This is one of those posts that probably will not interest you at all. But in the course of CraftTestDummies, I get asked frequently by new bloggers and craft companies/brands- “How do you make money blogging?”
Some blogs charge for reviews. I don’t. I think it’s unethical to take money for a review, since the reviewer would be compelled to say nice things. I’d rather not take the cash and instead be free to be honest and unbiased. (This goes for all of the reviews on CraftTestDummies.com, by all of the team and guests here. It’s a site-wide policy. Other bloggers disagree, and to each his/her own.)
Occasionally I run into a craft company that asks for a review but doesn’t want to provide an adequate sample size. (No, I cannot review your glue if you only give me ONE GLUE STICK. Or whatever. ) Or I have a company that wants a bunch of links to their social sites, or for me to do reviews on Amazon, or whatever. So I’ve had to really think about how I respond to them, and to put it clearly so that they (and maybe you, too, dear reader) understand how I make enough money to keep the boat afloat.)
So here’s my thesis.
Dear Representative of Company X:
Thank you for reaching out to CraftTestDummies and your interest in a review.
Per our initial contact, you know that I review craft products FREE OF CHARGE. Each review takes me 4-6 hours between creating with the product, research, taking pictures, editing them, and then writing a carefully-crafted blog post. I take special care to make sure that each post is SEO optimized so that searchers can easily find my post in the vast ocean that is the internet. In this FREE review, I happily link back to the website of the product, and then include additional affiliate links, too. (More on that part in a minute. )
As per our communication, I request three samples of product to allow for quality control checks, mistakes, and the different ways I use/test them. After all, the blog IS called “CraftTestDummies”- I reserve the right to make all of the mistakes I can- primarily to show my readers what NOT to do. It educates them and saves you customer service calls down the road. If three samples seems like an exorbitant amount to you, let’s be honest here. Just between you and me, you know that the cost to *make* your product is less than 1/4 it’s retail price. And this review isn’t going to cost you one red cent, but it will generate interest among a VERY dedicated niche audience. (And sometimes I get super excited about a product and make an accompanying video for free, too. But you have to stay on my good side for that.) So reaching out to a blogger is the most cost-effective way you can spread the word about your product. It’s like setting up a billboard in the middle of a superhighway for free. And that highway just so happens to be packed bumper-to-bumper with your target audience!
But that real estate has its costs. On my end, I pay for hosting fees, for high-speed internet access, for frequent computer and camera upgrades, and for dumb things like plumbing and electricity so my lights stay on and the toilets flush.
So that goes back to “How Do I Make Money?” Or better yet- “Why Do I Spend So Much Time For So Little Return?”
Frankly, I know that you might not care about this at all, but it’s part of my thesis here. So sit tight. It’ll be over in a minute.
I make money primarily through ads. The more views I get, (both on my blog and on my YouTube videos) the better I can cover my costs. Google Search accounts for about 65% of my traffic- so it behooves me to focus on products that FOLKS ARE SEARCHING FOR. I also embed affiliate links so that if my readers get inspired and want to purchase that product *right now* , they can click a link and I’ll generate a small percentage of that sale. (In fair disclosure, usually 5% to 7%. Not a lot, but it can add up and again, pay one of those pesky bills. )
As you can imagine, popular name -brand products generate a lot of searches, and often the most click-throughs to affiliate links. I hate to admit it, but it only makes fiscal sense to spend the bulk of my time and energy reviewing products that have decent search queries. But because I really love crafts and crafters, I often include up-and-coming craft companies. I do so because A) it’s a benefit to my audience and B) it’s good karma to give the little guys a chance. My blog was a “little guy” once and I got some help from bigger blogs and companies, so now I pay it forward.
So now back to you.
If you want more links and exposure, then you need to pony up and pay for it via Sponsored Content (tutorials), Sponsored Videos, or Giveaways. I can send you that information, or re-send it if you’ve misplaced it. This is another meaningful way I monetize my blog real estate- by giving extra attention and space to companies that pay for it. And those posts are ALWAYS labeled and disclosed as “sponsored”- so that my readers know what it is and I stay on the up-and-up per FTC guidelines.
I don’t do additional Amazon reviews because it only benefits YOU, the company, and does nothing for my blog in the way of traffic or name recognition. And if I’m going to work for free, than I’m only going to do that which benefits me and pays my bills.
And if you think I’m alone, I’d like to share this article with you from Haley Pierson-Cox, another technical craft writer, or this one from HideousDreadfulStinky, which is even MORE passionate *ahem* than I am on the topic.
So before you reach out to other bloggers, I suggest you take some time to do your homework. Read our content and respect the time and expertise that we put into our work. What you are asking for -links, additional reviews, etc- is not worth? the $XX (RETAIL) jar of product, which I know costs probably pennies to manufacture. It nets out to less than minimum wage. And I know my time is worth much more than that.
And now you do, too.
Now, if you’ve found yourself here and you represent a company and you’ve recent reached out to a blogger and they’ve send you this link…. well…. now you know. I really enjoy working with craft companies, and honestly 90% of them really do value bloggers and specifically my service. I do everything I can to roll out reviews on a timely basis and even try to coordinate them with when products are hitting the store shelves.
Bottom line? Working with a blogger is like wooing a mate. Treat us (bloggers) with a little love and respect and we will do an amazing job for you. But ask for too much for too little, and we’ll move on to someone who treats us better.
Thanks for listening, and I welcome comments- just keep them civil and respectful, please!
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