Bloggie Wednesday: Writing In-Depth Product Reviews and Giving Brands Free Exclusive Mention

Bloggie Wednesday: Writing In-Depth Product Reviews and Giving Brands Exclusive Mention Without Compensation

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Even though the beauty blogging niche is considered small in the ocean of blogs in the blogosphere all over the world, the niches in itself are wide. Not all beauty bloggers operate the same way; we don’t all only do product reviews and in our product reviews, not all of us do individual product reviews.

I’d like to talk about bloggers whose product reviews are specific ones. E.g. instead of mentioning multiple products in one blog post, when it’s a product review, they concentrate mainly on just that one product. That’s how Beautyholics Anonymous operates; I seldom mention many products in one blog post when it’s supposed to be a product review. Mini reviews in categories like favourite lipsticks are different. I’m talking about writing an in-depth review of just one item in one blog post.

If you do product reviews, do you write in-depth ones in their individual blog posts or do you mention many in one blog post? Do you avoid giving exclusive mention to just one brand in your blog posts?

This Bloggie Wednesday post came about when I remembered a conversation I had with a prolific Australian lifestyle blogger 2 years ago. I won’t mention her name here but she has appeared on television, radio and has even written books. Blogging is now her full-time job and one of the ways she monetises her blog is writing sponsored content on her blog. Anyway, one of the topics of conversation we had was on blog monetisation and I remember telling her (well, more like whinging on my part) that it’s difficult for beauty bloggers to get sponsored post opportunities because we already do in-depth product reviews.

That’s when she suggested that I should consider stop writing in-depth product reviews and do posts that mention multiple products from multiple brands instead. This way, I can give an exclusive mention to a brand when I do a sponsored product review. This gives value to the brand as the post guarantees it exclusive mention.

I thought long and hard about it after that conversation.

I couldn’t do it.

I highly respect that blogger and appreciate all of her advice and tips but when it comes down to this, I couldn’t change the heart of what Beautyholics Anonymous was. The reason I enjoy blogging on BA is the fact that I get to write in-depth product reviews and tell my readers the good and the bad of the products that I have tried. A large percentage of a product review will concentrate on just that one brand.

Just so you know, 99% of these product reviews were not paid for. Products that are given to me for free aren’t and shouldn’t be considered payment. I can’t use those products to pay my bills. I do it because it’s what I love doing.

Even though I often write in-depth product reviews, there are times when I don’t give exclusive mention to just one brand. This means that if I’m blogging about a foundation from brand X, I’ll compare it to a similar foundation from brand Y as well, whether it’s in my words or in photographs.

Still, it does make me wonder. Is this why a number of beauty bloggers have changed direction to not write exclusive product reviews anymore in case they do land an opportunity for a sponsored product review? Or how non-beauty bloggers who hardly do beauty product reviews are, all of a sudden, doing sponsored ones now?

I’m not digging nor taking the piss at any particular blogger here. Every blogger works hard to get where he/she is today so it would be unfair for me to judge. I must admit though that I’m simply tired of this blogging business. It’s very disheartening when beauty bloggers who do in-depth product reviews, who give pretty much exclusive mention to the brand, are not given the recognition they deserve. Are we, beauty bloggers who write in-depth product reviews that mention one brand in one blog post, unwise because we’re essentially giving free exposure to said brand?

It’s time for me to get off my soapbox because I can go on and on for hours about this. What can I say, I love a good rant and a bit of a whingefest from time to time. I’d love to know what you think so please share your thoughts with us in the comments.

As a beauty blogger, do you write in-depth reviews of one product in one blog post (similar to what you usually see on BA)? Or do you avoid giving exclusive mentions to just one brand in a blog post?

Bloggie Wednesdays is a series of articles just on blogging. They contain tips, how-tos, discussions about anything and everything you need to know about blogging and how we can be better bloggers. If you have any suggestions, tips and tricks about blogging you would like to share with us, or if you have any questions you would like me to address, please let us know in the comments.

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20 comments… add one
  1. Kat Ness

    Since I’m still a baby blogger and have no idea of the larger blogging world out there in regards to spooners etc, I like to change it up with my posts. However, I do like writing in-depth reviews on a single product. I don’t know if I could read an in-depth review on multiple products?? That post would be so long!
    Kat Ness recently posted..Cookies From A JarMy Profile

    1. Tine

      I don’t think anyone could write in-depth reviews on multiple products on a single blog post without boring the heck out of their readers. It’s going to be a freakin’ thesis! 😛

  2. Magda

    I love writing in-depth reviews on a single product and I know that my readers are enjoying them too. Although sometimes I find myself in a situation where I have way too many items waiting to be reviewed and with my every other day posting schedule there’s no way I can create a detailed post on each of them.
    That’s why every now and then I do a feature post but even then I feel the need to write a few words about my experience with the product.
    I do understand why other bloggers may be avoiding it but I think my readers are coming to my blog for more than just a name of the product mentioned along twenty others, and I am happy to keep it that way.
    Saying that, my blog is fairly new (not even a year old) and I am nowhere close to being able to support my day job with it. At this stage I believe that in-depth and exclusive mentions are quite beneficial for both my readers and my “blogging career” even if they don’t make me any money.
    Magda recently posted..Tip Tuesday: Steady false lashes applicationMy Profile

    1. Tine

      I have the same problem as well. If I were to do an in-depth review of every single beauty product I want to talk about, I wouldn’t be able to talk about anything new for months. That’s why I have to be very selective in what I review. The rest could go into, say, a monthly Hit and Miss post where I talk about products that will not have a full review (e.g. body wash. There’s only so much you can say about it in one post).

