How to Start & Make Money with a Blog Review Site (in 2023)

by | Jan 16, 2023

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m knee deep in it myself, but the world of niche site publishing seems to be becoming more popular than ever.

With the advent of ChatGPT hitting the airwaves over the last few months, it feels as though every man and his dog is talking about AI writing, SEO and building websites! (Did an AI write that or me!…You’ll never know 😉)

The great news is that blog review sites are a hugely profitable endeavor, which up until a year or so ago, I would have recommended you only start if you have an exceptional eye for detail, enjoy technical writing and love reviewing products or services.

However, with the direction AI is moving in, as long as you have a genuine interest in the niche you choose, do have that eye for detail and enjoy editing and fact checking, the technical writing and review part is covered!

I’ll explain more as we go through the article, but just to ensure we’re on the same page…

What is a Review Blog?

A review blog is what it says on the tin. It’s a website on which you, as the creator, post reviews and evaluations of products, services, or experiences. A review blog can be run by a single person or a team of writers.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you’re a one man band right now, but there’s no reason that as your blog grows, so can your team!

Reviews on the site are typically written posts (particularly for SEO purposes), but they can be supplemented with video, or audio format, and will include information about the features, benefits, and drawbacks of the item being reviewed, as well as the general opinion of the reviewer.

Review blogs can cover a wide range of topics, including technology, books, movies, food, travel, or whatever interests you and has a passionate audience!

However, I do recommend picking just one main topic per blog. (We’ll get into that below)

The goal of a blog review site is to help the reader/consumer make an informed decision about a particular product or service they’re considering using or purchasing.

blog review - points guy

https://thepointsguy.com/ is a fantastic example of a very successful review website

 

8 Ways to Make Money with a Review Blog

Before we get into the nitty gritty of starting and growing your blog review site, let’s have a look at all the ways you’ll be able to monetize it.

Most review sites are monetized via affiliate marketing and display ads, which are the first two monetization methods in my list below, however, with a creative mind and a bit of effort, there are multiple ways to make money with your review site.

Here are eight strategies to make money with a review blog in 2023; 

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the most common way to monetize a review blog.

As part of your niche, you’ll review specific products or services relevant to your audience and create an affiliate link through to the item you’re reviewing.

When someone clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase, you receive a commission from the merchant.

For example, let’s say you love to read and decide to start a blog review site all about nonfiction personal development books. (Mental health issues are on the rise, so this actually has the potential to be a lucrative niche site idea.)

To monetize your review blog, you’d review the books you’ve read and link through to the book on Amazon. Every time someone buys via your link, you’ll generate a commission.

NB: Amazon isn’t the highest paying affiliate program, but for the purposes of this example it fits. You may decide to make even more money by also writing posts on how to become a writer or author and affiliate for tools and software that make this process easier, thereby generating greater commission levels.

The key to success with affiliate marketing is to carefully select and review products or services that are relevant to your blog’s content and audience. 

2. Display Advertising 

Display advertising is the next most common monetization method for blog review sites.

Display advertising means placing ads on your blog in exchange for payment. Ad networks such as Ezoic, Mediavine and Adthrive, make it easy to monetize your blog by doing this for you.

They’re essentially the middleman between you, the publisher, and the advertiser. By signing up to use their services, they take care of all the ad placements, take their cut (anywhere between 10% – 25%) and pay you the rest.

Ad revenues can run between $5 per 1000 users up to $50 per 1000 users, depending on the location and quality of the users visiting your site.

My advice is to start using a network such as Ezoic as soon as your site hits 10,000 views a month (their minimum user requirement). If you want to see revenue earlier, you might even start with google adsense. 

The sooner you start to make money the more motivated you are to grow your site so don’t be precious. Add ads!

ezoic

3. Sponsored Reviews

There are a lot of brands who are willing to pay bloggers to review their products or services. 

In fact when my husband and I were running our Amazon business, one of our strategies was to approach popular bloggers and YouTubers and ask them to review our products in order to drive more traffic to our product listings.

Some did it for free, some wanted a flat fee and others wanted a unique affiliate code to accompany their review.

This can be a great way to make money with your review blog, but it’s important to always be honest and open with your readers. 

If you say a product is fantastic because you’re getting paid to say that and it’s actually terrible, it won’t be long before your reputation is tarnished and you will lose readership.

The trick is to work with brands and products you already use or admire yourself. This way you can ensure you’re only reviewing quality items.

4. Digital Products

Selling digital products such as ebooks, courses or PDFs is a creative way to increase the income from your review blog.

For example, sticking with the nonfiction personal development book theme, if you’ve built up a huge audience who love reading your book reviews, why wouldn’t they be interested in reading your book!

You could even write a book reviewing the top 10 personal development books for facing fear, or achieving goals, or increasing happiness etc.

And after reading that many books, there’s a likelihood you’d be in a great position to record a short video or audio course on one of the many mental health aspects, which you could sell on your site.

By thinking creatively and producing products that offer immense value to your readers, you can make a lot of money from your blog review site.

blog review - a beautiful mess

abeautifulmess.com is a lifestyle brand, which includes sponsored articles, product reviews, books, courses etc.

 

5. Selling Services/Coaching

On my journey to building my business and travel niche site, I’ve come across many site publishers who advocate adding a coaching package to your site in the early days, until you’ve built up enough income from more passive means.

This is a great idea, but if you love the coaching style business model, what not continue or add it later and make a lot more money?

For example, let’s say you’ve complimented your personal development book review site with your own books and online courses. Why not add some one to one coaching into the mix?

As another example, let’s say you’ve built a blog audience reviewing nutrition programs and supplements, you could add a nutritional coaching arm to your blog, or let’s say you’ve spent a couple of years reviewing SEO software tools or AI writing tools, you could offer an SEO service or an AI writing and editing service.

The world is your oyster and is only limited by your own imagination!. 

6. Membership Programs

Membership programs are another great way to monetize a review blog and to build fantastic relationships with product/service providers.

Staying with our personal development book site, you could create a membership program for exclusive reviews, interviews with authors, book discounts, a book club, etc, etc!

You can create different tiers of membership that offer varying exclusive content, discounts on your digital products, services, coaching and all sorts. 

Again, you can go as far as your creativity and the needs of your audience will let you.

7. Physical Products

I have a mammoth post on how to start your own ecommerce site, which you can read if the world of selling physical products interests you.

But the beauty of building a big audience on your blog review site is that you have a steady stream of traffic to whom you can advertise products and services.

When starting an ecommerce site from scratch, unless you’re selling on Amazon, you have to build your audience from ground zero, which is tough to do and you’ll likely start a content site and use SEO, just like a review site. Or you’ll invest in ads, which is easier to do with physical products as you have a tangible product to sell and will be able to calculate ROI etc.

But imagine you have 100k visitors a month already engaged and consuming your content?

What could you create and sell that would add value to your audience and increase your monthly income?

Going back to our mental health book review site, journals immediately come to mind. Wellbeing journals, manifestation journals, gratitude journals etc. (Journals don’t even require much up front investment to create, but that’s another blog post!)

Perhaps you chose to go down the self care route and want to sell products associated with meditation or yoga.

The fact is, once you have that audience, you can start to get feedback on what your readers need and create and sell win-win, valuable physical products.

8. Become an Influencer

One of the fastest ways to grow a blog review site these days is to add YouTube videos. This works in a couple of ways.

Firstly, it means that people stay on your post longer to watch the video. Google loves this as it’s a signal that the user has found what they’re looking for on your site. 

Secondly, YouTube itself is another, (like Google), what I call, ‘sticky’ search engine. This means that videos you upload to YouTube can rank for months, even years, provided you’ve used the right keywords and the content is useful and valuable.

This is as opposed to sites like Instagram or TikTok where content is viewed and disappears in seconds.

Third, with the avalanche of AI content which will be hitting blogs soon, a video, created by you or your team, will prove unique authorship and show Google that you, rather than an anonymous AI engine, created the content with love!

But by creating valuable and popular YouTube videos, there’s another spin off which can generously increase your income, and that is that you essentially become an influencer.

If people are watching your videos discussing your personal development book reviews and by default you’ll be sharing your own views and opinions, over time, viewers will come to trust your judgment and listen to what you have to say.

As an influencer, you can open a personalized Amazon storefront, get approached by brands, get asked to speak on stages, be interviewed on podcasts and monetize your reach in various ways you haven’t even thought of yet!

blog review example - adam enfroy

Adam Enfroy is a very successful review blogger and now YouTube influencer

So you see, starting a blog review site can be as small or as big as you want it to be. You can create a brand and remain anonymous, or put yourself front and center and become the face of your niche. It’s entirely up to what you want to achieve.

No matter what road you choose to take, with time, effort and creativity, it’s an incredibly lucrative business!

So, without any delay let’s get started shall we?

Here’s how to create and start your blog review site, today!

8 Steps to Start a Review Blog Today!

1. Choose Your Blog Review Niche

Years ago, before getting into the niche site publishing game myself, I would have said the most important element to picking a niche is to choose something you’re passionate about.

I still believe this is an important strategy, as to immerse yourself in a niche you have no interest in will take its toll after a while & you have a greater chance of giving up before reaching success. However passion is only one of three hugely important elements.

What you actually need is a mix of three vital components.

  • Passion (or at least an interest or experience);
  • Demand, i.e. a popular topic that lots of people are searching for information on;
  • Money; is the niche monetizable? 

Passion

I still stick by my theory that you need to pick something that you at least have an interest in, even if it’s not your ‘passion’.

Believe me, I love business and travel, but even so, this blogging game can get monotonous. 

Even if you’re not writing, you’re certainly researching, outlining, editing etc. And if you’re doing that day in, day out in a niche you have zero interest in, you’re going to burn out, fast.

Demand

If your interests lay in extremely obscure topics like say ‘Chinese traditional calligraphy’, you may have a slight challenge with demand for your topic.

I’m sure there are others with a similar interest, but are there sufficient searches that you can drive hundreds of thousands of visits a month?

My keyword research tool says no.

chinese calligraphy - results

When considering your blog review niche, you’ll need to make sure there are enough people searching for the information your blog will provide.

You can use any keyword research tool to help you with this such as ahrefs, semrush, google planner or even google trends. 

Simply type in your main keyword and see what pops up.

blog review - google trends

And just when you thought Keto Diet was popular, check out pets!

pets google trends

And just when you thought Pets were popular…

blog review - travel trends

Clearly these are very generalized terms and you will need to niche down, but they give an indication as to the demand of your potential niche.

The bigger the demand, the more traffic you can potentially attract.

However, also be on the lookout for extremely difficult niches to attack.

If your potential niche is dominated by huge brands with massive budgets and a stronghold in your niche, you won’t be able to compete.

If using a keyword research tool such as ahrefs or semrush, simply look at the keyword difficulty to help you assess the competition. If in google, just look at the types of sites dominating your main keywords.

blog review - keyword difficulty

If it’s red it’s bad. If it’s green it’s good (kind of – I’ll go into this in more detail in the section about keyword research).

Money

Quite simply – can you make money from your niche? 

Firstly, just use common sense! Are there already people buying solutions within your niche?

If you’re looking at anything within the big niches such as, diet, fitness, pet, business, crafting, cooking, personal development, etc, you know there are.

Secondly, have a quick look at the keyword tool you’re using. Does it give an indication of the value of the keyword? 

cpc numbers

The higher the CPC (cost per click), the more profitable the keyword. It just means that other brands and sites are paying for ads for that keyword, which is a great indicator of profitability.

Also a quick google search will show whether there are advertisers at the top of the search engine results page.

