Why Writing A Bad Review Is Sometimes A Good Idea

You probably saw and read my review of Blogging to the Bank 3.0 by Rob Benwell from just over a week ago. That post sparked quite a bit of discussion, with 106 comments so far as I type this.

Many of the comments were the usual, asking questions about the product or thanking me for the article, but there were also a few strongly worded criticisms of the book and the author, as well as some positive words about the book from Rob’s supporters and replies from the man himself.

I’ve been writing product reviews to this blog for a long time. In fact the very first ever attempt to make money from Entrepreneurs-Journey was selling an affiliate product back in 2005 with a review post that unfortunately didn’t do to well, although this blog didn’t really have a huge audience back then.

Over the years I’ve made thousands of dollars thanks to product reviews on this blog, with some help from my email newsletter to send traffic to the reviews. I’ve refined and expanded my review writing formula but one thing has always been clear to me – a review that is purely positive is not as effective as a review that points out good and bad points.

Most Internet Marketing Reviews Are Sales Pitches

Let’s set one thing straight. When I write a review part of the motivation is to make money. I derive a good chunk of my income from affiliate sales and reviews are one of the ways I do so on this blog. That’s not my only intention with review writing, I want to provide value to my readers and help them make the right decision as well, but money as motivation is certainly a part of the process and factors into how you write a review.

This is also true of thousands of other bloggers and affiliates who sell Internet marketing products through reviews. Unfortunately though, most people seem to think that writing something glaringly positive, even full of sales copy level hype, will result in more sales. It won’t.

People are jaded enough when it comes to making a purchasing decision for a make money product. When they research product reviews they find an abundance of emotionally manipulative, over the top positive claims, and talk about the millions being made by other people, and offer no concrete feedback about the product itself.

As a result, it’s easy to stand out from the crowd when writing reviews about products, and this applies to other niches as well – just give an honest, both sides of the coin assessment of what you are reviewing and if it has faults, tell people about them.

I don’t have the space to go into my entire blog review writing formula here, but there is a lesson inside Blog Mastermind that breaks my process down in some depth. What I do want to focus on today is to explain how important it is – and it was in my Blogging to the Bank review – to say a product is not brilliant when it’s not.

All Products Have Faults

All the reviews I write are of products that are not perfect. There really is no such thing as a perfect product, but some are certainly better than others. Blogging to the Bank 3.0 is a product that was easy to write something good and bad about because it’s far from perfect, yet it has a very compelling offer, which is why it sells so well.

Clearly based on the comments made to my review, there are mixed feelings regarding Rob’s projects, including his latest release book and some argue I damage my credibility by promoting him. You can read my comments in the review to see my stance on that matter, but I can say I certainly feel comfortable having that review on my blog because I know it helps people make a decision about the book and I feel there is value to be gained from reading it.

If the review wasn’t there, then the platform to provide feedback – whether good or bad – wouldn’t exist. What’s important as a blogger who writes affiliate product reviews is that you give people the platform by starting with your own assessment of the product, and then let your audience make the decision for themselves. Assuming the product has some merit, some will decide to purchase it and since your review was the introduction point, you receive the referral credit.

Credibility Counts

My reviews usually do well for several reasons –

  • I pick products I have an interest in and that are relevant to my audience
  • I take the time to write a thorough review after actually studying the product
  • I have built up credibility as a trusted source for information in my industry
  • I have worked hard to build an audience so when I say things enough people pay attention

There are a lot of ingredients there to get right, however assuming you go through the process of building a great blog, most of the elements you need will be in place, you just need to make sure you are careful with what you review, how you review it, how often you review products and – this is important – make sure your motivation isn’t always just about the money.

If all you care is about making the sale it will show in how you write the review. You have to act merely as the conduit for the decision making process and the platform for discussion.

If you consider what information you would want to know about something before buying it, then provide that feedback to your readers, you have a good review. Get inside the head of the person you are trying to help and you will do well – and yes, you will make money then too.

My review of Blogging to the Bank 3.0 was an interesting case study on many levels. As an affiliate, I’m happy with the results. As a business owner I’m also happy because I did some integration marketing with Rob so my coaching program was promoted to Rob’s customer base. Yet, based on feedback I know the review itself and the comments left, convinced some people not to buy the book, which is something I’m happy about too.

Review writing will never be a straight forward issue and as I’ve said so many times, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I know with each new blog post I make, especially posts that include some component of promotion, like affiliate reviews, I lose readers, yet I also gain new readers too. They key is not to be overly sensitive to how people react to you on an individual basis, but be cautious of how your audience reacts as a whole.

If you want the best results when review writing, focus on the products closely related to your blog topic, write a review that talks about the good and the bad points, actually talk about the product and not just the hype surrounding it and then let your audience make the decision.

Yaro Starak
Review Writer

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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  • This post rings very true for any kind of review…what does the reader gain from seeing nothing but positives about every single product out there?

    If anything, it will leave them confused and worse off than before they even read your opinion and I’m not sure how that helps them.

    Honesty is key and users go to these Expert Niche Blogs to find out information they can use in making decisions, so BRAVO Yaro for bringing integrity to an otherwise saturated market of mediocrity.

    • There are alway some products that received only good reviews because they are good! However, most of the time, these is just sale pitches…

      Good and honest review will provide good reputation of the reviewer in long term, especially important to blog and email marketer!

    • This post needed to be written. I am so tired of seeing review after review of over hyped rubbish from bloggers who have never even tried a product!

      • Exactly, totally not worth it. We all can read the “back of the box” or “book jacket” if you get my meaning.

  • I did this on my first product review. Somebody was selling an “amazing book to triple your ad earnings overnight” so I figured I’d buy it and review it. The info in the book was not only very well known, there’s no way it could triple your earnings, no way. So I wrote about how stupid it was so other people wouldn’t make the same mistake in buying it.

    Even though this obviously won’t get you sales, it gives you a great amount of credibility so next time you do review a product, people will be more likely to believe you.

    • Great strategy Alex – you could base an entire blog just doing reviews like this. You won’t sell any of the bad products, but people will really believe you when you say something is worth getting.

  • Very good points. I’ve done a few Review articles and have mostly tried to point out the positives. Of course, they are all affiliate programs that I was promoting. The good thing about it was that I do believe in the products I promoted. However, just as with BTTB, there are some negatives that I don’t think I pointed out to be honest.

    I will most definitely keep this in mind for ANY review articles I write from now on. People read blogs to hear the truth (in general). They want to learn and get information that they can use, either to be successful, or just for the good old “pursuit of knowledge”.

    Thanks again for a great article.

  • Thanks for this post Yaro. I just finished a review of a product from someone that is popular with the general public but whose methods I find archaic.

    The review was pro and con and mentioned who might like it (his fan base) but it was one of the first negative plus some positive reviews that I have done.

    It is still too early to judge how this will go over but I am looking forward to see what happens.

    Finally, one of the reasons I follow you and have participated in your programs is because you are authentic and I know I will get your real opinion on whatever it is you are discussing.

  • Yaro,
    Are you actually promoting the idea that we be honest with our readers? How can I ever make any money if I don’t lie and say every product is great How can I ever get stinkin’ rich if I don’t promote a bunch of reheated five year old information that even my grandmother doesn’t believe. I’m afraid that if we follow your advice the internet as we know it will no longer exist. Can you tell me how to develop some of this honesty because it seems hard to find in most of what I read.
    On a serious note, I am really enjoying your posts and learning a lot. When I get a little better base in blogging I plan to join your coaching program.
    Thanks for your insights.

  • This is a total post of truth and nothing but. I have actually gotten hate mail back from the companies I wrote a bad review about threatening to sue and what not. I didn’t think that one review would have such an affect.

    Of course I believe you have to give some the benefit of doubt because everyone sells a product that crashes and burns every once in a while, but that is another great part of growing and learning from your mistakes.

    I personally think that bad reviews should be used like constructive criticism rather than brand bashing, but I did indeed have double the readers when I wrote that one bad review. Something there maybe….

  • One of review an article is to derived objectives and positive feedback, both from readers and writer, in this synergy atmosphere it is the positive inputs or constructive critiques are welcome to enhance improvement from an article being reviewed, take it as a marketing campaign before launching products and will develop more readers to review and put his comments, thus will create attraction for others to review.

    Looking forward for future exciting article

  • Great Article Yaro,

    For a long time I used to just write good product reviews and never had one affiliate sale. Now I tend to include a little of both and I still haven’t received any sales, but I know some will come soon. I have only been trying for one year with no results, but the comments have been approving as far as the reviews goes. Thanks for writing this post as it’s something I needed to hear.

