Everything You Need to Know to Start Reviewing Products On Your Blog


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How to start reviewing products on your blog | Oh, She Blogs!

At one point or another, you will probably want to start reviewing products on your blog. Most bloggers do this at some point. Beauty bloggers review new makeup products while fashion bloggers might review articles of clothing. Recipe bloggers might review new kitchen appliances or even food products. Travel bloggers may review hotels or tour agencies. Tech bloggers review, well, new technology. Regardless of your niche, there’s definitely a product and/or service you can review.

Everyone has an opinion, so writing a review shouldn’t be that difficult. But, we’ve got your back if you’re not sure exactly where to start. Keep reading for tips on where to find products to review, all of the different information that should be included in every review you write, and what to do after the post goes live.

Everything You Need to Know to Start Reviewing Products On Your Blog

 

How to Get Products to Review on Your Blog

Go to the Store

OK, I’m mostly kidding when I say, “go to the store,” but listen up. It’s time for some real talk.

I’m in a lot of blogging Facebook groups and I frequently see posts from brand new bloggers, and sometimes people who haven’t yet launched their blogs, asking, “how do I get products to review on my blog?”

I always want to respond, “go to the store.” I guess I’m a jerk like that.

All kidding aside, companies need bloggers to help get the word out about their products. Influencer marketing is huge and it’s not going anywhere. BUT… you need to do a little bit of work before you can start demanding free products to review on the blog you haven’t launched.

Let me put it this way: You wouldn’t walk into a job interview without bringing a resumé and being able to demonstrate why you’re qualified for the position, would you? The same goes for blogging.

The easiest way to start reviewing products on your blog is to go out and buy the products you want to review. Actually, don’t buy any products. Review a few things that you already have and work on developing your voice as a reviewer. Then, once you have a few reviews under your belt, start pitching brands and requesting products to review.

 

Talk to Your Affiliate Managers

There’s a good chance that you’re getting frequent emails from affiliate managers if you’ve joined any affiliate programs. While they can be great about letting you know about promotions and such, did you know that you can also reach out to affiliate managers to see if they’d be willing to partner with you on product reviews? True story! Affiliate managers won’t always be able to get you a product, but it never hurts to make this the first person you ask.

If you do reach out to your affiliate manager to ask for a product to review, be sure to send along links to other reviews you’ve written and/or times you’ve already written about the brand with which you want to partner. It’s your job to make the affiliate manager want to work with you so be sure to provide as much supporting documentation as possible. And, when reaching out to request a product, always be sure to tell the company what’s in it for them. You might want a new Macbook, because who doesn’t, but why should Apple want to work with you? Always sell yourself and what you can do for the brand when requesting something for free.

 

Pitch the Brand Directly

I’ve always been quite upfront that pitching is not my forté and I rarely do it. This is why I recently recommended investing in The Blogger’s Guide to Pitching Brands. The inexpensive guide provides everything you need to reach out to brands to request products to review, including actual example letters you can use. (And yes, there’s even information about how to get paid to review products on your blog!)

As with affiliate managers, you should always have a plan in place before pitching a brand. Don’t just approach a company and say, “Hey, I’d love to receive this product for free! I’ll review it on my blog.” Instead, tell them why you need to get this product in front of your audience, with whom you will share the product (blog only or will you include social media posts?), and why your blog is a good fit for their brand. In other words, sell them on you and your blog. Make your pitch so good that they won’t be able to say no.

 

How to Write a Good Product Review

Who, What, Where, When, Why & How

I come from a journalism background and just like news stories, any good product review should answer some basic questions for your readers, starting with the 5 W’s and an H:

  • Who can use this product and/or who would enjoy this product?Bloggers should write product reviews as if they are journalists
  • What is the product? Give as full a description as you can.
  • Where can this product be used? You may not always need to answer this one.
  • When can this product be used? Again, you may not need to answer this one, but it could come in handy if you are reviewing a product that hasn’t yet been released or is situationally-based.
  • Why should your readers want to buy this product? How can it make their lives better and/or easier or what problem will it solve for them?
  • How can this product be purchased and/or go a little more in-depth talking about how this product is a must-have for your readers. (Of course, don’t oversell it too much.)
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ALWAYS make sure you answer the basics in any product review you write. Don’t leave people with questions.