Action Steps for Choosing Your Niche

  1. Brainstorm a list of potential passions and interests: What are you interested in? What can you talk about easily? What do you enjoy talking about? What would you love to learn more about?
  2. Do some keyword research: Once you have a list of potential topics, start your research. Is it a popular topic? Is it dominated by massive brands with massive budgets that you have no hope of competing against? Are there opportunities for you to sneak in there and grab some of the market?
  3. Research profitability: Can you monetize this niche? Are there some decent CPC’s? Is there scope for lots of traffic and therefore lots of display ads? Are there affiliate programs in this niche? Can you create courses or sell books, or create a shop and sell related products or merchandise? 
  4. Consider the long-term appeal: Is the niche a passing phase or trend, or does it have sufficient long term appeal to make your efforts worthwhile? Can you see yourself doing this in 5 years from now?
  5. Examine the competition: What are other blogs in this niche writing about? What seems to be popular posts? How many competitors are there? Are they big, small, independent, corporates etc. The more, smaller solo brand style blogs there are, the more chance you have of competing.

2. Pick a Name & Register Your Domain

Before you set your site up, you’ll need a name that becomes your domain. For example, this blog is called Your Lifestyle Business, and the URL is yourlifestylebusiness.com.

It’s a little long for my liking, but it describes exactly what I’m talking about which is how to build an online business that funds your lifestyle.

Your domain name, otherwise known as a URL, is your space on the web. It’s your website address, and every time someone types that URL into a browser, your website will pop up!

I wouldn’t get too caught up here. Some of the biggest brands have the most obscure or bland brand names, think Apple, Dyson, IBM. Many blogs simply go with their own personal name so they can pivot if need be.

As with your niche, there is no right or wrong, only memorable or forgettable, and no matter what the name, it will be forgettable until it isn’t, and that’s far more about your content and brand presence than your name.

However, the shorter and easier to remember, the better.

To help find a name for your brand, you can use free online name generators to get some ideas.

Once you have some name ideas, use a domain name service such as godaddy.com, to check availability and purchase your domain or if you choose Bluehost for hosting, you can get a free domain with their package.

3. Get Your Blog Online! (Pick a hosting package)

The next step on your awesome journey towards starting your money making review blog, is to get yourself some hosting!

What is hosting?

Hosting is what enables your blog to be visible on the world wide web. A web host is a service provider that provides all the necessary technology to ensure that when a visitor enters your domain name into the browser’s address bar, your website shows up.

There are literally hundreds of web hosts to choose from, and deciding on the right one for your business is a bit like navigating a minefield.

However, I have only two recommendations. If you want a super cheap option to get started, plus a free domain name choose Bluehost, recommended by WordPress itself. If you want speed, reliability and excellent customer support, choose WPX Hosting, my hosting company of choice.

blog review - wpx hosting

Choosing a Web Host

The most important considerations when choosing a web host are;

  1. Speed. Your site’s speed is an important ranking factor in google’s eyes and your web host goes a long way to contributing to that. But we don’t want a speedy website just for google; we live in a highly impatient and distracted world. If your website doesn’t load instantly, you’ll have lower page views, conversions, and sales.
  2. Support. An extremely knowledgeable tech person may disagree that this should be No 2, but if you’re a layman like me and your specialty isn’t in programming and web tech issues, then a reliable support team makes all the difference! I walked away from a hosting company because their ‘world-class support’ had become extremely sub-par.
  3. Price. Again we should probably list some of the tech specs as a higher priority. Still, if you’re a solopreneur without a huge budget, then the price will be a critical consideration for you.
  4. Tech specs and other features. If the hosting company is super speedy, has amazing support reviews, and fits within your budget, the next things to consider are; whether it provides email services, free backups, an SSL certificate (an absolute must to get ranked on google), a staging area, CDN included and lots of other fancy acronyms. Most of which I have no clue what they mean but are likely to be included as standard with most services these days.

You can read my detailed comparison of WPX vs Bluehost here.

4. Install WordPress / Design Your Blog

Depending on which host you go with, installing WordPress is as easy as securing your domain, setting your hosting up, and then following their on-screen instructions to install WordPress.

How to install wordpress in 3 clicks with WPX Hosting

How to install wordpress in 4 clicks with Bluehost

If you have an existing WordPress site you want to migrate, WPX will do that for you for free! You just complete a form with all your login and current host details and they email you as soon as it’s transferred over, with zero downtime by the way!

Once installed, you’ll be asked to log in to your WordPress dashboard, which will look something like this;

wordpress blog dashboard

From here you can click on ‘Appearance’ and ‘Themes’ to start to customize your site.

customizing wordpress

Keep it super simple. Go with a basic, clean design to get you off the ground and focus on content! The entire point of a blog is to fill it with valuable and relevant content, so make that the priority, not months of design work!

Your next step is to choose a theme, and the good news is that WordPress has thousands of ready-made beautiful looking FREE themes!

Just click on ‘add new theme’ and they’ll start to populate.

wordpress themes

Click on any theme you like the look on for more details or to see a preview.

wordpress theme preview

Once you select the theme you like, simply click install and follow the on-screen instructions to customize.

Your customize screen will depend very much on the theme you have chosen but will look similar to this;

wordpress customization

From here, you’ll be able to add your site name, logo, change colors, add images, create menus, customize settings, and everything you’ll need to do to get your blog ready to go live.

NB: You could potentially skip all of the above and do this instead;

  1. Find 2 or 3 blogs you love the look of.
  2. Find a theme that matches the look and feel you ideally want.
  3. Make a note of everything you love about the blogs you chose, colors, post design, menu options, footer design, image sizes, category layouts, etc.
  4. Go to upwork.com or fiverr.com and find a reasonably priced web developer ($5 – $15/hour) who can add all your customizations for you and give you a ready-made blog in a tenth of the time you will likely do it yourself.
  5. While they’re building the site, you’re creating awesome content!

5. Add Essential Pages & Plugins

Lastly when setting up your blog review site, you’ll need to add some essential pages and plugins.

Here’s the most important pages and plugins I recommend;

Pages

Pages are different from blog posts, in that they generally make up the static informational pages on your site, such as your homepage, about page, privacy policy, etc. Once set up, you shouldn’t need to update them very often if at all!

Here are the pages I recommend creating before going live (or as soon as possible).

1. Home page

All websites need a main homepage and what’s on yours will depend on the theme you’ve chosen and your design/usability ideals.

The best way to design a home page is to grab screenshots of all the sites you love and are inspired by and create your own version of the ones you love the best!

