Maybe I’m a cynic, but when I hear that four out of five dentists are recommending a particular brand of gum to their patients who chew gum I want to know what’s stopping that fifth dentist from giving the thumbs up. I also raise my eyebrows at fine print that tells me the miracle results shown by the actual clients are atypical.
Before and after photographs be damned, I want to know what sort of experience to expect before spending my hard-earned money. That’s why I like to read plenty of product reviews, good and bad, before deciding a company will get my business. Trouble is, some smarmy salespeople have been gaming the product review system, making it very difficult to determine the best deals and products.
76% of All Statistics Are Made Up on the Spot
Thinking about adding product reviews as a regular feature of your blog? That’s awesome! I’m all for the sharing of an honest opinion born of experience and extended use, just be sure to actually spend some time getting to know a product before trying to sell it as an affiliate. Because the days when you could spout some reasonably impressive percentage and pass it off as expected results are over.
These days you’re expected to do your homework, not simply repeat some flowery sales propaganda. This is a good thing when you think of it from a perspective of creating quality content. Sure, it means more work when it comes to actually trying out the product before you sing its praises, but you wanted to sound like an expert anyway, right?
Never mind the Man Behind the Curtain
This additional work on your part will help you establish yourself as an expert in your niche, which is a fantastic reason to start developing a blog. People become regular readers of a blog because they find consistent value in the content provided, not because they’re struck in the face with a sales pitch each and every time they visit.
This means you can stop thinking like a salesperson, and go back to thinking like a human being, sharing your passion about your particular niche without the headache of constantly thinking of a call to action.
- Full Disclosure – If you’re being paid to endorse a product, say so. If you receive no commission whatsoever for your review, say that too. People want to know they can trust the opinion you’re about to share without having to seek out the fine print about your claims.
- Tweet the Deets – Prepare to get creative when it comes to endorsing a product over Twitter, the limited character space leaves a scant amount of wiggle room. It’s not impossible,it can be done, simply look around at how other bloggers are doing it and find a style that suits you while remaining compliant.
- Be Honest – No matter what results you experience, whether typical, atypical, or none at all, always be honest when reviewing a product. Speak from a place of experience and let people know with absolute honesty if you would recommend it to others, or buy it again, and why. If you were unhappy, share that too. People want to know what to expect before they try something for themselves, and they tend to trust the opinion of their neighbor more than some high-priced marketing firm.
- Be Yourself – Share real stories, and use a pleasant, conversational tone in your writing. Think as though you were writing a letter to a friend or family member that appreciates your goofy sense of humor and die-hard love of puns. Your blog is your corner of the internet to be you and nothing but you, so be your best self and have fun!
This is Serious
Failing to adhere to these guidelines is serious business. Folks who try to shirk the pretty user-friendly regulations set up by the FTC may find themselves in need of a team of criminal lawyers if they’re not careful. That’s why I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. Trust is built over time, not through wild claims. Because the slow and steady approach works best for building a loyal following of readers, isn’t it safe to say that same approach is the best for maintaining their trust in your opinion?
Freelance writer Rachel Cook is a coffee farmer by day and online entrepreneur by night, so typically she doesn’t have enough hours in the day to pore over every new guideline the FTC puts out, without cutting into crunch-time. Thankfully, sites like www.bgs.com are out there in case there’s ever a slip up.