Do you like trying new products or reading new books? Want to make money or earn free samples for it? Here’s how to start a review blog.
Choose a Platform For Your Review Blog
The first step in starting a review blog for books or other products is choosing the platform you will use. There are many to choose from, such as Weebly, Blogger, and WordPress. I personally recommend Weebly because of the versatility and the fact that beginners can jump right in. If you’re also a pro, not to worry. You can edit the CSS if you want to, but the default drag and drop options make it simple and fun for everyone. In addition to hosting, if you want a dot com domain, you will also need a domain manager. I recommend rcomexpress.com. However, there are lots to choose from.
Build Your Blog
Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to build your blog. This is relatively quick and simple if you’ve chosen one of the more easy platforms. You can choose your template/theme, colors, and so on. You should also be able to choose which pages you’d like and customize each page with the text, images, and anything else you need to. If you’re going to be reviewing products, you’ll want sections for ads on each page. This will help you earn revenue.
Make Sure You Have These Important Pages
At the very least, in my experience, every review blog should have a homepage, a blog page, an about/contact page, and a review policy page. By law, you will need to have a review policy and disclose when you receive products or cash in exchange for reviews. All of the pages and policies mentioned will help your audience have a positive experience with your blog.
Monetize Your Blog For Revenue
Join affiliate programs, such as Amazon Associates, Rakuten LinkShare, CJ.com, and Google AdSense in order to generate revenue. This will allow you to earn revenue with ads that are aligned with the products you review. Sometimes you can align an exact product this way for the best results. Be careful to read the terms of each company and make sure you are following their guidelines if you join. Some may require your blog to be a certain age or have a certain number of posts first.
Start Writing Posts
Once you have made all of your pages, done what you can to monetize, and have something to review, start making posts. The more active your blog is, the better chance you have of people seeing it. At first, it might seem you are talking to yourself. Don’t worry. People will come if you keep writing. Be sure to learn some whitehat SEO techniques to help that along.
Market Your Blog To Companies
Once you have some posts up, you can market your review blog to companies via proper SEO, social media, and by sending pitches out to those who share your interests. It may take some time to build a steady following and you may need to at first review products and books you already own. But in no time, you will start getting more requests than you can handle if you do it right.
Happy blogging! If you have any questions, please comment below or Contact Us and we will do our best to assist.
by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Why do you want to blog? Are you doing it just to have an outlet, or are you trying to make money from it? Is it possible to blog for pleasure and blog for business at the same time? It's completely possible. You just have to ask yourself: What does blogging do for me?
You just have to make it worth your time. As someone who's done both blogging for business and for pleasure, I know it's possible.
Blog When it Feels Right
The trap that so many bloggers, myself included, fall into is having to blog just for the sake of blogging. One great suggestion that some people give is to give shout outs to others by curating content that is worth reading. This is fine and all. But really, if you want to really succeed in blogging, just blog when it feels right.
Blog when you feel like you really need to say something. Curating is fine and writing about a trending topic can be OK, too, but you really need to be feeling it? When you’re feeling it, then it will show in your writing.
Blog Because It Feels Good
Sometimes you just have to get something off of your chest. The thing to do with that is to be constructive about it. Sure, go to town absolutely cussing your brains out in your first draft. But then, see if there’s anything good that others might connect with. I don’t really advocate cursing in blog posts, but done correctly, especially on personal blogs, I’ve seen it work. Then again, advertisers don’t really care for that and Not-Safe-for-Work (NSFW) content isn’t for everyone.
But really, you should blog because it feels good. Don’t turn into something that you have to do just for the sake of making some pennies. Yeah, sometimes that might be all you get. Believe me, I’ve done the homework and I know that most successful bloggers live off of a handful of blog posts. Whatever the rest happens to earn is just gravy.
The idea is to show passion in your blogging, because otherwise, it looks like you’re just making a money grab. Believe me, I’ve fallen short in this category way too many times. That’s why I’m writing this bit in the first place! You have to keep up the passion or it just won’t work anymore.
