We’ve all seen the flurry of reviews every time some new electronic gadget hits the market, whether it’s the newest iPhone, the newest laptop, or the hot Android tablet.
The same thing happens with new video games, cars, sports equipment, home improvement tools, clothing, camping gear, gardening supplies… the list goes on forever.
Whatever the niche or market, product reviews flood the web and are eagerly awaited and absorbed by consumers looking to buy the best device, tool, or whatever to add to their arsenal.
They want the best and turn to fellow users online for help. That’s where you come in. Quite easily you can monetize that insatiable desire for product reviews among consumers with your own little part-time review business.
The first step is to make sure your product review stands above the rest… that it’s as stylish and sleek or useful and practical as the product you’re reviewing.
The Basics: Your Review
Most product reviewers out there focus almost exclusively on the stats and specs and spend very little time on the aesthetic value and “feel” – of the product. This is wrong. When the average consumer is thinking of buying the newest iPhone, do you think his or her mind is filled with thoughts of data storage, RAM limits, or processing power?
Of course not. They’re thinking of the sleek design. The sensual curves. The flawless display screen. The apps. The performance. They want to know how fast they can download an email – not how it does it technically.
These are the things that sell units, and Apple knows this very well. A keen recognition of the incredible power of design has led Apple to become the dominant company in every market it enters.
For a gadget review you should make your review as sleek and modern as the sleek and modern product you’re reviewing. Include important data such as memory storage, display resolution, and such, but don’t let it bog it down. Relate this information in a casual, smooth way that segues nicely with the rest of your design-oriented review. Give plenty of examples of how well the device performs routine tasks like downloading files, watching movies, or taking pictures. Remember: numbers don’t sell products. Emotions do.
If you’re reviewing something not so technology-oriented, focus on the “emotional” features of that product. With baby products, for example, it’s all about safety, durability, and educational value. Home improvement tools should be strong, easy to use, and built to take a beating.
The key is drill down to what makes a certain type of product appeal to a consumer and orient your review in that direction. That’s what your readers want.
How to Parlay Your Reviews into Money
You could write product reviews all day long for free, right? Check out Amazon; plenty of people do just that.
But wouldn’t it be better to make money?
The simplest, cheapest, and best way to make money from reviewing products is by starting a blog. You simply review products in your niche and post them.
That reminds me – you have to pick a specific niche before you get started. A site in which you review products of all different types won’t work. To attract visitors and become a trusted authority, you have to focus on one specific type of product.
To pick a niche, look at your hobbies and personal interests. Do you love smartphones? Make that your niche. Into camping? Review tents, camp stoves, and hiking boots. Whatever your passion in life, there are plenty of people around the world who share it.
So now you’re set to become an expert in your product niche. Now it’s time to make money. The first thing you need are readers.
As the old saying goes, “If you write it, they will come.” Write consistently. Every time a new gadget hits the market, have a review of it up on your blog within a day or so.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “This can get expensive. Product reviewers for major magazines receive a free phone, laptops, etc. from the company to use and base their review on.”
Worry not, because you DO have access to just about every single product that hits the market. I’m talking about going to the stores that sell the product you’re looking to review (Best Buy, Apple stores, department stores, Target, and various phone showrooms are good places to start). Tell them you’re interested in making a purchase, but you’d really like to get the specs and a “feel” for the product.
Don’t be bashful, either. Spend an hour or more peppering the salesperson with questions, ask if you can access certain “off-limit” features, and make copious amount of notes. I guarantee you, after a couple of trips like these, you’ll have a great feel for the product and some great material for your review.
You can do the same with just about any product out there.
And your reviews don’t have to be even-handed, either. There are entire blogs (successful ones, at that) that make a career out of dumping on products. These reviewers post nothing but negative reviews and they are very, very popular. Now, I don’t endorse negativity for negativity’s sake, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Product Reviewing: The Endgame
If you stay diligent with your blog and write consistently, insightfully, and dynamically, you’ll gain a large number of followers and you can make much more money than you would working for a mainstream publication like Wired or Engadget.
Your first income stream is from sales of affiliate products. Here’s how it works:
Sign up for the affiliate programs for the specific type of product you review. Commission Junction manages affiliate programs for many retailers and manufacturers. And joining the Amazon affiliate program is always a good idea because they sell so many products. Also, make sure to check the top manufacturers in your niche – often they’ll have in-house affiliate networks for you to join.
Include your unique affiliate links in your product reviews. Anytime a reader clicks on the link and then goes on to the buy the product, you get paid a commission. And you don’t have to handle order processing or customer service – your affiliate partner takes care of all of that.
Because you are writing reviews, it’s almost like advertising. And, in the case of a good review, that primes the reader to buy, leading to increased affiliate sales.
I know one product reviewer who writes reviews of water filtration products, from those that go on faucets to pool filter systems. She makes $2,000 a month on average from affiliate sales. That’s what possible with this type of online review business.
The second income stream is from advertising. Once people start to trust your reviews and flock to your site, the big dogs will take notice. Then you can start advertising with major manufacturers and retailers in your niche. With this sort of advertising you can name your price – within reason. Google AdWords could also be an option, although it won’t be a huge money-maker.
And that’s when those emails will show up in your inbox from the companies whose products you review, with offers of freebies, test products, and more. You still remain an honest reviewer, of course. But it is nice to have some free stuff and make money too, right?
Best of luck!