Are you a new blogger and want to start doing reviews on your blog? In theory, you could just buy something for review, or just review the things you would be buying anyway, but perhaps money is tight and nothing you own or are planning to buy is particularly inspiring. So how do you start getting free stuff to review on your blog? Well, I can’t help with brand contacts just yet, but I can suggest a few ways to get items for free or next to nothing.
1.) Free Trials
From Amazon Prime to Graze, once you start looking for them, free trials are everywhere, but do be careful, as it will almost certainly renew automatically and you could end up paying. There are scams around as well, which make it extremely hard for you to cancel, so before signing up google the offer first to make sure it’s legit.
2.) Supermarket Loyalty Points
I’m stretching the definition of free a little bit here, but often loyalty points sit unused and wasted. Why not write them off and think how you could put them towards your blog instead? For example, at the moment £2.50 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers could equal £10 to spend at a variety of restaurants, including Strada, Chimichanga, and Bella Italia, or you could spend your points on a trip out to somewhere like the Eden Project. Tesco Clubcard Boost could give you double points on books and entertainment, so it’s worth checking their website to see what they offer.
3.) Shopping Reward Apps
These can be hit and miss but I do quite like CheckOutSmart. This is an app which offers a variety of cashback offers on your shop, along with a handful of freebies. At the moment, for example, I can get a free chocolate drink from Morrisons or a Kingsmill Farmhouse loaf from Sainsbury’s. You have to snap the receipt afterwards, but so far the process has been easy. Payments up to £19.99 incur a fee of 5%, but if you can get your balance up to £20, there is no fee. Shopitize is worth a look as well, but tends to have fewer freebies.
There are other sites that run product tests, but I’ve been part of a number of product trials through Mumsnet, including one for Little Dish toddler meals and another for Mini Milk lollies. They also run regular book giveaways, and I’ve just received Purity, Jonathan Franzen’s latest, as part of their book club scheme. They also have some trials for more expensive products as well: there was one for an expensive Kenwood mixer recently, and last time I checked there was a trial sign-up running for a Miele tumble drier.
Unlike competitions, it is assumed that you will participate in the product threads on the forum, and if you do not, it may mean that you will not be considered for future trials. With the more expensive trials, if you do not participate you will probably have to give the product back.
Every day, Goodreads runs quite a few competitions to win books of varying quality. Remember my review for Carla Norton’s Hunted? That was a book I received through their First Reads program. The odds for the UK only giveaways in particular are usually quite good, and there’s a real mixture of books on there. Well worth a look if you’re interested in doing book reviews. You don’t have to review the book, but it is expected that you will.
6.) Survey sites
I’ve found a lot of the survey sites are basically just rubbish and not worth it, however I have found that Valued Opinions is well worth joining with regular surveys that aren’t too tedious to complete. I recently received a £15 Amazon voucher from them, and it’s possible to build up your balance fairly quickly. Keep your eyes peeled for adverts for one called Pinecone as well, as they have an excellent reputation and pay extrememely well.
7.) Tesco Orchard
I love Tesco Orchard, I really do. I haven’t been a member for long, but I’ve just been accepted for my third program with them, this one for fresh fish. My recipe for date and raisin ‘truffles’ came about because of the Bioplan program they were running, and I’ve also been part of a program for their fruit and vegetables. The current one is for fresh fish. I particularly like it because it often focuses on fresh food, which is rather refreshing in a world where you are constantly being pressed to buy processed food. They send you vouchers (usually around £4, with extra vouchers for friends and family. Or husbands), which gives you the freedom to try something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy.
This one is the biggie, even if it is also a bit controversial in the blogging world. While it may take a bit of getting used to, Loquax is an amazing site, packed with competitions for all sorts of prizes, from holidays to books to vouchers to tickets to events. And ultimately it’s a numbers game; the more competitions you enter, the more likely it is that you will win one, particularly if you are entering for the smaller stuff, such as books or tickets to one-off events. Exactly the sort of stuff that would make excellent blog-fodder, in fact.
I say this is controversial because some bloggers hate the idea of this sort of organised comping. It’s a shame because many people can and do discover new sites through entering competitions, but bear this in mind and be respectful and polite. A lot of the blogs that run regular competitions are excellent, and if you are a blogger yourself, being a committed member of the community can only benefit you.
If you’re thinking of running a competition on your blog, this could also be a good way of getting a free prize to give away, however be mindful of ASA guidelines: you are responsible for making sure the winner gets their prize, so if it gets lost in the post, you could be left out of pocket. I also wouldn’t recommend this if the win was from another blog: that would just be rude.
Do you have any suggestions? Please share them in the comments.