A quick SEO tip for your homepage; as this will likely be one of your most visited pages, be sure to add do-follow links to all your most important blog posts from your home page. This will give them all a bit more google juice as your site grows.

2. About page

Who are you? Why are you running this blog and who is it for?

This is a hugely important SEO page from the aspect of EEAT. Experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

Google wants to know you’re a real person with real experience or expertise about the subjects you’re writing about.

It’s also an important page for the segment of your audience who want to know more about the person behind the site and in particular the reviews.

Here’s some tips on writing your about page;

i. Who are you?

Example – Hi, I’m Jo! I’m a globe-trotting, adventure-seeking digital nomad, passionate about freedom, travel, and sucking the juice out of life!

ii. Why did you start this site?

Add a few paragraphs with your backstory, what brought you to this stage and why you chose this niche/started this site.

iii. Who is this for?

This is a fab opportunity to get super clear on your target market. My website is for solopreneurs, digital nomads, and what I call lifestyle entrepreneurs which is basically just a mix of a solopreneur and digital nomad. In other words, anyone who wants to turn a passion into profit and have the freedom to work from anywhere while generating an income that funds their lifestyle.

I’m not looking for startups or entrepreneurs who want to build huge companies and attract outside funding and dream of an IPO etc. I’m very clear about who my target market is, and I identify that on my about page.

Who is your site for, and how can you make that clear on your about page?

iiii. What next?

Lastly, tell your readers what you want them to do next. Do you have a set of blog posts you want them to read, a free offer you want them to opt-in too or a specific action you want them to take? Don’t leave them hanging! If they’ve been interested enough to read your story, direct them to the next step they can take to build a relationship with you.

Then leave it there for now. This is a page that can evolve and grow with you and you can amend or update as you see fit. So get the basics up to get going with a reminder to review as and when you see fit!

3. Contact page

Once again for EEAT purposes, this page is super important. Google wants to know you’re a real business, so be sure to add a business address and telephone number. I have it on good authority that the telephone number is the most important part.

These days you can get an office or POBox address with an online virtual office service, so you have contact details no matter where you are in the world. You can also get a telephone number with an answering service or use Skype to create a local number which gets diverted to any number you choose.

This is also the page to connect with any social media accounts you have and show Google you’re a real person.

The more details you can supply and the more genuine your identity is, the more favorable from Google’s perspective, which helps with your rankings.

4. Privacy Policy & Terms of Service Pages

I am not a legal expert so what I talk about here is based purely on what I’ve done myself and I strongly recommend you get some legal advice on what you should or shouldn’t add to your site when it comes to privacy, GDPR rules, terms, and conditions, etc.

However, to get started with your privacy policy and terms of service page, there is a great online resource to help you generate both these pages for free or for a very reasonable price if you would feel more secure with an attorney-drafted and approved policy – Terms and Conditions Generator. (NB. I’m not affiliated or associated with this site, I used our friend google to find it – so please ensure you do your own due diligence before paying for these services, as I take no responsibility should you ever get sued!)

5. Ideally – List Building Page

In an ideal world, you’ll have a list building page on your site, at the very least a subscribe button or pop up offering a free gift visitors can sign up for.

Don’t let this hold you up from launching your site, but the sooner you can start to build an email list the better!

Recommended Plugins

A WordPress plugin is a piece of software you can add to your site that gives it extra functionality.

There are plugins for just about everything these days from connecting your analytics account, creating short links, adding image galleries, tracking Facebook pixels, adding social share buttons, customizing your site, you name it!

However, the challenge is that many plugins may slow down your site and too many plugins will result in conflicting coding creating errors on your site, so it’s essential to choose only the plugins that will add the most value to your site or to the user experience.

Plugins are very much a personal preference but here are my favorites;

1. Nitropack or WP Rocket

Site speed! An important ranking factor in Google’s eyes and we want to give our site the best possible chance to rank, so a focus on site speed is a must.

WP Rocket is a caching plugin, which basically means the content on your website can be accessed faster by the visitor – it’s far more complex than that, and feel free to delve into it, but the most important point is, it makes your site faster.

Nitropack is a full-on speed optimization service that includes caching, but also image optimization, a CDN, and lots of other bells and whistles. CDN stands for ‘content distribution network’, which once again, go knock yourself out learning what that actually means, but for now, just know that it makes your site even faster!

I installed WP Rocket before I installed Nitropack and it made a huge difference to the speed of my site. But then I found Nitropack which is on a different level altogether. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the price, with a single site in WP Rocket costing only $49/year, compared to my now monthly $21 fee with Nitropack.

But it’s worth it!

Please note, they’re not to be used together. You need to choose one or the other. WP Rocket will be good enough to get started, but if you want to really ramp it up Nitropack is the way to go.

2. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the master of SEO plugins. Not only does it do some great stuff behind the scenes like ensuring your metadata is correct and schema markup etc, but on each post you’ll find an extra custom field with the option for you to enter the main keyword/phrase you’re looking to rank for.

yoast seo plugin

You’ll then get an SEO score of red, orange, or green to tell you how well you’ve covered that keyword in your post.

You then get a list of suggestions to help you get to a green score.

yoast seo plugin details

For those of us not so well versed in on-page SEO, this plugin is an invaluable tool to help you ensure your post is rankable in google’s eyes.

3. Thirsty Affiliates

This plugin is vital for blog review sites as you’ll be adding affiliate offers left, right and center, to your site.

It works by giving you a much more attractive cloaked URL for your affiliate link, meaning all your affiliate links will look roughly the same, rather than linking in long meaningless fields of letters and numbers as many affiliate links tend to be.

If you click on any of my affiliate links, you’ll see they all start with https://yourlifestylebusiness.com/recommends/’relevantaffiliateprogram’

This doesn’t mean you’re hiding the fact they’re affiliate links, in fact just the opposite. These days you must be extremely transparent or you could run into legal issues. It just makes all your links look a lot more attractive and tracks clicks through your links in the free version.

If you choose to upgrade Thirsty Affiliates adds all sorts of extra features including the ability to automatically add links to keywords you specify! A very handy component if you have a big site with a lot of links.

