"How long could it possibly take to review the product I sent?"
"I better send a follow-up email to make sure the product arrived and maybe that will remind the blogger to hurry up and review it."
"Okay, so if the product is there, why isn't the blog post written yet?"
"It's been a whole week since it was shipped! Maybe I better email the blogger again and get an estimated posting date."
"I bet that review won't ever be posted and now my company out a $20 product plus shipping. Bloggers are so unprofessional."
The Blogging Review Process (in reality)
When a product arrives at my house for review on Planet Weidknecht, it generally falls into one of two categories: perishable or non-perishable. Hopefully that fact is marked on the outside of the box. Perishables are opened immediately, a few quick initial photos are taken, then into the fridge or freezer it goes. Non-perishables are opened (usually within a day or two) then join the review table (which stretches across several tables). At any one time, there are as many as 30 items waiting to be reviewed. Everyone wants their product advertised as soon as possible and bloggers work very hard to achieve a level of balance for all.
Products are reviewed in the order received, unless of course there is a looming deadline agreed upon in advance or the product is accompanied by the generous nudge of a company who actually pays for a blogger's time and work. Most don't. Bloggers also don't work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to review products so, not surprisingly, products are seldom reviewed the same week they are received.
Reviewing a product can be a lengthy process. The first photograph is of the product, either in the packaging or immediately out of the packaging. The photography step is tricky by itself because unless a blogger has a full-on studio (most of us don't) we have to wait for the right lighting, set up the area around the product, select appropriate props, and then take a number of photographs from different angles to find the optimum introductory photo that will entice a reader to take the time to read.
The next step is to actually use the product, while taking pictures during the process. If it's a food item, it has to be prepared (and photographed) and tasted (and photographed again). If it's a food ingredient, a recipe creation is often necessary or at least a website search to find a recipe that can be used or modified to feature the ingredient. Again, preparation and tasting are photographed extensively. If it's a fashion item, the blogger has to put together an entire look that highlights the product. Since bloggers are often home without other adults around all day, recruiting a stand-in photographer is necessary. It may end up being a six year old or an overworked husband home in the evening, neither of which truly understands how a blogger needs lots of photos taken to find the right one. In addition, finding the right natural background (either inside or outside) and lighting can also be a challenge. Each product comes with its own review challenges, whether it be a frustrating assembly process, an uncooperative child that isn't in the mood for helping, a pet that won't sit still for photos, or a product that just doesn't photograph well. If it's raining, photographs are too dark. If it's too sunny, photographs looked washed out.
Once the product has been used and photographed, the blogger moves on to the editing phase. From the 20-100 photos of a single product that are uploaded to the computer, usually only about 2-10 actually make it past the approval stage. Woe to the blogger that is unhappy with all the photos and must restart the entire process! Then the approved photos need to be edited, which can include re-sizing, enhancing, cropping, re-naming, and occasionally adding requested overlays or text.
The next step is to write the blog post. After reviewing hundreds of products, it can be tricky to come up with wording that doesn't sound like every other post on a blog. A blogger needs to be creative, funny, and original, yet sincere, personal, and honest, while writing a blog post of 200-500 words that clearly describes the product, its uses and features, and how it improves the blogger's life in some way. If the product doesn't perform as desired, the blogger is faced with contacting the company for possible replacement or a mutual agreement to forego the review process. Some bloggers are comfortable about posting negative reviews, but I personally prefer to only share products with readers that I can recommend. Once the post is written, it must be re-read multiple times to make sure the wording, grammar, and punctuation are correct. The photos are added to the post, as well as text links to the company's preferred URLs and social media accounts. Bloggers also have to adhere to (and include) FDA disclosures about receiving products or compensation. If a giveaway is part of the review, bloggers must create a giveaway form and insert that into the post. Finally, the post is ready to go live.
A blogger's job is not done yet for that product. That post is then shared to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and a host of other sites, in order to reach as many readers as possible. The sponsor must also be notified that the post is live. If it's a giveaway post, it needs to be promoted throughout the entire giveaway time frame. At the end of a giveaway, the blogger must randomly select the winner, contact the winner, wait for a response, and then provide the sponsor with the winner information. Follow-up may be required if a winner doesn't receive their prize in a timely manner.
Although this is a description of the review process in general (and that's just for ONE product), bloggers may face a host of other challenges along the way, including things beyond their control, like hacked websites or computer crashes. Then there are the pitfalls of everyday life at home that include spouses, children, neighbors, pets, phone calls, deliveries, and the stream of steady noise and confusion that comes from that, all occurring around the blogger in the home while the review process is happening. The blogger is also busy answering the flood of daily emails from readers, PR reps, bloggers, and companies. Keep in mind, the blogger may be working for simply the product received, without any other kind of compensation.
Yes, blogging is fun, but sometimes it can be difficult to find a balance and it's easy to get overwhelmed. Bloggers put their heart and soul into what they post. They spend tireless hours at the computer not just to get something for "free" (insert hysterical laughter here) but to contribute something meaningful to the rest of the world.
And THAT'S why bloggers don't review products faster!
P.S. If you'd like a product review, please contact me at LisaWeidknecht@hotmail.com.