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How to Start a Product Review Website
By Ian Drogin
Online purchases are booming, which means that product reviews are more important than ever. Whether the industry is b2b software, physical products, or online courses, customers in every market are looking for qualified opinions to help them make their purchasing decisions. This is good news for you if you want to start and sell a product review website.
For online entrepreneurs, product review websites can be enormously profitable and easy to manage. Not only does that make it appealing to start one, but it also means you can enjoy an extremely valuable business once it’s built.
In this article, we’ll explain how to start a product review website from scratch.
How Do Product Review Websites Work?
Before diving into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand how product review sites operate and earn money.
The general business model for product review sites is simple. They provide high-quality product reviews which drive traffic to the products being reviewed. On the back end, the owner of the product review website earns an affiliate commission for each sale that the website generates.
To be successful, it’s important that your website is consistently publishing high-quality content. When getting started, some website owners choose to write product reviews themselves. Once the website is up and running, it can sometimes be wise to hire a team of writers to produce content for you and take advantage of SEO opportunities.
“To be successful, it’s important that your website is consistently publishing high-quality content.”
If you’ve ever been on a product review website, you’ve probably noticed that each website tends to focus on a single topic. This helps them gain authority and build a reputation within their given niche. It also leads to product review request inquiries from companies within your niche.
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How to Start Your Own Product Review Website
Starting your own product review website doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does take some work.
There are several distinct steps you must take in order to launch a successful review site. These include:
- Pick your niche
- Establish your domain name
- Choose your platform
- Establish your monetization strategy
- Design your product review website
- Start writing reviews
Below, we’ll explore each of these in greater detail.
Pick Your Niche
The first step in creating a review website is to pick a niche. This allows your review site to establish a clear identity and attract repeat visitors and customers.
“Once you’ve identified your target customers, do some research in order to understand how they consume information”
There are several key considerations to think about when picking a niche. These include:
- Your expertise and interests
- Target audience purchasing behavior
- Affiliate opportunities
If you’re going to be writing the content yourself, you’re not going to want to choose a topic that’s completely unfamiliar to you. Rather, you’re going to want to write about topics in which you already have expertise. Not only will that provide you with more authority, but it will also make the process a lot more enjoyable. Gaining authority is an essential step, especially if you want to engage in influencer marketing.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to think about what kind of people shop for products in each niche that you’re considering. Once you’ve identified your target customers, do some research in order to understand how they consume information and make each purchase decision. This will help you understand if a product review website has strong potential in the niche.
Next, you’ll want to identify affiliate opportunities within the niche. What you’re looking for are affiliate networks that cater to the niche, as well as individual companies that offer their own affiliate programs. At this stage, you don’t need to reach out to anyone. You just need to know that opportunities exist.
Establish a Domain Name
Once you’ve picked a niche, it’s time to establish your domain.
When picking a domain, you should seek to establish one that meets the following criteria:
- Easy to remember
- Related to your niche
- Doesn’t include hyphens
- Doesn’t include trademarked words
- Includes “.com”
A great domain name is unique and easy to remember. Therefore, avoid picking a domain that is too similar to another review site. Make it short, catchy, and descriptive.
Also, avoid using hyphens or words that are trademarked. One of the last things you want to do is enter into a legal dispute over your website name. Also, try to pick a .com if at all possible. Once you’ve chosen your domain you can go ahead and register it through GoDaddy, BlueHost, BuyDomain, or any other Web Host of your choice.
“A great domain name is unique and easy to remember. Therefore, avoid picking a domain that is too similar to another review site. Make it short, catchy, and descriptive.”
Choose Your Platform
Unless you want to do all the coding yourself, the next step is to choose your platform. Of all the choices out there, WordPress is by far the most popular.
WordPress allows you to easily customize just about every aspect of your website. It also integrates with numerous apps and plugins to satisfy almost anything you could hope for in a website. From design to SEO, WordPress offers tools to make everything easier, making it a great review platform.
Establish Your Monetization Strategy
Affiliate commissions are the lifeblood of product review websites. Therefore, it’s important that you establish strategic affiliate partnerships as you grow your business.
For physical products, Amazon Associates is an excellent choice. Through a single platform (Amazon), you can earn commissions for selling everything from books, to auto parts, to children’s toys. While the rates aren’t as high as some other options, the simplicity and ease cannot be beaten.
For digital products, platforms such as ClickBank or FlexOffers can also be great. Additionally, forming direct relationships with individual companies can often lead to the most desirable affiliate arrangements. Social media can be a great tool for networking.
Design Your Product Review Website
Designing your website can be a fun undertaking. If you’re up for the task yourself, you can dive right in and start exploring WordPress’s many features. Alternatively, you can hire a freelance designer to help you out.
