I recently visited a forum where a store owner of handmade goods was approached by a blogger to review her goods in exchange for a positive review about the product. Now, I don’t know all the details of the message but from the sounds of things the approach was all wrong and it left a sour feeling in the business owner’s stomach.

So I thought I’d talk about giving your product away for review since I am a professional reviewer and have been reviewing products for years.I am on several media lists for product reviews and have been signed by two companies who seek out individual bloggers to review products for word of mouth advertising. In both instances my job is to give honest feedback about the products, not unwarranted praises. And yet, with all the goodies I receive for review, there have still been times when I’ve approached a company for a sample for review because I believed the product would be of interest to my readers—“our” target audience; that in and of itself is not wrong.What is wrong is making a request that sounds like this: I’ll give you a good review if you give me one of your products because I am too cheap to actually pay for it.

Furthermore, I can keep the products for personal use. I don’t have to give the items away in a contest or drawing—although at times I choose to do so anyway—or return them to the company in a pre-paid envelope. That being said, some publications have strict rules about returning all products used in reviews, such as the New York Times, while other publications allow reviewers to keep certain small ticket products while requiring them to return large ticketed products.

Professional reviewers do not just “give” good reviews in exchange for a free product. They give honest feedback—constructive criticism that the public reads, not just your staff. Some reviewers will give an even dose of both the negative and positive aspects of the product. Other reviewers like to focus solely on the positives, but that doesn’t mean they will give a positive review if they hate the product; they simply won’t write a review for that product.Now, that being said I prefer to only give positive reviews. First, it’s much more enjoyable to take the time out of my day to review something I think I might like versus forcing myself to spend time reviewing a product I don’t think I’d like. Second, it’s much easier for the words to flow when you’re writing about something you actually like, find useful, and enjoy than it is to write about something you found disappointing, have concerns about, or found difficult to use. And third, I find negative reviews a lot more difficult to write—will something I say be taken out of context and can I justify my negative review so that it’s not based on a purely emotional decision?

That means if I receive an item that is not up to my standards, I won’t review it—plain and simple. And I refuse to go into great detail about why I won’t review it with the product owner—been there, done that and found it quite an unpleasant experience. It doesn’t matter how much background information I receive, either. If the product doesn’t perform as stated or if it truly doesn’t reach my audience then no amount of background information is going to change my opinion. However, if there is something small that I dislike about the product, but the product overall is a good investment then I’ll mention the dislike along with the likes.

When approached by someone requesting a review of your product, don’t always assume it’s to get your product for free—no matter how small the publication is or how many visitors the blog has—but do be cautious of the motives behind the request. Check out the publication, the blog, or the website and make an informed decision. Only then will you know whether providing an item from your store is worth the time and cost involved.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when approached by or seeking out an individual or company for product reviews:

  • How popular is the publication or blog?
  • Will the review of my product be the first or only review on the blog?
  • Does the publication or blogger reach my intended audience?
  • Can I use the review in my media promotions and it look like an authoritative review or will journalists go to that publication or blog and think the review was a hoax?
  • Is it cost effective to have this publication or blogger review my product?
  • Do I understand that reviews don’t always result in sales but often results in coverage that can attract my intended audience?
  • Do I understand the reviewer’s policy on reviews? In other words am I guaranteed a review and if the reviewer chooses not to review my product what happens to my product?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *