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Nowadays, most people do their window shopping from home. As they go about their business window shopping, they land on product review websites.
Product review websites are sites that give a description on a product and/or the experience of using the product. These sites do not sell the product but redirects visitors to the actual website that sells the product like Amazon or Jumia.
When a visitor clicks on the link to the actual site that sells the product and purchases the product, as the owner of the review website, you earn a commission. It is through these commissions that review websites owners make an income.
However, you should note that income can also be generated via sponsored products. Where you charge companies to advertise their products on your website.
Enough with the introduction, lets now get to the serious business of the steps on how to start a product review website.
Step 1: Choose a Suitable niche for your review site
The first step is picking a suitable niche of your review site. Remember that you are making a commitment to be regularly writing reviews on a specific product niche. This means that you need to take your time and audit yourself on what you will be comfortable working with and never get tired.
The niche that you choose should definitely be in line with your passion or something that you have a vast knowledge about. Your niche should be something that you enjoy doing research on since you will need to do a lot of research on that specific topic of your choice despite the fact that you have a vast knowledge on the same.
The niche that you choose should have either of the two primary characteristics that definitely will determine your success rate as a product review blogger.
- The commission that you receive from each sale of the product. If the product has a huge commission of say $200 per sale, then that is a nice niche even if it is not popular since you will need few sales to breakeven each month.
- The popularity of the product. If the product is popular but has a small commission, then it is a good niche. Let’s say you choose a product that yield’s $2 commission per sale. But because this product is super popular and sells itself out, you make 50 sales each day. That translates to $100 which is a nice amount to earn passively each day.
From the two characteristics we find that if you are reviewing products that are not very popular, then they need to have a substantial commission from each sale. However, if the product is popular, then the commission rate doesn’t really have a major impact on the profit gains assuming that the sale rates are constant.
From my figures, I don’t intend to create a picture of a get rich quick scheme in your mind. It is not a plug and earn mechanism. Just like any other venture, it will require hard work to get your site to the levels of earning a descent amount of money.
But first and foremost, pick a suitable niche that matches your passion and likes in life.
Step 2: Choose a domain name for you site
The second step in building a review website from scratch is picking a domain name. There is a lot of factors to be considered while picking a domain name for your website. However, I’m going to focus on the most important factors which you should put into consideration.
- Make the domain name easy to type: Make sure that you choose a domain name that can easily be typed by others.
- Include your brand name in the domain: By including your brand name in your domain, it makes your visitors reach you easily on social media or other platforms.
- Keep it short: Long domain names often do not appeal to most people. Try to keep your domain name short and avoid irrelevant inclusion of unnecessary words.
- Use key words: Key words are those words that are popular on the internet. For instance, you could try a cocktail of the product you intend to review plus the word “reviews”.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens: Using numbers and hyphens might get your users confused. e.g. if your domain name is phone5reviews.com, some users might get confused whether it’s the number 5 or spelled out as “five”.
- Be memorable: Keep your domain name catchy. Make it easy and appealing for users to understand.
- Use a relevant extension: Extensions are suffixes at the end of a web address. These extensions would include, .com, .org, .club, .biz, .net etc. Now that we are dealing with a review website, having an extension such as .reviews would really put you up the ranks.
- Get your domain name before it’s taken: After making up your mind on the domain name that best fits your brand, don’t hesitate to purchase it. This is because domain names sell really quickly.
These are the major aspects that you should consider before picking a domain name for your review website. If you wish to learn more about picking the perfect domain for your business, be sure to check out my article on the same here.
Step 3: Choose a web hosting company
The third step is picking a web hosting company.
If you are new to the topic on web hosting, then read my article on What is web hosting to get started.
However, if you already know what web hosting is, then I will recommend what most bloggers use; BlueHost. They offer great services at affordable prices. Also a quick reminder, in this tutorial on how to start a product review website we will be using WordPress, which is the most popular online CMS(Wikipedia).
It is for this reason that I highly recommend BlueHost since it is among the official recommended WordPress hosting companies.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Step number four is applicable after you have purchased a web hosting package.
