A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a company that had seen a review I had written on Amazon and wanted to send me a comparable item to check out. The only caveat was that in exchange for the free item, I needed to post an honest review to Amazon. Of course, I agreed to this arrangement -- I love receiving free stuff and sharing my opinion, so this seemed like a great opportunity.
It is my understanding that companies offer their items in exchange for reviews because the more reviews you have -- good or bad -- the higher your product will appear in Amazon search results and this can be important if you really want to get your items in front of shoppers. For instance, I just did a search for "pink shoes" and received 152,080 results. Most people aren't going to take the time to scan all of those results, so appearing on the first few pages will help the company sell more product.
The original way to get items for free to review on Amazon was to become an Amazon Vine reviewer. Vine reviewers frequently receive free items in exchange for their honest opinions. While this sounds great, Amazon handpicks those people they want to be a part of the program. They have never disclosed what it takes to be chosen for the Vine program, but the consensus seems to be that it takes a combination of frequent reviewing and having those reviews be marked as "helpful" by other Amazon shoppers.
As I am not an avid reviewer on Amazon, my chances of ever being chosen for Vine are pretty slim. At the time I was offered the one product in exchange for a review I thought it was a one-off thing, but I have received quite a few similar offers this year. While randomly getting emailed may not be in the cards for everyone, there are a couple of companies that make it quite easy to get items for cheap or free in exchange for honest Amazon reviews.
After registering for an account, you will begin receiving emails letting you know if there are new products available for review. If there is a product that you would like to review, you will need to grab a coupon code, purchase the item from Amazon at a super discounted rate and then post your review to Amazon within two weeks of receiving the product. Once your review is posted to Amazon, you also need to submit the review link to HonestFew. Those who do not review the items they are sent are removed from the program.
HonestFew just launched a few weeks ago, and while I have only seen them offer one item for free, there have been some fantastic items on heavy discount. For instance, they recently offered whiskey stones for $1, a grill brush for $1.25 and a set of three nonstick baking mats for $2.95. The baking mats, in particular, were a great deal as these retail for close to $50!
SnagShout launched recently and varies quite a bit from HonestFew. You still need to register for an account, however, and at that point you will gain access to a marketplace of items that are available from Amazon at discounted prices. The majority of the discounts offered are between 30 and 90 percent off, depending on the product, but you will even find a few items that are free. Items listed on the site run the gamut from toys to beauty products to general household items such as flashlights and bedroom sets. There's a little bit of everything.
This weekend, we will be putting my son's crib together, and one item that I was planning on picking up in the next couple of days is a waterproof crib mattress cover. After verifying my account with SnagShout, I found that I could purchase a waterproof crib mattress cover from Amazon for $1.99 in exchange for a review. Typically this mattress cover costs $29.99, so I am pretty excited!
While receiving free and discounted products is fun, the most important part of the transaction is writing the honest review on Amazon. It is worth noting that all items that were provided free or at a discount need to have the following sentence included in the review per Amazon review guidelines: "This product was provided at a discounted price in exchange for my honest review." Taking the time to provide an honest review is important because companies want to hear what you have to say about their product, but more importantly, so do your fellow shoppers.
Lisa Koivu is the founder of ShopGirlDaily.com, a budget fashion and shopping blog for women who want to have the best for less.
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