Ever wanted to be sent books or products for free? Sure, who doesn’t? Getting free products to review happens quite often on Amazon, and most authors/companies/sellers simply ask that you write ‘an honest review’ in exchange for that book/product.
For over 5 years, I have been approached by authors, publishers, product manufactures and distributors to read/try their products and then write a review on Amazon. It has often been a rewarding experience in that I get to try products I love, and ones that I would have never bought but seem interesting.
Recently I wrote a book on WordPress themes, and needed to get people to review it on Amazon (not many people are interested in buying a book/product when there are no reviews.) I looked at the reviewers of other WordPress books to reach out to them to see if they would like to review my book as well. Problem was that almost no one’s Amazon profile helped me find their email so I could contact them.
What you’ll get from this article
- Steps to improving your Amazon profile so authors, publishers, product manufactures and distributors can contact you.
- A better understanding of how new products get reviewed on Amazon.
- Hopefully get free books and products to try and review!
What we are doing to get free products to review
Through my struggles to find reviewers’ contact info on Amazon, I am going to show you how to make a better Amazon profile, one that helps the supplier choose you over others to try and review their products. This is not a guarantee that you will ever be asked to try a product, but a way that can vastly improve your chances of being asked.
You may have heard of an Amazon program called Vine (members are Vine Voices and get a badge.) It is an Amazon sponsored program to help suppliers get their products into the hands of seasoned reviewers before and during the launch of the product on Amazon. This way a new product has a handful of reviews, or more. As I stated above, having genuine reviews of a product actually help online sales.
This post is not about how to be invited to Amazon Vine, it’s about how to optimize your Amazon profile to help people contact you with offers of books/products in exchange for a review.
Full disclosure: I am not a member of Amazon Vine, never have been. I would certainly love to be one, but I have never been asked to join (it’s invite only, no application.)
Your Amazon profile
Your Amazon profile is created the moment you sign up for Amazon. You can view yours by signing into Amazon (if you don’t have an account, you’ll need to sign up), then navigate to “My Account” (see pulldown menu next to Cart/Basket), then scroll down to “Personalization” section and click on “Your Public Profile.”
In most cases, on your Profile you will see your user name, items you have favorited, recent activity (images and reviews), and a section on the left showing interests and some ranking information. The section on the left and your recent reviews are likely the most important part of this page (see image of my profile above.) Let’s get into why…
As a supplier of an item I want reviewed, I am looking over your profile to see if you are going to be a good candidate for this product. I’m also going to read your reviews (likely skim them) to judge them on length, content, constructive criticism, and tone of voice. I want a reviewer that is not only going to give me an honest review, but one that will help other potential buyers A) make an informed buying decision based on a peer review, and more importantly B) want to buy the product.
This does’t mean your reviews have to be glowing, perfect epic novels expounding on the miracles this particular item did for you. They just have to be real and supportive. We’ll get into how to write review below.
How to write a profile that tells people that you like to review
You can go about this two ways: active and passive
The active way would be to come right out and say that you enjoy reviewing products on Amazon. While there is no hard and fast rule against you saying that you would take products in exchange for honest reviews, I would advise against it. Since Amazon has the Vine Program in place, I’m not sure how kindly they would take to you overtly circumventing the program on your profile. It’s not that Amazon doesn’t know people are sent items for free in exchange for reviews, but I am sure they would prefer you not advertise you do so outside of Vine. But, if you are super eager to be sent products to review, then maybe the active approach might be best for you.
Passive is the way I play it. I filled out my profile’s “About Me” and “Interests” sections to show what I do for a living and what I like. It’s passive because it doesn’t say anything about me accepting free products to review, but there is enough info about me to know whether the supplier will feel I am a good match. Plus, I choose this method right now because I get enough requests to try products.