 

Be Honest

Honesty is a must when writing product reviews

In addition to answering basic questions about the product, all good reviews should include your honest opinion about what you think of the item.

While it seems like this should be the easiest part of writing a review, lately, it seems as though many bloggers aren’t willing to be fully honest in their reviews. Frankly, this drives me bonkers.

As a blogger, you’ve created a platform for yourself where you can write whatever you want and you have no boss. Generally speaking, bloggers aren’t beholden to anyone, except, perhaps, your readers. Thus, you owe it to your readers to write honest product reviews.

It seems like every product review I encounter these days is positive to the point of being disingenuous. It wasn’t always this way. There used to be more honest reviews. Now, however, it can be hard to find reviews offering even gentle criticism of a product. Maybe everyone loves everything now, but the cynic in me just doesn’t think that’s the case. Now, I’m not saying that bloggers should use their platforms to bash products (unless it’s a really terrible product and you don’t care about preserving a relationship with the maker of the product), but it is more than OK to offer constructive criticism and give your real honest opinion.

I know a lot of bloggers will NOT write a review rather than say something negative, but why not incorporate what you don’t like about the product into the review? Maybe your critique will help the brand create a better product. More importantly, though, is that an honest review will engage your readers and help them make an informed decision about whether or not they need the product you are reviewing. Remember: The things you consider to be negatives might be exactly what someone else wants. An honest review doesn’t necessarily mean you will sell fewer products but an honest review WILL garner more trust between you and your readership.

 

Review Items that Resonate with Your Audience

There are a lot of prominent bloggers and blogging coaches out there who will tell you that in order to be a successful blogger you need to to have a narrow niche. Personally, I don’t think this is true at all. Instead of focusing on having a narrow niche, I think you need to write for a fairly narrow audience. If you can’t figure out who your ideal audience might be, my recommendation is fairly simple: Write for yourself.

As I’ve said many times, blogging is hard work. A lot of people start blogs and then stop them quite quickly because coming up with new content can be a real drag sometimes. One of the easiest ways to combat writer’s block and/or writer’s fatigue is to always make sure you’re writing about topics that interest you.

If you consider your audience before writing a blog post, you *hopefully* won’t be tempted to review a pair of sunglasses on your cake baking blog. Or you won’t review a WordPress plugin on your fashion blog. If your audience is primarily made up of people who are interested in your cake recipes or 20 somethings who love your sense of style, why would they suddenly be interested in your views on sunglasses or a WordPress plugin? (Hint: They won’t be.)

So why should you consider your audience when deciding what product reviews to write? It’s all about the benjamins! Chances are that you can include affiliate links in your product review, which means you can make some money. A good product review targeted to the correct audience will likely lead some people to purchase the item you are recommending. On the other hand, if you do something silly like review a pair of sunglasses on your blog targeting moms who want to learn how to bake better cakes, chances aren’t very good that your review will lead to sales.

 

Take Quality Images

All product reviews should have quality images

If you’re going to write a good product review, you’re going to need to include quality images so that people know what you’re talking about. For some posts, like clothing reviews, you’re definitely going to want to use your own photos so that you can show your readers how you look in a particular item. However, if you’re reviewing something like a camera, you can probably rely pretty heavily on stock photography. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to what types of images to use, but you definitely need to include them!

 

Use Affiliate Links

Product reviews are some of the easiest posts for bloggers to monetize! Chances are good that the product you’re reviewing is part of an affiliate program. Nearly every product under the sun can be found on Amazon, but don’t discount the other affiliate networks like CJ, Linkshare, and ShareaSale. Regardless of what you’re reviewing – be it a physical product, digital product, food item or anything travel-related – there’s most likely SOME way for you to monetize your post via affiliate links, you just might need to do a little digging and/or get a little creative.

Tip: Let’s say you’re reviewing a pair of Warby Parker glasses that you purchased. Be sure to join the Warby Parker affiliate program (through ShareaSale) long before you actually want to publish the review. Affiliate programs may take awhile to sift through all of the affiliate applications they receive so try to apply as early as possible.