Blog Because You Can Make a Difference
You should ask yourself when you sit down to blog: how can what I write make a difference? You may be surprised just how much one article or blog post can do in someone’s life. A lot of people Google things just to see if someone else out there is thinking about something that they are. Chances are with the billions of people online today, you’re not alone in what you’re thinking. This is a good thing. People talk about how unoriginal most bloggers have become. It’s true. So you have to stand out. Blog because you can make a difference in some way just by putting your thoughts out there. Keeping them inside your head doesn’t really do you a lot of good if something useful and constructive can come out of them. If you happen to make a little money along the way, that’s good, but it should never be the end goal - despite what a lot of people say.
In the end, don’t blog for business, even if you’re blogging for a business. Blog for pleasure, but also blog when it feels right, because it feels good, and because you can make a difference.
So my fellow blogger friends, do you prefer to blog for pleasure, blog for business, or a little of both? Why do you blog? How you do think you could blog better?
What Should I Write to Maximize My Earning Potential?
As a website owner and advocate to freelance writers, I get asked often which topics are the best to write. What brings in the best audience? What topics pull in more page views? What topics does Write W.A.V.E. Media (WWM) want to see? Overall, which topics make the most money with ad revenue and reprints?
If I Write About Celebrities Will I Make More Money or Get Featured?
Yes and no. Celebrity content can be popular, but so can seasonal content, news, parenting tips, and a whole host of other topics. It's not about the topic, but how that subject is handled by each writer and whether or not what that person writes is applicable to the intended WWM site. Also, writing about any particular subject matter is not a guarantee to getting featured on the front pages of those sites. All content is promoted, regardless of front page featuring. What will get you featured is quality content and professionalism.
Which Topics are Most Profitable?
The thing is, I cannot give the same answer to each person on this. Why? There is not just one topic or type of article that does well. The fact is that what earns the most money will be different for everyone. Also, there are appropriate destinations for a variety of topics. There is no need to hone in a specific topic for all WWM sites -- and in fact, you shouldn't. There are plenty of locations for a wide variety of topics. Write only to those you are interested in.
There is no magic topic. What makes the most money for each person is whatever they write best - those where their skills and writing personality will shine through. This is because when you write to a topic without any knowledge or interest in it, a reader can see right through it. But when you write about something you have a passion for, readers can feel that too. It gives them something to connect with and they will keep coming back for more.
Establishing Your Niche Topics
To figure out what topics work for you, think about your passions. What do you enjoy writing about? Is there a topic that won't let your fingers stop typing? That's the topic that will do the best for you. Gear that topic toward its intended audience and write on unique slants that are not overdone.
Start out by writing about things you go through in your day to day life. Did you teach your child his letters with a unique method? Perhaps that method will help another parent. Write about it. If you enjoy it and do well, that could be your niche topic for turning a profit.
"Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." – Isaac Asimov
Have you ever found yourself not sure what to write for your blog? There may be days when you sit by yourself and brainstorm a few things that you’ll probably write about later. Likely you won't use everything that you wrote, but you may find something that you were thinking about could make a useful blog post.
But more often than not, it’s likely that you find yourself uninspired by your notes. Other times, you won’t have any notes to go off of at all for blog ideas. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure that you always have something to write about.
Consider this simple exercise. Towards the end of your day, jot down some of the challenges you faced during the day. Then, tell how you succeeded (or didn’t succeed) in solving them. You'd be surprised how little solutions can make for a short, but sweet post that your audience would find interesting.
Showing dedication to the little things is pretty important to people. It makes you more human to those that read your blog. You want people to be delighted by what they read, and be able to connect to these “little things” sorts of posts. Over time, the little things add up. Before you know it, you have a vibrant and interesting blog. Just three or four little successes can go a long way.
What about the challenges you haven’t solved? Are you still working towards solutions? It's fine to let people know what you're working on to better improve yourself and whatever it is you do. Looking natural is paramount to good blogging practice. In any case, be as positive as you can even when you’ve been dealing with bad days. Keep a bright outlook on things and your blog readers will thank you for it.
