Writing a negative review is, I think, a bit of a tricky subject. We all want to “tell the truth” and “be honest” but sometimes, it feels like someone is just rah-rah-ing all over the place. “This is soooo good!” “I can’t live without this!” “Holy grail!!” Been there right? Personally, I don’t like being a Debbie Downer so I only really blog about stuff I already like. I mean, why pepper my blog with negativity right? We get enough of it in real life 😛
But sometimes, when a highly raved product doesn’t work, or if I do receive a product for review and it doesn’t work for me, should I write a negative review or just leave it aside and focus on all the other good stuff I have? Should I feel that I should say something nice instead since its “free”? Will saying I dislike a product make my blog more credible? Its a personal call.
I’d love to know what readers think too! Does the presence of a negative review make the blog appear more credible to you? Or do you make your own judgments based on all you’ve read?
Many years ago, when I started blogging, there weren’t many blogs in the field and the few blogs I read based in the USA were strongly criticized by their readers for only ever praising products. They were accused of selling out and pandering to the brands so they would continue to receive freebies. A response from one of the bloggers (now no longer blogging) stuck with me. She said it was her blog and she wanted it to be a happy place so she only focused on the good stuff and stuff she liked. Why should she blog about stuff she didn’t like just to make others think her credible? And I think that makes a lot of sense and its something I personally believe in too.
So I think it comes down to what you are comfortable with. Writing a negative review doesn’t make you any more or less credible as a blogger. Your readers will be able to figure it out themselves. It just comes down to what you want to present and your method of presentation. If you do feel that a product merits a a negative review, but aren’t sure how to deal with it, I’ve got some tips here. Please feel free to share yours too 🙂
- Don’t be too emotional. Leave emotions at the door because if you are too emotional, the rant may come off longer than you like and you may just look like you’re an incoherent ranting mess.
- Be Objective and use neutral language. Your readers, if they’ve stuck around with you long enough, will notice when you don’t quite feel for a product or service. You don’t have to use words like “hate” or “terrible” or even “bad” but you can still write a negative review using more objective words or phrases like “This product did not work on my oily skin” or “I didn’t like it but the packaging is nice”
- Offer suggestions for improvement. If you did not like a product or service, there may be a reason why. So offer your suggestions on how the product or service could be improved or explain why you didn’t like it. It helps others understand where you’re coming from. This is especially true if you are reviewing a service, because they may pick up on your review and improve. Or they may just make excuses and don’t bother. C’est la vie.
- Keep it short. The more you say, the more you may later regret what you are saying. So if you don’t have many good things to say about a product or service but yet want to say something about it, keep it short and sweet. Your message gets across, you don’t end up raging on and on and you don’t look like you’re bashing.
- Temper it with Humour. Use humour, if that is your forte. If you can bring humour into it, it makes for fun reading, even if you’re writing a negative review. I’ve chuckled over many a humorously written negative review.
Of course, these are just guidelines of how I deal with writing negative reviews. I don’t think one should sugarcoat everything, but I do believe that a more objective stance is a better reflection of your blog in general. Still, its just my view.
Sure, sometimes, there will be people who love drama and thrive on reading and writing firery and vitriolic pieces and they will find this bland and beige. If fire and vitriol is your style, don’t change because that’s what your readers come for. It is your blog and you may write however you wish after all so this is a guide, not gospel 🙂
I’ve done my negative reviews in my time but as I said, I prefer to focus on what’s good and to share what I like on my blog. I only have limited space and time, and I’d prefer to keep it a happy one. But sometimes, if a highly acclaimed product doesn’t perform then I believe in saying so. That said, I keep to a pros and cons format for all product reviews so that pretty much tells you there’s something bad in every thing just as there is something wonderful 🙂 As a reader however, I prefer reading a coherent well thought out negative review instead of a long post of product bashing. I’ve seen it and it doesn’t leave me with a good impression. I don’t consider a blog with negative reviews any more credible than a blog with mostly positive reviews because I look at the whole package. However, that’s me 🙂
How do you deal with writing negative reviews? If a product does not work for you or you received shoddy service, are you wont to write about it, or do you just leave it aside? Do you think a blog that has negative reviews more credible than a blog with mostly positive reviews?