      It’s great that your readers are coming to you for in-depth reviews and that they enjoy it. 🙂

  3. MonicaP

    I’d write an in depth review if the product was amazing, but usually write a blog with multiple products or a comparison between two products. Large brands seem to target blogs with huge stats and it doesn’t hurt if you’re on youtube either demo-ing their products.

    MonicaP recently posted..Outlet Shopping FindsMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Yeah I know what you mean. People on YouTube are doing very well because in truth, they do have a much wider audience compared to bloggers. It’s harder for bloggers to write about a product than actually talking about it in just a few sentences. It’s quicker content to consume, I think.

  4. Paris B

    Ok, *cracks knuckles* Where do I start? 😛

    I have a few views about the single vs multiple product review styles. I operate on the former (SEO doncha know? *wink*) and because I write a minimum of 1000 words per post. I never know when to stop. So imagine if I did a multiple product post. 5 products will yield 5000 words LOL! But other than that, I don’t like skimming the surface. I like going in deep, pointing out the good and the bad and then letting people decide for themselves. I’ve always blogged this way, even way back on blogspot so I never thought to do it any other way.

    I have tried multiple product posts. Sometimes, like when I’m talking about shampoo or shower gel, what else can you say right? So for those types of products, I don’t mind doing a multiple product post. But even then I rarely do it because I don’t like reading it myself so I don’t offer it.

    I can see where the monetization is coming from. Multiple product posts also offer a wealth of possibilities for affiliate linking because you have different products you can link to. If you are just writing about 1 product, as we do, what la can we link to right? The net is smaller. With multiple products, the net is much wider and you catch more fish. We use a rod – no wonder we don’t catch the big fish 😛

    Also, I see the point re: being paid to provide and in-depth review but if so, it’s no longer an impartial review right? So to me, that defeats the whole purpose and affects the credibility. Also yes, this is precisely why “lifestyle” bloggers are popular choices because they’re more than happy to be paid to write about 1 product each time. Don’t forget the 20 selfies and poses with said product ok? Apparently if you want to get ahead in the blogging world (where I am anyway) you must be young (or look young), don’t have much of an opinion, have a pretty face, pose A LOT, and an opinion? Oh that’s optional.

    Yes, I’m cynical. But you know what? I like to think of us *ahem* as “bloggers for the thinking woman” and you know, there are a lot of them out there who may not say much but who, I know appreciate what we’re doing. So chin up. We won’t get rich from blogging, but we’ll be satisfied 🙂
    Paris B recently posted..You don’t have to be mad or a hippie to try this Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum – It works!My Profile

    1. Tine

      Woohoo essay! 😀

      Err if anyone’s blog post is 5000 words, per post, that blogger will have no readers! Who the heck has the time to consume that many words on a daily basis? Like you, for things like shampoo, body wash, body lotion, I like to put them in one post because really, how much can you say about a shower gel, eh?

      See hoh, on the other hand, if you save your exclusive mentions for just one brand in one sponsored post, I reckon that would make you a heck lot more money than affiliate links. That’s what I was told about giving that sort of value for brands when they’re looking to pay someone to write about their products. Sigh … it becomes such a grey area. I’m sticking to what I like doing and if I’m not being paid to write that exclusive mention, eh, what can I do about it?

      Oh yeah, I know about the 20 words + 20 photos = 1 sponsored post. Add “young” and “cute” to that equation as well. Please smack the back of my head because my eyes have rolled backwards so much, they can’t come out. 😛

  5. Lynda

    Well said Paris B. I’m not a blogger and I have a very limited idea of how the blogging world works but I do know that as an avid reader of makeup and beauty blogs I really appreciate credible reviews and bloggers. I love reading both in-depth single product reviews and comparative posts. I like hearing the good, the bad and the ugly-as long as the views are completely impartial and based solely on the reviewer’s honest experience of the product then I’m happy. I like it when reviewers are honest but also acknowledge that the product may not suit their particular skin type, tone etc. but that it might suit someone else. I can make up my own mind if I want to try the product. If I thought that the blogger was only writing positive posts because they were being paid by the company then I wouldn’t really rate that person’s opinion. I imagine that it’s a very tricky situation for a blogger though-if a company pays you for a review it must be difficult to write a completely unbiased piece. I think it’s such a shame that there are so many credible bloggers out there who are not getting the credit and money they deserve for the excellent job they do. I’m sure it can be very disheartening to see someone insincere rolling in the money but at least you have integrity

    1. Tine

      I once had to do a review on a product that was sponsored. It was so SO hard to write, not because I couldn’t be impartial about it, but because I couldn’t believe that product impressed me so much that I couldn’t find anything bad to say about it at all. That makes things even worse because no matter how I write about it, it’s going to make readers question whether I’m being truthful in the review because I was paid for it. It’s funny how I actually have to think so hard to come up with something bad about a product when it’s such a good one just to cover my bases. If I wasn’t paid to write that review, I would have written a glowing review and most people wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. But because it was paid … that’s when it becomes really complicated.