You may also want to write down any missteps you took during the day. Now, it would seem that missteps are not the best sort of thing to write about, since on a blog you typically want to be as positive and helpful as possible. But there is a way to spin such mistakes, especially if you find a solution to prevent such a mistake from happening again. You may want to write about what you do to prevent those sorts of mistakes in the future. Be sure not to draw attention to the failure, but instead the solution.
People want to see you succeed, but be sure to admit how you’ve overcome certain challenges. Human beings enjoy success stories. It's easy to be inspired by reading about others overcoming difficulties and challenges.
If you're ever stuck for a blog topic, just brainstorm and let the ideas come naturally. Just let the events of the day unfold in your mind and recount the little victories of the day. You might be surprised with what you find. That way, when you have a dull, uninteresting day, you have a post to inspire both yourself and everyone who happens to read your blog.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
As a mentor of my writing peers, I am often asked to discern the difference between a blog post and an article. When submitting work to clients and content sites, how do you know if your writeup should have gone to your blog instead? Blogs can certainly be professional and articles can definitely be conversational. However, even though you can publish an article on your blog, it's not very wise to submit something that should have been a blog as an article. In some cases, it may even hurt your career. So what's the difference?
What is a blog post?
A blog post is written text on any subject or event and can be fact or fiction. Poetry can even be used as blog posts. There is generally no word count limit for a blog posts, unless specified by the blog owner. Some people use blogs to tell others about daily events in their own lives or in certain industries, sports, or causes. Others may use blogs as a form of self-expression. For instance, someone going through an illness may update the blog on their progress or their feelings throughout their journey. Another person might blog about their children or their favorite sports team. Personal blogs are often (but not always) based more on opinions then they are on facts. Business or professional blogs may read more like articles.
What is an article?
An article is a text writeup that is generally non-fiction. Although some styles can be fiction, such as a satire piece. Usually if an article is meant to be satire, it will be specified. People generally read articles as a trusted source of information. They also expect to find enough details to answer what the title implies. News stories are one form of article. How-to guides are another. In both cases, the information should be clear, to the point, and appropriately detailed. Articles are generally longer than blog posts, but not always. An article should be an appropriate length to get the point across without too much or too little information.
Can an article be a blog post and vice versa?
Some professional blogs read more like news articles. This is fine and even respected. However, blog posts should not be substituted for articles in most cases. For instance, your blog post about your terrible breakfast does not belong on an informational site. However, if you would like to give your blog a more professional feel, by all means, post articles instead of treating it like a personal journal.
What about personal experience articles?
Personal experience can bring a unique angle to an article - provided that's what the client wants. However, personal experience does not mean you have to dish on the latest family drama to get the point across. If you must do that, at least leave it to your blog. In an article, it's only necessary to share enough of the experience to get the point across. Share what adds to the informational aspect of the article. But don't share as much as you might tell your best friend.
Discerning whether to use your writeup as an article or blog post.
When making the decision whether to post your writing to your blog or to sell or publish it as an article, there are several things to consider. Does the article provide the reader with useful and unique information? Would you want to read it as a solution to an issue or a source of information? Is it factual without unnecessary rambling? While your blog readers may want to hear every minute detail, the average web reader would rather skip to the point. If people want a blog post, they visit a blog. But if they want facts, instructions, or info, they look for an article.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network.
The Benefits of Becoming an Authority in Your FIeld, Niche, or Area of Expertise as a Blogger
One of the hardest things about blogging is getting people to come back for more. You can build up a huge initial audience. But over time, even if you keep up with continuous content creation, that doesn’t mean that people will come back and interact in ways that you might expect. You can provide the greatest information in the world. It could even be exclusive. But with this strategy, most of the time, you’ll get an overwhelming majority of “hit-and-run” visitors. Yes, they may click on an ad. They may check out a product or two that you are promoting or selling. But very rarely do you convert this traffic into actual revenue. Curiosity is great, but it doesn’t make you a living. In fact, big page view numbers can lead to little more than frustration.
