Reviews of any kind (paid or unpaid) are great ways for bloggers to generate traffic.

Today’s Lesson

Product and/or book reviews can help to increase traffic (to our blogs), and may even make us a few coins in the process.

Although I don’t do many product reviews on this blog, I have done a fair share on my Observation Mountain (OM) blog.

What I’ve found works best with product/book reviews, is to have the name of the product/book somewhere in the title.

We all know using keywords and/or keyword phrases is important to get your blog post indexed by the search engines, and for reviews to get found, it’s essential.

Here’s a product review I did on my OM blog that continues to get traffic.

The title is: Product Review: Ecos Laundry Detergent

Buying a “natural” laundry detergent like Ecos , is great for the environment. It’s biodegradable, safe for septic systems, great for sensitive skin, and is phosphate and petrochemical free.

Ecos laundry detergent is a plant based detergent.

I’ve used this product for approximately a year now, and find it works great at getting clothes clean. For stains, you can rub a small amount of the detergent on the stain, and wash as per washing instructions. It’s great for colors, and safe for all water temperatures.

Price per load is slightly higher than regular detergents, however, with it’s built in fabric softener (soy based), you save money on buying an additional fabric softener.

Ecos suggests using 2 ounces of detergent for a full load of clothes, and less for smaller loads. If you’re using a high efficiency (HE) washer, you only need 2 tablespoons.

I recently purchased a 210 fluid ounce bottle of the Ecos laundry detergent (Ultra Original Formula) at Costco. It’s scented with magnolia and lily, which leaves your clothes smelling fresh.

The best part of this product…I can pronounce all of the ingredients. Now, that’s natural.

And, making it even better…………….it’s made in the USA. Considering that, I give it, two thumbs up. 8)

Want to read more about Ecos. go to Earth Friendly Products, at www.ecos.com.

I do not write product reviews to bash products. If I do find something negative about a product I use, I try to find a positive to balance the negative. Note: in the above product review I wrote,

Price per load is slightly higher than regular detergents, however, with it’s built in fabric softener (soy based), you save money on buying an additional fabric softener.

I’m telling my readers they will initially pay more, but in the end, will save by not buying fabric softener.

You may ask, “why would you write a product/book review if you don’t get paid for it?”

1) I like to share my finds with others
2) It’s a way to get traffic to my blog
3) Since I have Google AdSense on my OM blog, after reading the review, a visitor might click on one of my ads and I’ll make a coin or two.

It’s a win-win. Others find great products, and I feel good about sharing. The money aspect is an added benefit.

When reviewing or writing about books, I use Amazon’s affiliate program (they sell more than just books). If someone clicks on your ad and completes a sale through Amazon’s shopping cart, you make a small percentage of the sale. You can see evidence of how I used Amazon at the top of this post.

Catherine recently wrote a post regarding the impact product reviews have on companies, and how many companies dismiss negative comments on their forums/blogs. To read more about this, check out her post titled: Don’t Preach To The Wrong Audience

Today’s Assignment

Do you, or have you done product/book reviews? Paid or Unpaid?

If so, did it help your traffic numbers? Sales?

Do you read and believe the reviews you read online?

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  1. Barbara,

    Thank you for yet another thought provoking post. I’ve not yet done any product reviews on my blog – perhaps slightly because I think play and consumerism are mostly polar opposites, consumerism being an ugly parody of true play.

    I will consider doing reviews of books that I consider worthwhile reading though, and I do include some affiliate links to Amazon books to try to generate income to cover my blogging costs. There’s not been any money come in from that yet though.

    Thanks again,

    David

    David | beplayfuls last blog post..Breaking the edges of comfort

  2. I like to write reviews, but I don’t review everything. I’ve read several ebooks that I didn’t like, so I just didn’t review them. When doing a review, I do point out flaws I see, but I try to balance the negatives out with positives, like you do.

    My goals with reviews are (1) to help people figure out if the product is for them, and (2) to make the review useful or interesting even for people who don’t want the product (i.e., include some real content beyond the sales pitch).

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Are You A Jedi Or A Sith?

