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Ups and Downs of Product Reviews

Image result for product reviewI really love my little hobby of doing product review. I get to use and experiment with different essential oils, natural skin creams and butters, makeup, etc. My favorite items are those used in natural skin and hair care. It's a fun experience that is helping me to learn more and more about things I love.

There's not a whole lot that I don't love about doing these reviews. But there are a few irritating things about it.

When the process is bogged down

For most of the stuff I review, I've used Tomoson in the past few years. I've pretty much given up on SheSpeaks and Bzz Agent (Twitter parties is just not my thing), and the few other places I occasionally use get too bogged down in what I call their own bureaucrazy  and suck all the interest out of the process. (I have not been to SheSpeaks or BzzAgent, or some of these sites, for a while, so things might have changed.)

Image result for product reviewTomoson will always be a favorite, but it's getting tedious because the businesses don't seem to recognize the impact of Google Plus. They rely too heavily on Facebook. Plus, I hate having to "Like" a business page just to get my review verified. That just doesn't feel honest (and I'll talk more about that in a moment).

Of the various sites that make it possible for reviewers and businesses to hook up, some are better at doing that than others.

Tomoson is great about staying mostly out of the way of its users. I like that they are there mostly to referee any problems a business or reviewer might have. Lately, though, it's as if businesses have gotten very slow at responding to reviewers who apply for products. My irritation with that is, they sure don't want the reviewer to be late posting photos and reviews. And, once again, there's the whole forced 'Liking' of a business or product...

Influenster would be good if I could figure out how to gain more favor over there. I've done a couple of promotions with them, but ~shrug~ haven't been over in a while and am in no hurry to go over there.

Image result for product reviewI think I've already mentioned here on the blog how SheSpeaks and BzzAgent lost me a long time ago. I don't know how people find so much time to sit around and do Twitter parties. I sure don't, and I don't even have a full-time job or a spouse to spend time on. Plus, those 2 sites (and Influenster, now that I think of it) are more focused on PR for recognized brands. I like the idea of spreading the word about the new and underpromoted, healthier alternatives to big brand items.

Crowdtap... Well, this one is a little hard for me to grasp, let alone try explaining here. I've gotten a couple of samples from them and coupons for things like sweetener and pantyliners. It requires quite a bit of time to rack up notice there. You have to go over and click on activities and surveys, and look at off-site links... I guess it's a good way to kill some time if you have it.


When a site is almost perfect

My new favorite site (which is going to be replacing Tomoson, maybe) is AMZ Review Trader (ART).

What I like most about ART is that there is a huge variety of items. Reviewers can sort through items by highest or lowest price, expiration of promotion, and newest promos. There's also a pretty decent Search function.

Image result for thumbs upI also like that my individual 'dashboard' of requests is available. I can easily see what I've applied for and, if I want, cancel the application. It's all tied to my Amazon profile, which means that I don't have to fill out a bunch information for each and every item I want to review. (Tomoson's application process can be tedious like this, because businesses have so many choices for what they want verified - video or each of the more popular social media sites.)

So far, the one thing I do wish ART would do is to make the reviewer 'dashboard' better by adding different colors. As of now, I have to scroll through the list of my reviews to see which ones I've ordered/redeemed the code for. To be fair, I get an email when I get accepted for a promotion, but I still have to scroll the screen to find it. The color never changes. On the other hand, once you verify your review, it disappears from the dashboard.

When YOU get bogged down

Image result for product reviewI've done some downright goofy things when juggling a bunch of product reviews. I've tried to use the wrong coupon code for a product. I have used a coupon code correctly but, for some reason, accidentally cancelled the order. That one is a real pain in the butt mistake. Most times, you can never get the coupon code reset. I've had to email businesses and apologize for dropping the ball. One time, I even paid out of my own pocket. No sense in the business getting screwed over because I did something idiotic.

Because I have to really use a product to get a good feel for how someone else might like it, I can get behind. Most businesses want a product reviewed within a certain time period, which can be anywhere from a  week to 30 days. That's great if you're reviewing something that takes one use to test it. Not so great if it's something like a weight-loss product or other items that require time for results.  That's one reason I try sticking to things that I can get a good feel for within, at most, a couple of weeks. Also, I'm famous for updating my Amazon reviews. Thankfully, I haven't had to do that a lot.

When people don't trust you

I hear/read so many people say that they want to read a review from someone who "actually bought the product".

This is a peeve of mine when I feel it's directed at me, but it's also something I can relate to after I read some reviews.

I hate lazy reviewers. Whenever I read a glowing review that doesn't give any good specifics, I do an eye-roll. The same goes for reviews that bash a product in one line, no real reasons given.

