When I started blogging it was as a book blogger. The attraction of reading free books, before they were released, was too much for me to resist. Since then I have tried to review books, services and products when I can.
In the current climate, it is always helpful to get stuff for free. Here are three methods to use your writing talent to gain free products.
The premise of book reviewing is simple. You gain a free copy of an authors book in return for an honest review. As an independent author, reviews sell books. They are a valuable part of any authors marketing strategy.
As writers, you gain two advantages by offering reviews. You get to improve your writing skills. This is especially true if there is a character count to reviews. You gain knowledge of how to concisely state your opinions.
The second advantage is you get to read some brilliant books for free. Many of the books I reviewed were books I may never have found if it hadn’t been for the author approaching me.
This is the way you get into book reviewing, authors approach you. However, there are some things you can do to get noticed as a reviewer. Mention it on your social media. Many of us as writers, follow other writers, they may well approach you when their latest book is released.
On both Twitter and Instagram, there are hashtags you can follow as a book blogger. I would suggest you interact and use these hashtags as often as possible.
If all else fails some websites offer free books in exchange for reviews. Netgalley is an excellent example of this. As your reviews gain popularity, more authors will work with you. This website is also preferable if you don’t want to deal directly with the authors themselves.
I first became aware of this technique whilst watching a program about the unethical practices of Amazon. There are many sellers on Amazon that refund the cost of your product if you give them a five-star review. I haven’t changed my opinion the practice can be unethical.
However, if you have a strong moral code I can show you how to use the practice to your advantage.
First, the most important factor is don’t buy anything that you don’t need or want.
There are Facebook groups dedicated to this which you can find with a simple search. Let’s say for example you were looking for a new hairdryer. You could put a simple post on one of these sites requesting sellers of hairdryers to contact you. You purchase one as you would have anyway.
Two weeks later your hairdryer has arrived, you are pleased with it. You write a simple 5-star review and post it. You then have the option to send this review to the company and they refund your money completely.
Here are the rules to set yourself for this practice.
- Only buy items you need or want.
- If the product is awful, seek a refund using the same procedure you would have anyway.
- If you can stand by your 5-star review then post it and get your money back.
- If you don’t think it’s worth 5 stars but keep the product. You don’t seek your money back. Remember you have lost nothing you were buying the product anyway.
- Only pick one item per seller until you find out if they are honest and reliable.
As writers, we must follow these rules to remain ethical.
Remember it takes years to build a reputation and a moment to lose it.
You do not want to be considered a writer that gives everyone a five-star review.
I am still undecided if this is a method I will continue using. I am against the process of seeking positive reviews in return for money. However, free items are always an advantage in this climate.
The last method is less contentious. Many companies offer you free software and products in return for you writing a sponsored post about them. You as writers are paid a percentage every time someone clicks on the link and purchases the product.
Amazon runs its own affiliate link site if you are interested. Other sites offer affiliated links to. You can also approach companies directly. As you build your reputation you will have companies approach you.
A couple of words of warning.
- Don’t do too many of these posts as you will lose followers. If you dedicate your blog to advertising through sponsored posts then people will get bored with your content. I have unfollowed several blogs that did this.
- Ensure that you are honest with your readers and stipulate when the posts are sponsored. This is a requirement for Medium so keep that in mind.
- Try to tailor your sponsored posts to the niche of your website. A sponsored post for a hairdryer would look very strange on my writing tips website.
For these articles, you should get a commission when a reader clicks a link. Or you could be offered a one-off payment for writing the article.
If it is a one-off payment make sure you factor in all the time it will take to research and write the post. Then times this by an acceptable hourly rate for an idea of how much to charge.
Writing in whatever form can help improve your skills. Each type of writing teaches you another skill. It can be difficult to make money writing and I tell all writers to diversify their income streams. Writing reviews is another way that you can gain some extra income or at least some free products.