  3. I would have to agree, reviews are a great way to do the long-tail in generating traffic and getting old posts to show up in the search engines. Also, I don’t do negative reviews, only those books that I enjoyed get a review. I get some sales – but that is another thing I need to work on.

  4. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    i have a blog where i just pass along great things i find on the web, i really don’t “review” them but if i actually use something, i will say why i like it. i close all comments on this blog..just my way of sharing. i don’t track traffic, BUT i did use an affiliate link on one of the posts and it made me $13…not bad. i’m sure if i did it more often i could generate more money.

    i do read and believe the reviews on line and i do make my purchases based on other peoples experience if i really have no clue about a product. if it gets a lot of good reviews, then i’m more likely to buy.

    Naturals last blog post..5 Random and Quirky Things No One Knows About Me

  5. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    I run a feature on my blog, somewhat sporadically, about books that I like. I actually call it Recommended Reads. I have done the same thing for music albums; I call that feature Album Spotlight. I have no problem pushing books or albums on my blog. It feels like writers and artists need all the help they can get. This is something I can appreciate since I am both.

    If I come across a remarkable product, I might feel like blogging about it. It hasn’t happened yet but I won’t count it out. I just don’t like blogs that are full of ads or that constantly review or push product. It always makes me question their sincerity.

    I read blogs to share thoughts with others and to connect with people, not with stuff.

    Chase Marchs last blog post..Stealing Lines

  6. I do unpaid reviews because I love to share special things with my readers. I feel like I’m sharing a secret lol. And I really depend on passionate people reviewing things online as well . I am someone who really values making educated purchases. If I don’t know something, I read many reviews to get a general gist as to what I’m getting myself into.

    On my blog I think I do reviews a little differently and so far so good – if anything it helps me. You know what? I suppose I do it that way because I know how my eyes glaze over on certain reviews. If I really want people to know about something great, I make an effort to engage them in why I really care about whatever it is. So you know – if you ever publish something or need a holler, you make sure you contact me. Especially if I rise as a blogger, I would be so happy to have an opportunity to repay you for what you’ve done for me *cheesy grin*

    Oh and I’m not into writing negative reviews.. if it’s not a great product I just won’t talk about it. Never say never but I don’t forsee myself doing such a thing.

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, Yous last blog post..Your Q&A: Getting to Know Yourself

  7. oh and thank you for the lovely response in yesterdays post. You made me – you guessed it – SMILE lol

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, Yous last blog post..Your Q&A: Getting to Know Yourself

  8. I’ve done a book review, but never a product review. I think it’s a good idea to give people the positives and negatives in products that are on the market. There are quite a few stress reliever tools that might help my audience relax as work. Do you have any suggestions on getting a company to send it for free?

    Karl Staib – Your Work Happiness Matterss last blog post..Leisure Expert Allison Link Answers a Work Happy Now Question

  9. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi David,

    I see where you’re coming from with your blog being about play, but on the other hand, if you were to do a product review about your favorite kite (brand), or another “toy”, or a music CD that contains “happy” type songs, it could easily fit into your theme of play.

    Hi Hunter,

    I think we both agree, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

    Hi Book Reviewer,

    Welcome to the BWAB community.

    I checked out your blog and it appears you’re creating a great resource for those who are trying to decide whether to buy a book or not.

    Keep up the great work.

    Hi Natural,

    Yes, there is money to be made with reviews, but it does take time and work.

    I agree, online reviews hold a lot of weight in determining if I buy a product, and I look for more than one good review.

    Hi Chase,

    Product reviews do have their time and place. Some blogs are “review” blogs, and for someone looking to buy, they are a great resource, however, “content bloggers” could end up hurting themselves if too many of their posts are reviews. In that case, they might be better off setting up another blog just for that purpose, like Natural did.

    Hi JEMi,

    There’s that smile :)

    I like the reviews you scatter through your blog. Your wording is such that your readers know you believe in the product and in some way, it has made life easier for you.

    Your kind offer is most appreciated. Don’t be surprised if I take you up on it one day. Sending (((hugs)))).

