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This article is a great place to learn the strategy of a review blog. If you want step-by-step instructions on how to start your own review blog, check out our free blogging course.
What Is Your Blog About?
If you are reading this, chances are you know the basics of what your blog is going to be about - you are starting a review blog, after all! But you need to dig a little deeper to determine exactly what you want your blog to accomplish. Are you starting a tech review blog? A parenting products review blog? A recipe review blog?
Knowing on a deeper level what you want your blog to be about is a necessity, because it will allow you to set your tone and decide what content you are going to create.
There’s a quote that fits this situation perfectly:
"If you try to be everything for everybody, you will be nothing to no one."
Establish Your Niche
When creating a new blog, you need to find your niche. This is the corner of the market that you have the most knowledge about, the place you can establish yourself as an absolute authority. If you try to take on CNET all at once, you will find yourself squarely outmatched and very disappointed.
The key is to find the Goldilocks niche, one that is not too wide and not too narrow. “Reviews” is too wide - you will never stand out in such a big niche. “Reviews of pepperoni manufactured in Pittsburgh” is too narrow - you will run out of things to write about. You need a niche that is somewhere in the middle.
Some examples of niche review blogs are:
Name Your Blog
Once you’ve found your niche, it’s a great time to start brainstorming a name for your blog. You’ll want to pick a name that’s brandable and available. Use our domain name tool to check if your name is available. If it is, scoop it up before someone else gets to it first.
Brand Your Blog
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.
Creating a logo for your business is vital for increasing brand awareness. You can design your own unique logo using our Free Logo Generator. Our free tool will help you brand your business with a unique logo to make your business stand out.
Finding Your Audience
Having a good sense of who is going to be reading your blog is one of the best ways to know what type of content to create, how to shape it, and, ultimately, how to grow your following. With a clear understanding of your niche, understanding your audience should come more naturally.
Finding your target audience - the people you want hanging out on your blog - isn’t only statistics and demographics. It requires a deeper understanding of who these people are and what they want. Your target audience is the people you’re writing to when you write your blog.
Who are you writing to when you write your blogs? Are you writing to experts in a specific niche, or to people who know next to nothing about the products you are reviewing? Regardless of what your content covers, you need to know your audience so you can speak to them in a voice that they will identify with.
Create a Persona
One way to understand your audience is to create a persona of your perfect target audience member. This essentially means creating a mock-up of the ideal person you hope to reach with your blog.
Here is an example of a target audience persona:
Having a persona for your perfect audience member helps you to visualize and understand who you are writing for and provides important direction to your content.
Be Your Own Persona
Another popular way to find your perfect target audience is to be your own persona. Many of the best products and services come from scratching your own itch. It’s possible you’ve searched for the perfect review blog to read, came up short, and decided to create it yourself. This makes you the perfect audience member for your own blog.
This can be a great strategy for creating highly effective content. If you’ve noticed a meaningful omission in blog content, chances are you are not alone. By writing personally satisfying content you are likely to reach an audience in search of the same things.
Where Is Your Audience Hanging Out?
No web content exists in a vacuum. While you should strive to create uniquely entertaining content for your blog, your target audience is almost certainly already out there reading other blogs, engaging on specialized forums, and using social media. Finding the sites where your audience already mingles is a great way to discover what topics they are most interested in, what language they are using, and what valuable content you can add to that mix.
Some examples for your review blog may include:
Visiting these sites is also a great way to begin engaging with your audience before your blog has even gone live. Jump into conversations on forums and in comments sections and get to know the people you’ll be writing for. This is a great, organic way to build relationships and direct people to your blog in its early days. Sharing your passion with like-minded people will make them more excited and passionate about supporting you in your blogging endeavor.
How Will You Present Your Work?
Traditionally, when most people think about a blog they picture written content on a page. However, there are several different ways to present your ideas on your blog, depending on your subject matter and target audience. Every blog will thrive with different formats, so it’s important to think carefully about how to best showcase your content before you start.
There are several effective methods of presenting the material on your review blog. They include:
As the name suggests, evergreen articles are composed of content that lasts. These articles are designed to have a long shelf life and continue drawing readers to your blog over time. They are typically long-form, text-based articles that delve more deeply into a particular topic.
A review blog lends itself to evergreen content since reviews tend to be evergreen by their very nature. Your opinion about the things that you blog about is unlikely to change in the near future, which means that your reviews are inherently evergreen. One way you can appeal to an even bigger audience is to review older items as well as newer ones - the things that people tend to recommend by default. Someone will always be looking for reviews of these items and yours might be the only ones available!