4. Affiliatable.io

A fantastic way to display the products or tools you’re recommending is by using beautifully formatted boxes, highlighting the most important aspects and showcasing a button for people to click through to buy or get further details.

The easiest way to create these boxes is by using Affiliatable.io.

They offer a range of designs including comparison tables, top 3 boxes, ratings boxes, versus boxes and more. Also once you’ve designed a box, you can use the shortcode to place it anywhere in your site and update it anytime from your central account.

A cracking piece of kit for a blog review site.

blog review - affiliatable

5. Easy Table of Contents

Once again displaying as a custom field on your post-draft, adding an easy table of contents allows you to create a clickable box of headers and subheaders for those longer posts, so visitors can see at a glance what’s there and click to head to the relevant section.

If you head to the top of this post, you’ll find a table of contents, just under the initial introduction.

table of contents blog plugin

A great way to improve user experience and increase time on site!

6. Mammoth .docx converter

If you’re a fan of writing your posts in google docs first, you’ll love this plugin! Here’s how it works;

  1. Write your main post in a google doc
  2. Add all the headers, images & media you want to use in your post
  3. Add in ‘alt text’ for your images on the google doc
  4. Once finished, export as a word doc
  5. Add a new post to your blog
  6. Head to mammoth .docx converter which is a custom field below where you’d usually write your post
  7. Click ‘Choose File’ and select the file from your computer
  8. Check to make sure the contents look good and click to ‘insert into editor’

And there you have it. Your fabulously formatted post, images and all. (NB: You may have to tweak if you’ve added video or podcast code.)

This is great if you outsource to writers but don’t want to give them access to your site directly.

7. Grow Social

I’ve played with lots of social sharing plugins over the years, and Grow Social seems to be pretty lightweight and straightforward to use.

What’s great is the option to add in images sized for Facebook and Pinterest and add a custom tweet. Meaning, when someone shares your post, the image and copy are exactly what you’ve entered here.

grow social plugin

You can also choose to have buttons in all sorts of different places on your posts, pages, and on mobile. Highly recommended.

6. Write Your First 5 – 10 Review Posts

With your lovely new blog review site all setup and ready to go, it’s time to get to the most important part. Creating content!

This will be your life for the next 2 – 5 years, so get prepared to bed in!

1. Plan Your Content Strategy

There are a multitude of ways to write valuable review posts;

  • Round Up Reviews –  a list of the best tools, products etc, in a specific area of your niche
  • Single Reviews – a single detailed review about one specific product
  • X vs X Reviews – a comparison review, comparing one product to another
  • How to Use Reviews – a how to use article, which both educates and reviews at the same time
  • X Best Alternatives – a list of alternative tools, products etc to a specific product

My recommendation would be to write 3 ‘How to Use’ review posts and 2 other review style posts to get started. Then as you create more content, keep the ratio 3:2 or 4:1, informational vs transactional.

Google loves informational content and will reward you with rankings. If you stuff your blog review site full of product reviews only, you’ll struggle to get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP’s)

2. Make a List of Keywords You Want to Rank For

Keyword research is a complex topic. In fact, SEO is a behemoth of a topic, so I’ll try to keep it simple and just run through the most important elements you need to know to get started.

When researching keywords the most important numbers you need to focus on are;

  1. Volume
  2. Keyword difficulty
  3. The domain & page authority of the results in the top 10 of the search results

Here’s how to go about finding competitive keywords/phrases;

Step 1 – Make a list of ideal seed keywords.

Let’s say you’ve decided to start a blog review site in the pet niche. You love dogs and have some experience or expertise in dog training.

Using google, Chat GPT or my preferred AI tool – Jasper AI to help you create some seed keywords you might end up with a list like;

• dog training tips
• how to train your dog
• dog training vest
• dog training treat pouch
• spray bottle for dog training
• best dog training collar
• house training a rescue dog
• housebreaking a puppy
• basic commands for dogs

Step 2 – Use a Keyword Tool

Using a tool like ahrefs, you can add these seed keywords into the keyword research tool and start to analyze the numbers;

blog review - dog training keywords

Volume. The higher the better. When trying to attract organic traffic, the more people searching for a term that you’re going to write about the better. However, when just starting out, the chances are the high volume keywords will also be the most competitive, so it’s about trying to strike a balance between volume and competition.

If you have a brand new blog with no domain authority whatsoever, you goal is to rank as quickly as possible, so if the only way to do that in your niche is via low volume keywords, then you’ll have to create more content targeting more keywords.

Keyword difficulty. This is the ahrefs algorithm determining how hard it would be to rank for that term. It scores from 0 – 100. The lower the score the easier it is to rank. It’s measured by looking at the how many backlinks the sites in the top 10 have got for the relevant keyword.

This number can catch you out though, which is why it’s important to actually look at the sites in the top 10. Low backlinks for a particular piece of content doesn’t mean low site authority. I’ll explain more below.

Domain and page page authority of the results in the top 10 of the search results. This is arguably the most important part of your analysis. Get this wrong and you’ll find it extremely hard to rank for your intended keyword.

Domain authority is a score calculated by keyword research tools to help us determine how authoritative google may see our site. Please note, this is not a score given by Google, but it helps us when choosing which topics to write about.

Domain authority is calculated from 1 – 100. The higher the score the more authority a site has. This is based on a number of different variables, but the main determinant is the number of other sites linking back to the site.

A website with no-one linking back to it will have a very low domain score as it has no authority in google’s eyes. A website with lots of sites linking back to it will have a high domain score and be seen as high authority by google. And if the sites linking back are all high domain scores themselves, the authority is even higher.

Here’s a couple of examples of how to analyze your keywords by domain authority;

According to the numbers ‘dog training treat pouch’ is only a keyword difficulty of 6 and with a volume of 900, seems a good keyword to target. However, on further analysis of the SERPS, the lowest domain authority in the top 8 is a 67.

If you’re a zero, that’s going to be nigh on impossible to compete with. Even if you’re in the 20’s or 30’s already, that’s going to be a tough keyword to rank for.

blog review - dog pouches

The KD is low, because the articles haven’t got many backlinks pointing to them, so if you created an amazing piece of content and got every man and his dog (no pun intended) to link back to it, you may rank, particularly as all the results here are ranking for the very slightly variant parent keyword. But there are easier routes to ranking.

