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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Ways of writting a compelling review

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“Honesty is the best policy” is one of the most
widely-used idioms for a reason. More often than
not it’s true. In fact, the first rule of writing a
compelling review is being honest. While it can
be very tempting to write only five-star reviews,
sit back and (in theory) watch the affiliate cash
flow in as your readers continually click to buy,
this isn’t a good idea for a variety of reasons.
First of all, it’s incredibly short-sighted. How
many five-star reviews of shoddy products will
you write before your readers realize that you’re
lying to them? Probably not many. Then those
readers are lost for good. Congrats, you’ve
alienated your audience; a most unwise business
plan.
While making money is a key element of affiliate
marketing, this is also a great opportunity to build
your audience. What’s the point in creating a
prolific review site if people point to it as one not
to trust? It will seem a bit strange if every product
you review just so happens to be the greatest
thing ever.
Everything has flaws. Everything. Also, consider
the fact that what might be a flaw to you may not
necessarily be a flaw to someone else, but a
selling point. One person’s pros may just be
another person’s cons and vice versa.
You’re never going to please everybody, so the
best thing to do is to frame your review with
your audience in mind. What is it they would
look for from this product?
Even if someone stumbles upon your site while
wondering about a specific product, reads your
review, and ultimately decides not to buy, that
isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your review is
honest and thorough, they’ll probably return to
find out your opinion on other products.
Without balance, your review is going to come
across as super salesy and ad-like. You’re an
affiliate partner, not an advertising agency.
Remember that if you’re ever tempted to
exaggerate the virtues of a product just to make a
little more cash.
The key elements of an
informative review
Every review you write is going to be different,
no matter how similar or dissimilar each product
you review is. But if you bear in mind the
following when writing up your thoughts on a
product, you should be well on your way to
writing a review that will engage readers.
Pros and cons
This is exactly what it sounds like; what’s good
about the product and what’s bad. As an affiliate
partner it will be tempting to hype up the pros,
but, like we said before: Don’t. Be honest about
what you think is good and what is bad. It is
subjective, after all. The more in-depth you get
about a product, the more informative your
review will be.
Let’s take this review of a smartphone on
TechRadar as an example of possible pros and
cons.
TechRadar’s format starts with a summary of
what’s good and bad about the phone and then
delves in deeper in the rest of the article. This is a
great way to intrigue people to read the rest while
appealing to those readers who aren’t inclined to
read longer articles.
The pros and cons also need not be limited to
just being about the product itself – think about
the brand! What good is a product if the
company’s customer service is notoriously poor?
Maybe another company has just come out with
a fantastic blender, but made microwaves that
were known to malfunction in the past? Do your
research. If you think a piece of information is
relevant to your reader’s interests, include it. It
will help your review stand out from the rest.
Pricing
Is this particular product worth the price being
asked for it? Is there a cheaper version out there
that does the job just as well? Your readers
deserve to know.
Be detail-oriented
For every product, there will probably be no end
of detail you can include about it. Think about the
details that might interest your target audience.
Maybe you’re an eco-friendly fashion blogger
who writes about sustainable and ethical clothing.
Some points you might touch on about a
garment could include:
What its made of
Where it was manufactured
Whether or not it’s fairtrade
It’s never a bad idea to contact the manufacturer
for more information on an item’s features and
possible points of interest.
Product updates
Is this product an updated version of an older
product? What’s different? How does it compare?
Does it have more memory or a new formula?
Or is the update simply nothing more than a new
lick of paint? Your readers deserve to know if
something is essentially the same product but
with shinier new packaging or a largely pointless
new feature
Comparisons
This quite nicely brings us to the topic of
comparisons. Comparisons can cover all manner
of things, from pricing and product updates to
similar items. People love recommendations. If
they can get something for a lower price, they
well (all the better for you if the better item also
happens to be an affiliate!).
Be sure to use common sense when it comes to
comparing products. Think about if you were
reviewing a budget smartphone, like the Moto G5
we mentioned earlier. Chances are if someone is
checking out reviews for a budget phone, they
don’t have a lot of money to spend. So, ending
the review by telling them they’d be better off
buying the latest iPhone would be unhelpful and
frustrating, to say the least.
This not to say you can’t or shouldn’t mention
higher-end phones in such a review. If a certain
feature is comparable – for instance, if it has a
good-quality camera or intuitive navigation – then
that it definitely a point of interest. Otherwise,
you’re ultimately better off comparing it to other
phones in its price range.
Beauty review website Temptalia is pretty famous
for having perfected the art of comparisons. In
each review not only do they talk about the
formula and ingredients (remember how we
mentioned being detail-oriented?), but they also
feature a list of duplicates of the product in
question in a variety of price ranges.
Good imagery and visual
elements
This point brings us back to one of the things we
stressed the importance of at the beginning of the
article: getting your hands on, and actually using
the product. Apart from the positive aspect of
actually giving an honest opinion, by having the
product you’ll be able to produce better imagery
than those who just rely on standard images
from the manufacturer.
You’ll be able to take pictures of the item from
different angles, highlighting any flaws if there are
any. You’ll also be able to show it in action.
If you want to get really in-depth, why not
incorporate a video in your review? This is
particularly great if you’re reviewing an online
service or software, recording yourself actually
using it is a great way of conveying the ins and
outs to your audience.
Beyond photos or videos of the product, other
visual elements that are great for breaking up the
text are infographics and screenshots.