While the video format is not new, the explosive growth of YouTube and the advent of new and innovative video-based tech like Snapchat and TikTok have shown the true power of video as an online medium. While you may think that creating video is much more difficult and expensive than writing your content, you have access to all the technology you need to make high-quality video content right on your smartphone.
Video reviews are becoming more and more common on review sites for a variety of reasons. Many people like seeing a physical demonstration of how an item is great or not so great, and video lets you provide such demonstrations. Others love seeing the reviewer’s reactions to a product and listening to the reviewer’s unique style of speaking and analysis. You can attract these types of people to your blog by creating your own video reviews.
News articles or other “announcement” type content can be a great way to gather new readers. One benefit of news content is the short-term but powerful increase in search volume during an event. While this bump may be temporary, it can be a great tool for grabbing new readers who end up coming back for more.
Writing about current events or new happenings also means there will typically be less competition for readers. Other blogs and media sources are all getting the information as it develops. Since the base of knowledge available is smaller, this gives you a good opportunity to add your own flavor to the article.
The downside to news-type articles is that they tend to lose popularity much more quickly than evergreen content. While the interest for an event may be very large one day, the next day people may already be moving on to the next shiny object.
You are already keeping an eye out for the next thing to review, which means you come across newsworthy topics day in and day out. You can start writing about these things in news-type posts to attract readers who want info on what is happening right now or in the near future. The nice thing about writing news posts is that you can use them as a lead-in to your more in-depth review posts later on.
While most people expect to be reading when they visit a blog, image-heavy content can be very appealing and break up your text-focused posts to keep people’s attention. Depending on the topic of your post, displaying multiple images per page on a single subject can give your audience a better sense of what you are trying to convey.
While some topics may take to images very easily, like a car blog or a celebrity gossip site, others may require some deeper thinking to make this strategy work.
Review bloggers tend to incorporate a lot of images in their content because they want to demonstrate what they are discussing to their audience. If you are reviewing a product, you want to show your audience what it looks like, how it works, and so on. You can use stock photos, press photos, and take your own photos - whatever makes the most sense for your blog.
When you first start taking photos, you might not be too happy with the results. That’s ok. Few people start off as great photographers. Keep practicing and posting so that you can learn and improve your skills. Eventually, you will reach a level where you are comfortable and satisfied with the photos you take and post - and if you don’t, you can always take a photography class to boost your skills.
Mix and Match
Your blog doesn’t need to stick to one content delivery strategy - in fact, you should specifically try to incorporate more than one style as a matter of course. You can attract a bigger audience by offering a variety of content. Some people will prefer one over the other. By offering many different options, you can make your blog more attractive to more people. Step outside your comfort zone periodically to try new methods of content production - whether it’s taking videos, pictures, or something else. Your audience will appreciate it and blogging will be more interesting over the long-term.
How To Make Money From A Review Blog
One of the main reasons people start blogs is to generate some sort of profit. Whether you’re looking for a few hundred dollars per month or a job-replacing income, blogging is still an excellent way to make those dreams a reality.
There are a few great ways to make money from a review blog:
Display Ad Networks
Display ads are the simplest way for websites to generate any sort of income. Ad networks, like Google Adsense, are fairly simple to be accepted into, and implementation onto your site is streamlined and clean. If you’re just beginning to see some traffic to your blog and want to turn this into dollars, display ads are where most people start.
There are a few downsides to display ads, however. The first is that some feel they detract from the user experience on your blog. Most people have been to a site where large ads pop up and block the content in the middle of reading. This can be distracting, frustrating, and even drive people away from your blog. While it’s possible to clean up and control the type of ads you use, it can be a constant battle to balance effective ad placement with aesthetics and readability.
The other main downside is that they don’t pay a lot. These networks generally use a pay-per-click (PPC) model which, depending on the niche, can pay anywhere from $0.01 to $1.50 per click, most on the lower end.
While display ads are a great way to make your first dollars, you’ll want to make sure any negatives they bring are worth the profits they provide. Once you develop a solid following, you can consider moving on to more lucrative and effective profit-making options.
Affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Affiliate have become much more popular over the past few years, as they take the payment model from pay-per-click to cost-per-acquisition (CPA). This means you can refer as many users to an advertiser’s product as you want, but will only get paid when the user makes a purchase.
Both advertisers and publishers benefit from an affiliate marketing setup. The advertiser pays nothing until a sale is made and the publisher enjoys much higher commissions than the pay-per-click model.
