Product review etiquette for bloggers

There are many perks that come with blogging, but none so welcomed as the ubiquitous product review. That is, receiving free products from a company to review on your blog in exchange for an honest review or advertorial.

Some bigger blogs, in an ad network, are paid to do product reviews and smaller ones sometimes aren’t. It all depends on how you position yourself. If you’re able to successfully grow a loyal following, brand managers and publicists will notice and come knocking at your door.

The only rule everyone must follow is full disclosure. Tell your audience if you received products or payment in exchange for a review. If done right, your readers won’t mind and will support your hustle.

Beyond the full disclosure rule, here are a few etiquette points bloggers should follow to keep their sponsors happy and to position themselves for financial growth.

Treat your sponsors like clients

They are your clients, even if they aren’t paying you in cash and are providing you with free products. No rough handling, please! Care, attention to detail, and a basic understanding of their business goals puts you at an advantage for future business.

Respond in a timely manner

After you’ve done some preliminary research on the company to speak intelligently about their products, give them a call or respond back to their email as soon as possible.

Ask yourself if the product is a good fit for your blog

If not, let them go easy. Don’t burn bridges so the publicist keeps you in mind for future projects.

Give the sponsor a definitive time for publishing their review

Give a firm date even if it is months ahead and meet your deadlines. Plan your blog posts ahead of time or give a realistic estimate of the time it will take you to craft a blog post or film a YouTube video. Stay committed and make good on your deadlines so you don’t keep your client in the dark, waiting.

Make the product review honest and relatable but don’t kill your client’s business

Find kind ways to be positive about your client’s product. Yes, you can be honest with your audience and positive about a product you don’t necessarily care for at the same time. It’s all in how you word it. Your goal is to serve your clients and be honest to your audience while exposing new brands to them—not kill business.

If you are having a hard time crafting a positive post, communicate this with your client, tell them what you would change about this product to make it better. (Brands love constructive feedback especially from influencers like yourself.) Tell them about the review you will post and if you’re willing, work with them to craft a post that works for both of you. You always have the last say on what goes up on your blog.

Be grateful

Thank them for selecting you to review their products and keep in touch so that your blog/brand stays top of mind for future projects.

Bonus: After the review goes live, provide your client/ sponsor with post stats. They’ll thank you for the extra attention to detail and customer service.

10 Instagram accounts that breathe life into your career

You’re a hard-worker with a vision to bring into fruition. From the moment you wake up to the last seconds before you sleep, you spend your days calculating how to navigate your way to success.

Splendid.

So you plot, put plans into action, finesse execution, and network, all the while finding ways to maintain productive relationships and a healthy personal life. Managing that balance is extremely tough, especially when stress begins to limit your positivity. We know, trust us.  

Luckily, we’ve found ways to use the omnipresent social media to your advantage during your leisure time. Here are 10 Instagram accounts that never-fail to serve up amazing career advice, professional tools and inspiration to make your vision clearer and your travel worth the journey.

 

@Womeneur

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Are you a new business owner? Looking to start your own business? Womenuer is a new online publication with a marvelous Instagram account that seeks to connect, enlighten and empower business-minded women looking to excel.

Though, based in the greater NYC area of US, Womeneur speaks to the universal business code of professional success. Riddled with practical quotes and honest accounts of business decisions, Womeneur is definitely a great account to follow.

 

@BusinessRulesForWomen

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BusinessRulesforWomen is an interactive account that gets its followers to spill their rules and discoveries for being a successful business woman.

From great career based questions, providing a weekly Monday checklist, to posting innovative quotes, BusinessRulesforWomen allows business-minded women to keep her mind active as she scrolls.

 

@ForbesWomanAfrica

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Busy is as busy does. Seeing different types of successful African women and reading their words of wisdom is a  journey worth following. ForbesWoman Africa allows followers visual access to a community of professional sisters that you may not have immediate access to.

You’ll learn about their stories, read quotes and hear about future endeavours that you might want to be a part of. Also you get to witness active black sisters like yourself, rocking the world, professionally. 

 

@ForbesAfrica

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If you follow ForbesWomanAfrica, don’t skip a beat, and follow ForbesAfrica, as it is also a leading business publication in Africa. Learn about different entrepreneurs in Africa who are gaining public attention as powerful influencers.

 

@MyFabFinance

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The way you spend money, whether personally and/or in your business, speaks of your habits, motives and your ability to use money as a powerful tool for success. Tonya Rapley founded MyFabFinance to encourage millennial  women to become financially powerful and in-control of their finances by strategizing with their flow of income.

Tonya is a financial educator and Black Enterprises’ new face of Wealth Building. She keeps it real to groom success in all of her followers.

 

@FoundrMagazine

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Home to entrepreneurs seeking to sustain their ambition, FoundrMagazine keeps the business mind alive. This Instagram account is decorated with proactive messages meant to diminish any doubt about your sense of worth.

 

@LevoLeague

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LevoLeague promotes healthy thinking through its fresh minimal design. Levo League exists to help followers navigate their careers towards success. The League even offers book recommendations.

@LinkedIn

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We all know LinkedIn as a stellar platform for connecting professionally. It has also entered the world of Instagram, adding a new air of professionalism as it initiates critical progressive thinking and promotes better habits.