There is hope, however. You just have to ask yourself a deceptively simple question.
What’s In It For the Readers?
Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketing once published an article about how he and his team built up a blog from zero to $6 million in sales in only a year. The website is called SurvivalLife.com, and it’s about survival and preparedness. Yes, it does promote products but in a passive way. They have become a huge resource in the survival and preparedness market. It’s not just because they have a network of blog contributors and a team of blogger experts. Each article offers something beyond just the article. Having ad networks and even affiliate programs like Amazon Associates is nice, but they don’t work for everyone. But having a mix of affiliate and in-house offers is better if they’re well-targeted, unlike a lot of those pay-per-click ads.
Ryan says that becoming an authority is so much better than being an “ordinary” blogger for a number of reasons. One of the reasons, he says, is this:
“You don’t need a product, sales copy or even an idea… you just need to have a passion in a market where great content and fascinating experts already exist.” – Ryan Deiss (http://www.digitalmarketer.com/6-million/)
It’s all about the passion. There’s more to it than that, obviously. You have to really dedicate the time and energy to become the sort of “insider” that he talks about. In fact, he says you don’t even have to be a writer to become an authority. Earlier on in that same article, he mentions Oprah, who has built an empire by simply associating with experts in multiple fields. She makes big time revenues off of those affiliations because those are real sales that she’s generating by the interest in those experts because of the trust that she has built over the years.
So What Can You Offer Your Readers?
Sharing other content is great, especially when it’s by other experts that I trust. However, I don’t necessarily subscribe to Ryan’s idea of “The World Doesn’t Need More Information.” I do agree that if the information already exists, and is already well-written and presented, then you should share it with the world. You don’t even have to rewrite it “in your own words” as they say. “Spinning” isn’t really necessary if the information is already worth promoting.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still be part of it. You can still share personal experience. What it does mean is that you have to always bring it back to making it about what your audience is looking for when they come to you. Offer up other authoritative content that you love, no matter where it comes from. This sounds counter-intuitive, but people will remember where they heard something from if it’s valuable enough.
Why do people go back to major media outlets or remain loyal to brands? It’s because people create emotional attachments to things that provide them with what they’re looking for if it delivers on a consistent basis. It doesn’t all have to come from your mouth. You just have to keep the good content coming, no matter what the source.
Sometimes, it turns out that the best approach really is to become an expert by showing how you learned to become an expert in that field. By doing so and showing the process, you teach others how to become an expert in their own field, niche, or area of expertise. The idea is to lead by example, even if you’re not the greatest writer in the world. It’s about sharing and caring, as silly as that sounds.
As it has so often been said, it doesn’t matter so much what you give someone, but rather how you made them feel in doing so. Once you have the emotional connection and you continue to deliver on that connection, you’ve made a fan for life. It doesn’t matter how many of those you get as long as they’re genuine. They will be the ones that not only will grow your business, but also be friends for life.
Having enough time to blog and being sure to produce quality posts are two of the most important things to do when it comes to blogging. The third thing that online writers often struggle with the most, and the part that takes the most time, is interacting with your audience.
It’s a Fact, You Need to Interact!
As you may know, blogging is a form of social media. Therefore, connecting your blog to your social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Tumblr and others is one of the best ways to promote interaction on your blog. While positive blog comments are obviously quite welcome, almost everyone who reads your blog will not leave a comment. However, those too shy to comment on the blog itself may well comment on your Facebook fan page, mention you in a Tweet, or share your post on LinkedIn or Google Plus. These are all great ways to get useful feedback on if what you’re sharing is working.
The greatest challenge for engaging in any sort of social media is to be consistent and stay the course. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a week or two of blogging, as things happen in life that you simply can’t avoid. In any case, it takes dedication to keep up with a blog and the subsequent promotion of it. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to understand that most of the time you won’t get immediate results for your blogging efforts. However, if you write good content and and build a quality archive through posting consistently, the search engines will pick up on this over time. It may not be immediate, but if you write articles on topics that people are consistently looking for, slowly and surely, people will come.
