The question I get asked more than any other is: how do you get companies to send you free products to review? And the answer to that question is simple: I ask them to send me free products to review.
But of course, it’s not that simple.
And who knows? Maybe for you, it could be that simple. But, I take a slightly different approach, and it seems to be working, so I thought I’d share my methods. You see, some folks might not be so forthcoming with such information, but I’m not that guy.
I want to help as many people as I can because there’s more than enough product in this world for all of us influencers to get a piece of the action. There are plenty of companies ready and willing to work with folks like us who can provide an inexpensive, yet effective form of word-of-mouth advertising for their products to our social media circles.
In fact, many companies have a budget set aside just for this purpose. And those who don’t, or the ones who only work with major tech sites, are losing out – but that’s an entirely different story.
So, here are my suggestions and what’s working for me when it comes to getting free products to review.
What you need
Simply put, you need a social media following of some kind. Now, let’s be very clear here. You don’t need a million followers on every single social media network to be considered.
In fact, I don’t have 50k on any of my personal accounts if you put them all together. Hell, Android Unfiltered doesn’t even have 50k if you took all of its accounts and combined them. (We’re close, though!)
And that’s quite alright.
What you need is a somewhat sizeable and, more importantly, engaging group of people in your circles.
And you don’t have to be on every network either. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are all great sources full of people for you to interact with, so start making some friends, if you don’t already have a few.
The more places you are, the better. But again, you really need to have at least one of these networks that you’re really active on to be able to show these companies that you have people you can reach with your reviews.
Strong social media presence alone can, in some cases, be enough to get you what you’re looking to review. And for the record, this applies to most any product on the market you can think of; not just tech gadgets like I review.
But there are a few things I suggest you should have that will help your cause when making requests.
What you should have
A website is the first thing I’d suggest. Owning a blog is an extremely beneficial tool to influence manufacturers to send you free products. It gives your brand a sense of professionalism, and it shows companies that you’re serious about your work.
If you’re good with WordPress or a similar CMS, you’re two steps ahead of the game already. Build yourself a site and establish your brand by creating stellar content and sharing it with those social media circles I was just talking about.
If you don’t know how to build a website, or perhaps you just don’t have the time, you can always use a service like Squarespace to either get the site built for you or make it tremendously easy to build on your own in a very small amount of time.
We use WordPress here at Android Unfiltered, in case you were wondering.
A (decent) camera helps
You should also have a decent camera. Even if it’s just a smartphone camera that takes really good photos, like the Pixel 2 or Galaxy Note 8, you should have something to take photos of the products you’re reviewing. You could always use stock photos, but as a content creator, I try to do that only as a last resort.
The companies you’re working with will greatly appreciate the personal touch you add to your reviews by making your own images – even if they don’t look 100% professional. Just try your best to make the product look as good as you can in your shots.
And if you can make videos to upload to YouTube, even better! Companies love stuff like that. It’s like a free commercial for them – again, just make sure to share (not spam) your videos to your social networks so people are seeing them.
So, now you have a social media following, and you may or may not have a website and a camera. That’s all good and all, but what’s the next step? How do you get companies to actually send you something?
Remember, I already told you – all you have to do is ask. What’s the worst they can do? Say no. That’s it. In some cases, they might not respond at all, initially. I’ll give you a couple of tips on that in just a moment.
But seriously, if you don’t reach out and ask, they’ll never know you have interest in reviewing their product – and nothing’s going to magically appear on your doorstep if you don’t ask.
But who do you ask? Let’s move on to that now.
Finding the right people
Most companies have a ‘Contact Us’ page on their website. For the sake of this article, I’m going to use a company called, “Moment“, as an example. Moment makes phone cases with awesome lenses for your smartphone.
I’m actually waiting for a Pixel 2 case, the Macro lens, and the Tele lens in the mail right now. They’re sending these out to me for free, and I can’t wait to review them, for the record.
