My thoughts on blogging… product reviews and being original

21st October 2014

Blogging

At the weekend I posted this tweet, hoping to get some responses from other bloggers…

Indeed it worked, and I was glad I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

The thought came to mind after browsing BlogLovin on Sunday morning and seeing a review on a blog for the Zoeva Rose Golden brush set, and I thought to myself “I’m sure I’ve seen this before.”.

I hadn’t seen it before. What I had seen though was a review of the same product. In fact, I’ve seen the product reviewed about 4 times now. Well, that’s just what I’ve seen. I wonder how many times these brushes have been reviewed by bloggers altogether?

Let’s be honest; no matter how unique or original you try to be, there are only so many ways to describe a makeup brush. Seeing the same products reviewed over and over again just gets boring.

I’ll admit, I’ve had a go at reviewing beauty/makeup products myself (never sponsored though) but it’s not something I enjoy. It feels unoriginal.

Furthermore, popular bloggers often provide us all with advice on running a successful blog, and always (ALWAYS!) tell us that we need to be unique and original, and that we need to find our niche.

It might be appropriate at this point to mention these two lines from this song by Genesis:

Won’t find me practising what I’m preaching” and “Just do as I say, don’t do as I do“.

How can these bloggers tell us to be unique when what they’re doing isn’t unique either? What’s original about reviewing the same product that has already been 20 times before? And “niche” has just become a buzz-word for bloggers. I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t even know what it means.

As I mention in my tweet, I am not at all against bloggers reviewing products, and I can totally understand why you’d leap at the chance for freebies if the post was sponsored. But, as a blogger, I would hate to feel like my content was almost identical to another blogger’s because I’d been offered a payment or gift in return for writing such a post.

Want to really be unique? Don’t review what every other blogger is reviewing. Stop reviewing Zoella’s new product line or Graze boxes! We’ve seen it all a million times before. Give us something new and exciting. ๐Ÿ˜€

Over to you. What do you think about product reviews by bloggers? What are you sick and tired of seeing on blogs?

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  1. I review some products on my blog. I usually get approached by people selling products, and they reach out to the same kinds of people. I review some things that I donโ€™t get freebies for โ€” like concerts and some books or music โ€” and a few products I paid my own money for. I have not really seen much of the same thing like you have, though, and some products are more customised and personalised even though they are from the same company.

    I try to be honest in my reviews, but I get tired of other bloggers sucking up to companies just to give them good word and get more fre stuff. I like a bit of critique.

    • Holly

      I really enjoy reading your reviews because they are unique and original. ๐Ÿ˜€ Like the complete opposite of what I’m talking about in my post, haha!

      I don’t like to see bloggers sucking up to companies. Honestly is the best policy. I also hate to see a blogger reviewing a product that clearly has to interest to them. For instance, a company approached me and offered me to review fake tan, but I’ve never ever worn fake tan in my life so it would have been wrong for me to review it.

  2. I agree it is terrible to read blogs all about the same products! I think it is important to be unique! Great post!

    Rebecca
    http://www.winnipegstyle.ca

  3. I like gadgets. If only phone manufacturers would give me freebies. ๐Ÿ˜›

    There’s definitely a formula to blogging and gaining comments/freebies. if we’re all being honest here, we like to be noticed, right? And people generally behave the same way so there would naturally be a formula to these things. Reviews are one way to garner attention.

    I don’t read much beauty reviews these days (I’ve cemented my routines and have no need for new things at the moment), but I still like to know what people think. Of course, I want honesty but it’s not easy when you were given a free product. It’s natural to feel a sense of obligation. I guess the best way to handle it is to communicate with the company first that you don’t promise positive reviews.

    • Holly

      Yes! Reviewing gadgets all day would be the best. ๐Ÿ˜›

      Instead of reviews I really like to see bloggers incorporate a product in to a post in other ways, like in instructions for a DIY or recipe or just providing inspiration in general. It’s so much more interesting.

  4. Angel

    I’ve never done a review before but I’d like to… Maybe you should explore other things? Like reviewing fast food, electronics, books, etc? I’m not sure but maybe you could switch it up.. maybe something that’s not as popular.