If you do already have a blog with plenty of content, and you know you’ll be unable to post much for a while, it doesn’t hurt to re-share your older content as long as it’s still relevant. While some readers might not like you re-sharing older content, as your following grows, more often than not, that content will be new to most eyes.
No One’s Clicking or Sharing My Posts! Am I Not Using Social Media Correctly?
Say months go by and you’re getting views, but no interactions on your social media posts or any shares or comments on your posts? You may ask yourself: “What in the blazes am I doing wrong?” It’s really quite likely that you’ve done nothing wrong. As long as people are looking and spending time browsing various articles on your site, then you have been successful in providing good content. The trick is to figure out how to make people share and interact with your content in order to build your audience and authority. So how do you make people interact?
The most commonsense way to get people to interact is to literally ask your readers questions. While this doesn’t always work, if it makes sense to end the article with a question, then it’s a good idea to do so. The best questions to ask are those that you would find yourself asking if you were searching for the question that brought them to your article in the first place. The best question to ask is if your reader found exactly what they were looking for, and if they didn’t, they should let you know. You want to let your readers know that their feedback is valuable. Always make an opportunity for people to share anything that they have to say, and be clear that feedback is always welcome.
So when you do get legitimate comments - and not the typical spam that you may daily find yourself discarding - you want to be sure that you respond. Use their first name in your response, if possible, or their screen-name at the very least, to promote a conversational atmosphere. The Comments section is meant to be a discussion forum. Your response can be as simple as, “Bob, your feedback is greatly appreciated. We welcome any questions you may have.” In the past, I’ve been asked by clients to use such responses to immediately try and promote their own interests. It’s vitally important not to do that. The focus should always be on the one who commented. They should be made to feel that their feedback is important. You don’t want them feeling like their comment is just an opportunity to push a product or service, unless that comment specifically requests that information. People can respond quite negatively if their comment is responded to in a way that is self-promoting. Be helpful, and never ever be pushy.
What Should Be Done with Negative Comments?
There is always the possibility that you will receive negative comments from frustrated or disgruntled readers. This is a case in which it’s actually best prompt someone to contact you directly. You want to be able to resolve the situation without it going out of control in the comments. For example, a business blogger may want to say something to the effect, “Please contact us so that we can better serve you.” If you’re a personal blogger, offer to have them contact you directly to resolve the situation. Something you might want to say: “Your comment is greatly appreciated. I would like to discuss your concerns privately, so that we can resolve any misunderstandings.”
In any case, it’s also a good idea to post another comment on that thread in response to your original response if you come to a resolution. Most of the time, simply encourage reader feedback and respond promptly if readers ask good questions. Best of all, if someone asks a question that you've answered before, it’s very helpful to provide a link to the content you previously created that answers that question. It makes you look very good in readers’ eyes to show that you’re creating content that appeals to them.
What if Nothing is Working for Me?
If you’re not getting any interaction or many page views, then it may be good to seek out assistance with your keyword strategy. The trick is to produce content that us relevant to your intended audience without sounding too much like you simply want to rank #1 on Google for “best blog for X ever." At the same time, make sure you’re including keyword phrases that relate to the niche you’re trying to fill with your content. This way, you have a much better shot of reaching your intended audience through organic search - that is, people simply using search engines and clicking on non-ad-related results.
But it’s more than just producing content, as we’ve already discussed. One of the greatest elements of being social online is being active on the social media networks and sharing content from like-minded people. If you find an article or other piece of content that you feel your readers and social media followers might want to say, it’s perfectly okay to link to it with a paragraph or two of your own thoughts about it, along with properly quoted excerpts. Just be careful that you’re never paraphrasing too much or flat out copy-and-pasting, even if you’re giving full credit to the author, because that does you absolutely no good.
There are so many other things that help to promote interaction, but gently coaxing social media interactions and responding properly to comments are the key components. Unfortunately, just writing fantastic content isn’t the only trick to get found. You have to work for your audience more and more every day. But once you do, and hit a sort of “critical mass” with your following, you let your fans become your ambassadors, your free marketing team.
