Writing Good Reviews: 5 Step Formula

Teli Adlam —  May 10, 2009

Reviews can be the lifeblood of a blog—the thing that keeps readers coming back for more and driving people through your affiliate links, so being able to write a good review is essential.

The purpose of a review is to keep your reader honestly informed about a product or service and contrary to popular belief not all reviews need to be favorable. Even a negative review can be beneficial if you’re able to point the reader in the direction of a better alternative.

With that brief introduction out of the way, I’m going to share my personal 5 step formula for writing product reviews.

Step 1: Product Introduction

The first thing you should do is introduce the product. (Simple, huh? Yet so many people actually skimp on this step.)

If you’re reviewing a book, include the title, author, publication date, number of pages, and a brief synopsis. If it’s a television or home theatre system, include the brand, model number, and the feature specifications. Basically, dish the dry facts.

Step 2: Weaknesses

Rarely is a product or service perfect. Rather than sweep it under a rug, which can rub your readers the wrong way once they discover it for themselves, include it right up front.

Using the book example again, explain that there may be some errors in grammar, undeveloped ideas or plots, or that it’s plodding (only if it is, of course). Then explain to your readers why you believe it’s a shortcoming because someone else may find it easy to overlook.

Step 3: Strengths

After dragging the product through the wringer, paint the silver lining. Highlight the best parts of the product or service and how it may aid the reader.

Again, explain why you believe these strengths would be beneficial or even how they’ve helped you.

Step 4: Qualification

By this time, the reader should have a good idea what to expect, now take it a step further by explaining who would probably most benefit from the product or service.

Since there is no one size fits all product, your readers would appreciate knowing beforehand whether it will be worth their time and will be more inclined to trust you in the future.

Once more using the book as an example, tell your readers whether it’s for a beginner or a technically inclined individual or if it’s a pleasure read, you could tell your readers that if they liked a particular book, then they would also like the one you’ve just reviewed.

Step 5: Summary

The last section should be a summation of your review, your overall recommendation, and don’t forget to tell your readers how to get the product or service. If your review isn’t particularly flattering to the product, then provide information on a better alternative.

Coming from my own personal experience, it always irks me when I finish reading a great review and am eager to get the product only to find there are no links or purchase information.

Some other quick tips for writing a good review:

  • Avoid spoilers and if you must include any, include a warning near the beginning. (Pertains mostly to book and movie reviews.)
  • Include pictures of the products, especially personal ones if possible.
  • Use bullet points whenever possible to make your review easy to scan.
  • Write concise paragraphs, since long wordy paragraphs tend to intimidate.
  • Keep the review short, somewhere between 350-750 words is good. For especially long reviews, consider breaking it up into multiple sections.

You can read my and my for a couple examples.

Finally, it’s important to note that these are only guidelines. Adjust it to fit your needs.

Teli Adlam

Posts

9 responses to Writing Good Reviews: 5 Step Formula

  1. Great post! I have been starting to do product reviews and feel I have done OK but I want them to be better. I have been looking for an actual product review format and haven’t come across any so hubby might put one together for me. Thinking it might make it easier not to forget anything in the review. Thanks for the tips, very helpful.

  2. I had not thought of using product reviews in a blog before, but it makes perfect sense. I like your formatting ideas. I am wary, however, of making my blog appear too much like a commercial.

  3. Thank you Angie, I appreciate the kind words and I’m glad you found the post helpful.

    Marty, you don’t have to worry about your blog appearing too much like a commercial as long as you’re honest in your review. If something bites the big one, then say so and provide your readers with an alternative. Most of the time, they’ll thank you. (Just put yourself in their shoes.)

  4. Another tip I forgot to mention is that, whenever possible, you can include your own personal pictures of the product to show the product in action.

  5. I have written a review about a product some months back and I now think of editing that according to your guidelines. You have mentioned each point carefully with the best description. I would suggest all readers to view this format when writing reviews. Reviews must be honest one’s and not to promote a particular product.

  6. Oh yea pictures too! I prefer to take my own pictures to use on my blog if at all possible. I’m thinking of trying my hand at video too sometime soon. I just want to make sure to have it transcribed for those who don’t care for video.

  7. When you look at my site… One may see that a lot of the site depends upon reviews… So they are very important. When ever I can find more and more information about creating a good review, I bookmark it AND print it out AND save it tom my swipe/reminder file…

    Thanks
    never enough info…..NEVER –
    Lori…

  8. I’ve just started writing reviews and want to use the promotional images from various websites. Most say its ok to download for home/personal use. Does this apply to blogs where it is a hobby rather than a commercial endeavour?

  9. Cornelia Cunningham June 11, 2009 at 5:44 am

    This is a great guide for those who have wanted to write their own reviews on products. The steps are simple and easy to do. Thank you for sharing.