Simple Blogging Tips are some simple tips I have for fellow bloggers, based on my own experiences. I’m no ‘guru’ but I hope they will help you. You may read up on previous Simple Blogging Tips here or please feel free to ask your question in the comment box or in email.
49 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
To be honest, I’m not terribly keen on blogs who only feature positive reviews. I do see where they’re coming from; why write about something they don’t like, when they can write about stuff that they do? It’s just me, I guess. I want to know what doesn’t work for them and why. Surely everything they use can’t be perfect? Plus the ones with the positive reviews only these days tend to sound like press releases. Some has lost their personal touch.
Having said that, I do not like negative reviews that bashes brands just because the products did not work for them. I find it highly unnecessary and unprofessional to say that brand X is rubbish for coming out with a particular BB cream just because the BB cream broke that person out. We can be tactful when saying that it didn’t work for us. I like the part where you mentioned about offering suggestions for improvement. It’s a good way for brands to learn on how to improve their products further.
Paris B says
I do agree with you about some blogs losing their personal touch. I read a blog sometimes not for the content but for the blogger and when that bit of personality goes (usually with the fame and fortune that comes with it) I go too 😛 I too dislike reviews that are too harsh. I’ve actually read stuff with profanity and I’m thinking “Jeez, its just lipstick. If you didn’t like it just say so nicely!” It just strikes me as being a bit childish sometimes 🙂
I was just thinking about this subject the past few weeks, and it’s so nice that you wrote a post about it! I find that there is a difference between being the reader and the writer. When I was just a reader I really did appreciate a negative review once in a while, it was like I knew that the product could not work on me. However being a blogger myself now it’s different. I enjoy writing about products I love so much more than a product that didn’t work on me. I always try to be objective about it tho, but somehow I kinda postpone my negative posts and I kind of forget about it sometimes. It’s tricky idd, as a reader I like it, as a blogger not so much, lol!
Paris B says
Hi Teri, fully nodding my head in agreement here! As a reader I like coming across a less than stellar review because it makes it feel more balanced, like a well balanced meal. As a blogger, there are so many things I love that I’d like to get out and share with everyone that its easy to push back the less than favourite ones and then I hmm and haw at it because I’m not even that keen to take photos sometimes! LOL Gotta learn to balance both sides of things I guess 🙂
I don’t really judge a blog’s credibility by the number of negative OR positive reviews. I think (usually) if someone is writing good reviews just for the sake of it, it will come across in their writing. Same goes for those who genuinely are passionate about all things beauty-related–I think most of the time, the writing really comes across as sincere. I admittedly don’t have many (if any, really) “bad” reviews on my blog–the worst grade I’ve given is a C I think. It’s not the I’m afraid to hand out F’s, it’s just that I am pretty careful about the beauty purchases I make–most are the result of careful research and planning. I also don’t think anyone should feel pressured to have to feature any bad reviews at all on their blog–it totally makes sense to me that some will only want to write about products that excite them or that they truly believe in. After all, it is their blog–if people don’t like it, they can always find another blog that’s more suited to them. Anyways, that’s just my own personal opinion.
Paris B says
Yes yes I fully agree 😀 Most of the time, if its a product I buy, I buy it because I have done my research and then I buy it and I like it and then I rave about it. Or maybe I don’t like it and then I don’t rave heh Its the products for consideration that will stump many. Do they blog if they dislike it? Should they say so? If its so popular that everyone’s raving about it, should they buck the trend? When did blogging become so complex eh? LOL!
I prefer to read positives and negatives reviews in the same blog, the difference as you said is how they manage their critic. I’ve made only one negative review about a sunscreen; and what I did was saying that for me it didn’t work and put for which type of people the product might work well.
Paris B says
Sunscreen is so tricky! But like you, a good mix of good and bad is always a welcome read because its nice to know that some things don’t work out for everyone either 🙂
I’ve read some blogs that bash products and it turns me off. What doesn’t work for you might work wonderfully on others. Profanity also turns me off immediately.
