1. Know your niche
Figure out what your interests are, and what you would really like to blog about. For me the choice was easy, because I love trying out new cosmetics and skincare. I decided to start a beauty product review blog so that I could share my insights with others.
2. Choose your platform
I chose Blogger because I liked the tie-ins with Google Friend Connect and Google Analytics. But there are some drawbacks; a few months ago my Google account was temporarily suspended and I had a mini panic attack when I thought I was going to lose my blog forever! I think that the other most popular service is Wordpress, which I've heard allows for more customization. Play around with a few sites and see what fits you best. You can also always host your own domain if you have web knowledge.
3. Don't start a blog just to get free stuff
Yes, sponsored posts are definitely a great perk of blogging! But if your only motivation is to get free stuff, then I have a feeling that you won't be as successful as you'd like to be. I love writing as much as I love shopping, which was a second motivator for me. I won't lie, I love trying products for free, but companies are looking for genuine, honest reviews from invested bloggers, not just someone who wants a free bottle of lotion.
4. Be honest!
If you choose to start a review blog, it's imperative that you provide completely honest reviews. You aren't doing anyone any good -- not for your readers nor for the companies you may be reviewing for -- by providing dishonest information. I've read a few posts where bloggers write only one or two paragraphs saying "This is great, I love this!," which leaves me thinking, okay, but I still have no idea whether or not I would want to buy this product! Be detailed, but not overly-so (no one wants to read posts that are 3 pages long, either), and provide the pros and cons that you see fit.
A few other miscellaneous things:
- Giveaways definitely help develop your readership. People love to win free stuff, myself included! You might need to front the cost for some prizes on your own in the beginning to build up your followership (companies like to sponsor blogs with lots of followers and high statistics), but that's not always a big deal. I was involved in a $650 cash giveaway that only cost me $5 to participate in!
- Get to know other bloggers! Having affiliates and friends in the blogosphere goes a long way. You want people to read your blog, right? So wouldn't it only make sense for you to return the favor by reading someone else's?
- Utilize social media. Tweet, post on Facebook, use Pinterest, Google+ ... there are so many social media outlets these days! Take the time to learn how to use them to your best advantage.
- And most importantly...have fun! Blogging should be a fun hobby, not a chore.
I hope this post was helpful, feel free to leave questions here or on Facebook as well!