It seems like everyone in the world wonders how to run a blog that makes money. While there are definitely a lot of ways you can go about doing this, one of the best is to review products that you are familiar with and that are related to your niche. We do this here on Top Marketing Strategies (here is one recent example and it is something we recommend for those who are looking for ways to monetize their site. Why? Because it is not something that is incredibly difficult and it also helps your readers. Think about how often you or people you know check reviews on products they are considering buying and you will quickly see that honest, well written reviews are something that benefit consumers. Notice that I said honest. We personally only review items that we use, and believe in, and that is what keeps our reviews real, honest and trust worthy.

When you are on the road to creating a site that you want to become an authority in its niche, getting great content posted is one of your core goals. The nice thing about product reviews is that they are very much great content. Yes, you will still need practice sensible SEO and do all the other things you’d need to do to help make your site one that lots of visitors come to, but product reviews can be part of your content marketing strategy while helping your audience make smart decisions on what they buy in your niche. Plus, this is a way for you to earn money without having to produce a product – even a digital product – on your own. It’s a pretty good way to go, all things considered, but you need to understand how to do it right in order to get the best results. That’s what we want to talk about now.

Getting Beyond Earning with Ads Even If You’re Not a Review Site

Now, a lot of people might worry that we are suggesting you turn your blog into a review site, but you really do not have to do this although it is one way that people sometimes go. Every niche is different and every blogger is different, so how much you want to focus on product reviews is going to be up to you. Here’s the thing, though. If you are going to spend all this time building your credentials as a key voice within your niche and an authority blogger then you need to ask yourself how much you want to get paid for your time and effort.

Often, inexperienced bloggers running unprofitable blogs are relying on ads from sources like Adsense or maybe another ad network. They are pulling in a few pennies per click and they may even make a hundred or more dollars a month. This is an accomplishment, for sure, but is it as far as you want to go? If you want to get beyond a minimal income than product reviews can help you out. The affiliate commission you can potentially make every time someone decides to buy a product you have reviewed (whether that review was positive or not will not affect your commission, of course) could be a lot more than several clicks on your ads. This adds up quickly and if your site has substantial traffic and actual trust with the audience, you could notice your income literally skyrocket.

A word about how you write your reviews is needed here. There may be a temptation to write glowing reviews in order to make sure that people buy what you are reviewing, but we recommend avoiding that temptation. While it might sound logical for you to try to grab as much commission as you can, it is more important to think long-term. Do you want your reputation to be one that’s untrusted because you recommend products that actually are not that good? Wouldn’t it be better to be more realistic, more honest and really gain your audience’s trust? The fact is, we can’t like every product we buy and we don’t like them all to an equal level. That’s just reality and your reviews should reflect that. Note that this doesn’t mean trashing products is a good idea, but do try to be honest with your readers so they feel they can trust you. It will pay off as the years roll by and it’ll definitely build your authority as a voice to be listened to. We have personally taken the stance that we only review products we use and like for our IM niche, even at the cost of not making as much commission as we could, but we believe maintaining our integrity is much more important. However, for other niches we do write reviews for products we have not used, but we keep our reviews in a neutral tone providing both the positives as well as the negatives and thus assist the readers in ultimately making their own decision.

Choosing Affiliates with Products That Matter to Your Audience

This is a key point you will want to remember because the products you review must first and foremost matter to your audience. They need to be relevant to your niche in some strong way. For example, if you have a blog about glass collectibles then you might review a certain kind of cleaner that is appropriate for certain collectibles or maybe insurance policies that protect items of that kind. There may be instances where you cannot personally purchase and try out what you want to review, but don’t let that stop you. Review the offer itself and if it’s worth passing on, let your readers know about it. Be sure to be upfront whenever you have not personally tested a product and, as a general rule, stick mainly to products you have tried out yourself.

That being said, remember that not all affiliate programs are created the same. Amazon‘s affiliate program is a complex one, for example, but it is one way that people are making money through product reviews. The commissions are not often enormous, but they can add up over time. When signing up for this or any other affiliate program, be sure you understand when you will be paid and what percentage your commission is for each item you are reviewing. Not all items from Amazon, for instance, offer a commission. This is why you need to exercise care in doing your homework and really understanding the affiliate program you are signed up for. Some affiliate programs may also have a problematic issue of not wanting you to review products from a competitor’s affiliate program. This could present a major issue and it’s why you need to study each program before signing up.