If you wish to avoid the stress of having to manage your WordPress using c-panel, then you can pick the Managed WordPress plan from BlueHost. With this plan, you will have your WordPress application managed from the server end and you will only need to worry about the content. BlueHost WordPress Hosting is packaged with a customized customer support known as BlueSpark which makes it the best choice especially for beginners.
On the contrary if you wish to control your c-panel, BlueHost offers a one click WordPress installation which makes it easy for a beginner or a pro alike. Here are the steps on how to install the WordPress application on your c-panel:
- Login to your Bluehost control panel at my.bluehost.com
- Once you are logged in, you’ll be redirected to your Control Panel. From there, choose “Install WordPress”
- This leads you to the next page where you can choose your blog destination URL. I recommend using your root domain (www.yourawesomename.com, not www.yourawesomename.com/blog/).
Step 5: Choose a suitable WordPress theme
Once you have WordPress installed, you will have to pick a theme that suits your review website.
Installing a WordPress theme is simple and it takes only a few clicks to get the job done.
There are many free WordPress themes to choose from.
Just make sure that which ever theme you settle for, it complements the product that you intend to review on your site.
Ensure that the theme you pick goes well with images as you will have plenty of product images along with text.
Step 6: Install WP Product Review plugin
The beauty of WordPress is that most of the heavy lifting is already done for you. As a matter of fact, it is more of a plug and play as you can see from this tutorial. Up to this point, most of the activities are achievable without the intervention of an expert. Our sixth step is no exemption.
In this step, you will need to install the WP Product Review plugin which will make it easy for you to turn your new website into a professional review site.
This plugin is packaged with amazing features such as comparison tables, custom review icons, shortcodes, importing Amazon product info and rating icons among other features.
This plugin comes in two variations:
If you are really serious about seeing success in what you are doing, I recommend that you purchase the Pro Version. The pro version has more powerful features that lack in the Free Lite Version.
Picking between the Free and the Pro version is a key determinant to the rate at which your site will be successful besides hard work. So, make a wise decision. After installing and activating the plugin, a new menu item by the name Product Review will be added to your WordPress admin area.
To configure the main settings of the plugin, go to “Product Review”==>”Product Review” on the admin area. This will land you on the general settings page where you will configure how your reviews will look to visitors.
The image above displays the basic settings that you will need to know, moving forward.
Some of the options that you will need to configure include:
- “Position of the review box”: Under this option, you get to choose whether the review box will be displayed before or after the content. You can as well manually insert the review box using a shortcode.
- “Show review comment”: Choose whether or not you want regular users to be able to comment on and rate the product.
- “Visitor Review Influence”: Set whether or not user ratings should affect the overall rating for the review.
- “Change Default Rating Icon”: If you want to use a different icon than stars, you can set it here.
- “Number of options/pros/cons”: Choose the default number of features and pros/cons to display in the review box using this option.
The other sections under “Product Review” deal with colours and typography. These are self-explanatory and you can easily get the hang of it. However, I suggest that you make sure that settings such as colour are set to match your sites theme colours. For example, if you theme buttons are set to colour red, then make sure that the plugin buttons are also set to the same colour.
Step 7: Add products to your site
Now that the tools are all set, it is time to do the fun bit of the journey.
Writing the review posts.
We are almost there.
While writing a new post for your site, you will see a meta box called Product Review Extra Settings.
If you are writing a review post, then select yes in the two options provided.
By selecting yes, more options will display for you to fill about the product.
From these options, you will be prompted to choose a review template, specify product categories, add affiliate links, and several other options such as pros and cons.
After filling in all the necessary information that is required, you should end up with something like this:
Starting a review site is simple. It is not a complex process.
Making the review site a success is hard. It is not a simple task.
A final point that you also need to bear in mind is that you are required to put a disclosure to your visitors that you have an affiliate relation with the companies whose products you are advertising. If you were keen, you must have seen the disclosure that I have put at the top of this post stating that this post has affiliate links and I earn a commission once the visitors click and purchase products from the links provided.
I hope that you find this article useful and of great value. If so, please share and leave a comment. If you are planning to start a review website, drop your comments in the comments section. I would love to hear about your story.