    • Holly

      I’ve reviewed events before such as concerts and a photography workshop I was invited to. I also like to review products related to acne and controlling the condition because that’s something I’m passionate about, and it always proves popular. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s mainly just makeup I have a problem with.

  5. Iโ€™ve received items for review before, but I only accept those I think are relevant and will fit in within a post/story. I hate cold had up front reviews!
    I tend to only read reviews when the blogger has bought the item themselves, but I do tend to avoid beauty blogs because of the same old same old!
    (If you cold delete the comment above that would be great!)

    • Holly

      I think when a blogger has purchased an item themselves they tend to be more honest in a review because it’s their hard earned cash that’s being wasted if the product is not any good.

  6. I often find myself turning away from most review posts – not in a snobbish way, but most make up reviews don’t interest me. Skincare products are different, and I always believed reading reviews which came to same conclusion gave a more accurate representation of the product.
    Now that you’ve pointed it out, however, I can see exactly what you’re saying! I like what you said about the product being incorporated into a recipe or routine, even that personal touch would be great to see in a blog.

    • Holly

      I always read skin care product reviews because I’m just so desperate to find anything that might help my acne. ๐Ÿ˜›

  7. little miss plus size

    Hi I have nominated you for the Libster award, click here for the details [broken link]

    Tracy xx

  8. Cat

    I donโ€™t follow enough beauty/make-up blogs to see duplicate reviews, but when Graze box was first being talked about, I saw it reviewed soooo many times. I agree it gets tiring to see the same things, but I also wonder if people realize itโ€™s reviewed elsewhere. Itโ€™s kind of hard to keep up with what other people are talking about in such a big community =/

    Like you, Iโ€™m not against people reviewing products on their blogs, but I have to admit that a lot of times, theyโ€™re not useful to me. Unless Iโ€™m actively looking for that product or a similar one at the time of reading it, Iโ€™ll likely forget about it later.

    • Holly

      The whole graze box thing annoyed me. I ordered one this summer but I didn’t feel the need to review it. If I did I probably would have just moaned about how little you get for your money.

  9. Reviewing products can get a big monotonous but I hardly ever bother to read product reviews, to be honest, because most products that are reviewed are either too expensive for my liking or are not available in India ๐Ÿ˜›

    I love reading gadget reviews as well as book reviews (:P) because they are usually different from one another…..

    • Holly

      I also find that most of the products being reviewed are too expensive for my budget. We need more realistic bloggers. That’s sort of what I try to do here.

      Gadget reviews are actually really useful, but makeup, not so much.

  10. Kya

    I think it is good to try and do things a little differently, or do them in your own way.

    However, I think there is probably a few things or exceptions to it. I guess it would go on a case by case kind of basis. For example, there would be certain ways that visitors would be used to seeing reviews and understanding them, if everything was too different they might just skip along to the next one. If bloggers are being sponsored to blog about certain products, no doubt the companies behind the products are pushing for their item/s to be featured on as many blogs as they can for exposure.

    I haven’t reviewed anything for payment before, so I am not too familiar with how it all works. But I do like to post images of some things I buy. Mainly have it more ‘image heavy’ though. xD

    • Holly

      I’ve been contacted by companies before but I’ve turn most (if not all) of them down because the product just didn’t fit the content. I certainly prefer image heavy posts when it comes to reviews.

  11. Susanne

    I think product reviews, or giveaways, or sponsored posts, only ruin a blog. Unless the blog is labeled as a #review & giveaway” blog. I hate to see good personal blogs suddenly start doing reviews and that every other post is about random products that have nothing to do with the blog in itself. I used to have a music blog, and I could maybe consider reviewing mandolin strings or similar (or mandolins.. yeeha!!) on a blog like that, but would never do that on a no-niche blog. It simply has no place there, in my opinion. I don’t read blogs to find info about products but to read about people’s lives. Reviews, sponsored posts and giveaways are a big turn-off for me when I read blogs.

