This is Why Your Review Sucks

Date Mon, September 5 2011

Hi, I’m Cole and this is my review blog. Although, if you don’t know that, you probably can’t read so all you’re seeing is a bunch of garbled mumbo-jumbo anyway. How did you even get here? Seriously, though, the focus of this blog has always been reviews. Giveaways are nice but that’s not the focus. The point is, I’ve used a bunch of products and services and I’m opinionated and cheap and if you are opinionated and/or cheap, you probably want to know about some of the stuff I’ve used before opening your wallet. At least, that’s the theory. I write reviews because I think they will be useful to others because I, myself, find reviews to be useful.

That is exactly why the majority of the reviews on this blog were simply things I had purchased. Not too long ago, another blogger asked me for contact information for a handful of brands but I’d purchased all of the items, except one, by myself. That concept seems pretty foreign to some, especially when it’s so easy to find PR folks and send pitches and get people to send you free stuff in exchange for a blog post. If you expect that every post you write is going to be about something that you didn’t have to pay for, you’re going to start focusing on your blog as a business, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, you reviews can quickly start to suffer because of it.

Or maybe your reviews already suck. Not sure if this is true for you? Read on.

Your “review” is actually just a reposting of the press release.
A good review reiterates important information but claims and hype are easy to find–online, on TV, in print and even from company representatives themselves. Your blog should tell us something more because you’ve used the product unless, wait..

You didn’t use the product
You cannot post a review unless you’ve seen, touched, smelled and maybe even licked a product. Maybe you didn’t get to keep it but you can’t post a review if the closest you’ve gotten the item was the freakin’ press release. Remember how I said that the review should tell us something more? (Look up!) That something more isn’t how you think the product would work if you actually used it.
You didn’t spend enough time with the product or service.
Actually, a lot of reviewers are on me with this one, I think. Heads up if you’re a representative. A thorough review is impossible if you can only use the product once. So stop sending us single bags of tea! And reviewers? Stop accepting single bags of tea. Let your contact know that it’s not acceptable, not good business practice and just plain silly. What do they expect?! With that said, some products have a learning curve and sometimes you need to read the manual and if you don’t have time for that, you shouldn’t be writing a review in the first place.
Your post contains more pictures than text.
I know I don’t tend to use many pictures and I rarely take pictures of my review products because, in my opinion, that’s the point of review–to paint a picture with words. I like to see pictures when reading reviews, especially if the concept is difficult to understand from words alone, if a product is elaborate, if you want to show size, if the product looks nothing like it’s described and the list goes on. Nevertheless, your review probably shouldn’t contain a picture of every step of the way or every minuscule detail. We get the picture, literally. I recognize that this is based on a personal preferences but it has a good basis: we all know that Blogger-hosted blogs and review blogs meet in the place on a Venn diagram that is known as “the slowest loading part of the Internet bar none.”
Your review is overly optimistic.
I like to rip apart products. I want you to know every possible complaint a person could have, no matter how trivial. I’m that sort of person. You don’t have to be but if you love every product you ever review, I’m not going to view you as a trusted resource.
You didn’t post your review.
I have a policy. I refuse to work with companies who can’t tolerate a negative review. At the end of the day, it is publicity for them, but I cannot stress enough that the purpose of this blog is to help other consumers. Therefore, I won’t even think of working with a company that requires approval before I post or who bars me from posting a negative review at all. You know what? Not every product is awesome. I’m sorry. It’s true.

I consider companies and bloggers who avoid the negative to be unethical. Seriously. If I knew these people in real life, I’d literally slap them on the hands the way a mother does to scold a small child. Especially those who voluntarily withhold negative reviews. What are you thinking?! A negative review is just as important as a positive one and a company that can take one in strive or, better yet, create something better based on criticisms is exactly the kind of company I want to work with and promote.

Bloggers, I strongly encourage you to reconsider working with companies who would ask this of you (Even better, give those companies a schooling!) and recognize that you’re under no obligation to love every product (in fact, I don’t encourage this behavior as explained above). Not only that but you’re actually hurting the consumer and wasting any time you spent using a product or writing up a review, when you don’t post it.

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