Friday, 17 January 2014

A Simple Guide to Product Reviews

A couple of people have asked me lately about product reviews; how you get the product, what you write for the review, etc. So I thought I'd write a little blog post about it.

tGuide to Product Reviews Single Mother Ahoy

The first thing to mention is this post I wrote a while back, the general gist of which is that you should avoid doing too many reviews! Think about it: you've got X number of people who come to your blog every day/week/whenever to read about you and your... whatever it is you blog about. Unless you set up your blog in the first place as somewhere to review products, your readers are not going to keep coming back if it suddenly turns into that.

Any way, on with the show...

How to Get Products 
So you've got your blog, and you've got some readers, and you're loving it... but Twitter is full of people posting links to reviews of really cool stuff, and you want in on it. How do you do that?!

  • First things first - only review products that fit your blog. If your blog is about health and fitness, don't write a review of a fast food restaurant. 
  • If you're a parent blogger, signing up to Tots 100 can be a good place to start. Not because they necessarily hand out a lot of review opportunities, but because once you have a Tots 100 badge on your blog, you will have a place in their ranking each month. This, along with things like your Klout score, the number of Twitter followers you have etc, can be a good thing to mention if you're requesting products for review.
  • Bloggers Required is a great place to start; they post review opportunities for all sorts of different things, and you can "pitch" for things. I've got lots of reviews this way.
  • As your blog becomes more established, make sure you have a good About page with details of how to contact you. Keep it updated with relevant information about you, and make sure you mention that you are keen to review products. That way PRs who are looking for someone to review their product are more likely to email you. Similarly, keep your Tots 100 profile and profiles on other sites up to date.
  • If someone sends you a product to review, always maintain a good relationship with them. Responding promptly to emails and getting reviews up in good time may well lead to more opportunities from the same person/company.
  • Another good thing to do is take a regular look at Twitter hashtags #journorequest and #prrequest. You'll often find people on there looking for bloggers to review their products.
  • One thing to bear in mind is that you don't need to be given a free product to review; you can just review something you've bought and is relevant to your blog. This is something Kip Hakes has been doing for years, and I think he's right about people being constantly on the blag for free stuff.
  • That said, if you really like the look of a product, and would like a free one to review, there's no harm in contacting the company in question to see if they'll send you one for review. I signed up to do a series of posts on Yahoo Contributor Network before remembering that I didn't own a reliable sports bra... so I contacted a couple of companies to see if they would provide one for review. You'd be surprised at how many companies are open to working in this way nowadays, and really the worst they can say is no!
Testing the Product
I always make sure I test my product as thoroughly as possible. If I'm sent clothes for S, I make sure they've been through the wash etc before I pass comment on them. When I had a new frying pan to review I made sure I'd cooked a few things in it and washed it several times before I wrote about how great it was.

Writing Your Review
  • I've seen "reviews" where people have clearly blagged themselves a free product in return for a review, and their post consists of "look, here's X product... I got sent one... you can buy it here" with no information as to what they thought of it, whether it was fit for purpose etc. Although to a certain extent people will be providing you with things just for the link you'll put in your post, also spare a thought for your readers!
  • Think about what you would want to know about a product. For me the main things are the cost, and whether it's worth that price. Don't be afraid to say "It costs this much, and I wouldn't pay that for it"  but back that up with a reason as to why you wouldn't pay that much.
  • If you got the product through the company's website, mention how easy it was to do that. One of my most-read reviews is this one of Vistaprint photo books,  where I mentioned how many extras they try to get you to buy when you're checking out.
  • Always make sure to include a disclaimer, stating the terms of the review. I usually say something like I was provided with this product free of charge in exchange for a review, but this was not dependent on my writing a favourable review. It's important that your readers know you weren't just given this thing in exchange for advertising it. And if that was the case, you need to let them know that your post is an advertisement rather than a review.
  • If you're not sure what to write, or how to say something, it's always worth looking at reviews on other blogs to see how they've gone about doing things. Obviously don't copy them, but using other blogs for inspiration is a great way to get those creative juices flowing. Make sure the words and opinions are your own though; if you find that another blogger reviewed the same product and didn't like it, that doesn't mean you shouldn't write a positive review if you did like it!
  • Always try to include a good photo of the product. If it's a toy, I also try to include one of the toy being played with, and with clothes I take a photo of S in them rather than just flat on the floor.
Many PRs or brands will be keen to get your review online as soon as possible; but you need to ensure you have time to actually review the product properly. 
Make sure it's made clear how long you will take to review any product. This is something you can mention on your About page, or discuss on an ad hoc basis as new opportunities come in. 

Do you have any tips to add? If so please do leave a comment below!


  1. Great list. I think Bloggers trad fine lines and really far more should ACTUALLY review things rather than taking a look and copy pasting a bit of blurb from the website :P

    1. Can't believe that people would do that :( I only do reviews very occasionally, and only if I can see how to make it into a good story.

      Great advice from Vicky, as usual!

  2. Great post! More bloggers should read this! X


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