By Cathalynn Cindy Labonté-Smith
Learn to write reviews that sell to add extra writing income. Reviews are easy to place because they often result in advertising for publications, therefore, editors are highly motivated to publish engaging reviews. So I’ve found it easy to place reviews about whatever I’m obsessed with at the moment, including computer software and hardware, books, and now reviews on cafés, tea salons and doughnuts, that you’ll find on my blog, The Write Cup. While these topics are diverse, the same approach goes into writing all these reviews.
I have key points to share to get you started writing about anything you wish to review from apple pies to Zen retreats. Reviews can bring in a little cash or swag or at least give you some valuable publishing credits.
Editors may have items on their shelves or a list of places they want reviewed, so get in touch with them and ask them if they have something in mind they’d like you to review. Another approach is to pitch an idea or submit a completed review or two for them to consider for their publication in a newspaper or magazine.
When I wrote for a computer magazine, I’d drop into their office regularly to load up on software they wanted reviewed. They had so many products being sent to them that their regular staff couldn’t keep up with the reviews.
No matter what the subject of your review is, you can apply these tips to your review to make it stand out and sell.
Write about what you love. You’re going to spend hours reading that book, using that software program, and driving that car, and many more hours researching before even writing that review. When you review what you’re passionate about, the project won’t feel like hard work.
Create a rating system. Be it pens for books, thumbs up or down for a movie, or whatever unique system you devise, give readers a quick reference to what your overall impression is of the subject of the review.
Choose metaphors. Create metaphors to frame your review. For example, I’ve compared the ease of using a software operating system to the feeling of skating effortlessly over the ice.
Mine descriptors. Take the time to find the right words to describe the experience of tasting, using, or reading the subject of your review. Avoid using the same adjectives repeatedly or going over the top.
Write with balance. There are always areas for improvement in everything that you’re reviewing. There are always areas of excellence as well in any book, restaurant, or video game, etc. Make the review as balanced as possible by using your powers of observation. If you can find nothing good to say, then best not to write that review at all. You will promote the item and increase sales, which is probably not what you want.
Hunt for connections. Find a connection to that place, passage, server, even a stranger that you interview for an opinion on the cinnamon buns, for example.
Get graphics. Editors love pictures and often won’t publish a story without one. Take lots of pictures of the subject of your review. Difficult to pull off if it’s a live performance, but other than that it should be easy.
Christmas is a prime time for items to be reviewed for gift guidelines. Check with publications for their deadlines for this high-volume time to make a little extra money for your own Christmas shopping.
I hope this resonates with you and you have some ideas of what you might want to review. Turn to your hobbies, interests, and passions. Creating a blog to post your reviews is a great way to promote your work, and editors like reposting them to their websites.
© March 2020
Freelance writer and blogger Cathalynn Labonte-Smith reviews cafes and tea houses from the point of view of people like writers who work in such places regularly.
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