When I review products I purchased, they would naturally be more positive than negative. I mean, I’d only spend money on things I like! Products sent for consideration purposes are trickier. As a blogger, I remain neutral and say it’s not for me, but it might work for you. Since they’re for ‘consideration’, I can choose not to review them at all. Also, I do not request for products to be sent to me. If I’m interested, I buy. If you send to me, great, but if I don’t like the product, I will write it as such, in a polite neutral manner (I try hard to be! LOL)
As interesting as it is to read, controversial posts are really not my forte. I rant too much. I had one in my draft for the longest time, and I ended up deleting it. Posting it won’t change the situation, it would just get something off my chest, which can be done by trashing it out with friends. Unless, of course, it is something everyone could discuss, but even that is too much for me to handle. I’m already stressed enough in real life, I don’t need extra drama in my blog.
And you’re right. Blogs are personal, ours. Readers have a choice to read if it suits them. I don’t aim to please everyone either (impossible) so if my thoughts somehow click with the reader, then awesome! If not, we as bloggers shouldn’t be too worried either 🙂
Lastly, I hope I sounded coherent. Didn’t sleep last night >.<"
Paris B says
Haha no, you were quite coherent and I fully agree with you on all points 🙂 We would naturally be more discerning about the products we buy because it was our hard earned money and we hope to love it. When we don’t, its always a big let down. Products for consideration fall into 2 categories for me. I either love them and will rave about them or I don’t like them so much and then I keep pushing them to the back burner, thinking “I’ll do it tomorrow and tomorrow…” and then oops! Its discontinued 😛 I hope you managed to get some rest after your midnight scare 🙂
I don’t mind writing negative reviews as long as it’s worded properly and of course, you have “good enough” reasons to prove your statement. I don’t get the rant as I don’t waste my energy ranting so much on 1 Negative trait of a product.
Once an owner of a salon told me: “Oh, I read your blog! But I find you always have longer PROS than CONS”. Then I told him: “In the first place, I do my own research before I purchase something, why would I purchase a product that I know won’t work for me? Why would I purchase a product that has so much CON at a glance?”
You’re (again) right..the readers will always be smart enough to know how you feel about the product if they are a long time reader 🙂
great post as always~!
Paris B says
You are so right Nikki! Why would we spend money on something we don’t like indeed! LOL! I find pros and cons very personal anyway especially when it comes to price. What’s our benchmark for what’s expensive or cheap? We can’t speak for everyone right? 🙂
I always try to stay objective when writing abut a product I am unsure of. I have only once till now hated a product absolutely and in fact that particular brand doesn’t suit me so when I was new in doing the reviews, I was probably more negative than I should have been but slowly when I realized I edited out that
post!!! I always try to point out this didn’t work for me for such and such reasons but honestly, I am hard put to find good points to say about a product sometimes and then my narrative becomes bland 😀 But, I try not to thrash down any product because why to unnecessarily affect the brand and how I have seen people loving the stuff I didn’t like 🙂 so, its all balancing out the write up.
btw, you should plan a post on how to go about writing reviews on the same product again. sometimes, we try out a product and don’t like and then we put up the review (bought on own or freebies, anything) and after some more trial, we like it so how to go about it. the issue is not so great when the product is bought by us but if its a PR sample and the earlier was a negative review and the later becomes a positive one, that’s when anyone might start thinking that the blogger is prevaricating to suit the brand people.
also, many reviews have recommendation and rating columns which I don’t use. I end my review with my experience unless I have to particularly recommend a product.
Paris B says
Thank you for the idea Swati! Returning to a product after some time is a great idea. I tend not to do it myself unless its something I really really love (Estee Lauder ANR was one of them!) but its a good way to remind people that sometimes what didn’t work may now work because of different skin conditions 🙂 The key thing to remember I think, is to be fair to everyone – to our readers who depend on our thoughts, to the brands and also to ourselves 🙂
I like seeing the whole picture, so I like knowing if a product doesn’t work for someone – especially products that everyone else raves about.
That said, I’m usually not interested in spending energy on writing negative reviews – I usually only bother if the product annoyed me for some reason.
Paris B says
Me too! The more a product is hyped, the more I want to know if there are any drawbacks which is really where bloggers come right in 🙂 Its always helpful to know if a product works as it claims or it doesn’t.
