Reviewing 101

I get asked a lot on what sort of advice I'd give for other people who want to do their own reviews. So I figured, why not make a whole section on my blog about it. I hope this helps you.

I'm gonna split my advice into 2 parts. Firstly, I'll talk about how to make your reviews the best they can be. Then I'll talk about how to get more views


How To Make Your Reviews Good!
Like any video, good image and sound quality is important. Right now, HD cameras are pretty cheap so if you're serious about video making, invest in one. I'd recommend a shotgun microphone (like the one made from RĂ˜DE) to get some good sound. Of course, if all you have is a webcam and you can't afford anything fancier, use it! Don't wait for expensive equipment to get started, just use what you got. Seriously, the best piece of advice I can give is to just say "fuck it, I'm gonna go for it". Take chances and don't be afraid of sucking because if you were to ask any successful YouTuber what they thought of their first video, they'll tell you it's horrible. Just come up with an idea and DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!!

But before you even begin you should decide on what you wanna review. Do you wanna review games? Books? Movies? TV shows? Toys? Commercials? Whatever you wanna review, review it. I guarantee there's a market for it.

Then you wanna decide on a format. From what I've gathered, here's the different kinds of reviewing tropes you'll see on the Internet. Feel free to skip all this as I kinda got carried away here!

WrittenYeah, you can still just write reviews y'know! Use a site like Blogger to post 'em. You may also be able to write for a review website.The VlogThis is the most basic kind of video review. You simply sit in front of a camera, hit the record button, talk about your subject and hit the record button when you're done. They might be some very light editing involved. I'd highly advise against this (unless you're doing it as a deviation from your main show) as without any kind of editing, they can be a bit boring.The Edited VlogProbably the most common type of review on YouTube. Like a vlog you plonk yourself in front of a camera, talk about your subject and edit any umms and ahhs out of your review in post. These can be said off the top of the head or scripted. Some reviewers use notes to help them formulate what they wanna say.Edited CommentaryLike an edited vlog, just without you on camera. You simply record your voice and speak your review. You then illustrate your points using footage from said product. A good choice if you feel appearing on camera serves no purpose.

Edited Commentary w/VideoJust like an edited commentary, but with you on camera too. You'll cut between footage of you speaking your review with footage of said product. You'll continue talking when the footage of a product is shown. Commentary / Let's PlayYou simply watch a film or play a game and add your thoughts. Users may wish to film themselves or just record their voice. Whilst an oversaturated market, let's plays of video games are immensely popular. The number 1 most subscribed YouTuber in the world is a let's player.Commentary / Let's Play (Highlight)Same as above but these have some editing involved, usually to show off the best partsWritten Let's Play Usually not the whole review but this is where you'll see a reviewer play a game, but in reality they're reacting to footage they already shot. Basically it's acting like you're playing a video game. Usually done when there's something frustrating/strange/funny about a game and the reviewer wishes to get this point across by showing what it's like to play a particular part The Synopsis-Based ReviewThis is where you review either a game, movie or TV show and go throughout the whole thing and sum up the plot. You then add your thoughts on particular scenes and characters as you progress. Usually a lot of scenes are left out for reasons of time. These type of reviews are usually comedic and became very popular after The Nostalgia Critic popularized it. I myself was inspired by Doug to create these kinds of reviews.
Episodic
Where a critic's review of a product can be so in-depth, they review it across several episodes
Countdowns
A good way to get views! Highly recommended! This is where you do a list (usually a top 10) of something and you arrange it in order from worst to best (or vice versa if you're doing a worst of list). So you could do a top 10 rock songs list, or a top 5 best films of the year list for example. The Story / Review This is a typical short with a plot and somewhere within that, a review of a product will play out. Opinions on these types of videos are mixed as they can distract from the actual review.DocumentaryThese reviews take more of an informative approach and detail things like the production process of a film and other behind the scenes stuffDiscussionThese kinds of reviews feature 2 or more reviewers.These can be very effective as it allows differing opinions and can lead to some great back and forth banter if you and your co-star(s) have good chemistry.Solo DiscussionSame as a discussion but the reviewer uses editing trickery to give the illusion they're talking to a clone or a character played by themselves. AnimatedSome kind of animation is used. Either the reviewers themselves are animated or some kind of animated character is involved in the review.PuppetsWhere the reviewer takes the form of a puppet or if some recurring character is a puppet. Characters can also take the form of toys, action figures or modelsPetsWhere an animal is featured in a critic's reviews as a recurring characterSkits
Any kind of review interspersed with skits (usually comedic) to help pacing or lighten the mood. 

