Just between you and me, one of my versions of an ideal life is kicking back and giving Amazon reviews for free stuff. Someone wants to give me things for sharing my opinion? I’m there. The big questions are: Can anyone do this? And How?
Technically, the answer is yes, but truly it’s more of a sort of.
In order to get freebies to review, you need to join Amazon Vine. This is an internal service allowing brands and third-party Amazon sellers to solicit honest reviews from consumers. Amazon acts as the go-between so things don’t get all awkward between the reviewer and the company asking for the review.
Joining Amazon Vine isn’t something you can just take by the horns and go do. You have to be invited. It’ll take some work and sending good vibes out to the almighty Amazon Vine god, but it’s possible!
Here’s what you need to know!
1. Why does Amazon want to give away free stuff in exchange for reviews?
Customers buy products based on reviews. You’re an Amazon shopper, I’m sure, so you know this is true. If a product has an overwhelming amount of positive reviews, it’s compelling. Especially important for Amazon since we can’t try on, touch, or try out products only available online.
Products that don’t have a lot of reviews don’t sell as well. Think about that — they don’t even have to be bad reviews! I’d rather buy a product with five stars and 4,397 reviews than a product with five stars and 11 reviews. Right?!
So, to increase reviews, companies say, “Hey Amazon, I’ll give out 100 free products to 100 people who have a history of writing solid reviews.” Then Amazon holds up those 100 free products and asks their Vine community (made up of seriously dedicated reviewers) to call dibs. Reviewers jump at the chance to review the product because they get to keep it.
Sellers are happy to have their review count upped, and reviewers are happy to have free products.
2. Where do I sign up to become an Amazon Vine member?
It’s a little more complex than simply signing up, but keep reading to find out how to increase your chances of being selected as an Amazon Vine Voice.
3. How do I get an invite?
Become a good reviewer!
Vine members are invited based on the quality (not necessarily quantity) of their Amazon reviews.
If you are consistently posting helpful, substantial, detailed reviews of Amazon products that are ranked as “highly helpful” by other shoppers, you could be chosen.
Set a goal to land on Amazon’s top 10,000 reviewer list. You’ll notice that the top reviewers have done thousands of reviews, but it’s not absolutely required. If you look through the pages, you’ll see reviewers in the top 100 who only have hundreds of reviews. Quality over quantity!
Aim for expertise in a product category! For example, if you have better-than-average knowledge in photography equipment, and your reviews reflect that, you may receive a higher ranking for that particular category. If that category needs more Vine Voices, you may be invited faster.
4. I’m ready to review like a krazy person, but is there a catch?
Taxes! You’ll need to file a 1099 tax form if you’ve received $600 or more in free products over the course of one year.
This means you’ll have to pay taxes on the retail value of any products you receive if the total combined retail value reaches over $600 that year. So, even if a gadget you receive is on sale for $500, but the retail value is $1,000, you’ll still owe taxes on $1,000.
You’ll have to decide if the products you receive are worth the taxes you’ll pay on them.
Keep in mind you get to choose which items you want to review (and keep), so you won’t be paying taxes on two microwaves and five vacuums that you never wanted in the first place. Instead, think of it like paying a tiny bit for items you want (instead of thinking of the products as totally “free”).
5. Can I make money selling the items on eBay after I’m done reviewing them?
Nope, sorry. Items cannot be sold after receiving them in exchange for a review.
6. Realistically, what kinds of items will I be reviewing?
Before you have visions of free big screen TVs and luxury grills making their way to your humble abode, you should note that most of the reviewable products are small, as opposed to the big-ticket freebies we fantasize about.
Above all, you can take charge of what you review by becoming an expert in a product category that you want to receive products for.
Review opportunities are also limited to what’s in your product queue. You have to get through your queued products by posting thoughtful reviews within 30 days before you’re allowed to request more.
7. Do I need to have a blog or a social media following to become an Amazon Vine Member?
If you add social media and/or blog links to your Amazon profile page, it may help you be chosen based on the size of your following. Or possibly, you could stand out based on the niche demographic that’s already following you (e.g., you have a popular parenting website and you’d like to review children’s products, or you’ve gained popularity as an avid book reviewer by posting all over Twitter, Instagram, and your website).
So, while a strong social presence may help in a roundabout way, focusing your reviews on a product category that you have deep knowledge of is your best bet.
Tip: If you do have a strong social following, try posting your reviews to your followers who are interested in the product. They may click the link and naturally vote that your review was helpful, which would increase your reviewer ranking.
8. Can I review products on Amazon without becoming an Amazon Vine member?
Kind of. It’ll be infinitely easier if you’re an influencer of sorts and you have a social media following. (For example, Giveaway Service only works with social media influencers.)
Another thing to look at is sites that offer steep discounts, because they’re working with Amazon sellers who want to increase visibility for their products. This is the reason Amazon Vine exists as well — to help sellers, new and growing, to get more buzz around their items and thereby to build their Amazon business. (I’m talking about third-party sellers here, not direct sellers or brands.) These won’t be free products, but can be steep discounts.
Here’s a little list of companies who either offer free products in exchange for a review or some sort of action (maybe a shout out on your social platform). Or they offer products at a heavy discount and they’re hoping you’ll leave a review.
- Cashbackbase.com: You’ll be in communication with the Amazon seller and you’ll buy the product, the seller pays you back, and you can earn points to spend on freebies.
- GiveawayService.com: If you have a social following, this site is for you. Most items won’t cost a dime, or they’re heavily discounted.
- SnagShout.com: A popular site for many die-hard Amazon shoppers–look for nice discounts across an array of categories like Clothing & Jewelry, Electronics, Sports & Outdoors, Home & Garden, Beauty & Health, and Under $5.