How to Review a Product you Hate

Maybe you’re a blogger who would like to profit from your blog. Or maybe you like trying out the newest products on the market. One of perks of blogging may be to accept opportunities to review products on your blog. A Company (or PR company representing the Company) sends you a product for you to try out. You play with it, test it, and write a post on your blog linking back to the company’s website.

You benefit because you were given some (sometimes really cool) free stuff, and may even have been paid to play with this really cool free stuff. The company benefits because you share this information with your readers – an audience who has come to know you, and trust your recommendations. And, the company gets links back to their site, which helps them with SEO.

This whole review process seems pretty simple… but what do you do if you hate the product? Or it doesn’t work? Or it falls apart on the first try? You don’t want to cast your blogging integrity aside (not even for one post) and lie through your teeth (er… keyboard) about the imaginary virtues of the product you’re reviewing. Doing so would let down your readers by promoting a product that you yourself would never purchase. Writing a dishonest review may seem like the easy way out, but you would be tarnishing your blog, and your reputation. By writing a false review, you’re letting a big, steaming pile of dung sit on your blog. Your space. Your sanctuary. And even if you didn’t have a single reader you felt accountable to, you should feel accountable to yourself, and the creative space you’ve created on the internet.

Now that I’ve climbed down off my high horse, let’s talk about some options, instead of creating a tall-tale that rivals Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox. I asked my fellow creative bloggers to share with me their experiences, and tips to help you overcome even the most severe product fails.

1. Be careful what you commit to. If the product isn’t a good fit for you or your blog, is beyond your skill level, or something you just aren’t interested in, feel free to pass. A marketing rep will appreciate a “thanks but no thanks” over a half-hearted review.

2. Write a pros and cons list. This is a great idea for every product you review, even if you love it. It lets your readers know that you’re giving them a complete picture, not just a marketing pitch. And every product has pros and cons.

3. Provide tips to overcome problems. Maybe the product was initially difficult to work with, but you figured out tricks to make it easier, better, or faster. Share these with your readers! Let them benefit from your experiences.

4. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth. As one of my fellow bloggers put it “95% of [the compaines I work with] appreciate my honesty and want to work with me again. I think it’s a cop out to find something lacking and not review it at all. The company asked you your opinion of it after all!”

5. Call the company. If you’re having problems, it may be easier to relay them over the phone than through an e-mail. Find out if the issues can be overcome. If not, you can learn your options in regards to posting.

6. Know where you draw the line. Are you comfortable writing a negative review? If a product doesn’t live up to your standards, will you send it back to the company (and pay the postage to do so)? Where do you draw the line for your blog’s integrity (and your own)?

Have you ever tried to review a product you hated? What did you do?

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