Quick Reviews

These can take on several formats but the whole idea here is that these reviews last about a minute and the reviewer gets his/her thoughts out fast.MusicalA review which includes a song of some kind. The whole review can be in song or it can be just a single song. Songs are used to either illustrate a point, garner a laugh or to simply give the reviewer another way of expressing their feelings/experiences of the product. This trope is mostly popular with Yungtown who finishes most of his game reviews with a rap.

Vs Reviews
A format where the reviewer talks about 2 or more products and decides which one is better.Spoiler ReviewsThese kinds of reviews are purely for people who have already experienced the product. The reviewer will discuss plot details (e.g. character deaths, who wins) that would spoil a product for those who haven't experienced it yet. Can take several forms.Deep AnalysisReviews (usually of films) that last over 20 minutes. These go deep into why a product works or doesn't work. Usually the reviewer will attempt to persuade the viewer to take a different view on said product JonTron Style
This is a style of reviewing that JonTron popularized usually done by game reviewers. This is where titles, images, clips and other such things are edited in an energetic and wacky manner that coincides with the reviewers emotions. You really need to see reviews by JonTron to understand what I mean by this.

What if 
I only know of one critic with this format. This is where the reviewer talks about a product and states how it could have been done better. They'll pitch an idea for a remake of said product basically.Green ScreenThis is where the reviewer stands in front of a green screen for the whole review or at least the majority of it. They'll change the backdrop in post to whatever they want; this could be footage of a game or a specially designed set for the review show. Character ReviewsA popular format for more comedic reviews. This is where the reviewer plays a character. Usually these take the form of an exaggerated version of the reviewer themselves but their persona can sometimes be completely different. Recurring CharactersThis is where a critic's show is made up of several recurring characters. Either they'll add comic relief or their own thoughts on a productRecurring Clone CharactersSame as recurring characters but the characters are all played by the same person: the reviewer.Reviews of Bad ProductsThis is where the reviewer almost exclusively reviews products they deem bad. Usually done for comedy and has become very popular after the AVGN popularized it.Reviews of Good ProductsThis is where the reviewer almost exclusively reviews products they deem good. This could be for reasons of wanting to defend poorly received media.Reviews of Old ProductsWhere the reviewer primarily reviews products that were released years ago. Usually done to appeal to nostalgic senses.





