This guest post is by Karol K.
Reviews are one of the more common types of content on the internet. I’m sure you’ve looked for a review of a given product yourself once or twice. However, being on the receiving end of a review, so to speak, is a completely different ball game than actually writing one.
First of all, some people mistake reviews for sales messages. Some indications that you’re dealing with a disguised sales message, rather than a review, are: too big a focus on glorifying the product, the presence of numerous affiliate links, and a lack of actual information about the usage of the product or service being reviewed (only promotional speech).
So how can you be the good guy or girl and actually craft a proper review? This post presents the essential techniques you should use, but first…
What’s the purpose of a review?
A good review is not intended just to make some affiliate sales … at least, it shouldn’t be.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against affiliate sales, it’s just that if making money is your only goal, this makes it impossible to present an unbiased opinion of the product or service. You still can include an affiliate link at the end of your review, but treat it as an extra opportunity, not the goal in itself.
So what’s a better purpose than affiliate sales for a review? To answer that question, take a look at why people read reviews. If you decide to cater to that need exactly, you will create a truly valuable review.
In my opinion, the most common reasons why people look for product reviews are:
- to learn the pros and cons of a given product
- to find out if the product is meant for them
- to find out if the product is of high quality and easy to use
- to find out about alternative solutions
- to find out about other users’ experiences with the product
- to ultimately learn if the product is worth buying.
With those needs in mind, let’s look at what you can do to craft a truly valuable review.
Buy or ask for the product
This is the first rule to writing a review! Sometimes I’m really amazed at how many people continue writing reviews without even owning the product they’re reviewing.
I mean, it’s doable if you just want to make a few affiliate sales, but if your goal is to provide value, then it’s absolutely crucial for you to have the product in your hands (or on your computer).
Now, there are a range of ways you can get the product. The best way is to simply ask the product owner to give you a copy for free (just mention that you’re writing a review).
If this doesn’t work, you can sign up as an affiliate and buy the product through your affiliate link. This will allow you to get up to 90% off the retail price, depending on the affiliate commission you’ll earn. Be aware, though, that some affiliate programs don’t allow you to buy through your own link—check the terms and conditions of the arrangement before you do this.
Consider becoming an affiliate
As I said briefly a couple of paragraphs above, I’m not against affiliates. As a matter of fact, I’m an affiliate for plenty of products.
To put it simply, if there is an affiliate program available for the product you’re reviewing, by all means do sign up. Just don’t make affiliate sales your main goal when writing the review.
Tackle the problem of honesty
Why am I calling it a problem? The problem is that not every product is a quality one.
Every once in a while, you’ll stumble upon a product that is simply garbage. And the problem here is that people (including you, I hope) are naturally nice. So we don’t want to hurt anyone by publishing negative reviews of their products.
And this is where the problem of honesty arises. A natural approach here is to simply omit some negative experiences from your review—to not say anything about them. I really don’t advise you to do this.
Always try to fight the natural resistance and mention every negative aspect you’ve stumbled upon. This will strengthen your brand and also ensure your readers know that you’re an honest source of information.
Craft the core content
Setting all the issues with purpose and honesty aside, now let’s focus on the core contents of your review.
Make sure you provide information on:
- Features: Cover information on what the product does.
- Target group: Include information on who the average user of the product is, and why they would want to use it.
- The main benefit: There are always some benefits a given product has to offer, and listing them is usually the biggest value a review brings. Just to define the idea of a benefit briefly: it’s what the features of the product mean to the users, and how those features improve their lives.
- Practical details: Cover things like the price, where to get the product (you can include your affiliate link here), what the guarantee is, how long customers have to wait for the delivery, and so on.
List the alternatives
This is optional. You can do this, but it’s not a mandatory element of a good review. Besides, sometimes there simply aren’t many alternatives to a really specific product.
Even if there are, there’s often no point in listing them. For example, when you’re reviewing a novel, even if there are other novels in the same area, it’s not likely to provide much value if you list them as alternatives.
Cove the pros and cons
The pros and cons section is a feature of every good review. Listing the pros is usually easy, as the product creators always try to make them clearly visible, but cons are a completely different story.
The first thing you need to realize is that there are always some cons, no matter how good the product seems at first. Your job as the reviewer is to bring them to the surface.
One more tip. Please don’t list cons that aren’t really cons. This is one of the tricks used by affiliate reviewers. For instance, when dealing with digital products, affiliates tend to mention the fact that the package takes a long time to download as a downside. It isn’t.
Cons are only significant if they somehow make the product less usable in some way. Focus on those.
Other people’s opinions
If you take a look at Amazon, you’ll find loads of customer reviews for every product. They’re not there just for the sake of it. People are simply very interested in other people’s opinions.
If you have access to reliable customer reviews or opinions that you can legally use, by all means include them in your review. Try to find both positive and negative ones.
Share your final opinion
Finally, share your personal opinion about the product. Mention whether the product is worth buying or not, and what your overall experience of it was.
Don’t be afraid of speaking your mind freely here. If you love the product, say that you do. If you hate it, people should know about this, too.
Also, include your affiliate link if you want to recommend the product to your readers. You don’t have to make it look overly promotional—a big Buy Here button might be too much. Simply hooking up your affiliate URL to the product name is usually enough.
That’s it for my advice on writing a proper product review, but feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas. Do you write a lot of reviews? Have you experienced any difficulties getting products? I’d love to hear your tips, too.
Karol K. is a freelance blogger and writer. Currently, he’s all about providing blogging advice to real estate business owners, and getting the word out about las colinas real estate.
Woot! Just did my first review a few days ago and I included a lot of the tips you mentioned. I tend to stray from doing affiliate stuff, though.
