Today we have another installment in the long and intermittent “So you want to be a gunblogger” series. Today I want to talk about the most important thing in the world to a blogger: getting free stuff. That may come off as crass, but the truth is that blogs live and die by content, and reviews are a hugely important part of that content. One of the most common questions I get asked is “how do you (me) get companies to send you stuff for reviews?”
Since I know most people aren’t going to read past the jump, I’ll put this right here: if you want people to send you stuff to review, you have to be able to demonstrate some kind of value to the people sending you stuff. It’s that simple.Let’s take a look at two different approaches to getting T&E products. We’ll use a fictional company, let’s say they make ammo, and you need 500 rounds for some project you’re working on.
Dear AmmoMasters, I am Aaron Blogman, and I run Blogman’s Gun Blog. I would like to get 500 rounds of your 9mm ammo for testing and evaluation. I was referred to you by Bob Deadtree, he said you might be able to help me out.
That’s probably the most common approach out there – I know, because I did it when I was first starting out. There are many problems with it. The first is that AmmoMasters probably have no idea who you are or what your blog is. They also don’t have the time to go to your blog and read through it to get an idea of the content. Secondly, name dropping is vulgar. If Bob Deadtree really wanted you to use his reputation to get products, he would have sent an intro email himself. Don’t name drop. Thirdly, the approach assumes a positive result from AmmoMasters.
Let’s take that message and tighten it up a little bit.
Dear AmmoMasters, I am Aaron Blogman, and I run Blogman’s Gun Blog. It’s a relatively new shooting sports blog that focuses on defensive handgun training for new shooters with limited prior firearms experience, we reach about 5,000 readers each month. I’m going to be doing a review of a new gun, and I’d like to see if you’d be willing to provide 500 rounds of ammo for a portion of the test. The test will run for four weeks, and each week I’ll post an update with how many rounds fired of your ammo, how it runs in the gun, group sizes, and ballistic/penetration testing as well. Each post will link back to your product page for the ammo, and I’ll make sure to send you links to the posts so you can promote them on your social media if you’d like.
Please let me know if you have any questions, I look forward to hearing back from you.
The second email is longer. But it is much more effective, because it hits all the important points: it tells the potential T&E provider who you are, what you’re about, how many people you can reach, and how you’re planning on providing value to the provider if they do send you stuff. It’s not a 100% guarantee, but I can say from personal experience that until you develop a rapport with people, it will be a lot more effective than name dropping and begging.
In the last 8 years, the number of people blogging/making videos/talking about guns online has absolutely EXPLODED. That makes it harder than ever for companies in the industry to figure out who’s offering value and who isn’t. Be upfront with your value prop for brands. Tell them what you can do, who you can reach, and you’ll have a lot more success than just saying “give me free stuff.”
Then you get the random “free things” that you know are sadly going to be value-less to you and the manufacturer.
“We’d love if you could include this M14 cheek rest and 870 improved safety in your Tavor & FAMAE coverage”
I’ve had that happen a couple of times. I’ve had companies send me stuff to “use in your matches” and I’m like “uh…how exactly.”
Also, we’d like to have you wrap up your review of this bug repellant product in the next 4 weeks (never mind that it is November and I live in WI).
The third thing wrong with Approach 1 is the first one I noticed. You didn’t mention it but fixed it anyway.
Whatever your business, you don’t ask a potential customer, client or sponsor to “help you out”.
They are a business, not a charity. Your goal is to convince them that they will benefit by accepting your offer.
I can’t remember if you covered it in previous entries to this series, but having a blogger resume was beyond (x2) valuable for me. Mission, purpose, hits, current experience, current equipment, current sponsors, etc. I’d send that right along with the request.
Absolutely; I strongly recommend anyone who’s serious about this to put together a media kit for their blog.
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