Reviews of New Products
Where the critic reviews products that have just been released. Usually a good idea as this allows to reviewer to comment on trending subjects and hence get more views.Bad Products Must be Destroyed!This is where the reviewer destroys the product if they deem it crappy. Critics usually destroy things like DVD cases or game cartridges. This can either be done for real or the video can be edited in a way to make it look like it's been destroyed.Goofs and Mistakes
Where a reviewer talks about technical mistakes a product (usually a film) makes. Can be things like continuity issues, visible film crews or things characters do that don't make sense.Crossovers / CollborationsWhere 2 or more reviewers review a product together. These are good ways to expand your audience. They're fun as hell too! Reviewers can also be limited to quick cameo appearances.UnboxingsUsually limited to reviewers of tech, these are where the reviewer unboxes a product and gives their initial thoughts on it. Game reviewers can do this too with special edition versions of games.Theme SongWhere a critic's show employs uses a theme song in some way. These can be either licensed tracks or specifically written for the reviewers show. Songs can be played either at the beginning of a review or during the end credits. Probably the most famous of reviewer theme songs is the theme for The Angry Video Game Nerd as performed by Kyle Justin.RiffsLike a commentary, just purely for mocking and making fun of what's on screen. Popularized by the comedy series 'Mystery Science Theatre 3000' who are now known as Rifftrax.Collection VideosThis is where a reviewer shows off their collection. They can give quick thoughts on everything they own. Usually for collectors of video games or blu-rays. The reviewer may also make product hunting videos which shows how they get their findings.Live ShowCan take several forms but this is where a reviewer streams their thoughts on a subject live over the Internet. They'll then likely add the stream to an archive so people can watch it later if they so desire. Many let's players do this now on Twitch.PodcastLike a live show, just in audio format. Again, usually archived so people can watch it later if they desire.SponsoredIf a reviewer has a large enough audience he/she can get sponsors to help pay the bills. Most popular with tech reviewers though this is seeing a rise in popularity with video game and movie reviewers too. And for whatever reason, the sponsored product always seems to be Audible. So once you've decided on a format, decide if you wanna employ a rating system. A lot of reviewers like to do this as this is a way of showing how good or bad they feel something is. You can use a rating out of 10 (like Angry Joe), you could use letters from an F to an A+ (like Chris Stuckmann) or you could come up with something completely different and have different phrases to connote a rating (like Jeremy Jahns).




You may also wanna decide on a theme. So you wanna review films? What kind of films? Recent ones? Nostalgic ones? Horror films? Blockbusters? Hidden gems? Bad movies? Choose whatever you're most passionate about.

Now when filming your review, be sure to speak clearly, drink plenty of water and try your best to relax. Wear light clothing, make sure your lighting is good and get yourself a comfortable seat. Don't worry if you keep fluffing up your lines (I do this ALL the time). Just say them over and over 'til you get them right and you can choose your best take in editing later.

Also, try to inject some energy. Speaking in front of a camera is different to speaking to people so don't just mumble every line and sound lethargic. Watch your local newscasters, they'll give you a good indication of how you should speak. Don't overdo it though, still act casual. At first you'll probably feel nervous but keep at it and you'll eventually get a feel for it.

When it comes to editing, software can be expensive unfortunately but both PCs and Macs come with free software. If you can't afford Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas, use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. They will get the job done!

If you're reviewing a film, you can get the footage from a DVD using DVD ripping software (like the one from Xilisoft). As long as you own a copy of the film, you could download it off the Internet, though be sure to check your country's laws before you do this as I don't know what they are for you. If you're reviewing a video game, use a capture device. I use a Hauppauge HD PVR 2 myself though this is expensive. If you can't afford that, you'll have to do your own research as I don't know any affordable options. If you're reviewing music, music videos can be downloaded off YouTube using extensions. I use 'Download YouTube Videos as MP4' by ialc for Firefox. Works great!

When editing, always be sure to illustrate your points. Remember, this is a "video" review you're making, give your audience something to do other than look at your ugly mug (I'm joking, I'm sure you're beautiful). Be sure to check for spelling mistakes in any titles you create and watch out for your sound levels. Make sure nothing is too loud or too quiet. I still struggle with this myself but it's important.

Copyright is a huge problem you'll face if you decide to use footage that's not yours in your review. Game reviewers will fare better though if you plan to use clips from films or extracts from songs, make sure the clips you use are short (i.e. no longer than 15 seconds). If you do get a matched 3rd party claim on YouTube, make full use of YouTube's appeal system. State your use of said footage is protected under fair use. Research some fair use laws from your own country for good measure and try to include a clause to show you understand it. I can't guarantee this will work, this is simply your best chance to avoid video takedowns.

