This is Part 4 in a 12-part e-course about the types of blog articles. At the conclusion of this course, I’ll e-mail a PDF e-book of the entire series to all subscribers of Bright Ideas Blogzine. Information on how to subscribe to my free monthly e-newsletter is at the end of this post.
Before I buy something – particularly if that something is a major expenditure – I search for online reviews. Whether the reviews appear in Consumer Reports, at Yelp, Amazon, ePinions or on someone’s blog, the input helps me to make an informed buying decision.
After you’ve been blogging awhile and have established a reputation in your niche, people will ask you to review their products. I receive several offers per day from PR representatives who want me to review their client’s book, software, or web-based application.
YOU: THE REVIEWER
You may want to devote your blog exclusively to reviewing products in your industry. Before you make that decision, check out the competition.
- How many bloggers in your niche review products?
- Do they write original or canned reviews? (Some bloggers who claim to be reviewers just reprint the so-called reviews prepared by the product’s PR team. That’s cheating.)
- How well-written and informative are the reviews?
- If you join the fray, how will your reviews stand out from the others?
THE 4 Cs OF A REVIEW
No matter what you’re reviewing, your review will include four key components:
I began my freelance writing career reviewing photo-editing software for computer magazines. But it wasn’t just any photo editing software; it was software for consumers who wanted easy-to-use tools at an affordable price.
Before you craft your review, know your audience. Know how much money they are willing to spend. And only review products that fit within the parameters of your target readership.
When I reviewed photo-editing software, I first read all the promotional literature about each product. I asked myself: What does this product claim to do? The PR pieces helped me come up with a list of criteria on which to base my review. For example, I decided that all the software I reviewed should include redeye reduction tools, collage-creation tools, and tools for creating custom photo greeting cards.
As I thoroughly tested each product, I described how well it met each of the criteria I had established.
Don’t be afraid to boldly state your opinion. After all, that’s the whole purpose of a review. Just make sure to back up your judgment with specific, reasoned arguments and illustrations, and concrete results from your product testing.
Briefly restate your main points and deliver your verdict (recommended/not recommended… One star or five stars… Product A is better than Product B).
BONUS “C”: CREATIVITY
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles in this series, you don’t have to limit yourself to doing a traditional written review. How about a quick video review? Here’s an example of a video book review for a new book titled, Real-Time Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott:
- Do some research: What products, performances, books, or resources are about to hit the market in your industry?
- Contact the Public Relations firm (or individual) for the manufacturer and request a review copy. Let the PR person know where and when you plan to publish your review.
- Share one product or performance you plan to review in the Comments area so we can learn from each other.
Coming Monday: How to write a Roundup Article
Previously in this Series:
- How to Write a Calendar Article (E-Course Part 1)
- How To Write a How-To Article (E-Course Part 2)
- How to Write Case Studies (E-Course Part 3)