Well, since you asked…

I’m a Vine reviewer.  If you’re not familiar with the term — and no I don’t mean the video site — that means I’m one of a group of reviewers who gets products from various companies, via Amazon.com, to evaluate and review.  Or to put it simply, Amazon sends me stuff in exchange for reviews.  I’ve been a part of Vine for a number of years now so I’ve gotten a lot of stuff from the program.  Not all of it is stuff that was worth getting, and I’ve said so on any number of occasions because that’s my job.  Vine requirements are pretty strict, you get a product, you review it.  If you don’t, you don’t get more product.

I also get private review requests, a lot of them, because I’m one of the top 500 reviewers on Amazon.  (I don’t know exactly how that’s figured, it has something to do with how many reviews you’ve written and how many helpful votes they’ve gotten or something like that.)  Companies send me stuff to evaluate and review.   I actually turn down more of these than I accept because sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

With items I get outside of Vine, the agreement to review is implicit.  For me it’s simply common courtesy to review something I’ve promised to review.   Have I ever not done that?  A few times.  Mostly they were books that I wasn’t able to get into.  Not bad books, just ones that, for whatever reason, never held my interest.

A lot of my friends, upon hearing that I’m evaluating, for example, a vitamin supplement, a slow cooker, or a book by Stephen King (only one of those three have I ever been sent for  review) will say, “Hey, I could do that!”  to which I say, “Of course you could.”  Because it’s true.  Each of us has the capacity to evaluate an item and give our opinion about it.  Most of my friends would probably write very good reviews.  But when they ask me how to get into the Vine program or get people to send them “free” stuff, I have to say upfront that I haven’t got a clue how to get into Vine.  Nobody seems to know what the criteria are for being chosen.  I also have to point out that it’s not free stuff.  Implicit or explicit, the exchange is clear: you get something, you give something.

I just wrote my 675th review on Amazon.  That’s a lot of work.  And I can tell you that you don’t get into Vine without doing a lot of that work on your own, reviewing the stuff you’ve bought, giving your honest opinion on what’s good or bad about those things.  I’ve written 675 reviews over a long period of time and that makes me a good bet for any company.  They may not get a great review, but they will get a review.  If I wrote one review a year, and that review was maybe fifty words, there’s no way people would be asking me to try their stuff.    Hell I’ve just shed blood over one review!  I was evaluating a kitchen chopper, my hand slipped and I ended up in the bathroom, trying not to drip blood everywhere while I struggled with the band aid wrapper.

Of course you could do what I do, but do you?

If you just want to get free stuff, I’d say forget it.  That doesn’t just happen.  If you’re willing to put the work in, I’d say get writing.  Review everything.  Make your reviews useful to people by giving specifics about what you’ve found.  You know how to do this; emulate the reviews you’ve found helpful.  Just keep writing them.  Maybe one day you’ll hit the magical goal and Amazon will send you a note inviting you into the program.  And maybe you won’t.  But you’ll have helped a lot of people along the way and that’s worth a lot.

I link below to a couple of articles about Vine below, one of which refers to “elite” reviewers.  Not so much.  We’re just the people who do the job.

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