Becoming a tech reviewer

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How to start as a tech reviewer

I have spent the last few hours photographing some rather nice earphones and writing a review of them (which can be found here). Reviewing products as a hobby is fun and a great way to try out some of the latest equipment and a byproduct of reviewing is the gear you often get to keep.

I often get asked how do you start as a tech reviewer and more importantly how do you get free stuff?

It is really important to say right at the very start that tech reviewing is not about getting free stuff and if that is your intention in reviewing you are going to be very disappointed.

Product testing is not a new idea and has been around for a long time. With the advent of social media, blogging and YouTube there has been an explosion in the number of people writing reviews for all kinds of products, not just technology. Whilst many of these people (myself included) review products as a hobby there are a smaller number of people who actually make a living from this.

The aim of this blog post is to present some of the ideas and steps you might go through when starting out as a product reviewer and by no means guarantees success but points you in the right direction.

Tip 1: Know that it is not about getting free stuff

It is really important to understand at the start that reviewing products is not about getting free stuff although you will be given stuff along the way. Companies will either manage marketing themselves or will use an advertising agency (see more about that later). Money for advertising is often tightly controlled and companies will want to get a return on their investment. You will need to produce high quality content in a reasonable timescale (this will often be agreed by the company).

Tip 2: How to get started

Review what you have at home, either write a blog post about or make a YouTube video. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an unboxing video but explain both the good and bad features of the product, Try to include a balance of technical specifications and user experience. Every blog or YouTube channel starts small so don’t worry about having lots of posts or videos immediately - focus on quality not quantity at this stage.

Tip 3: Tips for writing blog posts

  • Use good quality English and check your spelling, if you are going to represent a company in the future they will expect a good quality of literacy
  • Take lots of photos of the product
  • Include technical specifications
  • Give a balanced review of the product, say the good and bad points

Tip 4: YouTube videos

  • Register a channel name that is memorable
  • Setup your channel art and descriptions etc
  • Don’t focus on views or subscribers at this stage - focus on content
  • Don’t worry about Adsense or monetising your videos at this stage - focus on content
  • Even if you are using your phone for recording video aim for good quality and engaging content
  • If you need a good surface to record against try using a plain sheet on your bed, make sure your video is well-lit with natural light
  • Don’t worry about how your voice sounds on the video
  • Don’t invest lots of money in camera gear at the moment but aim for the best quality video with what you have. Check out my equipment list here
  • Watch lots of videos of other bloggers and look at their style. Remember your videos should reflect you but there is no harm in looking at how others do it

Tip 5: Getting yourself noticed

  • Don’t email companies asking for products to review - at best you will get a no and at worst, no reply
  • Use social media, tweet out your reviews and remember to tag in the company and product involved
  • On YouTube give your videos effective tags and key words and remember to put the web address of the company in the comments section as a link for viewers
  • Visit events such as Gadget Show Live or other trade shows and interview some of the companies, this will help spread your name
  • If you are approached by an advertising agency or consultancy try to build a relationship with a named person

Tip 6: Writing reviews for advertising agencies or consultancy companies

I mentioned in tip 5 that you may get noticed by a tech agency who will ask you to review products for them. Check out the advice below.

  • If you are under 18 make sure the companies know this
  • If a company asks for money upfront - walk away
  • Check the details such as insurance, what happens if the product gets broken while you have it and postage, who is responsibility for returning the item
  • Ask about deadlines and length of videos or blog posts
  • Ask who the created content belongs to, this could become important if the video starts trending or becomes very popoular
  • Ask upfront if you will need to return the item

I am going to follow this post up in a couple of days with more details about other ways of making money through blogging.

Remember the key messages about getting started:

  • Content is king - aim for quality over quantity
  • Start by reviewing what you have at home or are given for Christmas
  • There is no such thing are free stuff
  • Don’t stress about views of page hits initially - just focus on engaging your audience

Happy Blogging!

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