    Joshua Houghton

  • I’m cautious when I read reviews that “hype” a product a little too much. I actually look for more consumer related reviews where you tend to find unbiased opinions. I would think though that instead of getting that much affiliate sales for righting an honest review, that you would get more subscribers and a good following instead. Only because you would have built trust with your audience.

  • I needed his great post, as I will be starting product/service review posts soon. No paid reviews, but will feature products I use. I really do think that some of them will be helping my readers, like book reviews. Money will not be great- Amazon purchase of a $12 book will bring me 48 cents, I could get more from an Adsense click. Hopefully overall, they would actually help readers as I do believe in and use what I will be mentioning. And will be sure to mention the negatives too.

  • Great article..
    I guess it’s largely about trust, that is after all the main reason that affiliate marketing works.. And people can’t trust you if you expound on all the great qualities of a product and completely ignore the negative aspects we all know are there.

  • Well written, I feel that there is a greater chance someone would be willing to buy and have less cognitive dissonance afterwards if they knew exactly what they were getting into when purchasing a product.

    Accurate and honest reviews will do that, will add more credibility to the reviewer and might even create greater positive feedback from the users, since they wont feel tricked.
    Thanks for the insight Yaro!

    • You hit the nail on the head! It is good for a buyer to know as much as possible what he is getting, that way, he or she won’t feel disappointed after the purchase.

      I consider it poor marketing when consumers are tricked into buying a product that turns out to be less than what the sales ad claims.

      A candid review that points out the flaws is good for the manufacturer because it will reduce the number of RETURNS from angry CONSUMERS!

  • Credibility of the reviewer, be it on blogsphere or in real life, makes it a preferred choice for the writer or the product’s manufacturer. Quite often, particularly when the reviewer is unbiased, the relationship can be one of love/hate. In this case, your review was quite good and it is enough that so many comments arose out of it.

  • I don’t like much of third-party reviews as we never know, it could be biased. The reviewer could be taking advantage of that situation to build up his own. I sometimes prefer user reviews when there are many to have a clear judgement.

  • I support your stance on this issue. There is nothing wrong with making a review for money as long as you are sincere in your analysis of the merits and dismerit of the product or service under review.

    I do enjoy your reviews because the presentation is usually like that of a friend giving his personal view on an item I desire to buy.

    Since the friend is just expressing his candid opinion about the “good” and “bad” aspect of the product, the final decision to buy or not to buy is MINE!

    However, it must be noted that getting another individual’s opinion about a product (most especially when the opinion is candid and/or from a one that have made personal contact with the product) can help fine-tune the final decision of a buyer.

    Please, keep doing the reviews. If you say something I don’t agree, with , the comment section gives room for me to air my own view. Cheers. 😉

  • There is always an upside and a downside to every product, if all you here is the upside from the person reviewing the product, you have to wonder if making money is the only factor in the review.

  • Thanks for the post. I am constantly amazed at the over hype of products that for the most part are “me too” products. I see it every day. I personally know of 2 people that have spent tens of thousands of dollars chasing the next big thing. They think that sooner or later they will hit it.

    I blame the over hype, but I also blame the individuals for their lack of investigation prior to buying a product. It is a shame since there is such a high demand for great products.

    Thanks again for holding the line. Just found your blog but I am adding to my favorites.

    All the best,

  • It´s true that most people make IM reviews to promote a business.I have never heard that someone would make a bad review on purpose.The review has to be truthful to sound reliable, but perhaps a bad review makes people even more interested to find out more about the product/service.

  • the credibility of the reviewer is what is actually being sold here. it is the ability of the reviewer based on knowledge and experience to assess the subject matter.
    everybody knows no product is perfect, but they do not like being told so. they will rather go for products whose strengths are overplayed rather than weaknesses.
    ultimately the decision is the buyers.

    wel done yaro

  • This is advice that EVERYBODY who writes reviews for affiliate products should take. The only products I’ve bought by reading reviews from affiliate marketers came from those who were completely transparent about their thoughts and opinion on the product. I also really like to see the reviewer’s suggestions about who the product is good for, and who it isn’t.

