How to write a product review: 4 golden rules and a template

We all like to get other people’s opinions before we buy something. We like to know what other people thought of it and how well it was suited to the purpose. Whether it is asking what a shop assistant thinks, or seeking the opinion of your friends, we all like to read or hear reviews from people we trust.

That’s why product reviews can help online and affiliate marketers in their business. But remember that you are not in the business of selling products (not with product reviews anyway), but you are in the business of helping people. There is a subtle but important difference which will come out in your reviews if you do them properly.

Why create product reviews

There are several reasons why writing product reviews is a great idea for your online business:

  1. They can add to your authority and trust ratings for you and your site if people see that you are writing good, honest reviews about products that they want.
  2. Product reviews help people make decisions on what to buy. They allow people to have the benefit of your experience and/or research on the products, and are useful ways that can save people time by giving them the information they want quickly. This means that if people are looking for the products you are reviewing, your reviews will drive traffic to your site provided you have used good keywords.
  3. They can help you monetise your site because they can bring in affiliate commissions from a variety of different sources. Even products that you review poorly can be a source of income so don’t think that just because you have rated something poorly, that you cannot monetise that product. Sometimes people will buy it from your review anyway and you still get a commission.
  4. They can earn you additional discounts or free products. Some people who review products online are contacted proactively by distributors and manufacturers who are looking for product reviews from trusted sources. If you get good at writing reviews, then you can end up with a whole range of free products to review. There are many teenagers and toy reviewers out there who are sent free products to review because they have a large following on their sites or channels.

How to create a quality review

There are 4 golden rules that I recommend you stick to when writing product reviews:


1. Do your research

You need to give quality information that is accurate and correct if you want to be taken seriously as a reviewer. That means doing your research and putting in the time needed to do it properly.

There are many reviews on the internet that are simply copied information but that can be misleading or downright incorrect which will not only get you in trouble legally, but it will not sit well with your readers if the information you give them is wrong.

Make sure you get your information from different sources and check and double check it with the manufacturer’s site too. If you can add references as well, depending on what you are reviewing, that can help to add weight and authority to your words. For example if you are reviewing some equipment or product that has some empirical data, then it’s good to link to that, or at least add the reference.


2. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

Think about what the reader is looking for when they come to your site – what do they want to know and what do they need to know about the product or service you are reviewing? Most people read reviews to find out things like the specification, technical information and how the product will meet their needs, as well as the price and where they can get it.

Ask the questions that you think your readers will be interested in and then answer them. For example, if you are reviewing a computer, you will need to add in technical information on things such as RAM, processor speed, hard drive, available ports etc. If you are reviewing a baby monitor, then the technical aspects might include the distances that they work over and whether the monitor is a simple audio monitor or whether there is an audio/visual link too.

You will need to look at each product and answer the questions your reader wants to know specifically for that product.


3. Write from a personal standpoint and add your own comments

One of the things everyone wants when they look for online reviews is to find out what other people’s experiences of the products or services are, so it’s important to include your own experience if you have used the product and to share the pros and cons that you found when you used it.

Many of us nowadays will look at hotel reviews to find whether guests found the hotel clean or the staff friendly or not. We all value reading this information from people we trust but bear in mind also that some people can come across very pernickety when writing reviews too, adn this can turn people off, so be careful how you word things.

If you are reviewing things for a particular purpose, e.g. the best camping accessories for hiking, you can include stories about how appropriate or serviceable you found the product if you used it.

You can write reviews about products that you have not used personally, but you need to make sure that you have researched this from other users well first.


4. Be honest about the product and your affiliate status

The last thing anyone wants is a fake review where people say things are good when they are not. This will lose you readers faster than a world-wide electricity cut and your credibility will be in shreds. You MUST write honestly in your reviews and your goal should be to give the reader the information they want, not just to make money from an affiliate commission.

Of course, earning a commission is one of the reasons we want to write reviews but I believe that it should not be the main, overwhelming reason. For one, your readers will see through it if all you do is give some scant description that is only loosely based on the truth, and the rest of your article is affiliate links. You must offer more added value than that.

A few years ago, when you searched the internet, a lot of the time, all you would get were pages of links in response to your search term. This was very frustrating as a user and clearly the owners of these pages were only interested in getting the affiliate clicks rather than giving out genuinely helpful information.

Luckily Google and other search engines cottoned on to this very quickly and these pages fell away into the ranks of those posts ‘never-to-be-seen’ again. I’m sure they are still out there and very occasionally I will stumble upon one, but really, they have had their day.

Writing honest, reliable and trust-worthy information is now where it’s at. It’s fine to review the top 5 products in a niche and have affiliate links to all of them, but make sure that what you write is honest and you would be proud to show your family the research and work you have done.

It’s always a good idea on product reviews to have a small disclaimer or affiliate acknowledgment somewhere too, just so that you cannot be accused of not being upfront and honest about your affiliate status. In fact, many affiliate programs require that this appears somewhere too, so be sure to check the terms and conditions of your affiliate programs.


What information should I put in a review?

We have seen that readers want good quality, honest information. Depending on the product of service you are reviewing, information that might appear in a review are things such as:

  • An Overall Product/Service Rank – This is useful if you are comparing products against each other.
  • Product or Service Description – What is it and what does it do?
  • Features and Benefits – The features tell the reader what unique things the product has; the benefits shows the reader how this will be of advantage or benefit to them. E.g. A baby monitor may have an audio-visual display (that is the feature); but the benefit to the user is that it means they can not only hear their baby in another room, but see them as well.
  • Pros – The good things you have found about the item.
  • Cons – The things that people should be wary of or the disadvantages that you have found.
  • Price – The price of things often varies so your post could become out-of-date quickly if you are not careful here. One way to avoid this is to either give the price in a range e.g. “£25-£35” or a low, mid or high-price system. For example, you could rank the item as “£££” giving a key to this saying it is high priced, ££ mid-priced, £ is low-priced, or something similar.
  • Guarantee or warranty – Does the item have a guarantee or warranty that would be useful to the user?
  • Product Specifications or Technical Details – E.g. product specifics of a technical nature.
  • Where to get it – This is where you can add your affiliate links if you are using them.