When I do a review, I have time before I apply for the product (or while I'm waiting for it to be delivered) to research what the benefits are supposed to be. First of all, most businesses spell that out in general anyway. Second of all, I only apply for products that I have an interest in. If apply for hair stuff that is labeled or reputed to strengthen, grow, or in some way beautify the hair, I write the review to people who want all that from the product. Does it work, or doesn't it?

Because I have an interest in EOs, other oils and butters, I write aim my reviews at people who probably want to know the same things about the product as I do.

When I write a review, I try to be fair to the readers and to the business. If I think a product is trash, I will say that outright. If, on the other hand, I think that a product just doesn't work for me, but might work fine for someone else, I'll say that. That's only fair. There is no need to rip a business that, say makes hair tonic for people with long and fine hair, just because their product didn't work on my short and nappy hair.

Finally, here's the big thing: if I do give a business a review they might not love, all the can do is not send me anything else of theirs to review. I haven't really run into a problem with that. Matter of fact, I not only gave a negative review of one product, I warned other users to avoid it because it caused some hair loss in myself and my niece. Amazon pulled the product after, I guess, other complaints. Guess what, though? That company has  still offered me chances to review other products.

I have nothing to gain, nor do I have anything to lose, by being honest about negative aspects of a product. Not one thing. What can a business do? Not send me any of their other products? Fine. That's cool. But I haven't run into that.

If you want in on reviewing

Image result for product reviewSomeone on Instagram recently asked how to go about getting started with product reviews. Here is basically what I told her (and am expanding on):

  • Remember that you are someone explaining the ups and downs of a product or service to another person just like you. Tell them what you think you'd want to know before putting down money for something.
  • Unless you have a HUGE social media following, or are famous, or can find some other way to pump up your importance, know that you are not going to get rich doing this. You will get to try a lot of stuff free or at a discount. I suggest you pick stuff that you can have an informed opinion about.
  • Most of the sites I use to find products are tied, in some way or another, to Amazon. If you want to use one of these sites, go and review things you have already used. This is one way to figure out what kind of stuff you want to review. Also, this beefs up your Amazon profile so that businesses can tell how good you are at doing reviews. It's great practice. I started out just reviewing the things I bought for myself on Amazon. I didn't even think about beefing up my profile. 
  • Read what other reviewers are writing. Anything I buy (or consider buying something) - whether online or in-store - I go over and read a ton of reviews. I tend to skip those don't give me much information. I don't want to know that something is "wonderful" or "awful", I want to know why. Reading other reviews will make you better at describing your own experiences with purchases.
  • Since there are so many places to apply to review products, first decide where your personal social media influence is. I'm great with Twitter (but don't like the parties); I barely register on YouTube, plus I don't just love doing videos; I have this blog (thought it doesn't get thousands of hits a day); I really like Google Plus and Instagram; and, while I'm not crazy about using Facebook (and don't have much of a following outside family), it's a biggie with businesses. All this can help you decide where you want to go for products. SheSpeaks, like I mentioned, is great if you like Twitter parties. ART is great if you have a nice Amazon profiles (but not a blog); Tomoson varies, depending, since some businesses definitely appreciate YouTube videos.  Tomoson does feature business that only want Amazon reviews - if you don't mind not getting paid as well as receiving a product. I prefer not receiving money. It can get bothersome and it's not worth it in my personal situation.
  • When you do get selected to review something, really put some work into using the product. And, most important, get the review done within a decent time period. Businesses count on you to uphold your end of the deal. They need that feedback and word-of-mouth so that people hear about their product.
  • Another important thing to remember is that you have to not only do a "fair and honest" review for readers/potential customers, but you need to be just as fair and honest with the business. In the case where you are having a problem with a product, give the business a chance to resolve it. This works out well because, no matter what happens, you can then add some words to your review about that brand's customer service. People probably care about that only second to price.

Most of all, you have to enjoy what you're doing. That's so important. I started doing reviews at a time when I was first "disabled' from my usual line of work. For a long time, I was unwell enough (mentally and physically) to even want to leave my house. When I got better and started the process of vocational rehab, I needed something to do to keep myself active.  Now that I am MUCH better (and about to be going back to work, praise God), I just love doing reviews.

By the way, this is what a delivery looks like about once each month:


That photo doesn't include the other box I got earlier in the day. Since I get some stuff completely free and pay at a huge discount for others, I can tell you that today's delivery cost me about $8.50.

So, yeah. I really do enjoy getting stuff for free or at a discount in exchange for doing a review. Besides, there are a lot of items I've reviewed that I've bought for myself. I just like sharing the info and trends.

That's it. I hope that this was informative. If anyone has any good tea on other sites or things that need to be mentioned, be sure to let me know.

Peace
--Free

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