June 15, 2017

Reviewing products on blog pays handsomely to blogger and brand. How to do it effectively?

Reviewing of products is one of the best earning streams for bloggers. The following are obvious niches for product and service reviews:
  • food products
  • restaurants and hotels
  • travel packages
  • beauty and health products
  • gadgetry and equipment
  • books
  • movies
  • website hosting services 
  • online services
This list does not mean other topics are less amenable to reviews on blogs. In fact, there are numerous narrow niches (e.g. 'ethnic jewellery' or 'Carnatic music instruments') in which reviews could be more rewarding because (i) there is less competition from advertisers and bloggers, and (ii) people interested in such specific items are likely real buyers. 

What constitutes a good product/ service review

goog product reviews on blogs

In technical terms, the review should have
  • lucid language, mostly in first person voice (i.e. 'I used it and found...' rather than 'People who use it say that..."
  • readable font size, color; wide enough column; overall neat looks of the site/ blog
  • text broken into sections that deal with different aspects (e.g. where to buy, different shades available, price) 
  • links to relevant places (e.g. product site, a page describing the chemistry of the product, a wiki-how page on using such products)
  • photo(s) that help in seeing the product from different angles (e.g. different colors available, photos showing how to use it, packaging, trailer in case of film, jacket in case of book)

    In terms of content, the blog should give
    • honest opinion, without hiding obvious negatives and telling half-truths
    • useful insights for taking a decision and not 'balanced' or wishy-washy and confusing ideas
    • detailed information so that the buyer does not run away to other sites
    • to the extent possible, personal experience gained after using the product
    • proper conclusion at the end of the review.

    How do I write great product reviews

    (This section is for reviewers who find their reviews not doing well. If you are a blogger venturing into this field now, we have another post on how to start a blog meant for review of products.)

    To make it straight and simple, we pose you these questions.

    Do you review relevant products?

    It is obvious that the product or service that you review must belong to your niche, and yet a good number of bloggers are seen reviewing products that do not fit well with the subject of the blog. Just so that you must publish a big number of reviews or some offer has come your way, you should not post reviews on unrelated products. We have seen occasional book/ beauty-product reviews on personal blogs and are acceptable as these are hobby posts to be shared with known people. But a fiction review on a fashion blog: NO, if you mean business.

    Do you do enough research before writing the review?

    Review, whether of a nail polish or a web-hosting service or yoga mats, needs proper knowledge of the product - and this knowledge comes from subject expertise, long use/ experience, keen observation and study of others' articles and sometimes research papers.

    Do you use personal voice or the review looks detached?

    Generally talk straight to the reader/ visitor; do not talk in third person. Tell about your experience with the product, so that it is believable and convincing. That also helps you connect with the visitor, who might ask you further questins through comment box/ contact form/ email.

    Do you look reasoned, and not superficial, emotional, unsure?

    The review should be well reasoned and not based on emotions. Don't ever get influenced by a free offer or the sales pitch on the product site or what you were briefed during a press trip to a new hotel.

    Never publish a review in a huff, e.g. you bought a new kitchen gadget and it worked fantastic. You can share the joy on your personal blog/ FB page or WhatsApp chat, but not on your professional review blog. What if the product fails in a few days? What if much better products are available in the market? What if you bought it for an exorbitant rate but as you are a rich lady it looked cheap to you? At the same time, do not publish a review if you are fed up with a product and its customer service is awful. When in anger, you might miss some fine qualities of the product or a key step you yourself did not take while making the complaint.

    Is your presentation appealing? 

    You might write an outstanding review but if it is not packaged well, people will not read it or stay on the blog long enough to finish it. Be sure that the review meets the quality parameters given in the section above, 'What constitutes a good product review'.

    Do you disclose your link with the product?

    Disclosure is a MUST  in case of all reviews. Disclosing your relationship with the brand/ product that you are promoting is not only ethical best practice, it can save you from legal issues in case someone claims that he was harmed by following your recommendation. US's FTC has given detailed disclosure guidelines which are worth going through.

    Do you promote your reviews well? 

    Finally, if you do not promote your reviews, it is likely that people will not know about them. If people do not know of  your excellent reviews, they won't get you popularity and money. So, promote them well.

    Use social media, WhatsApp or other chat groups, email list and other tools to let people know about your latest review. Be part of forums, Google Plus communities, Facebook groups and other such forums active in your niche. Tweet the post, cross-link with other similar posts, tell your friends or clients or colleagues about the post. Write on product evaluation and comparing sites. Don't fritter away your energy in many promotional efforts but focus on what suits your type of product.

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