When I first began working with Mommy Perks, small business giveaways were a rather new concept. Only the larger businesses were giving things away, Online, and my partner would reach out hoping to get a “yes” from at least one business owner each week. “Please – can we run a giveaway for you? We need content!”

Things have changed a great deal. I became full owner of Mommy Perks in early 2009. Soon after, the mom blogging community exploded and reviews/giveaways became a norm. Although Mommy Perks is not a review/giveaway mom blog, people assume that we are because of the name. In turn, I receive countless emails now, asking me to review and give products away. I can’t say yes to everyone because I simply don’t have time.

From the business owners’ perspective, a few things need to be taken into consideration before you have a blogger review or give your products away.

Here are some tips…

WHY have someone review your product or give it away?

If you are hoping that a review/giveaway will bring you big sales, think again. Most often, reviews and giveaways are a great way to help Brand your name and get your links in front of new eyes. The key words used inside the post can also boost your SEO. Review/Giveaway posts can bring you new traffic or bump your traffic up for that week but the reviews/giveaways are not likely to bring you big sales. Remember: the people entering your giveaway are hoping to win something for free!  Keep this in mind so you don’t feel let down when big sales…do not come.

Are reviews and giveaways in your budget?

Many marketing books will tell you to spend about 50 percent of your start up money on marketing. This can include reviews and giveaways, should you view reviews/giveaways as a marketing tool. Are you seeking back links? Traffic? New eyes? Reviews and giveaways can offer this and really, it’s an affordable way to promote. When you compare to the prices of Print advertising, you’ll quickly find that reviews/giveaways are much more affordable and many times, they bring more return (traffic, etc) than print ads.

Pick wisely

Don’t go out and buy a $400 media list or blogger list and then shoot one email to the entire group. This is not a wise way to use your list resources. Most places charge money for a blogger list but at Reliable Bloggers you can request the list for FREE (60 bloggers on list #1 and there will be more than 60 on list #2). Go through your list(s) and read about the bloggers, learn about them and check out their blogs to see what they write about. Don’t send the same pitch to every one of them. Write your pitches according to their blogs and personalities. If your product is not a fit for a specific blog, don’t push it. Find someone else! Attempt to work with bloggers and sites that fit your product and needs. Casting your net too widely here will only frustrate you in the long run.

Cross promote!

Many small business owners ask me to review or run their giveaways. The ones that do the best are the ones who understand the value of cross promotion. I tweet – they tweet. I facebook – they facebook. I email my list – they email their list, showing where their current reviews/giveaways are being held. We both work hard to promote to our readers so that more eyes will view the information. Leaving everything up to the blogger is not wise. Take matters into your own hands and understand that the more tweets/hashtags/facebook links – the better for BOTH of you! You are now supporting each other and will likely both get increased readership, blog followers, twitter followers and so on. The more you help the blogger, the more the blogger will help you (hopefully).

Plan ahead

Are you going to offer reviews or giveaways every month? Quarterly? Yearly? Plan ahead and budget out accordingly. You don’t need to overdo things, either. Take your time and work with bloggers who are giving you as much as you are giving them. The smaller bloggers will likely review and run giveaways for free, as they need the content. Veteran bloggers are going to charge you for their time, promotion and audience loyalty. The Veteran bloggers have earned their stripes and should be respected for it (much like a photographer just starting out will take photos for free, for their portfolio, but a professional photographer is going to charge you). However, a nominal fee for their time is different than a $500 fee. If someone is charging you $25-100 that’s probably reasonable (depending on their audience base and Klout). If they are charging you $500, I would pass. You can find 5 bloggers who will review or run your giveaway for $25 each and in turn, you’ll spend $125 for a large amount of promotion, numerous back links and new traffic. Weigh the pros and cons and go from there, doing what’s best for your buck. (Note: Some of the smaller bloggers are much kinder, far more responsive and they often become long-term friends who will refer you, even months later!)

Shara Lawrence-Weiss has a background in education, early childhood, special needs, freelance and marketing. She owns various websites including: Mommy Perks, Kids Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Pine Media (co owner). Shara is an active member of her town charity group and a Library Board Member. Learn more about her and get more business tips at Mommy Perks.