How to Start Reviewing Products

One of the many ways to monetize your blog is by reviewing products from companies (that you receive for free). I generally don’t do reviews but many bloggers do.

Product Review tips from Motherload

How Do I Become a Product Review Blogger? from Amy at offers excellent tips. It’s an older article, but I think it still applies. I especially like her ideas for streamlining the process.

Here’s a snippet:

Really, anyone that has a blog can move into the product review niche. I just wanted to share some things that I wish someone had shared with me when I began receiving products for review and some ins and outs of the product review niche.

Read the whole post here.

Here are some more posts about reviews & giveaways that are helpful:

My Additional Tip:

Products you receive for free need to be reported as income on your taxes so keep excellent records and make sure the products you are accepting for review are really ones you want to pay taxes on later.

For those of you who do reviews, do you have any other tips to add?

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  1. says

    I am curious to find out what blog system you are utilizing?
    I’m having some minor security issues with my latest site and I’d like to find something more safeguarded.
    Do you have any suggestions?

  2. says

    I launched my blog and facebook page today, nervously announcing it to all my friends via facebook. I actually had my daughter click “post!” I couldn’t have done it without you, Amy. No, really, I couldn’t have. I just about always have a tab opened to your website so I can go back and forth. You provide a wealth of information and I just want to say thanks!

    • Amy says

      Congrats Alli! I’m not sure what those yummy things are on your Facebook page, but I think I see chocolate in them and so I already like them. :)

  3. penny says

    I am wondering about starting a blog i really want to but i have no idea where to even start. i write for a small news letter for my daughters preschool about parenting issues and products that i like but im not reaching very many mothers and i want to get bigger. i want the main focus of my blog to be reviews of products for mothers and children. currently ive been reviewing everything from maternity pillows to baby food to toddler clothes and even board games. i just dont really know how to move what ive been doing into a blog. what do you suggest?

    • Amy says

      Hi Penny, thanks for stopping by! I try to make getting started very easy if you follow my step-by-step process here. Hope that helps!

    • Amy says

      You’re so welcome, Amy! It’s super helpful so thank you. If you ever write another along those lines, let me know!

  4. says

    What should your readership be before you approach a company about reviewing their product? I talked about a product I liked in my Being Green series but am a very little/new blog. I didn’t even consider asking for a product to give away!

    • Amy says

      I think it really depends. Obviously, the more traffic the better, but smaller companies might be interested. It never hurts to ask!

  5. says

    I try to always be honest while being kind when I do product reviews. A consultant shared with me that feedback should be given like a sandwich: positive, negative, positive. I try to do this. I don’t want to completely slam a product, but I will always be honest. Just because I won’t use a product, doesn’t mean others wouldn’t appreciate it; so I let my readers know that it wasn’t for me without discouraging them to check it out.

    I’ve been very fortunately to only have positive experiences with business and PR people.

  6. says

    I just received an email asking me to do a book review. It’s not from someone I know. Do people offer book reviews for free or do people typically charge for them (outside of a review for a friend)? I just didn’t know. They sent me the book PDF.

    Thank you!!

  7. says

    So, if I get something from a company-let’s say my local rollerskating rink gives me two passes-and I then give that away to a reader, is it still income?

    • Amy says

      That’s a great question, Maegen. I would say yes (but don’t quote me on that). I would treat it as income, just like cash I receive that I then turned into a gift card and gave away to a reader, I would still count as income. Anyone else know for sure?

  8. says

    I really never thought about asking for ad space instead of doing a review. That is an awesome tip that I’ve taken away from this article. Thanks!

    I’ve limited my reviews and giveaways. My fans do love giveaways and who doesn’t.

  9. says

    I have been thinking a lot about trying to do product reviews. I was thinking about starting a blog specifically for reviews of products and books. Would you recommend a blog just for this or incorporate it into your normal everyday blog?

  10. says

    I also recommend negotiating back. I receive questions all the time about reviewing items, I always counter offer back with what I think my readers would enjoy as a giveaway. I don’t do strictly reviews anymore but know my readers love giveaways. The worst thing they can say is no…..

    • Lisa says

      So, with the giveaways…
      Does that have some effect or some rule as far as taxes? If I got a free product, I understand that as far as taxes, but then what if it’s then given away?

      I’m more used to running a brick and mortar shop, where something like a giveaway would be considered cost of goods. Was just curious!

      • says

        If you have a substantial amount during a year it might be worth consulting with a tax professional.

        I haven’t come across this in my job (I’m a tax preparer), but my best guess is that it at least partly depends on whether you take “possession” of the item, as well as your intent. If you run the contest for a giveaway, but then the company sends the product directly to your winner, not to you to send to the winner, I’d say it almost certainly isn’t income to you – you’re just facilitating the transaction, you never received anything yourself.

        If you’re sent the item and then send it on to the winner… it’s more of a gray area. Since you never intended to keep it yourself, it’s probably not income, and so you also can’t deduct it.

        But if you intended to keep it as a freebie, and then for some reason decided to pass it on in a contest instead, it might be income, but you could also deduct the value as an expenses (Sch C if this is your business/making a living, Sch A 2% miscellaneous itemized deduction if it’s a hobby).

        (PS I’m providing the above information based on knowledge from my job, but in a personal capacity not a tax professional capacity. It cannot be relied upon avoid tax penalties.)

  11. says

    Great tips! I was wondering…I have started a small list on my blog about products that I love. I include a little snippet about it and then an affiliate link. I did not receive the products for free, I just like them! Is that ok to do?

  12. says

    Yep, that’s true Rebecca (I’m an accountant–but not a tax accountant). Anything you receive of value has to be reported as income. On a positive note, you can write off quite a few things to offset that.

    Nice post today, Amy. Since my blog is new and I’m working hard to get all the things I envision up and running on my site, I keep adding things to my ‘to do’ list…. you know…cross off 2 things and add 4 more! LOL! This will definitely go on the list as something to check out!

  13. Rebecca says

    Amy, good information. I am a little confused by this…I thought the taxes paid on our blogs were due to income, not free products exchange. Definitely requires more research on my part: Thank you!

    • says

      I’m a tax accountant. You do pay taxes on “income” – which includes anything of value. “Accession to wealth” is the technical term. If you receive something that is a net increase to your assets (even by just $20), it’s income. (Unless it’s not. But the tax code says everything is income unless it specifically says it’s not income.)

      Generally, if it’s not a business that you make a living off of, it’s classified as a “hobby”, and the income is reported line 21 “other income, and the expenses on Schedule A as a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to a 2% floor. So realistically, it’s hard to benefit from deductions for expenses related that income, but for a blog I don’t imagine they’d be that much.

      If it’s really how you make your living, then you’d file Schedule C, taking the deductible expenses directly against the income. The flip side of that is it’s subject to self employment tax (the equivalent to FICA and medicare taxes you’d pay as an employee).

      (PS I’m providing the above information based on knowledge from my job, but in a personal capacity not a tax professional capacity. It cannot be relied upon avoid tax penalties.)

      (As a side note, you know when people host a tupperware party and get free tupperware based on what their friends buy – that’s reportable income too.)

    • says

      Oh, and when you said “in exchange” I assume you meant that it’s a trade – product for advertising. But that’s exactly the point. If someone paid you cash to advertise their produce, it’s obviously income. It’s still income even if they “pay” you in product instead of money.

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