How To Become a Product Reviewer

People often ask me where I get all the cool gadgets like my Android watch or my VR headset, and when I tell them I got the item free for reviewing it, they want to know how they can become a product reviewer too.

First let me say it IS work to write good, thorough, honest reviews, and in the end you probably make less than minimum wage for the time it takes.  But if the idea still interests you, keep reading.  It can be a fun hobby and an easy way to work on your writing skills and typing speed.  All the while you're trying out cool new products (and some terrible products too.)

A few years ago, Amazon started allowing independent sellers to sell their own products through, utilizing their shipping and fulfillment.  But, little known sellers had trouble getting started.  Most products naturally get about 1% of the purchasers to leave a review.  Most buyers wont buy a product until it has several good reviews.  Thus review trading sites or "review clubs" came onto the scene around 2014 which allowed sellers to give out free (or nearly free) products and in exchange the buyers would agree to leave a review.  Around this same time the number of independent sellers, many based in China, who had been selling on Ebay for years, started selling on Amazon, and you may have noticed an explosion of cheap off-brand products became available.

I got involved about a year ago, with a site called Elite Deal Club, and discovered AMZ Review Trader shortly after that. (AMZ is by far the largest of these sites, offering thousands of products varying from free all the way up to just a few dollars off.)  My Amazon reviewer ranking went from 5 millionth place to 34,000th place.

Once you start leaving good reviews (whether you're a member of any of the review clubs or not) you will start to get 'helpful votes' on your reviews.  If you are a member of a site like AMZ, you will have to review lots of free vitamin supplements and cell phone screen protectors before you can work your way up to bigger and better things.

This is because of the way the system works.  Sellers list a product at a discount and reviewers apply for it.  The seller looks at the reviewer's profile and decides whether to approve them for the deal. They aren't going to approve people to get free stuff unless they know they will get a good review out of it.  Use these as practice and hone your skills.  This is key to improving your ranking.  Additionally, adding photos and videos improves it even more.  Some sites like AMZ will track your word count as well.

One way or another, start out by leaving a review for everything you buy on Amazon.  If you don't have Amazon Prime, get it.  You will wonder how you ever lived without it.

The name of the game is getting approved for more free products.  Sellers look at your ranking as well as what types of product you review and how recently you've left a review.  On many of these sites sellers can also see how many average stars you leave and things like that.  Your best strategy is to stick with one niche.  I tend to review tech gadgets, and 3D printing related things in particular.  At this point I almost never get turned down for reviewing 3D printing related products.

In the old days, you always had to make sure to leave a disclaimer that you received the product for free or at a discount for leaving an honest review, but that is changing.  Just a few days ago, Amazon announced that the only acceptable way to do this is through the Amazon Vine program.  All of the other sites, like AMZ, had to quickly re-tool and are now advertised as deal sites where you are not required to leave a review.  And if you do choose to leave a review, you are now no longer required to disclose it.

After some time you will outgrow the review sites and make it to the big leagues.  To get to this stage you must complete your Amazon profile, leaving an email address, twitter account, etc.  Then sellers will start to contact you directly, often times offering much bigger deals than you ever got on a review site.  You will also be bombarded by spam.  Just ignore it.  Most of these sellers are Chinese and do not speak very good English, so keep your communication clear and too the point!

At this point you will start to establish a reputation with sellers and they will start to send you one product after another to review.  Once you get into the 50,000th place ranking or so, you enter an area where I'm at now, where it becomes harder and harder to move up in the rankings as it becomes extremely competitive, and you can never out-compete the people who do this full time.

Eventually the Vine program may take over and the only way to be a reviewer will be to get into Vine.  The Vine program is currently invitation-only and Amazon is tight lipped about what it takes to be invited.

I don't think that will happen any time soon though.  What I predict is many of the review sites will continue to operate as they have, but now the unspoken rule is 'you don't *have* to leave a review, but we also don't *have* to approve you for more free products either, wink wink.'


Good luck and have fun out there!


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