My advice would be to create reviews until you reach about 1000 subscribers on YouTube, get into contact with a YouTube network and inquire about a 'managed partnership'. If you show that you understand fair use, the network will handle the whole copyright thing for you and all your videos will be instantly monetizable. They will take a percentage of your ad revenue but trust me, it's worth it. Be wary of contracts (some networks will rope you in and it will be nigh on impossible to leave them). Also, make sure you're getting a 'managed' partnership. You do not want an 'affiliate' one. This will give you no advantage to a direct Google partnership. I honestly don't know why people even go for them.

How To Get More Views!
OK, so your reviews are awesome, they're insightful, interesting, funny, you are an amazing critic! But your reviews have no views. Drat! OK, here's some advice on how to crank up that view and subscriber count:

Stay Relevant
I don't do this myself but it's a good way to get views. If you review films and games from 5 years ago, no new viewers will be interested. If you review films, review what's just been released in your local theatre. Sometimes theatres can offer advance screenings, so be sure to inquire about that if you're serious about film reviewing. If you review games, talk about what's literally just come out. Game reviewers actually can have the advantage as if you're good enough and get a strong enough following, you can get your hands on pre release copies of a game to review! Email public relations offices of various video game publishers and ask if you can obtain a promo copy of a game to review. But be sure to get your review out as soon as you can as other reviewers will beat you to the top of YouTube searches. Also, be sure to: Make Full Use of Tags! Often overlooked, tagging your videos appropriately is very important. If you review Iron Man for example, put in tags that relate. So for example, you could put:

Iron Man, Iron Man Review, Iron Man Movie Review, Iron Man Trailer, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr, Tony Stark

Experiment to see what works best. And be sure to use as many tags as YouTube will allow.
Collaborate!YouTube is a community and collaborating with other YouTubers can be a great way to get noticed. Make a video with someone else on their channel and it's likely they'll give your channel a shoutout. Be sure to return the favour!

Social Media
Sites like Facebook and Twitter can have a domino effect. If someone likes your fan page (which you should definitely make by the way) then their friends will see that. They might be intrigued and check you out. Facebook and Twitter are also the most convenient methods people use to follow others. So you better start using them if you don't already! Other websitesYouTube is BY FAR the best place to upload your videos but this doesn't mean you can't use others. Blip is a good site to upload to (especially if you run into copyright problems on YouTube). Also, if you're a reviewer, there's a crap ton of sites out there that have forums! Forums where people post their videos and have others watch 'em and let them know what they think. Be sure to get involved in the community (i.e. don't just post your own stuff and expect feedback, watch other people's reviews too!)Message Other ReviewersIf there's a reviewer out there that you watch and admire, message them. Ask 'em to check out your own reviews, ask 'em to give you some pointers. Be nice though!! And DO NOT spam them. If they don't reply, don't keep nagging them. They are under no obligation to message you back. Say that you're a big fan, you make reviews yourself and if they could give you some advice, that'd be fantastic. If they like you enough, they may want to do a collab. They might leave a link to your channel on theirs. Hell, they may even give you a shoutout!Shoutout CompetitionsThese don't come around too often but some YouTubers may do competitions where people submit videos, they watch them and then they'll choose their favourites and give them a shoutout. I won a shoutout competition PewDiePie did when he hit 2 million subscribers and I was over the moon. Again, they don't happen a lot, but it's a good way the bigger names can give some love for the little guy. But be sure your videos are great before submitting!User Submitted SitesSites like Reddit, Cheezburger, 9Gag and FunnyJunk can be great ways to get noticed. A few of my mashup videos have gotten insanely popular on Reddit. Chances of success are very minimal here but it's worth a go if you have a lot of faith in your work.

The Beginning of Your Video is the Most Important!
People browse YouTube all the time. If they see your video, they're giving it a chance. Give 'em a reason to stay. Make the very beginning of your video attention grabbing. I can't tell you how to do this, just know the introduction to your video is very important.

Don't Nag Your Viewers for Likes and Subscriptions
People don't like this. It sounds needy and pathetic. If your viewer likes the video, they'll like it! Focus more on making good content.

I hope that helps you all. Now get out there and review something!!

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