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Why becoming a product reviewer is not as easy as you thought – Part 1

Craving Tech Gadget ReviewsI had a bit of discussion with a friend of mine a few days ago. She said how lucky I am (because I’ve been getting those wonderful gadgets to try and review on) and how easy it is to review those “free” review products. I tried to defend myself and told her that it wasn’t as easy as she thought. I didn’t blame her though because I remember that I made the same comment on John Chow’s blog 2 years ago, before I started blogging. I commented on one of his monthly earnings’ post about how easy it is to get money online while doing practically nothing. I was bashed by some of his loyal readers and felt ashamed. So I didn’t blame my friend for feeling the same thing that I felt 2 years ago before I started to blog.

I know some of you might think the same thing too. You want to be me. You want to set-up a technology blog to get those latest products from vendors “just by doing a simple review”. Is it really that easy? The answer is no, not really.

I’m going to make a series out of this topic.

Part 1 (this post) talks about the difficulties in becoming a product reviewer before you even start asking for review units.
Part 2 will talk about the difficulties in pitching for a review unit and the reviewing process itself.

Why becoming a product reviewer is not as easy as you thought – Part 1

  1. You need a well established blog (dedication).
    There is no way the big vendors will look on you if your blog is new. If you have a product to market, you wouldn’t want to advertise it on some unknown sites. As an advertiser, you want a popular site, where the public visit on a regular basis and will actually look at your advertisement. Your Alexa Rank (to measure internet traffic) plays an important role here. It doesn’t have to be superbly amazing but try to make it less than 1,000,000 first before you start emailing the vendors.
    This requires some dedication as most bloggers quit after the first few months.
  2. Your blog needs to look professional (time, money, and effort).
    If your blog looks the same like thousands of other blogs, there is a chance a vendor will look away. If your blog looks plain and boring, I wouldn’t want to advertise on yours too. This means that you may have to spend some money on some design work or buying a professional theme. At least, you need to spend lots of your time tweaking and redesigning it.
  3. You need something to brag about (hard work)
    When you try to pitch the vendors, you need a “bargaining tool”. Using a “pretty please” sentence just won’t cut it. When I sent an email to a vendor for the first time, I explained to them about this blog’s achievement: 1500 visitors a day, ranked #20 in Australia traffic-wise, and also as a finalist to the Best Geek Blog in Asia Pacific 2009. Depends on the vendor, I might use some other measurements (such as the amount of traffic to a past vendor’s gadget press release on this blog).
  4. You need to write great original and relevant contents on your blog first (passion)
    This is somewhat related to point number 1. It’ll be harder to pitch the vendors if your blog doesn’t have original contents for them to check upon. If you are going to be a gadget reviewer, it’s a good idea to review those gadgets you already have at home and put the reviews on your blog. If you are going to review games, review all the games you own, and so on. Your past reviews help the vendors to decide whether it’s worthy to ask for your opinion about their products. Your passion will be shown on your posts (if you are passionate about what you are doing, the posts will shine by themselves).

So before you even begin sending those emails to ask for review units and reviewing the products, it’s important to meet these conditions first. As always, first impression lasts. Even if you can try sending a request to the same vendor again, it’s crucial to get it right on your first try.

Why becoming a product reviewer is not as easy as you thought – Part 2