The Amazon Affiliate program is a great fit for a review blog because you can link to just about every product you review on your blog. The program is easy to join and incorporate into your blog content, and you get paid a small commission for every sale that you facilitate.
There are few blogs out there that do not include links to products in the content - which means that your readers are going to expect links to the things that you are reviewing. Since you need to link to products to fulfill reader expectations, you might as well get paid for doing so. And you can feel good about encouraging such purchases because you are being straightforward about what you recommend and what you do not.
Many review bloggers choose Amazon Affiliates as their first affiliate program because joining the program is so simple. You may make a few dollars a month when you are just getting started. However, if your blog becomes popular enough, you could earn thousands a month eventually.
Sell Digital Products
Digital products are an online entrepreneur's dream. You create the item once, then sell it as many times as you can, with little to no cost of reproduction. This means that you can scale your business to infinity.
Examples of digital products are:
- Ebooks - A piece of writing, generally in PDF format. These can contain literally anything that your audience would want. They can either be true book-length all the way down to a few pages of content. Depending on your niche, audience, and subject, these can run from $1 to $100 per sale fairly easily.
- Gated Content - This is content that is served on your website just like any other article, except that is behind a “paywall”. If you are creating content that you don’t want to be released to anyone but your true followers, you have them sign up for an account on your site and charge them a subscription fee for access. Generally, authors charge anywhere from $5 to $200 per month for access to gated content.
- Online Courses - If you can teach a skill that your audience wants to learn, you can create an online course to sell to them. These courses can be formatted in whatever way makes the most sense to you, but most nowadays are video courses. Online courses can sell from $10 to well over $10,000 per course, obviously depending on the subject matter and audience.
A great example of a digital product that a review blogger could sell is an Ebook of in-depth recommendations based on a specific niche. For example, if you are a passionate movie reviewer, you could create an Ebook that includes recommendations for your all-time favorite films, descriptions of the films, and your reasons for recommending the films. It can serve as a guide for your fans on what they need to watch most. A quality product in this niche could sell for $30 or more.
Sell Physical Products
Selling physical products is the original money-making strategy. You gather an audience that is hungry for something, you sell it to them, and everyone wins. You don’t have to be an inventor, designer, or manufacturer to sell products. Sites like Alibaba and AliExpress import already-made items into the United States and sell them for a markup.
The two main methods for the distribution of these items are: dropshipping and self-fulfilled.
Dropshipping is a method where you advertise a product on your site that you do not own. Once you make the sale, you inform the manufacturer, who will handle the shipping and handling to the end-user. While this is simple because you don’t have to worry about storing or shipping any items yourself, you’ll find that the margins can be quite slim.
Self-fulfilled sales are much more of a hands-on approach to sales. You buy the item from the manufacturer, store it, then ship it to the end-user once you have made the sale. While there is much more work involved, you’ll find that the margins per sale are much higher.
Product sales through a review blog may seem challenging at first, but you can probably find products that your audience will jump at the chance to purchase. A high-quality printed book containing your most popular reviews might be something that your audience would love, especially if you can make it unique compared to your online content.
While it can be very profitable when done well, selling products is not generally recommended for the beginner blogger. It’s best to secure an audience that you know will be receptive to the product before making a large investment in product development or acquisition.
Create A Service
Providing a service is another very basic money-making plan. If you can provide a service that you know your audience needs, you have a viable business on your hands.
Whether this service is delivered through one-on-one interaction with the user, through a piece of software that you develop, or by directly completing a task for the user, this is a great way to monetize your skillset and your blog.
If your review blog focuses on how to write reviews, you could offer seminars on review writing. Or, if you have made a name for yourself, you could offer consulting services for businesses in your niche to help them avoid releasing products that will not be well-received by consumers. What services you offer will need to be based on your niche and your skills.
Try to avoid overcommitting yourself when you first start selling services. It can be easy to say yes too often, particularly when you can charge a high price and demand is strong. Your blog is what makes your business thrive, so you need to make certain you maintain your blog properly and avoid getting so bogged down with your services that you let things go on the blogging end. Learn to balance services and blogging for long-term success.
Next Steps To Get Your Review Blog Started
Now that you have the strategies in place to build and grow your own blog, check out our free course: How To Start A Blog.
This course includes all the essentials on how to get your blog out of your head and onto its own website. Starting a blog is simple and inexpensive, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t start today!
Free Course: How To Start A Blog
Free Course: How To Start A Blog
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