  6. Norlin

    Well…I can see that the advice given by that blogger has some sort of merit and what you’ve put across has merit too. If you’re purely a beauty blogger then I guess an in-depth review is what’s expected most of the time. It depends on the niche. I for one don’t usually write reviews and in the case of sponsored posts, it usually isn’t a review because that’s like being paid for me to share my thoughts on a product, which let’s face it, could be skewed. That’s why I steer clear of paid reviews. My sponsored posts are usually information I’ve put together eg. styling hair, or a makeup look or or a fashion post that features clothing from that brand showing how I can style it – my way. Having said that I would still read reviews that have been sponsored, depending on who the blogger is. And I’d prefer it to be an honest one that includes even the bad parts because we’re all different and might have different reactions to certain products.

    I think it all depends on you. If it doesn’t feel right then I’d say keep doing what you’re doing because while you won’t be making $$ out of the blogging part, the important part is that you’re being completely honest. Also, I think bloggers should start seeing blogging as a platform for making money in other ways not necessarily through sponsored posts, affiliate links and ads. We need to start taking our “expertise” outside of that and use our status as a blogger to forge other opportunities.
    Norlin recently posted..Health & Lifestyle: How Phytoestrogens Decrease Symptoms of MenopauseMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Good one, Norlin. Product reviews are usually pretty easy to write but when it comes to paid reviews, it becomes 100 times harder. I’ll need to create a story around the product without making it seem like an actual review, you know what I mean?

      You’re right; a lot of bloggers don’t actually make a living from just blogging anymore. It’s the opportunities that come with blogging that brings in the dosh.

  7. Mel

    My blog is fairly new, so there aren’t any individual product reviews on there yet, but I do plan to do some. I can understand what that beauty blogger you’re talking about was saying, but I personally get really annoyed when a beauty blogger treats a product differently because it’s sponsored. Especially since I really like buying products people have recommended. I think I prefer a blog that is honest, even with sponsored content.
    Mel recently posted..Why I Unsubscribed from BellaboxMy Profile

    1. Tine

      I replied an earlier comment by a reader with this: “I once had to do a review on a product that was sponsored. It was so SO hard to write, not because I couldn’t be impartial about it, but because I couldn’t believe that product impressed me so much that I couldn’t find anything bad to say about it at all. That makes things even worse because no matter how I write about it, it’s going to make readers question whether I’m being truthful in the review because I was paid for it. It’s funny how I actually have to think so hard to come up with something bad about a product when it’s such a good one just to cover my bases. If I wasn’t paid to write that review, I would have written a glowing review and most people wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. But because it was paid … that’s when it becomes really complicated.”

      Paid reviews are really hard to write because you have to be so careful in writing it without sounding as though you’re selling out.

  8. Hilary

    My way of thinking about it is this – do what you know to be your truth, and ask yourself – have you acted with integrity? If so, then you can sleep at night. And whilst that doesn’t pay the bills, paying the bills if you can’t sleep at night doesn’t work either.

    All you can do is do your thing and work out other ways to raise revenue – but compromising your self, your blog, you, isn’t the way to make a quick buck, because its just that – a quick buck and isn’t sustainable in the long term. That’s my 2 cents anyway – I’m big on living with yourself and doing the ‘right thing’ even if its not the ‘multi-million dollar thing’. Hence why I’m not on the property ladder yet and don’t drive a flash car 😛

    We love what you do, keep doing it! 🙂

    1. Tine

      Ding ding ding! I once said no to a company who reached out to me and wanted me to do a sponsored post for them. I wasn’t a fan of their work ethics back then (things have changed for the better now as far as I can see) and I said no to a heck lotta money. It plagued me a long time even after I said no because all I could think of was “why did I throw that much money down the drain?”. But at the end of the day, even though I was heartsick to have not made that amount of money, I could sleep better at night. Still, I’m human after all and to this day, I still think of myself throwing all that good money away. 😛

  9. Ash

    I try to mix it up – I used to do a lot more mixed content but after running a reader survey last year I saw that people wanted more one product, in depth reviews. For me it’s about trying to find the mix between the two while still writing content I like.
    Ash recently posted..This Week In Lipsticks #2My Profile

    1. Tine

      That’s a good idea to have a mix of the two. This way, you’ll keep the style of your content fresh.

  10. Cocoa

    There are people who appreciate in-depth reviews and those who prefer seeing the gist and having a lot at once. I think if one were truly looking to buy the product, a good in-depth review is very helpful. Yet from time to time, I enjoy reading round ups in the form of empties and hauls, or best of the year. 🙂
    Cocoa recently posted..Flower of the Day – July 17, 2015 – Orchid | cocoaeveningsMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Yeah, 100% product reviews only are quite boring to read and write. 😛

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