Getting paid to express your opinions about products and services seems like a pretty good deal. Here is good news for those who do have a lot of opinions: There are ample opportunities in 2020 to turn product reviews into a source of income.
Now, there is also some bad news: Getting to the point where somebody will pay for your review will take some time and effort. Before we explain how you get to this point, let’s figure out the logic that fuels the paid reviews.
Why Businesses Pay for Product Reviews
Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective sales and customer loyalty generators. A few decades ago, word-of-mouth was limited to our family and circle of friends and acquaintances. In the era of digital media, that word-of-mouth circle has expanded to the entire world. Product reviews and ratings help us decide which products and businesses to choose, and which ones to avoid.
Research and surveys have shown time and time again that product reviews significantly boost businesses’ chances to sell a product.
- 92 percent of prospective shoppers take the time to read a product review before making a buying decision. (Vendasta, 2019)
- 37 percent of shoppers rely on reviews from review sites to make a purchasing decision.
- 87 percent of consumers treat a product review as word-to-mouth.
- 87 percent of consumers agree that they won’t do business with an entity that has an unfavorable rating.
- 90 percent of consumers want to read between 5–10 product reviews before gaining trust in a brand.
So, it’s clear. Businesses need reviews to remain representative and competitive. And they need as many reviews as they can get.
Of course, plenty of businesses have tried beating the system by paying for positive product reviews. This practice has been recognized as a burning problem for search engines, product review websites, and online marketplaces. In general, this practice is frowned upon. Not only are fake product reviews misleading and useless for a business in the long term, but they also are becoming increasingly easy to spot as our “online senses” sharpen.
Who Gets Paid for Product Reviews
If you search for ways to get paid for product reviews, you will find dozens of websites that offer to pay for product reviews. If you delve deeper, you will notice a common theme — plenty of these websites disappear and some of them look useless and confusing. Some of these websites are legit but pay ridiculously low, and the ones that evoke any trust and opportunity are looking for influencers, not just any random reviewer.
There are legit ways to get discounts and gifts in exchange for reviews from legit businesses and websites (Amazon is one example), but we will stick to getting paid.
If you want to get paid for your opinion on products, you have to prove to a business that your opinion matters. Put simply, you have to be an influencer. But being an influencer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have millions of followers on social media. In fact, businesses lately focus on micro-influencers.
An example of micro-influencer teaming up with a local beauty brand. (Source: Yelp)
Micro-influencers are people with as few as 1,000 followers. They have high levels of engagement on their profile and represent a good fit for local brands.
Now, 1,000 followers doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? If product reviews are your category of choice, definitely not. Product reviews have been one of the most popular content formats on YouTube. By 2018, videos with ‘review’ in the title had more than 50,000 years worth of watch time on mobile alone.
What Makes a Good Product Review
Whether you are writing a review on Google, Yelp, your blog, or making a product review video, some rules apply to both the written and spoken form.
If you want people to follow and trust your product reviews, keep these simple guidelines in mind.
1. Be honest
We already have established that fake positive (or even worse, negative) reviews can tarnish a brand’s reputation. This also means your personal brand. Unless you clearly state you are advertising a product, lying about its non-existent qualities in exchange for money will bring you only a quick buck and a lot of disappointed followers.
2. Be respectful
Unless being really rude is part of your personal brand (more on that later), try to be respectful when you review products. Don’t offend people or businesses. Direct your criticism and praise toward the product itself.
3. Be clear and insightful
Saying that something is “bad” doesn’t have much of a value for a person trying to figure out whether they should buy a product. After all, “good” and “bad” are relative terms, because we all set different benchmarks for the products and services we use.
How to Start a Product Review Blog or Video Channel
Now let’s move on to the final step — turning you into an influencer.
1. Pick your category or niche
This is the single most important decision when you decide to turn product reviews into a potential source of income. If you look at any successful blogger or YouTuber out there, you will notice that most of them stick to what they are good at. This is how they managed to carve out a niche for themselves and remain competitive.
So, when you choose your category, make it something you are passionate and knowledgeable about. What’s incredibly important for the success of your YouTube channel is your enthusiasm and passion for the topic you choose. Unless, for example…knowing nothing is your personal brand.
Some people made a brand out of knowing nothing. (Courtesy of HBO)
You cannot reinvent the wheel, but you always can come up with a fresh approach. Do you have a good sense of humor? Do you like unconventional things? Maybe you know absolutely nothing about a certain niche, but feel that reviewing them from this standpoint could be hilarious? There’s your brand!
Whatever you do, don’t insist on being different for the sake of being different. Do what you like and what feels natural to you.
2. Pay attention to visual identity
Becoming a micro-influencer means branding yourself. If you want businesses to see you as a potential partner, take special care to align your website or YouTube channel design with your logo, custom palette, and font.
Source: YouTube/Huda Beauty
Don’t worry, coming up with your visuals doesn’t require a well-seasoned designer. Software such as Canva offers great templates and custom materials for bloggers. You can play with color palettes, fonts, and graphics and easily create something that fits your style. And it’s super affordable!
3. Be serious about promotion
There are two ways to promote your product review blog, social media account, or video channel. One way is paying for advertising, which is probably not the best choice for beginners looking to make money from online content.
The other way is getting savvy and attracting traffic organically. Good content always has a chance of going viral, but it is not the only way to attract attention and followers. A wise SEO strategy that taps into the interests of your target audience can be an amazing way to grow your reach and following.
Google Shopping Insights is a great source of information and ideas for product reviewers.
Optimize your written and video product reviews. Use focus keywords. You can find them using tools such as Google Keyword Planner or KeywordTool, which can come up with highly sought-after keyword suggestions around a topic of your choice. KeywordTool is easy to use, super affordable, and it works across several major search engines and social media channels.
You can read more about audience growth SEO strategy here.
4. Get paid!
Once you reach the golden 1,000 followers, you are ready to start business. Monetization opportunities for your product reviews vary based on the channel.
The natural thing for a product reviewer is to join the Amazon Affiliate program or Amazon Associates. You actually don’t need a follower count to become a member. All you have to do is have a website or blog. You can earn money by creating links to the products you are advertising. Each time somebody clicks on this link and buys a product, you will earn a referral fee.
For example, if you are a YouTube vlogger, reaching 1,000 subscribers and then 4,000 in one year is a ticket to the YouTube Partner Program. When you are accepted, you get paid each time viewers watch ads in your product reviews.
However, partner programs have their limitations — small fees, scattered regional availability, and a set of rules you have to follow. So, the alternative is taking the initiative and approaching businesses on your own. You can apply to influencer marketplaces or research your niche and conduct cold outreach to businesses who probably would be happy to partner up in exchange for product reviews. You don’t have to shoot for big brands. Teaming up with someone who is on the same level as you can be an incredibly beneficial relationship.
Now you are all set! Sure, we cannot promise you a magical hack that will turn your product reviews into a moneymaking machine overnight. But, we’ve shown you everything you need to know to avoid wasting time and put your energy into a strategy that eventually pays off.
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