Hanny Daforcena says
I don’t judge blogs on how many positive or negative reviews they have. I myself tend to write more positive reviews than negative because I only buy products that I’ve researched to heck, swatched until I literally have no face to meet the SAs and so forth. ^.^ However, if I do encounter a product that did not work for me, I’d take a longer time to blog about it and often figure out said malfunction occurred on me.
However, I do know that some Youtubers are being judged by whether they give too many or too little negative reviews. I gathered that the viewers seem to have this notion that the more positive reviews, the more PR products they receive from the corporations I think. http://www.gurugossip.net is the place to be for such discussions, although, they are mostly toxic towards them Youtube vloggers.
Paris B says
Oh Youtube *shudder* I’ve read some of the comments left on the videos and they are so nasty! I don’t see why anyone has to be so nasty because ultimately they always have the choice of NOT watching that particular vlogger right? I think I’ve come across that site. The hatred in there with forums focussed on just 1 Youtube vlogger is really off putting
i love reading both negative and positive reviews within one same blog, because sometimes i get suspicious when everything is a ‘must-buy!’, ‘so awesome!’, ‘buybuybuy!’. i’d bought stuff after reading such reviews which turned out to be horrid on me, so i prefer to follow bloggers who list out why, and why not products work on them. also, i like it when bloggers analyse the product to say who the product might be more suitable for, and who might dislike it.
however, i think i’m guilty of the occasional rant – i’ll like to think i’m doing it to warn people against buying the product, but sometimes it’s just me venting 😛 so much money spent on a dud.. heartpain leh 😉
Paris B says
Ah you come under “Temper it with humour” hehe… I like a good laugh so a negative review that makes me laugh is one I enjoy reading, nevermind that its negative 😀 I too have been suckered into buying stuff that don’t work, just because everyone’s raving about it *coughMACcough* but over the years (and after emptying my wallet more than necessary) I’ve learnt what I like and what I don’t like so that helps me a lot in sifting out purchases. But yeah that whole “buy buy buy!” thing can be very off putting right? *makes note to self not to encourage to buy*
I am purely a reader.
I am suspicious of blogs that speak only speak glowingly of every single product they review.
In fact I knew a blogger didnt like a particular product sent to her for review but when her written review was posted on her blog SURPRISE!!!! Positive review LOL
Another of my pet peeves – posting an advertorial Without revealing that it is an advertorial – the disguised review does not fool many.
Paris B says
What? She actually said she didn’t like it elsewhere but raved about it on her blog? That’s not right 🙁 But maybe it was an advertorial then you can’t say anything bad at all. I’m with you on the undisclosed advertorials, Rudi. You raised a very valid point. Often I’ve come across very suspicious looking “reviews” – you just know when you see it right? – with product placements, out of context writing and raves everywhere and it bugs me when I look for the tag or at least a word saying its an advertorial, and find none. Even mags put an Advertorial notice when its one 🙂
I started my blog with the same philosophy as the someone you know… … It can be seen from my blog title that I really only want to focus more on things that I already like.
I do have negative reviews, especially for hyped products, because it is also part of my blog philosophy to cater to people who really only want to buy value for money products (be it high end or low end).
And then there are all those that come in between, just pass, etc.
But when I take a look at my tags, I see a lot more 4/5, 5/5 than failed products.
Of course, not all 5/5 are Holy Grail. That is too sacred a word to throw around. haha, HG only goes to those products that can maintain 6/5 for a long, long time.
You are right about the point that readers can actually tell how bad something is from the tone and length of the post. I tend to have more photos and more to say about things I genuinely like, as compared to things that are pretty good, but I don’t really like, and give consolation marks for.
Standing 6/5 for a long, long time… HAHAH!! I would definitely like to hear about a product like that, I believe I never had anything like that 🙁
haha, that is my cleansing gel that I’ve been using for 7 straight long years. Totally deserves more than 6/5.
But it’s not suitable for everyone. It’s just me and my sensitive skin.