A scoring system
An easy-to-read scoring system – particularly a
visual one – will help your reviews to stand out
and will make them more skimmable. While in-
depth is good, some people will want to see a
star rating before committing (don’t be offended,
attention spans are just the lowest they’ve ever
been – blame the internet).
It’s easy enough to create a scoring system. If
you want to rate different aspects of a product,
then you will need to choose metrics, For
instance, if you were reviewing makeup, this
could include “staying power” or “value for
money”.
For each metric, you will then have a rubric. The
most familiar rubric is the star system; one star
generally meaning bad and five stars being
excellent.
Film review magazine Empire uses the star
system in its film ratings.
A comments section
This isn’t a must-have, but it is a good-to-have,
particularly if you want to improve SEO and build
a community. Try to inspire a discussion in the
section by finishing your review with a question.
You could simply as if a reader has used the
product to, or if they felt differently about the
product. The more comments your review gets,
the longer the web-page will get, and the better it
will index and rank in search engines.
Crafting compelling copy
for an affiliate review
So, now you know the key elements to putting
together an engaging review. But that doesn’t do
a lot of good if your prose is poor and your
cadence confusing.
Not everyone is a good writer, but that doesn’t
mean that anyone can’t be a good writer. It is a
skill that takes time and practice. You can’t expect
it to come overnight, but work hard at it and you
will improve. Some steps you can take toward
perfecting your writing skills include:
Studying syntax and grammar
Taking free online writing lessons
Reading as much as possible
Getting your friends to give you feedback
Your aim isn’t to be the next Shakespeare. What
you want to do is express yourself clearly and
effectively. Brevity is key here. Stick to short
sentences and paragraphs, and use sub-headings
where needed. This will ensure your text is clear
and easy to read.
Think AIDA
AIDA is is a method for crafting persuasive
writing. It’s commonly used in copywriting and
in online content marketing, and it’s an anagram
that should be familiar to anyone who saw the
movie Glengarry, Glen Ross. Unlike that movie,
the goal isn’t necessarily to persuade the reader to
buy the product, but to persuade the reader that
you are an authoritative voice on this subject.
Here is the breakdown of what AIDA stands for:
A = Attention
Hook your reader immediately, tell them why
they should pay attention and keep reading.
Again, this links back to who your audience is
and what their desires are. What are they likely to
want from what you’re reviewing?
I = Interest
Your reader’s attention has been caught, now it’s
time to make them interested. A good way of
doing this is through engaging their emotions or
empathy. If you can, make it personal. Talk about
why it is you’re using this product and why you
want to share your experience with it with
people. Maybe include a funny anecdote or a
relatable story. Provide a narrative that your
audience will care about.
D = Desire
The difference between interest and desire is the
difference between wondering about something
and actually imagining yourself using that
something. If you responded well to a product or
service, talk about why. Again, you’ll be appealing
to your readers’ emotions, inviting them to relate
to your positive experience and showing them
that they can have that experience too.
A = Action
Finish your review with a call to action. This
doesn’t necessarily have to be to buy the product
you’re writing about, especially if you weren’t a
fan (although always remember to include your
affiliate links!). This CTA could encourage new
readers to subscribe to your blog, follow your
newsletter, or to follow your company on social
media.
By keeping in mind the fundamentals of AIDA as
you write, you should be able to create attention-
grabbing and action-oriented content.
General review structure
Before we dive straight in, let’s start with an
example of a bad review on Amazon.
But how is it a bad review? It’s four stars! It’s a
great device that works well. Okay, so what I
should have said before is a badly-written good
review. This review ignores all the essential
elements we just went through. We may come
away from this knowing how Brian Paul feels
about the product, but we don’t learn why he
feels this way. In what way does it work well?
How is it great? While you can get away with this
kind of thing on Amazon, you’re not going to get
very far with affiliate reviews if you decide to
follow this school of writing. (Also, a little
punctuation goes a long way!)
Whether you’re writing a review or a general
blog post, every piece of content you produce
should have a:
Beginning - The introduction
Middle - The main information
End - The conclusion
Some of you may be rolling your eyes at captain
obvious over here, but if writing isn’t your strong
suit, structure might not come naturally. So,
before you begin, write yourself an outline before
your review becomes a meandering mess and
you’re tempted to give up. This basic structure
can be broken down even further.
Beginning - Introduction
Introduce the product you’re reviewing
Discuss the claims it makes
Talk about its target users and buyers
Mention any interesting details about the product
your readers should know
You can also include the star rating in the
introduction if you like, and summarize the pros
and cons as a way to hook readers.
Middle - The main information
The middle of your piece is where it gets really
juicy. Talk about all those aforementioned
product claims; here is where you get to sing its
praises, rip it to shreds, or just shrug
indifferently.
Your first impressions and how they changed (or
didn’t)
List its pros and cons
Talk about any stand-out features
Mention anything that disappointed you
Who will it actually benefit?
Is it high-quality/user-friendly/worth the price?
Are there any alternative products out there?
End - Conclusion
Summarize your main points
Give your concluding thoughts
These are guidelines only. You can lay out your
review however you want; there are no hard and
fast rules. However if you’re not sure where to
begin, this is a good starting point.
Wrap-up and checklist for
writing effective affiliate
reviews
And there we have it. You should now have a
better idea of how to go about writing compelling
affiliate reviews. Like we said before, it might take
some time and work, but it will be worth it to
establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
We covered a lot to of ground and there’s a lot to
remember, but the following checklist gives a
rundown of the main points we touched upon.
Be sure to refer to it before you start reviewing
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