Williesha, good post,If you share a lot of product reviews on your site or blog, make it a point to talk about what NOT to buy. Don’t be afraid to write negative reviews now and then. It’s important to prove that you are real, and that you can be objective.
Saying about the negatives is most likely the most important element of every good review.
Karol, good post, I was wondering if you think that asking for review products would work on goods as well, or any advice on how people accomplish that, even if I would have to send it back when I’m done?
I think that it’s all about how big your site is. If you can attract a big audience to pay attention to you then asking for any product shouldn’t be difficult. Starting out is always the hardest.
Any review written with the above in mind would be the kind of review I feel I could trust… like you state, “there are always some cons”, but these usually take more experimenting, preferably by a heavy user who already has access to a couple of products in whatever field of expertise (social media tools, cameras). Glowing reports tend to make me wonder if 1) you’ve actually ever used this product, 2) if you’ve tried everything the average user would try with it, 3) if you’ve tried to ‘break’ it and 4) if you’re being paid for your review by the company that makes the product. Thanks for this post!
I agree, talking about the negatives always requires some time spent using the product. You won’t find those if you’ve just had the product for a couple of hours.
Great tips on writing a good product review Karol, I’ve just wrote a review of Bluehost hosting service on my blog following almost 80% of tips mentioned in this post.
So are there any negatives to Bluehost? :)
Karol – I agree with you that some people write reviews without actually using or buying the product or service. It of course is very clearly visible from the content of their review.
Listing out the Pros and Cons in a simple bullet formatted content will provide an immediate snapshot to the reader.
Thanks for the article.
Perfect timing. I’m getting ready to write a product review in the next week and wasn’t sure how to proceed. It’s a product I’ve been trying and there are parts of it I like and parts I don’t like. Your article gave me just the information I needed to write a fair review. Thanks.
If you’re clear about what the negative and positive sides of the product are then you can surely craft a great review.
I just received a product in the mail today that the developer/designer has asked me to review. I’ve done a lot of book reviews, but only a few for products.
Your tips are timely, and I’m sure will help me to organize my thoughts as I put together my post.
Great article with cool tips. I am just about to do a review post in my blog and will sure to apply the tips here.
Loved the post! So much to learn.
Informative tips here about writing review but as u said about affiliate I am still confused about affiliate ?
Well, my opinion is that if the product you’re reviewing is something you’d recommend to your mother (the general rule) then you can go ahead and use an affiliate link at the bottom. This will enable you to earn some extra bucks.
Good post about reviewing a product.
Pretty standard stuff though :-)
What an amazing post! Really, thank you for writing such good content. I know from my own experience that writing a review can be a tricky thing, and I have to admit that I have been the bad guy when it comes to reviews… I am not proud to say that I in my time have created some sniper sites with so called “reviews” just to make affiliate sales. I mislead people on the product, and I am not proud of it. “luckily” no one bought the product through my affiliate links, so no harm done I hope. I have just discovered that this is not a way of business that I would like to get into. I want to deliver value every time.
This blog post is a GREAT guide for writing reviews. Really. If I ever want to write a review, this is the post I would refer back to. I have always had a hard time writing something negative about someone, but you are right, it has to be done. I also like the way you explain how to set up the review in a very detailed manner. This post is like a tutorial on how to write a great review.
I liked your idea of implementing other peoples reviews into your own from Amazon (or somewhere similar). Makes it more authentic in a way. Also, you summarized what to write in the core content quite nicely.
Keep the good content coming, and I’ll be sure to return to this blog for some more great content :)
Thanks for commenting. Actually, the only reason why I know all the bad ways of writing a review is because I was doing it myself.
Great article! Reviews need to be honest reviews and not a disguised sales pitch
Thank you for an excellent post. So many reviews fall a long way short of what you suggest.
What irks me are the so called “reviews” that are just affiliate links. Somehow many slide past Google. If have used something and liked it I recommend it. I don’t pretend it is a review. I just say that I have used it, this is what it does and I found it useful. Simple!
Perfect timing! I am in the process of writing a book review. The tips given here has been helpful. Looking forward to reading more from this blog.
Good post. Too many times I see people write reviews where it’s obvious that the reviewer hasn’t used the product at all. I see it all the time with clickbank products…EMAIL THE OWNER AND ASK FOR A REVIEW COPY…it’s not that hard, plus you will write a better review and actually be helpful to your readers!
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This is worth the time reading. I’ve been searching for tips about product reviews and luckily, I stumbled here. Interesting tips, Karol. I believe that writing a great review about a product is not automatically about affiliate sales. One must know the difference of good writing from making money.
I think nowadays with more consumer focussed laws and cookie information, then its a good idea to have some information on your site to state if you have affiliate links. Its always worth making it clear to your readers what they are reading. It can be in small text but as long as its there !
The writing style is important in the product review. One’s word plays an important role in converting the landed user into the leads.
Normally, I focus on the design, and appealing approach on the landing page to convert my users into the leads.
It’s a risky strategy to put an over optimistic review on your blog. If people buy based on it, you could end up with them voicing their opinion of your review on other sites! Won’t do much for your reputation.
I like this article very much. I think, affiliate marketing is getting harder and harder, but the key is to create better and detailed reviews. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.
I like the way you have written the article. Even though you have written it in a list format it doesn’t feel like it. The “story” you are telling keeps flowing straight to the end. Thanks for sharing all your awesome ideas with us.
Very important information
Thank you so much
You’ve saved my life
I am planning to create a template of single product review writing. You have provided very valuable information but still i am in need of details.
Hi and thanks for an informative article..is there any chance you might have a review template?