Know Your Audience
As a product reviewer, you’ll quickly realize you have influence and power as an expert in your niche field. However, someone who reads your particular product reviews may only be doing so because they are interested in said product. Of course, readers may not trust you when you first start out, but the longer you’re at it, the more your reader base will trust you if they like your opinions and product analysis.
With this power comes responsibility, which means your opinionated truth is always at the forefront of your mission. While you can sway consumers to buy or not buy a product, you should never concern yourself with whether you will tarnish a product’s reputation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should only focus on a particular product’s disadvantages, nor its necessary advantages. Instead, make a pros/cons list for each product you review. If the cons outweigh the pros, realize in your unbiased, professional opinion that’s just the nature of the product.
Deciding What to Review
Review products in which you have a strong interest and consider yourself an authority on. If you aren’t interested or excited about the products you review, chances are your blog won’t be very genuine, fun or informative. So, think of activities you enjoy and the products you buy for those activities.
If you’re a cyclist, for example, review bikes themselves: different seats, handlebars, mechanical components, shoes and safety equipment. If you love cooking, kitchenware is a hot topic with a broad audience. Whatever you decide on, make sure your reviews are on products you believe in. If they’re not, your readers will know and your readership will suffer.
Do Your Product Homework
Before you even write the first word of a review, make sure you research the product thoroughly and test it out. For instance, you wouldn’t review a pair of sunglasses without firsthand experience. Specifications matter, and this means statistics and informed opinions should be integrated throughout your blog. If you don’t have both, the review will feel stunted or stilted to one side. It will either be overly specific with no practical advice or it won’t give the reader the specific information they need to make an informed opinion.
As part of your homework, make it a habit to use the product more than once (if possible) before writing your review. If you’re reviewing a stroller, for example, it’s really not fair to your readers if you only push it down the street once and then say you love it. Instead, try folding and unfolding the stroller, loading it in the trunk of your car, pushing it in gravel and carrying it upstairs. Then you can tell readers how it performed in multiple situations, giving them a better opportunity to make an informed choice.
Understanding Proper Format
A good product review blog post has five components:
- An eye-catching photo will draw more readers
- A strong focus on product benefits
- A focus on product flaws
- An objective overview of the product
- An analysis about whether the product lived up to expectations
Other useful tips for formatting your product review include using clear headings or bullet points to illustrate ideas, keeping the reviews short but accurate, and adopting a rating system. For example, you could create a point system or star rating and keep a detailed infographic on your homepage for readers to regularly refer to. More than just helpful information, readers want visuals — photos, graphs, charts and more. The more information you can include — in the most concise and diverse way — the more readers you’ll have coming back for more.
Sharing Your Stuff
Lastly, to be successful, it’s essential that you not only write a great review, but that others actually read it. Ideally you’ll build a network of followers who will share your content for you, leading even more readers back to your blog. In order for that to happen, you’ve got to make it easy for readers to find and share your reviews. For example, beauty product reviewer Beauty Junkies Unite has its social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, on the right hand side of every page on its site. Readers can also easily find the blog’s latest social media interactions on a live Twitter feed embedded at the bottom on the page. This makes it easy and inviting for readers to quickly share with their friends whatever they like on your site.
Alex Clark-McGlenn is currently taking his MFA in creative writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. He has been published in eFiction Magazine, Inkwell at Evergreen, Slightly West Literary Magazine, and appeared in Smokebox Literary Magazine July, 2014. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington.