The Secret To Gaining Traffic By Reviewing Less Free Products

In product oriented niches that work with brands and Public Relations (PR) representatives, the ability to receive free products for review can at times be phenomenal. Many bloggers, especially newer ones, actively seek out free items for review and, in some cases, unintentionally or not, blogs will devote themselves almost entirely to reviews of free products. Obtaining free items may seem like a great idea initially. Who doesn’t like to get free stuff? But over time, it can actually lessen your traffic and your ability to monetize your site in comparison to your competitors.

Consider this: when a brand  sends out a PR push, it pitches many blogs and websites, along with other media outlets. The result is that numerous sources all cover the product at the same time, with the result of greatly diluted  reader attention. A search for the product will turn up pages and pages of reviews, and readers will quit opening items in their social media sites, email, or feed reader because they have already seen the product covered elsewhere. Thus, unless you race to be one of the first to review, your traffic from the review of a free product is likely to be less than if you reviewed a product that you found on your own.

So, a secret to gaining traffic over your competitors and to standing out as different among them-something that tends to lead to repeat visits-is to shift your focus to reviews of products that are not being pitched by brands and PR. Even better, cover those items at times when other sites in your niche are most focused on freebies because you will then stand out even more.

If you are worried about having material to write on, try these tips:

  • Test items in the store or borrow items from friends to review
  • Review your all time favorite purchases
  • Purchase items for review and donate non-consumables to charity to assure that the purchase price is tax deductible (consumables generally are deductible even if you use the remainder of the item personally)
  • Report on an item without reviewing it. In many cases readers just want the specifications of a product and do not seek a personal review.

I am not saying that reviewing free items is not without its place. Sometimes you know that your regular readers will really want to see your take on the item, or you may be personally curious about it.  Some brands also always drive traffic regardless of how many others write on it. But consider being more selective and doing more coverage of unique items in order to really further your site.

Oh and there is an additional bonus to all of this: By focusing on items that haven’t been promoted by brands and PR, you will have less follow up email from PR on items and less email to send yourself, giving yourself more time to write and to promote your site.

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