Paris B says
Personally, I don’t believe in being too cynical or negative about things either. Life’s already so complex, better to live positively as your blog title implies! 😀 I actually like seeing negative reviews for hyped products, because it tells me that its not infallible and it warns me not to expect miracles when I use it. I may have found a 6/5 but its as rare as a diamond in a coalmine 😀
I’m an avid beauty blog reader and what attracts me is an honest review. I try to be very careful when making purchases and so always look up as many reviews as I can beforehand. If a product really doesn’t work, I would really want to know and would be grateful for the money saved.
You are right though – its all about how the review is written and how well the issues highlighted are substantiated. My biggest peeve is when the item is deemed “terrible because it broke me out”.
Paris B says
Hello Chipmunk! (What an original name! 😉 ) I think as bloggers, many of us may not realise it but we actually owe it to the readers not to mislead, wherever possible so if a product sucks, we should say so without feeling too bad about it. Whilst breaking out from a product is not a nice thing, it doesn’t mean that the whole brand should be thrown out the window or that it’d break everyone else out too, right? Our skins are all different.
Paris, I do believe (from a reader’s point of view) that I would like to get to know the product for what it is.. Even though someone writes a bad review about a product doesn’t usually affects me, I for myself would just to go the store and try it on myself to make sure. This is the good thing about cosmetics, THEY DO HAVE TESTERS 🙂 For example, a few days ago you wrote about a partially negative (or maybe say objective) review about Lancome’s new lipsticks. And your review made me wonder about the lipsticks, because even though they are not as colorful as you hoped, but I do know that I like sheer lipsticks. So, look one of your negative (or objective) review made me wonder about a product which I knew and never tried or willing to try before 🙂 The same thing happens for good reviews, too. Just because a few bloggers mentioned a product as “excellent”, “must buy” or “holly grail” doesn’t make me go out and by it instantly. Again, I do wonder about the product and go out and try it. If I like it, I’d buy that, if I don’t then I don’t. I would like to hear your own opinion, even if it is negative or positive! This is why I read blogs and not press releases..
Paris B says
Hi Casey I have to agree with you. Sometimes a poor or negative review makes me more curious than a good one! It makes me wonder if it is indeed all that bad and I too go and try it out for myself… sometimes to find that yes, it is that bad, sometimes to find the opposite 😀 I don’t understand people who will blog a press release. I’ve seen it and I wonder what the point is 😛 And you did check out the Lancome Rouge in Love lipsticks! How did you find them?
Oh yes I did in deed 🙂 But in the next counter there was a % 30 sale in all Loreal cosmetics so I did buy caresse lipstick instead 😛 I know that’s not a fair trade but from the price point of view 1 lancome lipstick is almost equal to 3 loreal lippies 🙂
Paris B says
Haha! That makes sense and since they are sister companies, they might even be similar textures! 😉
Methinks that it is not enough to judge the quality of a blog on how many negative or positive reviews it gives a product. Some might even think that negative reviews are a sign of objectivity, but why would you even review a product negatively if you didn’t like it enough to buy it in the first place?
My blog does not have many product reviews because I have a limited budget. The things that I review have been kept under a list that has been swatched, researched, having to wait for promotions/deals etc before buying. At any case, I will try to make the best of each product, so it seems that I do not have many negative reviews, because I love all of them, heh heh.
Paris B says
I think when we buy a product, we are more likely to want to view it in a positive light. Otherwise why buy it, indeed! I am also a little harsh when a product that I buy doesn’t work out for me. Its all that disappointment talking 🙂 I don’t think a blog is measured by the reviews it has. There are many aspects to a beauty blog 🙂
great post PB.
If I didn’t like the product, I would say so. I dislike reading press releases and blogs that lift paragraphs or the entire press release and past into their blogs and call it a review. My eye simply glazes over those blog entries with marketing and press release info. I mean if I want to be sold on a product by marketing gimmicks, I would go to the company’s website for it. not a blog.