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If you’re not sure what affiliate marketing is or how to incorporate affiliate links into your blog, be sure to sign up for my FREE e-course, Affiliate Marketing 101!

 

Include a Call to Action

Do you want readers to purchase the item you are reviewing? If so, make sure to use a call to action to tell them to buy the product. Your call to action can be something as simple as using a phrase like, “Click here now to buy this product,” at the end of your post. Some people use graphics that say, “Buy Now.”

Amazon Buy Now Button

If you’re writing about a product that can be purchased from Amazon, you can use a Buy from Amazon.com button in your post. Amazon has a selection of different options for you to choose from. Just be sure to attach your affiliate link!

Always make it as easy as possible for people to make a purchase.

 

After You Post the Review

Promote Your Review on Social Media

Be sure to promote your blog posts after they're written

Promote, promote, promote! After writing a product review you must promote your post on social media. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are all can’t-miss sites. (For more ideas, here are 30 ways to promote your blog post for free.) Be sure to tag the brand in your social media posts and use their hashtags when applicable. If you get lucky, they might retweet or share your post with their followers. Even if they don’t, however, you still need to promote your own posts to try to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible! (More eyeballs = more money!)

The great thing about product reviews is that they are usually evergreen content, meaning a product review is something that likely won’t expire. This makes promotion fairly simple because you can use tools like Buffer, Recurpost, Coschedule, or my current favorite, Missinglettr, to make sure that your post is being re-shared across social media on a regular basis with little effort needed on your part.

 

Keep Track of Statistics

If you want to reach out to companies to request products to review (and possibly even ask them to pay you to write a review), then you’re going to want to keep track of your post statistics. Keep a spreadsheet of how many people viewed your post as well as how many people clicked the links in your post (it’s easy to track this if you use a link cloaker) and how many sales you made as a result of your review. If you’re using affiliate links in your post then tracking sales should be fairly easy.

In addition to the specific post statistics, also keep track of social media stats. For instance, brands may be interested to know what type of engagement your Instagram photo received or how many people retweeted you.

 

Follow-Up with the Brand

If you reached out to the brand to request a product to review, follow-up with them about a week or so after you post your review. Be sure to include a link to the post, as well as all social media mentions. Also, if the review was particularly successful for you – perhaps it spurred an increase in engagement or you sold a lot of units – then go ahead and mention that in your follow-up email. You never know when a one-time review could turn into a full collaboration!

Tip: Even if you bought the product that you’re reviewing, it never hurts to send it over to the brand, especially if it’s an item you’re raving about! Send your review, along with all of the statistical data, and ask the brand if they might be interested in an ongoing collaboration. It never hurts to ask and you just might end up working with a company you love!

 

Reviews Can Be Great Blog Content

When done right, reviews can be great blog content. Regularly writing quality reviews can make you a go-to source of knowledge for your readers. Gaining the trust of your readers should eventually lead to you making more money from your reviews via affiliate commissions and also through collaboration opportunities.

Do Tell: Do you want to start reviewing products on your blog? Have you already started? What other tips would you add?

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Lisa Koivu

Founder at Oh, She Blogs!
Lisa Koivu is the founder of Oh, She Blogs! A seven year blogging veteran, Lisa can also be found posting shopping deals and steals at ShopGirlDaily.com . In her free time (ha!) she is also a freelance writer who has written for About.com and U.S. News.
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  • Hi Lisa,

    I agree, eventually ever blogger will want to write reviews on products, especially, on the products that they love to use.

    I actually haven’t written any reviews yet, but I am planning on doing that in the near future. These tips are great for anyone who wants to write reviews. I am sure that anyone who implements any of these tips will do well.

    I use Thirsty Links for my affiliate cloaker and I love it. It’s important to see how an affiliate product performs and how many clicks it takes to convert into a sale. Without tracking your stats, you may not be able to find a high-performing product or one that should be replaced with something else.

    Thanks for sharing these tips and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

    Have a great day 🙂

    Susan