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As I hit a year of blogging, I have had a lot of friends and fellow bloggers ask me how. Just how do I get big items (carseats, play kitchens, SodaStream, the latest and greatest toys). The short answer is hard work and dedication. But the long answer is detailed below.

 long hours

LONG HOURS

Blogging is not easy. I hate when people say that I get things for free. Yes, for FTC purposes, I do tag my photos “GotItFree” or along those lines. I do have to disclose that these items were provided to me in exchange for my honest opinions. But those honest opinions have to be written down right? When I have free time, I am usually working on reviews. I have spent many late nights – sometimes until two or three in the morning, working on reviews. While the girls are napping I am no longer catching up on my favorite show with my coffee. I can now be found with my coffee sitting at the computer or with my laptop in hand.

I spend a minimum of an hour per review. That doesn’t include actually testing the product – I am talking about the physically writing part. Depending on the product, testing may be quick – for example, with foods, I just eat them, share them with my girls, and we talk about if we liked them or not. Sometimes testing is really intense – for example, I recently received a play kitchen from Little Tikes. We had to put it together and my daughters have been playing with it – hard. I have banged on the sides, pulled on the doors – I have made sure it is sturdy. I look for weaknesses in items. And that is what brings me to the next part.

YOU GET MORE FLIES WITH HONEY

If you do find a weakness or have an issue with a product, use your head. Contact the company and let them know your problem. Give them a chance to correct it before you write about it. Sometimes there is a faulty product. They may send you a new one and that will work perfectly. Some beauty items may just not work for you – for your skin tone – pass it along to a friend (as long as they don’t mind) and see if it works for them. Then your review can say “It didn’t work for my oily skin, but my friend with normal skin loves this product!”

DO NOT write the company fuming that their product didn’t work. Bloggers talk to each other so why wouldn’t companies talk to each other? That is an easy way to get a bad reputation. There is no need to be mean or rude to companies or PR Reps. Many PR Reps work with several different companies and will continue to work with you if they like your reviews and enjoy talking with you. I like to be in a good mood while I work, there is no reason to get upset with companies – it will put you both in a mood!

If you do have to write some negative, focus on positive things as well. Maybe you liked the packaging, enjoyed the smell – there has to be something positive you can say – don’t be a Debbie Downer.

Playfoam    Bunny Peek a Boo    Just Cookie Dough

SAY CHEESE

Take your own pictures. I cannot stress this enough! While some companies prefer you to use their stock photos, it is rare. Personal pictures will help express to your readers and the companies your real experience with the product. Your readers will feel more connected with you. I take so many photos of products that whenever my daughters get something new, they ask me if I have to take pictures of them with it before they start playing. If I pull out my phone and they have a new toy they say “cheeeeese!” automatically. Companies may even want to share your photos and that generates more exposure for your blog.

PITCHING

Don’t rely on review websites to get the items you want. If you see an item you want, search for a media contact for that item. It cannot hurt to ask, right? I cannot stress how important media kits and pitch letters are. It is a company’s first impression of you – and first impressions are everything. There should be no typos and you should get to the point quickly (I do sell pitch letters here). I include a link to my media kit (which I update at least twice a month) in my pitch letter. I have had many companies comment on how they like that I have everything they need together. PR Reps often need to provide their clients with a blogger’s social media stats and if they have an easy link to it, that makes things easier on them. We are all working together aren’t we? Our goals are all the same.

BLOGGER OPPS

Look for different blogger opportunities. Things like group giveaways and giveaway hops are a great way to bring new readers to your blog. Since these are shared with many different bloggers, they bring you a new audience. A group giveaway is a giveaway for a larger item that several bloggers promote. A giveaway hop is where each blog has their own giveaway and they are listed on every blog – this makes it easy for readers to enter all the ones they wish to. See a full list of blogger opps here.