When I was trying to build up a store of online writing clips, I found myself doing a lot of reviews. They were short pieces of writing, but they packed a lot of information into a couple of paragraphs. I also learned a lot about what readers are looking for and how to write to get their attention. Here are some tips for writing reviews.
As with most pieces of online writing, your first chance to grab your reader is with the title. Sometimes this is descriptive, such as the one I’ve used for this post; at other times it offers a hint of what is to come, with a bit of a teaser to get readers interested. One of my most successful posts on another (now defunct) blog was titled How I Put My Site On Steroids.
The next most important part is the intro or lead, which gives you a chance to expand on the title. Keep it short, though, because when you’re done you’ll need to describe the product or service. This is similar to the 6Ws of news writing. Readers want to know what the product is in detail. After all, this is going to help them with a buying decision.
When writing reviews, the description is usually followed by the user’s experience with the product. This gives readers practical information that they can use and answers the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question. All readers want to know this. Not only are you telling them about the subject that they are reading about, but you’re also telling them why they should ever read anything you’ve written again.
Finally, there’s the summary. Usually this is a couple of sentences giving your overall impression of the product. Writing reviews is similar to the well known advice: ‘Tell them; tell them what you’ve told them; tell them again’. It also works well for many types of writing intended for an online audience.