I prefer short and concise paragraphs that tells me the important details of the product which is why some of the details of a product are indicated in point form in my blog. If I dislike the product and won’t repurchase, I would say so, and i won’t lie just because the product was given by the company.
i meant paste into the blog, not past. haha
Paris B says
Haha oh boy the number of people who lift from press releases are very impressive! I always wonder to myself why they even bother. But then, I guess it boils down to style or personal comfort with language? 😛
Raquel M. says
I do write negative reviews. I get why people don’t sometimes and if it’s a really low-key brand maybe I’ll postpone for a while but if it’s a product that promises everything and doesn’t do it or if has raving reviews and doesn’t work for me, I’ll post about it. I mainly started the blog to let people know that a lot of products do not work as advertised so they don’t waste their money and perhaps guide them to the right products. But thanks for the tips 😉 x
Paris B says
Kudos to you Raquel! Unless our blogs serve as a platform for information of new releases or what’s new in the market, I think if we choose to go the way of a product review, that we should be telling the bad with the good, no matter the consequences! 😀
Quite honesty, I write about products that I’m interested in and also products that I think my readers are interested in. It doesn’t matter whether the product is “good or bad” because there is always something negative that I find in a product. (I’m a really picky individual!!) Although, I do emphasize the positive characteristics of a product, I do not OMIT anything negative. Also, readers should know that just because a product didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for them. In the same token, just because a product DID work for me, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for them. We all have different skin types and complexions.
Paris B says
I think that mixture of good and bad in a product review is what makes it more credible. It shows that you took the trouble to consider the plus points and minus points and that thought went into it. Good on ya Joyce!
I dislike blogs that rave about everything just like I dislike those that bash products. I tend to do my research before making a purchase so my reviews are often positive, but even then the product usually has a con or two. It is not possible that everything is perfect. On the other hand, if you dislike something, just explain why it doesn’t work for you instead than bashing the brand. That’s neither professional nor useful.
I don’t think that bloggers need to write negative reviews to be credible. They just need to be completely honest about the products they review, always stating both the pros and cons. I do write negative reviews though because I think that readers need to know when a product just doesn’t work. Most beauty products are good, but every now and then you can come across one that’s really bad, like a nail polish that’s so sheer it needs 20 layers to show up and moreover, the formula is hard to apply and never dries.
I bought a nail polish like that once (and it wasn’t a layering polish or I wouldn’t have minded the sheerness) and if I had seen a negative review, I would have saved the money. Such instances are rare, it’s true but I think it would be a disservice to the readers not to mention such a product at all on our blogs. Still, it doesn’t mean that you have to bush the brand, just tactfully say one of their products doesn’t work.
Yes!! I completely agree!! I started reading beauty blogs after a few bad experiences as a makeup newbie. Looking back now, had I looked up the blogs before making my first few purchases (Chanel eyeshadows… grr) I would’ve saved sooo much money.
Paris B says
Oh I agree with you Gio! I caught onto the Chanel eyeshadow hype a while ago because (before blogs) people on forums were raving all over it with no one saying anything bad about it. I felt bad for saying that I found it crap and too sheer and shimmery but no one else did! Wasted my money on that one for sure.
I think there should be a balance of good and bad reviews. That’s like a sanity check I think, not every product that landed on your face will do wonders as the advertisements claim. Some products launched via blogger review party tend to have almost 99% positive reviews which is quite unbelievable at times. And that’s why we consumers read blogs to do some research and read up before we purchase some products. If a blog only publishes positive reviews, then it’s no different from advertisement in magazines…
Just like how you sometimes say that one product that worked wonders for a hundred others didn’t make it for you or vice versa, which is normal and I agree. I agree with you that some bad experiences can be turned into a humour form or another way, this will be more palatable to the company/producer as well in the form of constructive feedback. Bashing and bashing will not help…afterall it’s just a product and can’t speak up for itself lol. However, if the review pertains to service such as facial, massage or etc, then it may be entitled to some real life experience/trauma write up.
Paris B says
I actually prefer, if it was a blogger party launch, that the post be about the party as opposed to the product. Also, an information post vs a review is another distinction to make, because in the former, one can make all the rah rah claims they want but in the latter, there should be a check and balance. But I guess its up to the individual and how they want to get their message across 🙂 I’m now a little wary about reading/writing about facial or spa services because I’ve found that these are all therapist-centric. So if you go and get a different therapist, then you may or may not enjoy the experience more than I did. Conundrum eh?