Good luck with your blogging and promotion!
One of the most difficult aspects of effective blogging is finding not only relevant content to share with your potential readers, but content that tells your story. Many blogging experts commonly suggest that story telling is the best way to creature content that resonates enough with your audience to hopefully turn them into future loyal fans.
Telling your story sounds like something that an “about” page on your website can do that well enough. But telling your story in blogging is about telling stories on an individual level. This means writing about situations that you have dealt with personally, either professionally and privately. Perhaps there was a client or friend that you went above and beyond for on certain occasions. Those occasions are certainly topics for blog posts. However, the best sort of telling your story blog is situations in which someone had a problem, and you were able to help them solve it.
People search online for solutions. If you have a story, no matter how simple and commonplace it may seem, if it answers a common question your audience tends to have, you should write about it. Those sorts of stories will not only make you look human, but also help establish you as a thought leader in your field. It's one of the first steps to take in thought leadership: show that you know how to solve problems.
Now here's an interesting thought: what if there is a problem that someone came to you with that you weren't able to solve at the time, but later did resolve and in turn helped you better serve your blog audience and others? That's good, too. If you admit that you had to step back and learn something to better help people in the future, it shows your audience your willingness to grow and learn to improve the quality of your work. It's okay to fail sometimes, as long as you show that you learn from those times, and show that you're always working towards a solution.
There are many other ways to tell your story through your blog. If you have had success stories, or difficult lessons, that you may think that would make a good blog post, feel free to let us know in the comments. I'll be happy to look them over and let you know how you might use those stories to your best advantage, free of charge!
For those about to blog, I salute you. However, don’t simply blog for the sake of blogging. Yes, a great many people are currently doing it. More than a handful are doing it well, albeit often with some outside help. But before you begin blogging, you need to ask yourself: "Do I have time to blog?"
It's true. The most important thing to consider when creating a blog is just how much time you will be able to devote to it. It’s simply unrealistic to think that blogging is something you can do for one half-hour every week. Sure, sometimes you may be able to do it. But you want to make sure that you have plenty of content waiting in the wings for when you get writer’s block. The last thing you want to happen is to simply put it off.
Or, Should You Have Someone Blog For You?
If you’re running your own website, posting weekly is fine. However, most experts will tell you that you should blog at least three times a week. This is most certainly a good idea, as it keeps your content consistently fresh. A website that is updated every 48 hours definitely looks good to the Google and Bing search engine crawler bots.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re putting out only quality content on your blog. If that is only possible once per week, that is fine. Still, you should shoot towards at least having a decent short post to accompany it. Whether that's earlier and/or later in the week is up to you.
While it's not for everyone, you could consider guest bloggers. It's good to have a group of good writers that can produce content for you on a regular basis. This way if you fall behind, you have some good content still going up on the website. It also can benefit your guest writers with backlinks and exposure for their work.
Don't Abandon Your Blog!
The trick is to not simply start a blog, post a whole bunch of content to it, and then leave the site abandoned for months at a time. This happens far too often, sad to say. Sometimes those blogs sit there for years without a new thing being posted.
Keep in mind that things will come up. Suddenly, you could find yourself not having posted on the blog in three or four months. That not only looks bad in the search engine rankings, but it also looks bad to visitors. Blog inactivity makes it look like you gave up. That's a terrible thing in the eyes of online visitors.
So yes, make sure you have the time set aside before you blog. Yes, you can always hire outside help, and there are plenty of writers out there to do it. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re posting genuinely valuable content whenever it is you decide to blog. If you don’t have the time right now, find someone to manage it for you, whether it’s in-house or contracted outside.
If you want to start a blog, don’t put it off. The later you start, the longer it takes to get results. So, post early and often and only the best quality posts. Eventually, you’re sure to get results.
Photo Credit: Morguefile.com
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they conquer the world, living the RV life and making Crafts For A Purpose with their awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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