If you look at the keyword ‘spray bottle for dog training’, you can see that not only are there little to no backlinks, but also there’s a site ranking in the top 3 with a domain authority of only 8 and a further site in the top 10, with a DA of only 1.

This is a keyword even a brand new site could go after.

spray dog training results

Getting your keyword research right, particularly in the early stages is absolutely the key to successful niche site publishing. If you write content targeting keywords that are too difficult to rank for you’ll end up with a lot of posts that no one sees.

Spend some time here and create some number rules which work with how authoritative your site is.

Step 3 – Write your first 5 – 10 posts

Once you’ve identified 5 – 10 keywords you think you can rank for, you need to get writing!

Look at how other blog review posts are formatted to give you an idea of how to put together the perfect post. I also recommend using a tool called SurferSEO which will ensure you include all the indirect keywords and what’s called ‘natural language processing’ words used in the posts of those already ranking in the top 10.

This gives you a greater chance of competing and securing your place in the SERPS.

As soon as you’ve written your posts, get them published. The faster you publish, the faster google can index and the quicker you can rank.

Please note for a new site ranking could take a few months depending on which keywords you’ve chosen. The lower the competition, the faster you’ll rank.

7. Promote Your Blog

Starting and growing a blog review site isn’t a fast way to make money.

If you want to make serious money you’re going to need plenty of readers, which is going to take time to build up. Depending on the niche and the competition, you could start seeing results from as little as 3 months in to 3 years out.

However, there are some key strategies to give you the best start and help to grow your blog review site as fast as possible.

Let’s take a look at the main traffic strategies for your review blog;

1. SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the overarching name given to anything you do to help your website rank higher in the search results.

Say you want to get lots of traffic through Google (or other search engines like Bing) for your guide on the “best dog training collar”. What you actually want is for your guide to be the number one link when people search for “best dog training collar”.

blog review - google page one

This is because the first link usually gets upwards of 30% of all clicks.

The second link may get roughly 10-15% of clicks; the 3rd getting perhaps 5% of clicks and the next few links getting maybe 1-2%.

Simply put, the lion’s share of traffic goes to those websites that can get their guides ranking right at the top!

So, how do you improve your website’s SEO performance?

Unfortunately, too many strategies to cover in this post, however, here are my Top 5 SEO tips;

Tip #1 – Build backlinks

A backlink is a link back to your site from another website.

Through this post, I’ve linked to many other sites and resources. Each time I create a link, they’re gaining a backlink from my site to theirs.

They are SUPER important for SEO, and many swear by them as the absolute number one way to boost search engine rankings over time.

Why is that? Because a link from another site gives your site authority. I wouldn’t link out to a resource I didn’t recommend, so by linking out I’m saying ‘I trust and value that site’ and vice versa if someone links back to me.

Search engines rank your content by regularly crawling your entire website looking at all of the “signals” they can find. These signals include things like how long your posts are, which keywords you are using, and how many other websites link back to yours.

However, you don’t want to build hundreds of backlinks from low-quality websites filled with spammy content. Google has become far too clever for that!

Instead, focus on building backlinks from quality sites within your niche that are trusted and are, ideally, bigger or more established than yours.

How do you build backlinks to your blog?

My favorite technique is guest posting.

This is when you write a brand new article (not published on your own website) and allow a different blog to publish it on theirs. In return, the website you have guest posted for will include a link or two back to your blog.

guest post

What’s great about guest posting is that, not only do you get a backlink that can boost your site’s SEO performance, you can also get lots of visitors clicking through these links and checking out your site that way!

Check out my article all about guest posting to learn how to do it effectively.

Other powerful link building techniques include:

  • Broken link building – This is when you find links on someone else’s website that no longer point to an active page. You point it out via email and recommend swapping the link to a relevant post on your site instead! Here’s an in-depth example of how to do this.
  • Round-up posts – These are when a website owner publishes a big guide on their site, including recommendations/opinions from a range of other website owners. They get the benefit of free content on their site, and you get the benefit of a backlink by only needing to write 100-200 words. The best way to find “collabs” as they are known, is through Facebook. Simply search for “[your niche] collabs” and join the groups that pop up.
  • HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a service that brings journalists or site owners and content creators together. The website owner posts the subject matter they’re looking for content on, and we, the creators, respond which hopefully results in being featured on a post and a backlink!

Tip #2 – Focus on speed!

It is extremely rare that search engines reveal the exact things they look for when deciding how to rank your site. One of the few exceptions is their policy on promoting sites that load quickly!

With so much information available online these days, people don’t want to hang around all day for pages to load. Instead, they want them now! And there is a very clear correlation between blog posts that rank high in Google and those that load extremely fast.

Here’s what you can do to help make sure your website loads lightning fast:

  • Pay for good hosting – If all the pages on your site are taking 10 or 20 seconds to load, then it could well be because your hosting provider isn’t very good. When I migrated to WPX Hosting my site performance instantly improved. For more help on hosting, scroll back up to section 3 of this guide.

pingdom speed test

  • Install Nitropack or WP Rocket – These are game changers and add all sorts of functionality to your site to ensure it loads faster!
  • Optimize images – Before uploading images to your blog posts, make sure they are resized and then optimized. For example, instead of uploading a 3.2mb image that is 2400px wide and 1000px tall; reduce the size to around 1000px wide and then put this image through an optimizing tool. This reduces the size to closer to 100-200kb.
  • Remove anything unnecessary – This includes images, videos, GIFs, extra code, basically anything on each page of your site that isn’t 100% necessary to the reader.

For more quick and easy tips on how to boost your website’s speed, you can check out a free tool like PageSpeed Insights.

Tip #3 – Think about mobile users

Did you know that more searches begin on mobile devices as opposed to laptops?

More than 50% of searches are now on mobile, and Google has made it clear that they favor sites that offer a great mobile experience.

Not only does this mean having the website load quickly, but it also means making it easy to use. Many sites were built originally for desktop only, and when you use it through your phone you find that text is too small to read and links are hard to click. You may also find that you need to scroll the page horizontally, rather than just vertically; this is a big no-no.

