First and foremost, if you care at all about your readers, your credibility and the future of your blog, do NOT endorse a product that you do not believe in or that you do not like.
When done the right way, product reviews can add to a site’s content in a seamless manner. We use products every day that we love (or hate), so why not talk about them on your blog? If you have proven yourself as an expert in a certain niche, your readers would probably get a lot of value out of your honest recommendations for products and services. That being said, you don’t want to find yourself doing review after review. It’s about finding balance. Unless you have a product review blog, you should be careful not to do too many reviews, as people might get turned off.
A note: sponsored stories/experiences are becoming popular as well. These are posts that companies want to come off as more of an experience with the product as opposed to a review. This post serves as a guide for that type of post as well.
The first part of this post will be tips on getting products to review. It is up to you to determine the “worth” of a post on your blog. Some bloggers will do a review post for a $20 product. That is totally fine. It’s all about whatever you are comfortable with.
Here are some tips for securing product reviews:
- Write very well. Companies don’t want to see their product reviewed on a post that reads as though it was written by a 10-year-old.
- Take beautiful photos. This might be the most important thing. Companies love to see their products featured in flattering ways, so if all of the pictures on your blog are gorgeous, they will assume their product will look great on your blog as well.
- Don’t do too many reviews. I do feel that you can lose a little bit of credibility with readers and brands if you do too many product reviews. Additionally, you may have reviewed a competing brand recently that will turn off another brand. It’s all about balance!
- Tag prospective brands on social media to get their attention.
- Do reviews of products that you already have. This will give brands something to see. Additionally, you can tag those brands when you link to that review. If they like it, you may get future opportunities from them.
Generally speaking, there is not really an “easy” way to get products to review. More often than not, it requires you reaching out to brands and asking them for products or money, which most people find awkward. Sometimes, opportunities may come to you, but most times, you’ll have to make the first move. Kinda like being a guy on the dating scene. And just like that, you won’t get any results if you don’t try! So make that first move, and open the lines of communication and express interest!
Ok, so once you have secured a free/paid product review, how do you put together a really great post?
Below, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a great product review:
Here are the main points of the above graphic:
Clearly disclose that you received the product or other compensation to do the review if you did.
The FTC guidelines state that disclosure should appear at the top of posts when possible. They also state that any form of compensation in return for content should be disclosed. This means that a free product for review must be disclosed. It’s only fair to your readers to know that you were compensated by the company that you are posting a review for. It’s up to them to determine whether your review is honest and unbiased.
Introduce the product accurately, double-checking that the company/product is spelled correctly.
Some companies spell their name or product names grammatically incorrectly. It is your job to spell their name right. For instance, I used to work a lot with VistaPrint and they were adamant about their business’ name being spelled correctly, as opposed to Vista Print, or Vistaprint. It makes sense. Wouldn’t you want someone that you are compensating to write about your business to spell your business’ name correctly?
The images do not have to be aligned the way they are shown above, but they should be very large and very nice-looking.
Images in a review should span across almost the whole blog area. So if your post allows for images 600 wide, include at least one or two of that size. Brands want their products showcased with big, beautiful images.
While we’re on the topic of images, let’s look at some good and bad examples of product review images. For this example let’s say we’re doing a review for almonds.
The differences here should be easy to spot. One looks like you give a crap, and the other doesn’t. Taking an extra couple of minutes to “set up” a shot can make all the difference in the world.
Let’s take this one step further. Knowing how to do simple things with your photographs can also make a big difference. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but you should know when flash works and when it doesn’t. Take a look at the example below.
Just a couple of small changes make the mediocre photo on the left a good one. When flash creates a huge glare, it’s time to use natural light. If parts of the photo are unintentionally blurry, it’s time to adjust your settings or use a tripod.
The above shots are quick examples, but you get the idea. Make it look like you care. Both your readers and the brand you are reviewing will pick up on it if you are just slapping a review up that you don’t really care about.
Communication is key
If you are ever unsure about what a company wants with a review, ask them. Having open lines of communication in this process is very important. Be aware of the angle that the company wants with your post. Do they want a classic review style post, or are they looking for an experience post where you write about how you use their product? When in doubt, I do a little of both, focusing on the experience part. When your review is live, email a link to whomever you have been dealing with and thank them for the opportunity. Upon receiving a reply, send them a final email letting them know that you will be in touch about future opportunities. A bonus here is that if a company is happy with your post, they may share it on their own social channels, thus exposing your blog to thousands of followers!
What if I am really disappointed with the product?
This is a tough area. It’s never easy to tell a company that you really don’t like their product, or that their product flat out sucks. I always encourage bloggers to contact the company first, before publishing a negative review. If the company is pleasant to deal with, it’s always nice to give them the option to either send you an alternative product or to simply withhold the review. Now, if the company turns out to be run by jackasses, by all means, publish that review. As long as you are honest, you’re fine.
If you find yourself so upset with the company that you are tempted to bash them and stretch the truth a bit, be very careful. If you are anything but honest, you can be sued for defamation. It’s best to just contact them first to avoid a messy situation.
So there you have it! You’re ready to kill it with your next product review!
What is the last product you reviewed on your blog?