- Be Honest. This is the most important aspect in getting and keeping your readers’ trust. While we often feel our hands are tied when receiving free gear to review, it’s ok to say what isn’t perfect about a product or what we would like to see in future generations. It’s helpful to the manufacturers as well. I often struggle to come up with “nice to haves” on high quality gear, but feel confident potential purchasers will appreciate my thorough testing and considerations of various applications in different conditions.
The Gen 3 Nutcase Helmets Fit Better
(worth mentioning in the review as friends of mine didn’t buy them before because of the fit)
- Know the Subject. How can you say this is the best snowshoe trail in the park if you don’t know any others? Similarly with product reviews – how can you say this is the best bike when you haven’t tried any others? While many companies will not allow you to write reviews comparing their products against the competition, it is helpful to have experience with different makes so you can say how this product really shines, and maybe what it could improve on also. For example, when reviewing Potable Aqua’s PURE Electrolytic Water Purifier, I had never reviewed a water purifier before, but was able to draw on my experience with two microfilters, Pristine chlorine drops, Steripen, and chlorine tablets to provide first-hand examples of how the PURE was better or worse. While it isn’t always feasible to try several options, due to constraints of time or expense, refer back to point #1 and let readers know something along the lines of “While this is the only water purifier I’ve ever used, I was pleased with…”
In this review of children’s snowshoes, I reviewed 3 brands available locally before saying which was best.
- Don’t Make Over-Inflated Claims. I remember being sorely disappointed after reading a blog post on the “best” place to camp, driving several hours to get there, and then finding it was just ok. I made a promise right then and there never to lead people astray like that. It’s not fair to make people spend 4 days and hundreds of dollars somewhere mediocre!
I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to camping, so when someone says “best”, I think somewhere like this.
- Back Up Your Claims. Since “best”, “beautiful”, and “fun” are so subjective, explain why you think so. Yep, go back to elementary school and show your work. You can do it with a picture, map, or description, but make it crystal clear why you think something is the best so you don’t get hate mail down the road from someone who hated your number 1 camping choice.
Can you see why this is one of the best beginner cross country ski trails in Lake Louise?
- Use Respectable References. This goes along with #4. If you aren’t knowledgeable on a subject – say bike gearing and geometry – link up to an external source. Rather than sit for an hour with my husband and paraphrase what he said, I linked up my Woom Bikes Review to a big bike reviewer’s page on bike geometry that was complete with photos illustrating her points. By doing this, I was able to maintain the flow of my review and ensure that my readers could get reliable and detailed information if they chose.
- Disclose Relationships. Whether the law requires you to disclose sponsorships or not, it’s unethical to push a product you receive for free and not tell your audience. If you received free gear, accommodations, tours and so on, let your readers know. If your reviews are consistently honest and talk about the good and the bad, readers will value your advice whether you bought the product or received it free for review.