Confessions of a paid Amazon review writer

The title of this article certainly got our attention. Is this your future career move? (Do you want it to be?) We’re not making any judgements. As the sign on LB’s monitor sez, “Beats workin’. Beats not workin’ too:”

from Digiday

Many marketing jobs are far from glamorous. Take those toiling in the black market for positive reviews on Amazon.

Merchants have historically offered writers on Amazon free products or services in exchange for positive online write-ups. The practice became so rampant that Amazon updated its community guidelines last October to remove incentivized reviews. But still, many retailers are trying to get around the new policy, according to one top-ranked Amazon reviewer.

In today’s Confessions series, where we grant anonymity in exchange for candor, this Amazon reviewer shared her thoughts on Amazon’s policy change — and pulled the curtain back on merchants’ workarounds. Below are excerpts, slightly edited for clarity.

How does one become an influential Amazon reviewer in the first place?
I have been reviewing on Amazon for a few years, sporadically, but only in the past year have I been doing it seriously. That is because I suddenly broke into the top 10,000 reviewers and then began quickly climbing up. At that point, I decided to see how far up I could get. [She made it to top 50.] Once I got into the top 10,000, vendors started to send me requests to review their products. At that time, it was acceptable for a vendor to send you their product for free in exchange for a review so long as you made it clear in the review that you had received the product in exchange for the review.

What is the most expensive item you have received for free in exchange for reviews?
I would say a Bluetooth speaker that is worth $50 or so.

What categories are you seeing the most demand for product reviews?
Mobile phone accessories, bluetooth devices and sometimes baby products.

Did anything change after Amazon’s crackdown last October?
Prior to the crackdown, vendors could provide you with an item for free so that you could review it for them. Since that policy change, vendors are not allowed to do that [other than for books], and reviewers are not allowed to accept items for free in exchange for a review. So, if one was reviewing in order to get free items to review, it affects them a great deal. I know that a top reviewer was removed by Amazon recently all of a sudden, for no reason.

Does the new policy affect you?
Now I delete most of the review requests. Since the crackdown and change in policy, I only review things that I have ordered myself because I actually needed or wanted them. I tend to post a couple of reviews a day, several days a week. Frankly, there is no reason at this point to write reviews other than because I know that they are useful to people, based on feedback that I get, and I enjoy writing….