    Hi Karl,

    If there are any stress reliever tools that you have bought and use, you could start with those. Most of the reviews I’ve done are for products I use and love.

    Re: receiving free items from companies. You could check with the manufacturer (of the items) and see if they have a
    program for online reviews, or contact PR firms that specialize in those types of products.

    Based on the reviews I have done on my OM blog I was contacted directly by a virtual PR firm who asked me to do unpaid reviews of products/services for their clients. I said I would, and I pick and choose those of interest to me. If it’s an actual product, they send me samples. (Currently I’m testing two dish washing detergents for which I will do a “comparison” review.)

    I’m waiting for them to ask me to review a hybrid car, but they haven’t told me when it will be delivered, but I have patience. 😆

  10. I’ve never done a formal review of anything, but I do mention (and link to) resources that have helped me. Right now I’m trying out a new calendar/to do system and if it works for me, I plan to review it on my blog.

    I imagine that writing a review of a book would make you read the book in an entirely different way than if you were reading just for your own enjoyment. It’s an interesting thought.

    By the way, I think Trent at The Simple Dollar blog does a wonderful job with book reviews (mostly books on finances and productivity) and I always look forward to reading them.

    Ann at One Bag Nations last blog post..Procrastination Fuels Anxiety

  11. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ann,

    I’m looking forward to your review of your calendar/to do system. I certainly can use help in that area, as the lists get long and sometimes time is short.

    That would be true with regard to book reviews. You necessarily wouldn’t be just reading it for your enjoyment.

    Thanks for the thumbs up on The Simple Dollar blog.

  12. MarelisaNo Gravatar says:

    When I visit Amazon looking for a book, I rely a lot on the comments I find there from people who have read the book to help me decide whether to buy it or not. I think writing reviews on books related to the topic of your blog is helpful because people who visit your blog regularly obviously have an interest in that topic. I think reviewing books is a valuable service for others.

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Marelisa,

    Yes, book reviews can be extremely helpful. As we get to know other bloggers, their words/reviews end up holding a lot of weight. If we trust a blogger, we trust their review will be an honest one.

  14. Ellen WilsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbera,

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas. I have never thought of writing a product review on my blog, but maybe I will. Everyones comments are very insightful regarding what they look for in a product review.

    I have also played around with the idea of monetization, either camera ads or the Amazon affiliate program. I probably will do both eventually. But, like I mentioned previously, just getting the blog up and running was a major feat, so I have just let is rest for awhile!

    Ellen Wilsons last blog post..Writing the Wild Within: Part 4 – Standing Out From the Crowd

  15. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never done one but I will eventually when seriously start monetizing my blog. Currently, the ads on my blod are all affiliate links and I don’t even mention anything about them on my posts. I also have Adbrite and sometimes Bidvertisers. I’m just trying to have my readers use to seeing adds in blog so that they won’t be surprised when I start placing paid ads.

    Doing reviews and ads on a blog is a balancing act which if done right, you will reap the monetary reward. However, if done poorly, you may end up losing your readership.

    I’m still learning…

    Chriss last blog post..Nun Grading Papers

  16. VeredNo Gravatar says:

    I haven’t done reviews so far (except for one or two when I just started out). I agree that review posts tend to generate Google traffic long after you have written them. I also agree with Hunter that if you don’t like something, it’s best to just not review it.

  17. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Yes, getting a blog up and running is a major chore in itself (for some of us), so monetization often gets put on the back burner.

    Camera ads would fit nicely with your blog and it’s subject matter.

    Hi Chris,

    I agree, a poorly done review or a dishonest one could easily create a loss in readership.

    As I mentioned on Vered’s blog, our loyal visitors do come to our blogs for our content, so adding ads (as long as they’re not terribly distracting), shouldn’t deter readers from returning.

    Hi Vered,

    I can see reviews on your blog. You write about a variety of topics and based on your comments, your readers enjoy hearing your point of view as it’s credible.

