dreamer. planner. doer. I co-founder Ugly Food of the North + the Little Free Garden project | lover of adventure, geocaching + Fargo-Moorhead.


Tips from a Review-Writing Enthusiast


I've loved location-based applications and review-writing for as long as I can remember. Whether it's a tip on foursquare (now called Swarm), a Yelp review, or a survey on the bottom of a receipt, I've always considered the opportunity to provide honest feedback an important responsibility.

From hidden parks to basement dive bars, I see online reviews as a way to celebrate the things that make a community special.

Keep on reading for a few tips I've picked up over a decade of dedicated review writing:

  1. Stop, think, and maybe sleep on it.
    We’ve all seen reviews that were clearly written in a moment of anger or frustration after a bad experience at an establishment. DON’T BE THAT PERSON. Hear me out. I believe there is a place on the interwebs for negative reviews, but I also think that businesses and the people who run them deserve a second, and sometimes, third chance.

    Had a rough first visit to a brand-new establishment? Take mental note - or start a draft, but don’t let one rude server or one lukewarm dish define your public review of a place.

  2. Pay attention to the details.
    Found a place you love? Great. Now think about the specifics: is it the funky lighting, the rocking playlist, the quirky staff, the ample parking, or a glorious combination of things? Figure out what it is you love and name it in your review. Give a shout out to that awesome bartender who nails her recommendations, or the barista who always remembers your name. Name the hidden gems on the menu, or the appetizer you just can’t live without. Bonus points if you include a photo!

  3. Be an advocate - and tell the story if you know it.
    If you’re a local, chances are you’ve got insider info on places in your community. Is the new brewery that just opened housed in one of the oldest buildings in town? Has your favorite coffee shop been in the same place for the past 50 years? Think about what makes a place extra-special and celebrate it in your review.

    If you see another review you think nails it - or on the flip-side, is totally inaccurate, give it a thumbs-up or down. This helps the best, and most relevant reviews rise to the top.

  4. Have fun.
    A wise friend once told me, “don’t make it more than it is.” Translation: Don’t overthink it. Chances are your review will be one of multiple scanned by a hangry visitor looking for a bite to eat, so don’t feel like your review has to encompass every single thing about your favorite restaurant. Pick a few things to highlight, and run with it.

    Are you a fan of analogies? Literary allusions? Poetry? This is YOUR review and should include your personality.

Like anything, review writing takes practice. Keep a list of places you’d like to review and look at it in your free time. Pro-tip: road trips are a great chance to write collaborative reviews. Regardless of when or where you write, remember to be quirky, be funny, but most of all, be genuine.

Fun Fact: I’m a Google Local Guide (Level 7) and a Swarm Superuser (Level 4). Want to check out my reviews? You can find me on Google, Yelp or Swarm.

IN FARGO-MOORHEAD AND WANT TO PRACTICE YOUR SKILLS? Join us at the Prairie Den on Monday, November 19 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for "We Love Fargo-Moorhead: A Review Writing Party!" [click for details]

Did you enjoy this story?

Rate it to let us know what you think!