was very informative. Though i do not review products in my blog, i have been wondering how these guys are managing to get these devices even before launch. Anyway iam going to try your last option. Trying the gadget from a shop.

    Guest Author: Vijay02 Feb 2014

    Thank you for an information. Very useful.

    Author: Amit16 May 2014 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

    Very informative!

    I am a video reviewer myself and have been looking out for sample products for review for my YouTube channel. This post was of great help. Tony, why don't you hire me as your video reviewer? :p

    Guest Author: Manpreet Kaur30 Aug 2014

    Thanks for such a detailed post about this topic, especially that sample mail.. Thanks a ton!
    I never contacted any brand for reviewing their products. the only reviews I have done on my blog http://www.finixpost.com are either of the products I personally use or of the products that brands sent by themselves (yep, most of them came through indiblogger). But now, I am planning to take my blog to a higher level and write 'tons' of reviews and for that I need lot of samples. this post would help me a lot to get what I need. Thanks :)

    Guest Author: Hz20 Sep 2014

    Wow, this post really helped me and now I understand how some of them can get the review unit. I hope I can become a full time blogger and make this work since I already have a website (Mypartnergadgets.net). Thank you for the great and inspiring post. And thank you again for sharing this information because some people are to greedy and afraid to share their knowledge.

    Guest Author: Subhadeep Bhaumik07 Jun 2015

    Hi Tony

    I am also entering the field of Mobile Phones review.
    My channel is
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMdbsZPnwfCxCw2B9mMFt8w

    I have approached some companies although they told me to wait and did not hear much from them yet.
    I basically review handsets that I get from friends and acquaintances, so if you feel my channel worthy enough you can pass some review handset units to me.

    Thanks,
    Subhadeep Bhaumik
    www.easysolutions4u.in
    www.egadgets4u.com



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