The great thing about building your website through WordPress is that it makes designing for mobile really easy.

WordPress - responsive mobile website design

Take note! While I’m a fan of pop-ups, be careful using them on mobile. If they cover the whole screen or it’s hard for someone to close them, not only is this a negative experience for a user, you will get Google punished.

Tip #4 – Write exciting meta titles and descriptions

Over time, if you follow SEO best practices, the aim is for your content to start to rise higher in the search results. When you reach the top spots you want to make sure that people are excited to click on and read your post. This is where metadata comes into play.

What is metadata?

These are the titles and descriptions that you see on search engine results pages.

Metatags.io - MetaData examples

Don’t worry about getting too technical here as WordPress makes it super easy to include metadata in all of your posts. You will see that whenever you go to publish a new post, it has space for you to include these, (especially if you install Yoast.)

For your meta title (this can be the same as the actual title of the blog post by the way) try to create a headline that not only includes the keyword you are targeting but which is also exciting and click-worthy!

Also, make sure it’s no more than 50-60 characters long or else Google will cut the end off.

The same goes for your meta description, which should ideally be between 150-155 characters long. Make this unique and give the reader a brief yet exciting snippet of what to expect in the post.

When writing your headlines, here are a few more of my top tips.

  • Use numbers where possible – They make titles stand out much more and can greatly increase clickthrough rates.
  • Make your title unique – Have a look at how other people currently ranking for your keyword are naming their guides; then make yours different in some way to help it stand out.
  • Use brackets or parentheses – Again these can make titles stand out from the masses. For example: “5 Awesome Asian Fusion Recipes {+ Pro Cooking Tips!}”

Tip #5 – Continue to perform in-depth keyword research

Keyword research is the secret sauce to ranking well on Google. Continue to find low competition keywords you can rank for as identified above and your traffic will steadily grow.

See my keyword research guide for more details.

2. Social media

Though SEO is a truly excellent way to bring lots of people to your site, for big results it can often be a very long-term game (6-12 months+). That is why my second most recommended way to promote your new blog would be through social media.

I’m sure you’re familiar with many different social platforms, and the great news is that they can all be used in a variety of ways to benefit your blog.

However, for the purposes of this article, I’m only recommending the two ‘sticky’ sites, Pinterest & YouTube. These are social media sites where with some thought and creativity, your content can rank for months if not years.

Sites like Instagram & TikTok for example your content lasts for seconds if you’re lucky and that’s an entirely different strategy.

Pinterest

Albeit a social media platform, in many ways, Pinterest is similar to a search engine.

With other social media platforms, when you post a new status, photo, or video, it will gain the vast majority of its visibility within a short period; usually less than a day (or a second). But with Pinterest, many “Pins” as they are known, will go up to little fanfare and start to generate more and more traffic over the following weeks and months.

Pinterest - Your Lifestyle Business

This is why Pinterest can be such a powerful way to grow your blog as the time and effort you commit to it in the short run can pay off for possibly years.

Here are a few top tips for using Pinterest to grow readers on your blog:

  1. Create at least 3 different pins for each post – Pinterest LOVES fresh content. If you continually reshare the same Pin over the coming months they’ll get buried and start to gain very little traffic. Instead, a new Pin about the same post is seen as fine in Pinterest’s eyes as it’s new content for users to check out.
  2. Use keyword-rich Pin descriptions – In the same way that keywords in your blog posts help them to rank in Google, the same principle applies to rank Pins on Pinterest.
  3. Use top quality photos – Pinterest is primarily a visual platform. To help your Pins stand out from the masses, images need to be of superb quality and, most of all, original. Your own images are best here as standard stock photos are simply not up to the mark.
  4. Test to see what works best – Your aim with Pinterest is to make your Pins as click-worthy as possible. To do this you can continually tweak the style of your Pins to see which ones work best and get the highest click-through rates. Tweak things like font type, font size, color schemes, and photos used. Over time you should develop a few styles that work well with your target audience.
  5. Create and engage in boards – Boards are what you pin your Pins onto. But be aware that Pinterest is a SOCIAL platform meaning they want you to engage with and share other people’s content too. So create boards related to your niche and as well as sharing your own posts in them, also share others as well. This will directly grow traffic to your own site.

YouTube

Again, YouTube can be looked at as both a social media platform as well as a search engine.

In fact, it’s the second-largest search engine in the world, behind Google. Meaning that YouTube is a fantastic place to broaden visibility for the brand you are trying to create.

If you have the time and energy to commit properly to YouTube, then the results can be dramatic.

Video content perfectly compliments articles you publish on your blog, and getting traffic to videos on YouTube can be much faster than through traditional SEO.

You have the added benefit that, if your YouTube account was to become successful enough, you can monetize through the YouTube Partner program and add another revenue stream to your business.

Your Lifestyle Business - YouTube channel

If nothing else, it is a great place to publish videos for free, and you can then embed those videos directly into blog posts to help compliment your article for readers.

And of course, multimedia-rich blog posts tend to rank more highly in Google. So by simply embedding these videos in your posts you then have a greater chance of getting traffic through search as well!

3. Email Marketing

Email marketing is easily one of the very best ways to build long term traffic to your blog. I’ve been building email lists for years! So I know the incredible value they can offer to blog owners.

The problem is, most bloggers don’t fully appreciate this and never put any real effort into collecting emails or nurturing that audience.

From day one, treat every visitor to your blog like they are a potential long term reader, and the best way to maintain that long term readership is through adding them to your email list.

That way, every time you publish a fancy new post on your site, you have a few hundred or thousand people you can immediately send it to!

It is an audience that YOU are in control of … not Google … not Facebook … YOU!

For a better look at email marketing, I recommend checking out my in-depth guide on how to build an email list.

8. Develop a Long Term Content & Growth Strategy

The last on our list for how to start and make money from a review blog this year is to develop an ongoing long term content and growth strategy.

I’ve already highlighted that growing a blog review site is going to take time and it’s important you focus on the right things moving forward so as not to get distracted by bright, shiny, objects!