  18. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    I bought that detergent from Costco and loved it but now they don’t carry it. They have a different brand that I bought, but it doesn’t have the fabric softener. I haven’t used it yet, I’m using up another bottle I bought first. I thought it was cheaper than the Kirkland brand.

    I have not done reviews on my blog, but I do like independent reviews like yours. I trust them more when they are not on the manufacturers page. Unpaid actually has more credit to me because there is no reason for the person to be saying they like it other than an honest opinion.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..What’s for Dinner?

  19. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I haven’t actually done any book reviews yet, but I could shift to reviews fairly easily.

    I started my bookshare blog to share lessons learned w/my mentees and to build a little KB of the world’s best knowledge from books during my quest to help people “be their best in any situation.” To figure out the best books, I simply ask people I know what their favorite books are that changed their life.

    When I first started the blog, one of my friend said “hey, you should do book reviews — I always read the books you tell me.” I knew what his point was, but personally I hadn’t seen many book reviews I liked. More importantly, I didn’t want to just tell people what books I liked and why — I wanted to share the best nuggets and how I apply them (and I prioritized sharing nuggets from books that I thought would benefit my little sister.) Bottom line – I wanted to turn insights into action.

    The more I read, the more I share, the more I wish I could browse everybody’s favorite nuggets from their favorite books. I wish everybody had a bookshare blog. What a wonderful world that would be.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Personal Memory House or Landscape

  20. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Debbie,

    You might want to check back at Costco. Sometimes they run out, but eventually get it back. I’ve continued to find it there.

    I also like independent reviews, and think they are more honest.

    Hi J.D.

    I do like the way your share your “nuggets”.

    Using the Amazon affiliate program works great for the way you write your lessons.

    It would be wonderful to real everyone’s favorite nuggets. My problem is I run out of time, and reading (books) is often on the bottom of my list. I do spend a lot of time reading blog posts.

  21. axecityNo Gravatar says:

    When I made this review, I just made it with my passion to write about the issue: http://www.designinterval.com/19/how-to-build-a-crowdsourcing-website/, I wasn’t intending for my article to be like a review, I found it necessary to provide examples and references for what I was writing about, I didn’t ask to be paid for it, and it came out so real and honest.

    Now this page is being returned in the 1st page of google search results when searching for they key phrase ” how to make a crowdsourcing website” and in the 2nd page when searching for the keywords ” crowdsourcing websites”.

    However, I am so conservative about believing online reviews, but at last, good and honest work usually show up and can easily prove itself.

    axecitys last blog post..The hardest question you will ever answer

  22. Hello Barbara

    I signed up for the Amazon Affiliate program and so far only have one book set up – Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

    I think it’s a great avenue to explore as you can help provide insights to good books and products for your readers while also like you said, “Make a coin or two.”

    I have a “reviews” page I have in mind that I want to set up where my website visitors can go to find products I like which relate to business, Internet, and computers.

    I just need to rearrange physics a little and create a 50 hour work day! Can you make that happen for me? 😉

    Reviews weigh heavy on whether or not I will by something.

    John Hoff – eVentureBizs last blog post..Hack WordPress

  23. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Axecity,

    Isn’t that amazing how that works? You write your passion and hit front page of Google?

    It’s a good reminder that even though it’s important to write for our audience, Google finds us too.

    Great job!

    Hi John,

    Amazon is a great resource for bloggers for an income stream.

    50 hour work day? Hmmmm. I don’t think I can arrange that one. Makes me wonder how some are working a 4 hour work week. Like you, if my energy could hold out, I would love to have more hours in a day.

  24. Barbara –

    I like what J.D. mentioned about the review. I have not done any reviews yet but in future if I do, as J.D. does, I’d use the product first and make sure that it is what they preach before I can recommend to anyone. Review just for the money? Not me unless I like the product itself.

    Shilpan | successsoul.coms last blog post..An Interview with Leo Babauta on Simplicity, Clarity, Happiness and Success

  25. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Shilpan,

    That’s true. Reviews are great if you use a product and love it. Trying to write about something just because someone pays you, could very easily influence you to write a review and put a slant on it, making it sound like the product is actually better than it is.