I think one of the best types of articles I can post to my blog is an honest product review. And I’m not talking about a review for a product or service that you’ve contacted and begged them to send you a sample so you could write about it! (Although that type of review can be a ton of fun!) Nope, I’m talking about writing an honest review for a product or service that you use every day in your business.
Because I get asked all the time for my opinion about a service I use or how I do something. And I ask others for feedback and suggestions all the time as well. For example, just yesterday, I asked one of the business groups I belong to on Facebook for a recommendation for a service I could use to record a phone call with a client. Several options were tossed out but what really stood out was the comment: “Try XYZ. I’ve had great success and they’re easy to use.” Hello! Personal validation.
This wasn’t a suggestion from somebody who typed into Google: “What’s the best way to record a phone call with a client” and then gave me an answer. I can do that myself! It was a recommendation from one client of XYZ company to me.
What’s the difference between a testimonial and a review?
First off, a testimonial is posted on the other person’s website. Secondly, while giving testimonials is a GREAT way to gain exposure, thank a company for their product, and extoll all it’s virtues, a testimonial is by nature one sided: only the positive. A review, on the other hand, will talk about all the things you love about the product or service but also what isn’t so great. Maybe you love everything about it EXCEPT that you can only reach the customer service on Monday mornings from 9-9:45 am. Or that the software loads slowly. Or it has great functionality but only comes in three colors.
All that being said, your blog is NOT the place to be complaining about a product or service up one side and down the other and going on and on about how it didn’t work. Not cool! You wouldn’t want somebody to go on a public rant about you, right? If your review is really nothing more than a laundry list of everything that is wrong with the product, take that straight to the source and send your grievances to the company directly.
Be upfront about why you’re writing the review.
This is a BIG one! Offer up a disclaimer that says that you are writing the review because you wanted to, you use the product, and you weren’t compensated in any way. Unless, of course, you were. Then be honest.
I’ve written quite a few product reviews for my outdoor recreation blog over the years. Some were products that I was given to test and review and others were products I had purchased, used, and reviewed. There’s nothing wrong with a paid review (either money or product) but readers need to know if you’re walking into the event unbiased or not. AND there are laws that state that you need to disclose this information.
How to write the review:
- Give a description of the product. Explain how you got it — either bought it and use it or you are being compensated to review it.
- Then talk about it. In detail. Give examples of how you tested the manufacture’s claims. Did it do what you thought it would do? How well did it do? Would you buy it again? What would you change? What didn’t it do?
- Offer up photos (or screenshots!) of the product in use. Everybody loves to see how YOU are using the widget and it gives instant credibility that you actually do use and abuse the product.
- And then give ways that your customer can buy the product or service. Here’s where you need to disclose if you will make any money from that deal! Like if you are reviewing a product and you’re putting in an affiliate link. Say (affiliate link) so the reader knows. Again, laws govern this!
But, don’t be afraid to make money from your recommendations! Every month I STILL make a few pennies from products I reviewed years ago. But I NEVER write a product review because I’m planning on cashing in on sales. I write product reviews because I want to share an experience with a product!
And here’s another bonus for writing a product review. It’s a pretty easy way to create copy for your blog! A review of a product that you’ve used, loved and can recommend is a great article to post when you’re deep in the throes of writer’s block. Or pre-write it when you’re going on vacation. Just be sure you don’t turn your blog into a Consumer Report where all you do is review products! When I was posting something new 5 days a week to TheOutdoorPrincess.com (my outdoor recreation blog) I would shoot for one to two product review posts per month. Any more than that, I and I felt I wasn’t offering enough how-to information to satisfy my readers. I was being given products to test and write reviews on so I needed time to conduct the tests, write the article, allow the company to review it, and then get it posted.