There are really only 3 things you need to be focusing on for the next 12 – 24 months;

  1. Content
  2. Backlinks
  3. Money

These are the three major areas which will lead to growth and profitability.

Content

Your goal is to create and publish as many keyword rich, high quality, rankable posts as you can.

Right now, I’m posting between 5 – 10 posts a week. In todays fast moving world and with the advent of AI writing tools, that’s about the minimum you’ll get away with, particularly if you’re just starting out and trying to get traction.

I do keyword research once a month to plan out all my topics and then I spend the month researching, outlining, writing, editing, etc.

Get published! As often as possible.

Backlinks

Depending on how competitive it is, your site is going nowhere without some backlinks.

There are plenty of niche site publishers who profess to not building any backlinks and letting their quality content do the work for them, but we live in an extremely competitive world.

The more backlinks you can get, the faster your domain authority will grow and the higher you’ll rank.

Create a guest posting or HARO strategy that works for you and start to build your backlinks, It will take time and it’ll push you out of your comfort zone, but it’s worth the effort.

Money

How are you monetizing your site?

You need to be thinking about this from Day 1, as there’s nothing less motivating than working like a crazy person for months on end to see nothing in return for your efforts.

Add google adsense from the getgo. Start collecting email addresses and add affiliate links as soon as possible.

As your traffic grows, you can look to add Ezoic (10k views/month), or Mediavine (50k views/month), add more affiliate programs and become more creative with your email funnels.

As per my eight strategies at the top of this post you can also start to add other money making streams of income.

There are so many ways to grow your blog review site, that it’s easy to get distracted and think you’re being productive, when actually you’re just spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast.

After 3 years of wheel spinning myself, focusing on content, backlinks and monetization strategies is the clearest and most straight forward route to success.

There is one last tip I would like to share with you to speed the entire operation of growing your blog review site up.

Outsource From the Start

The vast majority of bloggers will approach starting a blog by following all of the steps as outlined above, and then spending a LOT of time and effort learning every single part of running a successful blog, including, but not limited to …

  • Content writing
  • SEO
  • Social media marketing
  • Email outreach
  • Networking
  • List Building
  • Web design
  • Monetization
  • Guest posting

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it takes a LOT of work and dedication.

Along the way, many bloggers get burned out and give up, hence why less than 10% of websites get all the Google traffic.

While others get to a point where their blog is making an okay amount of money but it’s taking 50 – 80 hours a week to achieve that.

It’s then at this stage, many bloggers will start to outsource the jobs they don’t like doing.

Well, how about switching up the formula?

  • Instead of learning EVERY … SINGLE … PART of running a successful blog, why not focus on what you are good at, and outsource the rest!
  • Instead of worrying about every tiny detail of the blog, you could instead save yourself a lot of time and wasted energy by outsourcing to others who already have skills you haven’t mastered yet.

As one of the greatest entrepreneurs alive says;

richard branson quote

Instead of thinking of yourself as a blogger, instead, start to look at yourself as a business owner.

Remember you’re building your business around your lifestyle, not the other way around!

How much should you outsource?

This is up to you and will depend largely on your budget for the blog.

Starting a blog review site isn’t free, though as you’ve seen, most of the tools you need to get started can be sourced freely or for a low monthly fee.

However, if you have the budget for outsourcing, then it will pay dividends in the long run.

The more jobs you can outsource, the more you can focus on the things that are important to you and your blog.

Jobs you could outsource immediately include:

  • Designing a logo and other necessary graphics
  • Web design & development
  • Setting up your lead generators and email marketing campaigns
  • Creating and scheduling Pins on Pinterest (or other social media scheduling)
  • Email outreach for guest posts
  • Research and content outlines
  • Even writing the posts if that’s not your forte

Sure, there is nothing wrong with doing this all yourself, and learning new skills is always a valuable pursuit.

However, if time is limited and you want to scale your blog as quickly as possible, then outsourcing from the start is a must!

Where do you find freelancers?

My two biggest recommendations here would be Upwork and Fiverr.

Each of these is home to thousands of freelancers, specializing in very unique areas; all ready to work for you!

Tips for hiring freelancers

  • Be extremely specific in your job descriptions – English is not everyone’s first language, so be extra clear in what it is you are looking for
  • You get what you pay for – If you pay someone $5 to design you a site and make it live, don’t expect it to be all singing and dancing!
  • Speak directly to people before hiring – It helps to get to know them a little first and understand how responsive they are and whether they really understand what it is you are looking for
  • Be patient – Many hires won’t work out initially, this is normal. If you’re looking for a long term working relationship, such as with a writer, it may take 3 or 4 hires until you find someone that delivers to your standards.

How to Start & Make Money with a Review Blog – Summary

This has been a pretty big post with a lot of information to take in.

Many people will get stuck at simply getting a site live. My suggestion is to get your domain, hosting and setup your blog review site within 24 – 48 hours. Then focus on the most important part which is creating rankable content and getting ranked.

How pretty your site looks is not the part that’s going to make you money. It’s how many keywords you have ranking in the SERPS and how many people are viewing your content.

This took me a long time to understand, so please learn from my mistakes.

The critical things to remember and that I can’t stress enough are;

  1. Don’t try to compete in a dominated marketplace just because you think you have better expertise. If the sites you’re going up against have bigger budgets, bigger teams and have been there for a long time, you’ll struggle to grow.
  2. Content is KING! Focus on become exceptionally great at keyword research and create super valuable content that solves or answers the specific query you’re trying to rank for.
  3. Monetize as early as possible. I know you love your site and you think ads will ruin it or degrade it in some way and if your goal is to be an influencer and monetize via your social media following etc, then that’s a different strategy. If your goal is to become a niche site publisher and start and grow a blog review site, put ads, affiliate links and an email funnels on your site as early as possible.

Most importantly, have fun! You’re growing a business model which will give you the freedom to work from anywhere in the world!

Good luck!

yourlifestylebusiness

Please share with anyone you think this might benefit. Thank you 🙂

Disclaimer: Please note this post may contain affiliate links, from which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products and services I’ve used or would use myself. If you choose to purchase from any of my links, thanks so much for your support! 😊