I have a somewhat unique view of HOW a blogger should review products and I’ll detail my philosophy below. Call it a rant or a manifesto… Whatever.
An item to be reviewed should be used for a decent period of time. For me this means using a pen or pencil for at LEAST one week on and off and intermingled with other writing tools. Why? to give the user/reviewer the BEST possible impression of the used tools. Using them among other similar as well as better and worse tools, allows the reviewer to create the best possible impression and understanding of their use.
Under no circumstances should the reviewer EVER simply write a few lines on a 3×5 card. Generally these beauty reviews include the name of the item being reviewed and a little info from the manufacturer’s website or site of the item that provided the item. A beauty review is a disservice to the reader and the product. My review of the Dixon Oriole is a perfect example of why the beauty review should die a swift death and bloggers should vow to never write one.
In terms of paper or notebook reviews I think that more than one sheet of the paper should be used and with multiple writing instruments. One can form a general impression of a paper and notebook through writing for just one page but it doesn’t tell me how the notebook will wear over time, if it will hold up when shoved in and out of my pocket, or if it will respond well to fountain pen or Wopex. I also think that before reviewing a pocket notebook that the review shouldn’t be done until half the notebook is full. *
For art supplies, the length of usage should be longer. If I’m reading (or watching) a review of gel medium and the images of the gel medium are all of a full clean jar, I tend to wonder if the reviewer has ever opened the product. I want to know how the product responded in multiple situations not just how it smears or covers. Give me facts.
The reviewer should be fair but not varnish over aspects of the products they don’t like, even if they are given those product for free. A reviewer must decide why they are generating reviews. This folks is the big question you should ask yourself of a reviewer. Why is this reviewer writing this review? Are they doing it because they love pencils/pens/notebooks/paper/drawing tools? Or are they writing to get more free product from the manufacturers and vendors? I’m not saying that reviewers shouldn’t get free product. In fact it’s super nice when it happens, awesome even. It helps bloggers get more info out there, but the info needs to be accurate to be of a service to their readers. This is where the blogger must decide- am I in it for my readers or for the vendors?
If you look at some of the reviews out there, you’ll see where the reviews begin to look more like advertising copy and not the writings of someone passionately enjoying their tools.
I write this not only as someone who writes product reviews but as someone who regularly reads reviews of products. ** I greatly enjoy reading the reviews of others. I’m fond of reviews to help me make my purchases. I tend to refer to those on blogs before I buy something. I use blogged reviews more than I use reviews on the vendor’s site. Why? They are less likely to be biased.
I think more people should write reviews of products, it is a useful tool for people interested in products and done well they are terrific sources of information, but done wrong a horrible waste of time.
*I am aware that I reviewed the Field Notes Unexposed a few days after opening them. But there were enough similarities between these notebooks and other editions previously and the stunning color spurred me into action. Clearly, there are exceptions to rules in certain cases.
**I tend to read the reviews of the products I’m reading AFTER I write my own reviews. I add information about other reviews after the fact. I feel it’s important to review both contrary and supporting information to see if I need to alter my opinion.