To update your profile, navigate to “My Account” (see pulldown menu next to Cart/Basket), then scroll down to “Personalization” section and click on “Your Public Profile.” In the left column under your picture you should see an “Edit” button. Clicking it will bring up the dialogue box you see below. Fill out only what you are comfortable sharing, and never display things such as your home address, children’s names, social security number or other personally identifiable information. And do not link to anything that has that information.
How to optimize your profile
Filling out your profile is one thing, optimizing it so suppliers can get a sense of who you are and easily contact you is another. The Amazon profile in use today has a space for “pen name”, signature, location, email, website, occupation, About Me, and Interests. None of this except your ‘pen name’ is required to be filled out, though the more you fill out the more optimal your profile will be to suppliers looking for people to review their products.
Think about it from their angle: a romance novelist is looking for people to review her book, and she sees your profile where it only says “KittyBooBoo” for the name and an email that matches, of course. No reviews, no other profile info. So, no way is she is going to ask you to review her book since it would likely be a waste of her time emailing you. But, if a camera manufacturer comes across your profile and sees you are a photographer, with well-written reviews on other cameras and related gear, and a link to your blog where you write about camera gear or photography, then yes, they may likely contact you.
If you don’t feel comfortable listing your email (because of spam bots), then at least link to a website where they can contact you through. It could be your Twitter, Facebook or G+ profile pages.
Image and location
Be sure to add a picture and a location to your profile. For some products, there may be a geographic limit to where they can send it. Some items can’t ship via air, and other items have a short shelf life and need to get there quick. And be professional about the image you choose. A half-naked selfie of you is not going to win over suppliers, unless you are looking to attract products for half-naked selfie-taking type people.
The location should just be the city, or if you are uncomfortable with that, you can say “West Coast” or just the state.
How to optimize your reviews
Suppliers often find you based on reviews you have written before. Example: a camera manufacture will go to Amazon and open up detail pages on cameras that are similar to the one they want reviewed. They will likely sort the reviews by the latest ones and start scanning them for well written reviews. As we mentioned before, this would be a review of good length, the content covers the product features, has some constructive criticism (not too much), and the tone of voice is neutral yet leaning toward supportive.
- Length should be at least a paragraph (about 6-7 sentences), but 2-3 paragraphs would be best.
- Include bullet points in your reviews as needed. You’ll occasionally see a pros and cons list in Amazon reviews, or features the reviewer wanted to showcase.
- The tone of the review should not be overly glowing and sickly sweet, as in “OMG! I love love love this, it is the best ever!” Use the same voice you would when trying to get a coworker to buy it.
- Reference other products you have read/used by that author/company and link to them. Amazon reviews have the ability to link to other products, and they make it easy to do in the review editor.
Write reviews for products you want to review more of
This is easy: don’t review 10 eye liners unless you want to asked to review a new eye liner. If you review only XBox games, then I would expect only XBox games companies to ask you to review their games. Your reviews are a portfolio of your interests, and expect suppliers to treat them that way.
Best practices for reviewing
Writing reviews for products you never owned or never used could come back to haunt you if a company, seller or author ever asks you about it. Also, Amazon customers can leave comments and questions on your reviews asking for more information. Responding to these is also helpful for getting free products to review.
Be constructive with your review: each negative mark should have a recommendation of how to improve it. No one likes a reviewer that just hammers away at a book/product without suggestions to improve it.
Do your best to stay away from writing only a pure positive review: they seem fake since there should be at least one thing they could improve on. It’s hard to think of a book or product that is perfect. Plus, these reviews read more like the book author’s family members or company employees than real reviewers.
Turn down offers for products that are offensive, or not of any interest to you. Just because someone asked, you don’t have accept the offer. Have standards, and stick to them.
Related post: List of Amazon Review Sites for Free Products
Once your Amazon Profile has been updated and you are ready to start getting free products to review, be sure to check out my growing list of Amazon Review Sites for Free Products. Signing up for even just some of these will ensure you are busy with more review request emails than you ever though possible.