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How can I start a product review blog?

Discussion in 'General' started by Kcirtap Niwel, 2 Oct 2007.

  1. Kcirtap Niwel

    Kcirtap Niwel New Member

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    I'm currently a junior in high school, taking five courses at high school and one at community college, and I'm very interested in starting a product review blog. The products I review would mainly be of the technology genre. I would publish daily articles about the happenings of the technology world(laced with my own opinions); this gives the blog flavor and sets it apart from all the other product review websites. The problem is I don't know how to get in touch with companies and convince them to allow me to review their products; I am only 16 after all. One solution that I've come up with is to have my mom be liable for the review.

    So far I've come up with the following business model:

    • Buy web hosting for the blog
    • Setup blog and start publishing articles
    • Contact companies(such as Logitech) and convince them to allow me to review their products
    • Buy a DSRL and Camcorder to start publishing product reviews

    My mom suggested that I buy products from a store such as Best Buy, review and then return them so I can have examples to show the companies I would contact. The problem with this plan is that I would have waisted money on a DSRL and Camcorder if the companies don't like my age, me or my blog.

    Can anybody help me toward my goal?
     
  2. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    I can. First, focus on your writing skills. Forget about contacting companies, buying a camera, or getting a blog if you can't show a history of well witty, objective and organized writing skills. There are thousands of blogs and sites like what you want to do. You need to give people a reason to read yours. THEN come the companies and the products. Not the other way around.
    You need a better idea then this, sorry. Mutli-million dollar companies are not going to lend you expensive toys to you when all you have is your mom vouching for you. Imagine Cadillac letting you borrow a new CTS for an on board nav review, or sony giving you a prototype laptop 2 weeks before release. They don't have the time or the inclination to work with someone based on their mom being involved. Such is life.

    I would start with products you already have and use. You have a mobile? a TV? a PC? Lappy? Mp3 player? What about friends? Family? That right there is about 50 products. Then write the reviews, good strong journalistic reviews. Decide what your style is. Will you be spec heavy like DPreview? or more lifestyle oriented? or more industry news, like anandtech? Get web space. Post reviews. Get traffic. Get advertising revenue. Then companies will say, "WOW, 16yo and 80 gazillion hits a week, 30k a month in ad revenue....People read this blog. We need to get our name on this kid's site." And they know that you won't write, " LIke OMGZ sony Blows, dude." The bold part is key. If you don't know why, you shouldn't be thinking about approaching companies. The web is big, they want eyeballs on products. Ask the admins here how long it took to get a big enough audience so that Intel, MS and game companies realized there was something in it for them.

    Credibility gets you further and opens more doors then anything else. Tech review is more about journalism then being a geek. When you have established that credibility, then you work on personal relationships; go to trade shows, meet people, follow up, keep contacts. If Intel has 50 chips to give out to 10,000 tech sites, how do the choose which ones? They know the top 100 sites with relevant content, and they call the 50 they have good contacts with.

    Write the first 50 reviews of products you know of, then get people in the industry to read them and give you feed back. (not all 50 at once, BTW) Take an interest in what sets off a good review site. Then start writing, a lot.

    Oh and welcome to BT. Come for the Relix, stay for the cheesecake. I bet they are always looking for a few good writers......
     
    Last edited: 2 Oct 2007
  3. Ramble

    Ramble Ginger Nut

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    I'd just echo what Johnny said, focus on the writing. There are loads of large websites that mix reviews and opinions, like the one you're reading now. You need to be a talented writer to gain attention. By the time that happens and your site is getting traffic I imagine you'll be over 18.
     
  4. eek

    eek CAMRA ***.

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    Thirded, you're going to need to get a site going before approaching any companies.

    Not everything in life is free so expect to have to pay for some stuff to review. Remember that money you spend on products isn't just money spent on cool stuff you want, it's money invested in the business and is needed to help get/keep it going. Plus, there is potential to claim back the VAT on it depending on the type of business it evolves into saving you a good 17.5% on retail prices!
     
  5. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    If you're up for getting a little bit of experience or something on your CV then feel free to throw in some contibutions around here. We can set you up with work experience if you want it (best to email Tim about that: tim.smalley@ bit-tech.net) or if you want to game reviews or features then I'm your man. Pick the last game you played, whether you liked it or not, and write an article of decent length about it (something around 1500 words, but don't worry about that).