    • Holly

      That’s exactly what I didn’t want to happen to my blog! I hate to see personal blogs become so wrapped up in sponsored posts that it loses it’s originality. At first I though getting freebies would be great, but I’ve come to realise it’s not what my blog is about.

  12. Mary

    I typically dislike blogs that have too many sponsored product reviews – which I find as reviews for the sake of doing a review (having said that, I do love product reviews in general for random neat finds though!).

    Definitely agree that if you don’t have anything different to say about a product that has been reviewed to death, then another review is a bit of a waste of everyone’s time.

    • Holly

      I sometimes find that when bloggers write reviews that contain sponsored posts their writing changes and almost becomes scripted. It’s like the company has told them that they must include certain words or phases. So annoying!

  13. Alice B

    FINALLY, someone said it. you’re not the only one who feel this way. i once tried writing reviews on circle lens and beauty products but that didn’t last very long. i end up terminating the categories because it feels so repetitive. i want my blog to be quite different instead of repetitive or seemingly like it’s just there to get some hits. i just know blogging about make up products isn’t the kind of field i’d like my blog to be in so i settle for other categories instead.

    if i ever write a review on a product, it’s probably gonna be somewhere along the lines of food and beverage, gadgets or movies, if you’d consider it a product review too. i write about them because they’re my interests and yeah, everyone have that one category called food in their blog so it’s not really super unique or super rare either. nonetheless, i always think it’s the review and the words structured that matter; how they’re written and delivered. i don’t like reviews that are sugarcoated or seem too good to be true. sometimes i find how some bloggers are reluctant to give a full out honest review, probably afraid to light a fire towards the company connected to it. what i seek is honest review; if the product has more flaws then good then say those out loud instead of writing only the good from head to toe. i don’t believe that there is a product with zero cons.

    i myself settle down with a lifestyle blog and even a lifestyle blog nowadays doesn’t look so unique anymore because lots of people call their blogs a lifestyle blog, a photojournal even. even so, i personally think liestyle blogs are more…. specialized than beauty blogs. with lifestyle blog, for example, where you post photographs owned by yourself, there’s that uniqueness in which the photographs are originally done by yourself. i’m not sure if i make a point here since it’s kind of hard to summarize everything but yeah, i hope you get my point.

    alas, i think the meaning of niche is becoming a blur now. the same for originality. sometimes we think what we do or have is original, however, somewhere out there, someone has probably done something we do. i think bloggers want to settle for the special because the more unique a blog is, the more visitors it’s gonna get – isn’t that the basic theory? i think there are several factors that make a blog unique: a) the main focus of your blog (food-specific blog or movie-specific blog, for example) or b) the posts you write.

    i don’t usually follow beauty blogs either because they bore me. in my opinion, a lifestyle blog can be a lot more unique and special than beauty blogs with frequent product reviews and sponsored ones. whether one is talking about food or fashion or photography, those things are seemingly more honest than beauty products. i don’t know, it’s just my opinion.

    so in the end, i’d rather do a review about, say, the newest ios 8 rather than the latest make up brush set haha

    • Holly

      I was actually quite worried about writing this post as I thought I’d get a lot of negative responses, but it’s been the complete opposite.

      If I had to put my blog into a category I’d call it a lifestyle blog. However, I hate trying to fit into categories and groups.

      I honestly don’t think there is a niche online that hasn’t been occupied.

  14. I have to agree with this 100% – so many blogs are completely lacking in originality. Particularly when it comes to reviews – why don’t bloggers refer to other people’s reviews when writing their own? If they think one aspect is positive but another blogger thinks that it’s a negative, why don’t they link to that blogger? Or do a round up of blogger’s reviews on a particular product?

    Product reviews should be for the reader to learn and decide if they want to purchase that product and regurgitating the same ideas is just boring.

    There are far too many “I love this product but can’t put into words why” type posts that just aren’t helpful for anyone. They leave me thinking two things: 1) that the blogger isn’t articulate enough to explain their true thoughts on the product (so why are they blogging?!) and 2) why did I bother reading the post?

    Love that you’ve brought this topic up, although I am a bit late in commenting as I’ve only just discovered your blog!