  • This is advice that EVERYBODY who writes reviews for affiliate products should take. The only products I’ve bought by reading reviews from affiliate marketers came from those who were completely transparent about their thoughts and opinion on the product. I also really like to see the reviewers suggestions about who the product is good for, and who it isn’t.

  • Great post. So true. Your review writing is awesome. I definitely trust and respect your reviews. You provide all the valid points good and bad but not to much as to give away the whole product in a nut shell.

  • This is so true. A lot of times bloggers just review a product and show only the good things, when in fact there are some downsides to it. Thanks for showing both sides of a product when you review it. It makes the review more credible and more honest

  • I bought the e-book. I figure if I can get a few ideas it is worth it. As for doing what he suggests – that’s another thing!

  • I guess its welcome to the new reality of commercialization and half truths. Reviews are always meant to be honest and truthful, not conjured for one intention or another.

    The only qualification is whether, the review is subjective from a personal point of view or based on a research.

    If its a personal a quick reaction, like in most blogs or based on some amount of secondary research or fact finding. Likewise the quality and reliability of research projects varies widely.

    In any case, thanks for you blog, it help stimulate my thoughts…maybe I will write a longer article on this.

    It is important when someone reaches a level of authority to qualify himself when giving an opinion.

  • I believe that the article was written quite competently. Deficiencies can be found in any article. The main idea – to take note of positive points article.

  • Thank you for this post. It falls in line with my own thoughts about product reviews – after all, they are review, not ads! I think you did fine on the BTB review. The only thing that wasn’t clear to me when I read your review was that the author promotes black hat methods – maybe you even included that information but I didn’t remember it.

  • Thats a pretty interesting concept Yaro. I beleived for awhile and wondered if by writing a review with both negative and positive aspecs of something will give you better results. By looking at yours it seems that you beleive the same thing.

    I noticed that this post only talked about adding negative aspects about a blog review. What are the positive aspects about writing a review that is more negative then positive. I know that here you explain that you should not write a post that is entirely positive, but how about a post that is completely negative?

    • It depends how negative the review is. If the product is so bad that you think no one should buy it, then unless your site is meant to be a database of reviews of lots of products, I wouldn’t bother reviewing it.

      However even if there are more bad things to say than good things, if the good things are good enough to make it worth buying for a certain type of person, then it’s worth writing the review.

  • Another thing you have to watch out is, even though a product is good and can help you earn “$1000/week” or whatever it advertises, you must let readers know the pros and cons, and which readers should buy and which should not, etc.

    What is great, is that you do just that Yaro 😉

    Great post again

  • Nice one. It’s so true that most reviews are just sales pitches. All these review sites when you search in google come up with some controversial ad title, but goes on and tells you how great the product is, then offering you some sort of bonus to buy.

    It’s obviously working well, since these type of affiliate reviews are everywhere. That said, seeing that all these rubbish reviews are all around, a review that’s objective would definitely stand out. And being objective to me is just covering both the good and bad, like you said.

    I haven’t read your review for blogging to the bank, but I’ll check it out now.

  • I manage to read comments, yes it is true that all comments raised in constructive manners, even if we criticize we should also do it in soft spoken language to avoid hindrance and gave solving problems as well

  • There is always an upside and a downside to every product, if all you here is the upside from the person reviewing the product, you have to wonder if making money is the only factor in the review.

  • You’re right here. You can spot kind full of positives articles. Personally I don’t visit or even read these posts but many people fall for these ads.

  • Great article..
    I guess it’s largely about trust, that is after all the main reason that affiliate marketing works.. And people can’t trust you if you expound on all the great qualities of a product and completely ignore the negative aspects we all know are there.

  • Great point on showing the negative and positive.

    Otherwise, it’s a one-sided view.

    In fact, if you’re from the Edward De Bono side of the house, you’d say it’s incomplete thinking. To give a more complete review, you might cycle through six hats:
    – facts and figures
    – emotional
    – devil’s advocate
    – positive
    – creative
    – organizing view.

  • Well it goes to show you that bad publicity is better than no publicity. As to your discussion of how a purely positive review post gets less traffic than a review of both positive and negative it only makes since. If every one liked the review and thought it was correct then you get comments like; nice post, good job, i agree, and other 1 second replies. However if you get some of both negative and positive then you spark up conversations, and debates which will generate more replies and comments because more needs to be said.

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