Comments I have heard lately:
Where do you get all this free stuff?
I'm always on Facebook; I might as well set up a blog and get some free stuff too!
Wow, blogging looks like a good gig, you get so much free stuff!
Ooh, you're onto a good thing there by the sounds of it.
I have been writing this blog for eighteen months now. I love it; I enjoy writing my posts. But it is still hard work, keeping on top of it, making sure posts are proof-read, getting photos for it, researching posts, and reviewing products.
At the time of writing, I have eight reviews waiting to be written. I know of bloggers who have more, piled up and waiting until they have time to do them justice in a blog post.
Yes, it's nice to be given products to review for free. I've been lucky enough to be sent some fantastic things in exchange for a review.
On the other hand though, companies send me their products to review in order to get the word out about their brand. Some bloggers do write reviews that amount to a photo, a link to the website and "I was sent this thing to review" - but most of us tend to put a little more effort in. I try to think about what I would want to know, if I was thinking of buying the product. How much is it? What did I think of it? Does it do what it says it will? Would I buy it if I hadn't been given it? I believe this attention to detail is the reason I have eight products waiting to be reviewed, and why I have a good relationship with a couple of PRs who will email me when they get new opportunities.
I have a Klout score that's reasonably high. I have over 2000 Twitter followers, and my blog is inside the Tots100 top 500 UK parent blogs. When a company decides to have me review their product, they do it having seen these stats; they know I will tweet links to my review and promote it on Facebook and Google+. More importantly though, this site is cached by Google every 24 hours. It has a reasonable Alexa ranking and when bloggers review a product, we usually include a link to the company's website. Backlinks like this help a company with their Google ranking and often it's this they're after as much as the review.
Either way, my point is this: I wouldn't get half as many nice things to review, if I hadn't already put in the hard work to make my blog popular, to ensure someone was going to come along and read the review or click on the link.
So yes, by all means, set up your own blog in order to get some free stuff. There's plenty out there for everyone, and I wish you all the luck in the world. You may find though, that without the figures to back you up, brands will want to place their products on more established blogs with wider readerships.