The world of blogging continues to grow at a rapid pace and with it, the number of bloggers who post product reviews. Before you dive in though, every review blogger should know five key things.
Disclosure is a Must
There are ands, ifs or buts; if you agree to take free product in exchange for a review on your blog, you must disclose to your readers that you have done so. Not only is it the ethical thing to do, but the Federal Trade Commission requires it. They even have specific details on how and where in your post the disclosure must go. Read my previous post on FTC guidelines to learn more.
Treat Your Blog as a Business
Even though no cash may be falling into your hands, every time you receive free product, you have been paid according to the IRS. You need to track the value of each product you receive and be prepared to report it as income on your taxes. The Blog Workshop, just held a course last night, “Blogging Laws You Should Know” that provides full detail on the nitty gritty of managing your blog as a business and how to protect yourself.
Follow Through with Your Commitments
You may not have signed a contract when brand x sent you their awesome new product, but trust me, they are not just giving stuff away for free. When you agree to review a product, set up a reasonable timeline, pencil in the review date on your calendar, and then follow through. Don’t use the excuse that life got busy. If you were working a 9 to 5, you wouldn’t flake on a project your boss gave you and expect to keep your job. So, do not expect to do it as a blogger and maintain any credibility.
Don’t Under or Over Value Your Time and Influence
Sure a brand is getting advertising on your blog in exchange for providing you free product, but have you stopped to consider how much time it takes you to complete the review or the advertising value of a post on your blog? Check out this handy post on Babble about charging for sponsored post. Once you have calculated that fee, double it for a review. I promise, it is going to take you more time to create a review post than a sponsored post. Does the value of the product match this fee? If not, you may need to charge a fee for your review service. Of course, there are exceptions to every review.
“nofollow” or Fear the Wrath of Google
“nofollow” is an attribute that you add to links in a post to tell search engines not to index that site from your site. The tag is Google’s way of identifying paid content and squashing down link scams. Unless you want to fall to the dark depths of search indexes and want to drag the brand down there with you, always use “nofollow” links in your review post.