One of the best ways to monetize your blog is with affiliate marketing.
Ad banners are a horrible way to make money online. In 2020, less than 0.1% of viewers clicked on an ad banner, and that statistic is only getting worse.
Roughly 25% of all visitors use an ad blocker. That means fewer individuals are seeing the ads on your blog.
That means less money in your pocket.
Affiliate marketing is a much better way to monetize your blog, in my opinion. Of the eight ways to make money with a blog, it is perhaps my favorite.
Creating a product review blog is an effective way to use affiliate marketing. There are three types of blog posts a product review blogger can create:
- Review — Detailed analysis of a product
- Comparison — How does a product compare to other products in the marketplace?
- How-To — How to use a product after purchasing
In this article, I’ll mostly cover reviews and the format you should use for them.
I can tell you from experience that creating a product review blog works very well. All of the income from my site Investor Junkie came from affiliate marketing. I sold the blog in 2018.
In fact, most of the websites that have sold for over seven figures were also product review blogs.
It turns out, as one of the final steps before buying a product, consumers seek out product reviews. What used to be found by picking up a copy of Consumer Reports magazine is now found online with Google.
With a product review blog, there’s much you must do to ensure your success. This guide will get you started as a product reviewer. It includes advice for which I normally charge a consulting fee.
1. Pick Your Niche
If you are creating a product review blog, you should either have expertise in that industry or hire writers who are knowledgeable about that space.
In my opinion, nothing is worse than reading a review of a product by a writer who obviously either has no qualifications to review the product or didn’t actually use the product.
Product review topics can be very diverse and fall in a wide range of niches. Topics include:
- Computers and technology
… to name just a few.
How to pick your niche is a topic in itself. But you should choose wisely and determine your niche before you proceed to the next steps.
If I were picking a topic for product reviews today, I would pick a niche about which I had a decent amount of knowledge and into which I also believed I could add more insight than the average writer.
For ideas on how to pick the best niche for you, I recommend reading Ryan Levesque’s book Choose.
2. Start a Blog
After you’ve determined your niche, the next step is creating your blog. (If you’re looking for detailed steps, check out my how-to start a blog article.)
I recommend Bluehost. It’s perfect for someone starting out with a product review blog.
If you order Bluehost through me, I will install and set up WordPress for you for free! You’ll get my recommended theme and plugins. You’ll also get access to my first Ready, Set… Blog! course for FREE.
3. Use a Product Review Template
The success of your product review blog depends on the layout you use and the details you include in each review. I recommend creating a standardized format for each review (or at least for all the reviews in the same category). This allows you to create a standard operating procedure that makes each review easier to write (and also easier to delegate to other reviewers).
Below is the product review template I recommend you use. It has taken me years of testing and looking at heat maps to perfect.
These are the recommended sections every review on your blog should contain:
As with any template, use it as a guideline. Your audience may have different needs. If so, adjust your template accordingly.
Psychology plays a critical part in the review template design. As a reviewer, you want your reviews to be the best-created articles on those products. You want the buyer to be sure they’ve made an informed decision on which product is right for them. To do this, you must get into the shoes of a prospective buyer.
A product may not be right for you personally. You can state that in a review, but realize that, for other buyers, the product might be perfect. Their decision-making process might be different than yours.
A well-designed review website helps three people in the transaction:
- The buyer — You help them purchase the best product for them
- The merchant — You send the best buyer to their product while directing other buyers to competing products that are more appropriate for their needs
- You (the blogger) — You get a commission for each affiliate transaction
There are two types of visitors to product review blogs. I call them:
- “Summary Susan” — Wants a quick summary and your recommendation
- “Detailed Dave” — Will read everything you write and then read it again just to make sure
You want to satisfy both types of visitors, but their needs are very different. On the web, most people skim content. So you want your review template to be easy to read and set up so the visitor can quickly gather the information they’re looking for.
There are many “Summary Susans” who just want quick answers to their problems. “Don’t make me think; just tell me the answer” is their thought process. You want to make sure you create a clear path to help them determine if the reviewed product is right for them. If the product you are reviewing isn’t right for them, you need to direct them to the alternatives.
The second type of visitor (“Detailed Dave”) wants to be sure they are making the right decision. The purchase may be a huge financial commitment for them, or it may have other social implications. Their job could be on the line, or a spouse could criticize the purchase for years to come.
For this type of visitor, this is where the layout, presentation, and content should shine. Just like “Summary Susan,” “Detailed Dave” is looking for you to be the expert in this niche.
The reader of your review wants to assure themselves they are making the right decision before they buy. Your review is the last step before they take the plunge.
This is one of the reasons why a good review format is so critical.
Not only does it help the reader, but — if you write a detailed review — they will purchase through the link given to them.
How to Write a Product Review
You should create a product review template that’s standard across your site.
A product review should contain nine components:
- Title/Brand Logo
- What Is X?
- Pros and Cons
What order you put these sections in can vary. Remember, this is meant to be a guideline.
As the reviewer, your subheadings should answer consumers’ common questions about the product or service.
Some niches have other additional keyword searches. If so, you should add them to your product review template.
Let’s break down each section in detail.
The first part of any review should make the reader sure they’re on the right page. You want it to be clear that they are seeing the review for the brand or product they’ve searched for. That means the headline for each review should start off with “Brandname Review” or some variant of this.
An optional subheading should highlight a key feature or aspect of the product. It can be a good or even a bad attribute.
If you can, also add a logo image of the brand to make it clear to the reader that they are looking at the right review.