    Send that to me along with your PC system specs and a list of your consoles, specialism etc. I'll read it, promise. If its crap then I can give you some tips on how to improve. If its good then we can send talk about sending you some games to review in the future on a voluntary basis for a bit. That way you can put "Freelance writer for major UK website Bit-tech.net" on your CV and so on, getting some major attention. Successfully set up work experience and impress me and I'll give you a reference.

    That may sound like faff, but it's the way into this industry. It's how I got started, work exping at PC Format and Pro-G. It's also how most of the guys I know got started.

    This offer is open to everyone by the way. I'm always looking for extra hands and whether you want to contribute a single feature about something or want to do regular game reviews then I'll do my utter best to help.

    The posts above are right though. Nobody will send you anything under that situation and you can't feasibly buy all the stuff you need. Even if you could, you wouldn't be able to turn a review around in time to get one up a day on your own - not if its a decent length and you're doing photos too. It takes me two or three days just to do a games review.

    You need to prove you can write in order to get people reading. You need to get people reading to get people sending things. You need to get things to get people reading. It's circular and this is your best way in.
     
  6. Kcirtap Niwel

    Kcirtap Niwel New Member

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    Thank you for telling me about this offer! I've actually been hoping that a member of the bit-tech.net staff would notice this thread and offer me some sort of internship position here. Do you literally mean an article about the last game I played? My computer is substandard and I currently don't have any consoles; is there anyway for me to still write game reviews? The last game I played would be Counter-Strike: Source so I'll get started on a review for it right away. Could you tell me your e-mail so I can send you the review when I'm done?
     
  7. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre <b>banned</b>

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    Try and go for the ones that haven't been done.

    A great way to do reviews if your PC is below spec, and if you haven't got much money, is to scour the net for freeware, and Shareware Demo's that aren't too crippled. They usually run well on older hardware and are good enough that you can review them quite in depth.

    My personal fave game for example, is Zdaemon, a mod of the good ol doom II. Anyone can run it, and Freedoom means its totally free to run. (Or you can crack the original Doom wads, lol)
     
  8. sam.g.taylor

    sam.g.taylor Apparently I'm Greg Kinnear

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    I'm interested as well - and I think having someone with not always the best and newest system can lend a POV more representative of the more moderate end of the PC-spec curve [cough]cheap![/cough]

    I've already done a couple of guides on my site too - would BT be interested in how-to guides along with reviews? I know you've published some in the past...
     
  9. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    My email is Joe.martin @ bit-tech.net (remove the spaces). If your computer is low standard and you don't have any consoles then you'll be obviously limited in terms of what I can give you, especially as technology pushes forward to DX10. However, that doesn't mean that you can't do some work. There's always features. Things like The world of DS Homebrew, The World of Indie Games or my recurring feature on writing (next one about adventure games is almost finished) were all done without playing anything, just a high level of knowledge.

    GuitarBizzare is right about freeware too. Some of the best contacts I've built up in the games industry have been from small indie developers. Indie developers and young writers go well together. They want all the publicity they can get and ussually don't have budgets and embargos, you want to get interesting games to review that people will want to read. Indie games tend not to have high specs and tend to be a little unusual, so you have plenty to talk about and no tech worries. By working with just a few up and coming writers, companies like Introversion and Frictional Games have managed to scale up into the big leagues - and they never forget who helped them get there.

    If you can prove to me that you have a high level of writing ability then maybe they'll be a chance to talk about things like this. Obviously, I can't promise anything in terms of actual assignments, but I can promise to look at everything that is sent to me and to try and give you as much help as I can.

    Bit-tech lives and dies by its community, so the least I can do is try and help you guys out whenever possible ;)

    I'm always interested in new writers as long as the content is something I can get a handle on. If it's at all gamey then send it over to me along with a letter telling me a bit about yourself, your rig and what you want to do. I'll have a look at it and get back to you as soon as possible. If it's awful then i'll do my best to set you straight and put you on the right path. If it's good then we can look at putting things up on the site where appropriate.
     
    Last edited: 4 Oct 2007

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