You can review products and services in any niche using the template above. If the item is not relevant to the product or service you are reviewing then just leave it out.

Think too about if there are other questions or information that the user of your particular item would need to know and add that in.

You can add a ranking of your own, using a star-system or points out of 10 or 5, for example, If you intend to write a few reviews it might be a good idea to standardise your format so that there is a consistency to the posts your write. E.g. you always use stars or you always rank things overall out of 10.

There are no set rules, but obviously not many people out there rank things out of “7” so think about what your reader is used to seeing and give them something that is clear, concise and to the point.

You can use the above bullet points as a template for writing reviews which you can adapt as necessary. I’ve also included a downloadable Word document too since I know some people like to have printouts to work with.

How can I find products to review?

There are many ways to search for products to review. If you are an Amazon Affiliate then you can review any of the millions of products that they have online.

However, don’t get stuck thinking that Amazon is the only option. You can search for affiliate programs online in any niche and the commissions are usually much higher if you go directly to the manufacturers. For example many companies offer their own affiliate programs to internet marketers. Sometimes you have to show that your website is relevant to their product but there are so many products out there, you will be able to find programs if you look.

You can also join one of the many websites that specialise in collating affiliate programs such as Clickbank, ShareaSale, Awin and many others. The benefit of these are that you can organise your commissions in a few places.

Make sure that you also stay up to speed with the products in your industry. You can set up things like Google alerts to let you know when news or products within your niche are added to Google. The alerts are free and usually take the form or an email alert. See http://www.google.com/alerts for more information.

What about negative reviews?

Remember that you want to become an authority in your niche so that people trust your advice and recommendations. This may mean that at times you offer negative reviews where your review is less than glowing, but these posts will add to your general trustworthiness and online authority. And even negative reviews can bring you in commissions sometimes.

Prose or Video?

YouTube is now the 2nd biggest search engine on the net so don’t feel that all your reviews have to be in prose form. You could drive traffic to your site by adding some of your reviews as videos on YouTube or other self-publishing video platforms.

Video reviews should answer the same questions and give the same information but viewers often like to see you using the product or showing them onscreen as it seems more personal too.

One product or “best of” reviews?

You can write reviews which only cover one product at a time, or you can write up “Best of” posts, such as “The best compact microwaves for a small kitchen” or “The best ballet shoes to start ballet”. You can then list a variety of products and compare them. Readers then get the benefit of your research all in one place and these reviews are usually good at creating an income stream.

The number of products you review in a ‘best of’ post can vary according to your needs and you may need to reduce the amount of writing you do so that your posts are not too long.

Update and revisit your reviews

Finally, once you have written your reviews, make sure that you revisit your reviews from time to time to make sure they are still relevant and links are up to date. It’s really annoying to find good information but links that are broken or out-of-date, so keep your authority by regularly checking in on your reviews.

I hope you found this article useful, please do share it or leave your comments below. And remember to subscribe using the button on the top right-hand side to receive updates and alerts when new information and posts are added to this site.

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10 comments

  1. love the info you have here, really helpful. I am looking to add reviews to my content-based site, so I’m glad I found your post. And I love the word template download, really cool offering. Thanks! Cheers, Angie

    1. Hi Angie. I’m glad you liked the article and found it useful. Review articles are a great way to monetise your site and there are literally millions of products to choose from. Wishing you all the best with your sites. Gail

  2. Great tips you have here. I agree that as affiliate marketers, we are in the business of helping people. This will really help our business become sustainable in the long run. Providing misleading information may earn as a sale here and there, but it won’t be beneficial for our long term plan. Thank you for these tips!

    1. Hi Nathan. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. You’re right in that we are in the business of helping people and this is how we sustain our business in the long run, absolutely. I’m glad you liked the tips and invite you to come back regularly for more tips and information. This is a great business to be in so the more we can do to help each other, the better.
      Gail

  3. I am have already bookmarked your post because it will really help me since I do a lot of reviews on my site.
    I want to thank you for this information because I was aware on just a few of these tips. I will indeed be applying all of these going further.

    1. Hi Thabo. Thanks for your comment and I’m so pleased that you found it helpful. That’s just what I wanted it to be too. Glad you are doing well with your site and writing reviews; that’s a great way to improve the profit for your business. All the best. Gail

  4. Hi gail

    I am so happy i have read your article, it comes on the right time i needed it, i am starting to add reviews to my site and your post was very helpful and informative in a very clear and detailed way

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Ronda. Thanks for your kind comments on the article. I’m glad to see that you are starting to write reviews which are a great way to monetise the site. I’m also happy that you found the article at the right time. There are no coincidences as they say. Wishing you well with your own business. Gail

  5. This article is so valuable to me. I have not started to monetise yet and have become interested in product reviews but don’t know where to start. I downloaded the template because it will be very helpful. All the information you have included is going to give me a great start. I will be looking back to this article from time to time just in case I missed something as this was a lot of information. Thank you!

    1. Hi Davona. Thank you for reading the article and leaving a comment. I’m glad you found it useful and that the information was relevant to you in your own work. We all love to read reviews and they can help provide invaluable information for our readers if we do it correctly following the few simple rules I’ve suggested. All the best with your own site. Let me know how you get on with your reviews – wishing you lots of luck with your business. Gail

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