Now, I contacted Moment. They didn’t know about Android Unfiltered or myself prior to me reaching out. And I did so via their “Contact Us” page. They have a direct email link which I used to contact them and request samples. A few days later, they responded and generously obliged.
Thanks again, by the way, Team Moment, if you happen to stumble upon this article!
Some companies also have “Press Contacts”, “Media Contacts”, or something similar. These are the folks you want to reach out to. They will be the ones deciding whether or not you’ll get products to review, in most cases.
Twitter is another great way to connect with companies, and in some cases, it’s faster than sending a conventional email. I’ve arranged several product reviews via Direct Message conversations. I can only assume Facebook works the same way, although I’ve not personally used the platform for that purpose.
Making the request
Now you know who to contact, but what do you say? Is it just as simple as saying, “Hey, send me free products?” Yes and no. Of course, you could try doing that – and maybe someone might respond. The odds aren’t likely, though.
Here’s a brief example email I’d send out. Let’s use Philips in this example, and I’ll show you the actual email I sent to request the Hue smartlight starter kit setup – which I got and reviewed, by the way.
In that email, I tried to keep things short and sweet, but I also explained everything I felt necessary to divulge in order to show my intentions were legitimate.
I explained the Android Unfiltered brand and linked to our website. I explained the project I was working on and why I wanted to include Philips Hue in it, and I pointed out that the product would be something our readers would have interest in.
Then I hit ’em with the money question and made it easy for them to ship the product out to me, just in case they accepted my proposal, by leaving my shipping address conveniently in my signature.
Was it that easy?
Pretty much. In this specific case, I did have to send a couple of follow-up emails to make sure they received my request. But you have to remember: these companies are huge. They likely receive tons of requests just like this, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while (or even a few rejections) before you get a positive response.
My best advice to you here is, follow up relentlessly – until you receive a response one way or another.
Now, don’t take that as me telling you to email these folks every single day. In fact, don’t do that. Remember, they’re busy, but it is usually in their job descriptions to make sure they respond to these types of queries, be it the response you want, or not.
Do you get to keep everything you review?
No, unfortunately. I do get to keep a lot of cool stuff, but higher-end products are usually sent out on a loan-only basis. Things like phones and laptops generally only stay in my possession for a month or so.
But even still – I’m getting the chance to spend time with nearly every single flagship device that comes out. I can’t complain one bit.
And like I said, I get to keep a LOT of cool stuff. I’ve turned my normal apartment into a smart apartment, with a security system, smart lighting, a precision cooker, and a ton of other stuff I do get to keep, in just a few months’ time.
Just because I asked for it.
I’m nobody special. While I may get harassed about being “special” (James Cowan, I’m looking at you here!), I’m just a regular, everyday guy who loves Android and technology of all kinds. I may be overly passionate about the things I do here, but that’s an entirely different story.
But the reason I’m saying this is – you can do it, too! If you want to review products on your own, all you have to do is have a little bit of passion and follow even a few of the steps I’ve covered in this guide, and I can assure you, the toys will be aplenty.
And to round this article out, I’ll leave you with a few bonus tips:
- Don’t forget to follow up on your requests. If you use Gmail as your main email platform, I suggest using Boomerang – it’s a service you can use to help you remember to follow up on these emails, and it has a ton of other cool things to help make your Gmail experience more organized and productive.
- Write (or film) the best reviews you can. Every. Single. Time. Pay attention to details and convey them to your audience.
- BE TRUTHFUL in your reviews. This is likely the most important piece of advice I can give you in all of this. Don’t be a glorified advertisement for a product just because it was sent to you for free. Be objective. Glow about highlights and be harsh about flaws. Your followers appreciate this, as do manufacturers because it gives them feedback to help them improve their products.
Thanks for stopping by to give this article on how to get free products a read. I hope it was helpful, and I wish you the best in your endeavors. And now that you know how to get companies to send you free products to review, I hope you’ll stop back and share your reviews with me in the comment thread. I’ll read each and every one.
I look forward to seeing all the cool toys you get to test!