“When designing your site, make sure to keep your target audience in mind. In general, it’s best to choose a simple yet professional design that matches the theme of your niche.”
For some product categories, you may want to review many products on one page. For others (i.e. high-end online courses) you may want an entire product page dedicated to each product.
When designing your site, make sure to keep your target audience in mind. In general, it’s best to choose a simple yet professional design that matches the theme of your niche. Put some thought into your design, but don’t let this stage slow you down. Establish your design and then keep moving along with the process.
Start Writing Reviews
Once you’ve completed the previous steps, it’s time to start writing user reviews.
To get started, go online and acquire the products that you want to review. In the beginning, you may need to purchase the products yourself. Once you’ve gained some authority, you should be able to find businesses that will offer freebies in return for customer feedback.
To build long-term success, always be honest. More than likely, that means that sometimes you write good reviews. Other times, you’ll provide bad reviews or negative reviews for products that just don’t meet your expectations. Assigning a product rating to each product can be a great way to further contribute value.
All of your reviews should be thorough and detailed, including each positive review. Don’t be afraid to include pictures or anecdotal experiences of the products you review. The more descriptive and helpful you can be, the better. If you’re able to create video reviews, that can be a great path as well. Whatever you do, don’t go for the minimum. Unlike Facebook reviews, customers turn to review websites for thorough and detailed information.
In addition to producing high-quality reviews, it’s also important to be consistent. Don’t just throw up a post every once in a while. Dedicate time every day to publish high-quality content for your review blog and view yourself as a professional product tester. If you’re doing it right, your website should experience increased traffic and revenue over time.
Like in every field, you should always be learning. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t and focus on the strategies that yield the greatest results. By constantly refining, you should be able to master search engine optimization in your niche and create a winning online product review site.
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What You Need to Start Reviewing Products at Home for Your Website
There aren’t a lot of requirements to start reviewing products at home. However, to be successful, there are a few important steps you should take. These include:
- Understand your niche
- Build relationships
- Provide high-quality reviews
Understand Your Niche
Anyone can go out and purchase products and start writing reviews. However, if you want companies to provide products for free, you’re going to need some authority.
It’s no surprise that the most successful bloggers and content site owners are known for what they do. In turn, their reputation earns them credibility among both customers as well as brands.
Building authority requires that you have expertise in the niche you serve. For example, don’t try to start a review site for pet products if you have no interest in pets. Even if you know SEO, you’ll have no clue what dog owners look for when reading leash reviews on content sites.
There is an exception to this rule. If you’re planning to hire expert writers who are familiar with the niche, then you may be able to get away with not having authority yourself. However, this isn’t common. Most bloggers and product reviewer professionals are passionate about the niche they serve. Sites that do business reviews and consumer reviews are no different.
Build Relationships with Brands
Building relationships with brands isn’t a necessity in the beginning, but it is extremely helpful. Without relationships, it’ll be hard to gain access to as many products (including free product samples) or to get the best commission rates.
When seeking to build relationships, don’t start by going after the largest brands. For example, if you’re in the fitness space, don’t go pitching Nike to become an affiliate for them. Rather, seek brands that are less well-known and more accessible to newer affiliates. If you can see that the brand provides thorough responses to publicly available customer feedback and verified reviews, there’s a good chance they understand the value of honest review websites.
As your review site gains more authority and social proof, you can start going after bigger brands. While it’s great to be ambitious, don’t overwhelm yourself by spending all your time pitching brands.
Provide High-Quality Reviews
We mentioned this point earlier, but its importance cannot be overstated. All of your reviews should be detailed and genuine.
“Over time, you’ll build a loyal audience that looks to you for help with their purchasing decisions.”
If a potential customer senses that you’re only interested in making a quick buck, you’ll immediately lose credibility. Instead of trying to convince a consumer to buy a certain product, focus on rigorous product testing and providing valuable feedback. This will immediately separate you from fake review sites. Over time, you’ll build a loyal audience that looks to you for help with their purchasing decisions. In turn, your revenue and profit will continue to grow as your website gains more and more momentum.
Product review websites can take a lot of work to get off the ground. However, your dedication and consistency can certainly pay off if you execute an effective strategy.
“One of the most attractive qualities of customer review sites is that they can be extremely easy to manage once they’re profitable.”
If you’re going to be writing online reviews yourself, it’s important to choose a niche that aligns with your interests and expertise. In other words, you should already be a shopper in the market. Be prepared to engage in extensive research, long writing days, and slow growth in the beginning.
One of the most attractive qualities of customer review sites is that they can be extremely easy to manage once they’re profitable. This quality makes them highly desirable among those seeking to purchase online businesses. As a review site owner, this could put you in a very promising position if you follow the steps to success.