Take time to explore your niche and your audience to try to find out what they want to know about and bring them reviews that focus on what you learn. One way you can do this, as we will soon learn, is through keyword research. Other methods are by checking out blog comments on blogs in your niche, visiting forums, looking at which items related to your niche are hot sellers on Ebay and so forth. If you get serious about product review writing, you will find more ways to expand this basic set of techniques for finding the right products to review.

Keyword Research to Find Hot Products to Review

You want the product reviews you produce to be useful to your audience and that means you need to see what they want. One way you can do this is by performing intelligent keyword research and you should not go about this lightly. You will want to employ your tool set well to help you discover what people are searching for because that can lead you to products that answer these searches. If you do not yet have a tool set, then it is time to start developing one. All keyword researchers need tools to do their work effectively.

You most likely know the keywords associated with your niche and your site. This is a good place to start looking for further longtail keyword phrases that might point to products that people want. You might also see which keywords CPC advertisers in programs like Google AdWords are paying the most for. If they are paying big bucks for specific keywords tied to products you could review, then chances are good there is a decent market there that you could tap into with your review. This is a great way to get a sense of where profits are coming from for product advertisers online.

What you might find is that there are a lot more products you can review than you first believed. Often, keyword research starts simple and grows more complex. You might have been seeing if people wanted ‘dog collars’ and then you discovered that they also looked for ‘large dog collars’, ‘custom dog collars’, ‘leather dog collars’ and a lot more. Thanks to having done your keyword research, you uncovered several more sub niches you could do product reviews for. That’s how you start to pack in a lot of reviews that you can make honest, authoritative and a great value for your visitors.

So don’t skimp when it comes to the research side of creating product reviews. It will pay off for you and it’s a skill you can use for the rest of your content marketing, as well.

If You’re Just Starting Out Try to Pick a Profitable Niche

Let’s say that you do not yet have a blog up and running where you could post product reviews, but this is something you want to do. Where do you start? That’s a great question and fortunately the answer is pretty straight forward: find a profitable niche THAT INTERESTS YOU to focus on first. We hear all the time from people who have picked a niche that just isn’t profitable and how they are frustrated because it is so tough to get their site to earn money. Some people start-up blogs without doing research because, well, they had no idea they needed to and thought they just needed to pick something fun or interesting. The truth is, not all niches make money and even among those that do, profits are going to vary. You can do yourself a favor by researching niches you’d like to serve to make sure a substantial audience exists and that products are out there to serve that audience.

We want to make it clear that you can most likely make any niche profitable if you try hard enough, long enough and spend enough on advertising. However, is that what you want to do? Some people have a personal niche they want to focus on despite the odds and despite current profitability. If that’s you, we find that admirable and as long as you know what could be in store for you before jumping in, go right ahead. For the rest of us, though, who really want something profitable, research is a must. Take a look at your competition, study your audience and learn what they want. That way when you get your blog set up, you can provide the relevant content they want and see success in a reasonable length of time.

Make Your Product Reviews Personal & You’ll Succeed

Sometimes bloggers forget that people come to their specific blog for their specific insights. Even if you do not focus on your real name and identity, every site has a flavor and it needs to be emphasized. If you want to succeed at product reviews, make them personal and unique as you can. Even if you outsource your product reviews, you can add your own flare to them before publishing. Let someone else do 95% of the work on the reviews, and then you personalize them. Give them some flair and let your real opinions and insights out. When people want a run down of the product, they’ll go to the product maker’s site. They are coming to you for reviews so give them that. Let it feel like they are getting information from a trusted friend or organization and they will most likely value what you have to say. That’s how you make product reviews really work for you.

Make Your Product Reviews Personal & You’ll Succeed

One of the objections to product reviews that we have heard from subscribers in the past is that they don’t feel like they have enough traffic to justify writing reviews. That they will write reviews that will not be read. However, that is the beauty of reviews, they bring their own traffic. That is one of the main points of the product reviews, other than trying to make a sale and make a commission from it, you want to capture the traffic. When people are looking for product information one of the top things they will do is type PRODUCT NAME review or reviews and try to find some reviews on the product they are interested in. If your website is found during that search, you not only gained yourself a reader, you may have gained a commission as they click-through your link to buy the product that they are now ready to buy after your review. Or maybe you capture people searching for a blue widget, and in your review you state the blue widget is good, but the red widget is better for these reasons and now you capture people from relevant traffic and show them a better option.