How to get into reviewing, part 2.

coupon clubMy original post about how to get into reviewing was (and remains) quite popular but it occurs to me that I should write an update, as the reviewing world has changed drastically since that post with Amazon’s TOS changing.

If you have not done so already, familiarize yourself with Amazon’s new reviewing policies if you are going to review primarily on Amazon.

There are still other sites you can review on besides Amazon.   Xberts, Fat Wallet and Slick Deals come to mind.   And probably the best way to review is on other social media or your own blog.  Admittedly, getting into reviewing now is hard if you don’t already have a large audience or a solid reviewing reputation.   Everyone has to start somewhere though.

Here is my advice then for starting out:

  1. Review all items you bought where you bought it (if you bought it on Amazon, review it on Amazon).   Amazon now limits the number of reviews per week you can do for items not purchased through your site.   You can review 5 items per week, but it might be worth it to do that.   I focus a lot on Amazon, because it takes so much of the retail spotlight these days, who DOESN’T shop at Amazon?
  2. Review your items on other social media, as well as the place you bought them.   The point of this is to begin to build an audience.   If your reviews are good, and enough people like them you will succeed.
  3. Start your own review blog in addition to your social media channels.
  4. Seek out the myriad of groups on Facebook and elsewhere that are geared towards reviewers with free giveaways or super low cost items.  If you were going to buy items anyway why not get them at a discount?
  5. Contact retailers directly and ask for samples to review.   Mention your website or number of followers if it is relevant.   You will get a lot of rejection, but every once in awhile you will get someone interested.
  6. There are also review groups out there that you can join and get free samples, although since Amazon’s TOS has changed the numbers have reduced.   But doing an online search you can find others out there.   Green mom’s review is one that would appeal to a niche audience, for example.  Some of these review outlets have stricter requirements than others so do your research.   Amazon continues their own reviewer’s club, but it is strictly invitation only.
  7. Work as hard at building your audience as you do at leaving reviews.  Consider being a niche reviewer of one type of product and become an expert in that arena.

 

Consumer Lessons

cardboard-box-161578_960_720So many products have come across my doorstep, and I’ve learned a few things by being able to review them.   I’m going to share some of the insights I have learned as a result.

If your buying common items, shop around first.   Amazon, Target, Walmart, Kohls, Overstock… all these outlets carry a lot of the same items.   I mean exactly the same.   The only difference will be the price and the return policy of the seller.  You can buy an LED light on Amazon for $9 or you can buy it for $15.  But it’s the same light and it’s the same seller (Amazon) with the same return policy (Prime).   I never buy anything now without first shopping around.

Brand name seems to only matter (sometimes) when it comes to electronics.   But it doesn’t really matter in other areas, unless you are trying to impress someone with a logo.  For instance, if you buy a leather purse that isn’t a brand name vs. one that is a brand name you will get the same quality minus the logo but at less cost.   Now that’s not to say a really cheap-o bonded leather purse will hold up as well, because it won’t.  You do get what you pay for.   But if you spend $100 on a good quality purse, you’ll be spending half as much for an equivalent quality as the name brand.

If an item seems priced ridiculously low, it’s a knock off and inferior quality 99% of the time.   Sometimes that’s ok, if you know what you are getting.  But don’t delude yourself by thinking that the $20 smart watch is as good as the $500 one, even if they look the same.   The $20 may work, but it’s not going to have the same functionality and in some cases it might be more of a hassle than you bargained for.  But it is worth exactly what you paid.

Some things are a gamble buying online.   Memory foam mattresses and clothes are the first things that come to mind.   They are a gamble because they are a personal preference issue.  For example, some people like a harder mattress.  When you are reading reviews and they say “it’s firm, but not too hard” what they mean is “not too hard for me”.   When you try it – it’s like a rock.   It’s really subjective.   I’ve tested 6 memory foam mattresses in the last 6 years, and each one was radically different, but all of them boasted being “soft”.  But for the record, two of the mattresses were anything but soft, two were like a cloud, and the other two were somewhere in the middle.  The upside is buying memory foam online is radically cheaper.  Maybe you can afford to make a mistake or two finding the right one.

I can’t tell the difference between a $300 necklace and a $100 necklace.  But I can tell the difference between a $100 necklace and a $10 necklace.   There is a law of diminishing returns with jewelry.   Diamonds are nearly indistinguishable from cubic zirconia now, weight wise they are the same, with CZ being maybe even a bit heavier.  Fakes are getting pretty realistic.  You can tell with rings or chunkier jewelry pieces by the weight of the metal if they are cheap… but visually… you can’t.  Keep that in mind if you are splurging you can get something really nice for $300, or get something that looks the same for $100.

 

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