 

@CareerContessa

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CareerContessa is a nurturing space that provides words of encouragement, great reads, and access to sources that will provide clarity when discovering career directions.

@Entrepreneur

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Read quotes from successful entrepreneurs  and professionals from all walks of life. Read about their current endeavors and the advice they choose to share with others through Entrepreneur.

 

And one bonus

She Leads Africa …serving career and entrepreneurship inspiration for women of and in the African diaspora through vibrant images of black women and poignant quotes.

How I got 10,000 real and engaged followers on Instagram

With a reported 300 million users and 70 million photos shared each day, Instagram has become a key marketing and social engagement tool for businesses. It is also a great platform for testing out new business ideas.

To leverage Instagram as a marketing tool, some marketers have resorted to buying followers and using automated liking or commenting programs to increase their reach. Buying followers might make your page and product look popular. However, you will have no real insight as to who is actually interested in your brand or who will buy your products or services. What’s more, you risk getting banned by Instagram for violating its Terms of Service.

In this quick guide, I’ll show you how to gain real followers by walking you through the steps I used to grow my Instagram page @MakeupforMelaninGirls to 17,000+ in just two months.

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Here are some tips for engaging your target audience:

1. Upload Quality Photos

Instagram is a photo-sharing app after all, and people want to be inspired by the photos you share. Think of a colour scheme and/or theme for your photos.  White is a popular background colour and for good reason. It helps keep focus on your image and is less distracting. If your products are in fashion or beauty, consider showcasing your products with the flat-lay style.

makeupformelaningirls

Flat lay photo on Instagram by Beauty Blogger @thatigbochick

2. Use Web Apps that make managing your account a breeze

Since Instagram is primarily an app for mobile phones, it can be tricky managing all your tasks on a small screen. Crowdfire is a social media management desktop & mobile app that grows your Instagram following by letting you copy followers of accounts in a similar niche as you. You can also see who follows or unfollows you. You can perform following and unfollowing tasks very quickly via desktop without violating Instagram’s terms of service. Crowdfire is free to use for one account but costs $9.99 per month for more than account.

Another great web app is Iconosquare, which allows you manage your Instagram page on the web (comment, like photos, view feed etc). And though its popular optimization feature (shows you the best time to interact with your followers) is now a paid feature, you can see several other statistics about your page, including most commented posts.makeupformelaningirls                        Crowdfire Homepage

3. Use hashtags relevant to your target audience

Most people are already aware that using hashtags attracts more likes and interest. However, using popular hashtags that are searched by your target audience is the difference between getting engaged followers and just getting likes. For example, if your brand focuses on African fashion, use Websta (an Instagram Web Viewer) to look up related tags in order of popularity.       makeupformelaningirls

Secondly, create a list of 30 hashtags and save it to any Notes app you use.

Looking up #Africanfashion not only helped me find other popular hashtags within that niche, but it also helped me find similar accounts. Using the Crowdfire app in step 2, can also be used to follow people on those similar accounts you just found. There is no guarantee that these people will follow you back, but if you are uploading quality and interesting photos relevant to your target audience, you increase your chances of them liking in your page.

When we looked up #Africanfashion, 260,000 posts is the highest number of uploads related to this niche. 

#Fashion also has a lot of visibility of Instagram, so adding it to your list of hashtags is a good strategy. The audience in your niche are those most likely to engage with your page.


Create your list of hashtags by combining very popular hashtags with those most related to your niche.


To create a list of hashtags for our #AfricanFashion example, Instagram has a limit of 30 hashtags so we can divide it into 15 popular #Africanfashion and 15 popular #fashion hashtags.

makeupformelaningirls

4. Post at the Right Times and Days

Putting some thought into the days of the week and times of the week will also help  your follower base and visibility. Iconosquare’s popular Optimization feature displays a graph of the best times for you to post is now a paid feature, but don’t despair. I’ve got you covered.

Lunch time and 5 pm when people are getting off work are examples of optimal times to post. Keep in mind that these work better if your audience is in the same timezone as you.    

makeupformelaningirls                       A view of the Iconosquare Optimization section

5. Engage with your audience

Completing the steps above, should build a group of connected followers. Do not forget to have fun with your followers by liking and commenting on their photos, sending them messages if necessary, and answering their questions. Instagram is a social media page, so connect with your followers! They want to know that there are real people behind the brand and that you care about the same things they care about. Many people log onto Instagram to take a break or pass the time so make sure browsing your page is an enjoyable experience.

Finally, below are some extra tips below did not make the cut because they cost money. However, if you have the money, they are great tools to use to grow your follower base.

  • Host an Instagram contest or Promotion
  • Negotiate with an Instagram Influencer or personality for a promotional shout out of your product. (Caveat: Some Influencers are known to receive products but do not promote it. Research influencers before finalizing any payments.)
  • Pay a Popular shoutout page in your niche to promote your page (This could be risky as some of this pages buy followers. Browse their page to see if they have users that comment and engage with the page).
  •  Find a friend or hire someone with an aesthetic eye that will showcase your page in the best light

#Goodluck!