Should Honest Marketers Get Paid to Review Products?

This post may contain affiliate and ad links for which I earn commissions.


Hi there 🙂 Danielle Schaeffer brought up a really good question, and I want to share it with you and hear your thoughts about it.

Should honest marketers get paid to review products?

Well, we all know how we should write “I got a review copy”, when we leave a comment on places like the Warrior Forum or on your blog… I don't exactly love that. Not because I have something to hide, but because some people believe that you cannot receive a free sample and tell your honest opinion about it.

That's a lie!

Of course you can. And you should be.

But let me share with you some of the thoughts Dani had about reviews.

Are the Promises on the Sales Page Met?

I couldn't help smiling when I read what Dani had to say about this, because that's exactly how I review a product most of the time. No, not always. Sometimes the review would be much longer than necessary, if I go over each point in the sales page and compare it to what I saw.

So unless something doesn't fit, I don't always go over the sales page like that.

I think I used this method the first time, when I reviewed Andrew Hansen's Unstoppable Affiliate. I don't remember how I got the idea, but it just hit me. And I went over the sales page, point for point, and compared it to the product.

Can you imagine that this takes time?

It takes an immense amount of time, I can assure you. It's very common for a medium large product that I put at least 8 hour's of work into it. Going through videos and text files. Comparing to sales page. Trying it out myself.

This is all fine and good in most cases, but it also explains why I only do this kind of reviews on products I believe in.

Because even though as an affiliate you'll earn a commission when somebody buys through your link, you're going to work many hours for that money.

And this brings me to the next point:

What If a Product Doesn't Deliver?

That happens. Some vendors are so eager to come out with their product that they'll try to launch it before it's ready.

One guy asked me if I wanted to review his product. He'd found me on the Warrior Forum. I said “yes”, and he sent me a copy and in the mail, he asked me: How many copies do you think you can sell?

I told him to slow down, and that I hadn't decided yet, whether or not I would promote his product. That depended entirely on its quality.

It turned out that the idea behind it was good, but there were plenty of things that weren't explained properly, and there were things that were mentioned several times. I had the impression that this was a written product that consisted on several articles that were flung together.

I told him about it, and he changed it. It still wasn't ready, which I told him, but he didn't want to wait any longer, so he launched.

Needless to say that I didn't promote this product, but I had spent a couple of hours at least, reading it, writing my comments to him, etc.

And no money made from that work.

Another guy from the Warrior Forum asked me to review his product. It was lacking very much. I told him so, and never got an answer. I wrote agin, and sent him a personal message on the forum. No answer.

That took work. And of course, this wasn't a product I could promote. I didn't get a message about his WSO, or I would have left my review.

Beta Testing In the Old Days

Back in the good-old-days, back when the operating system either was DOS or OS/2, product creators paid to had their programs beta tested.

Today, they just sell them and leave the consumers with the problems.

That's not fair.

Within the Internet marketing niche, some people don't test their products thoroughly before a launch. If you're really lucky as an affiliate, you get the beta product a few hours before the launch. Only the really good product creators like Sara Young, George Katsoudas and Danielle Schaeffer, give their affiliates days, weeks, or even months ahead of a launch, and then – in fact – their products ARE working, when they offer a review copy.

But those “we're launching in an hour go-go-go” marketers who expect their customers to do the beta testing, or affiliates who get the product a few hours before launch, should read what Dani has to say about that:

There is a ‘stigma' attached to the idea of ‘paid reviews,' but paid reviews really amount to paying for product testing… the entire idea of not paying for reviews is based on the notion that the ‘reviewer' can earn ‘commissions' from their reviews… but that is no incentive to write an honest review, and then those who actually DO an ‘honest' review, end up doing all the work of testing the product, without getting compensated for that work when we find that it doesn't work and therefore cannot promote it.

There is no logical reason not to compensate someone for time invested in testing your product for you, so that you can use that ‘data' to make sure your product is well developed. Especially since ‘problems' found prior to a launch can be corrected so that your affiliates aren't pulling their promo's in the 11th hour, after investing several hours into testing it themselves only to find it doesn't work, they can't recommend, and now they don't make any commission, lest they compromise their integrity.

Oh THAT reminds me! I once asked for a review copy, and the product creator asked me: How many have units you sold until now?

I said “none”, since I hadn't seen the product yet. And then he didn't want to give me a copy. Needless to say that I will never promote anything from that vendor. Not because he wouldn't give me a review copy. But because he assumed that I would promote his product blindly, without even knowing it. That's not the kind of merchants I want to deal with.

What do you think? Are you an affiliate, and are you happy just to receive your review copy?

Or should we get paid, if what the vendor is really looking for is a beta tester and not a review?

4 thoughts on “Should Honest Marketers Get Paid to Review Products?”

  1. Hey Britt,
    Thanks for writing this. This whole subject is so convoluted it needs one of those Facebook meme’s with the “What my friends think I do, what my family thinks I do, what I think I do, what I really do, and what I really SHOULD do…” boxes.

    I get asked to review products all the time, especially Amazon products, and for the past few months I either get asked within a day or two of the launch, or the product creator doesn’t even make the review copy available until the day before.

    What’s worse is when I discover that the product is half-assed and I go out of my way to tell the product creator what to fix and to postpone the ‘launch’ until it is fixed, and then tell me they can’t- (because they’ve been spending time recruiting JV partners who are geared up for the EPIC EPC’s launch, blah, blah, blah.) They go out and launch a half-assed product, irresponsible JV’s and affiliates promote it without having reviewed it themselves, tons of sales get made, but I don’t make a dime for the time spent reviewing the product or coaching the creator on how to make it a viable product that will deliver on it’s promises, even if he does correct it ‘later,’ because I won’t promote on ‘launch day’ when I know the product isn’t ready, and by the time it is ready, the buzz has died down, and people already bought it from someone else who did mail it and promote it.

    I offer product test reviews but because of the ‘stigma’ associated with ‘paid’ reviews it’s a damn hard sell. Product creators don’t want to be tarred and feathered for ‘buying reviews,’ and the market doesn’t understand what ‘product testing is.’ If it’s known that you ‘paid’ someone to review a product, any ‘results’ documented from the tests are ‘suspect.’ If you’ve read any of my reviews you know that’s not the case with me.

    In the ‘business’ world, companies invest quite a bit of money into product testing before taking it to market, and the results of those tests, when positive, often make their way into the company’s marketing and promotions, and when the product does finally get to market, all the bugs and kinks and missing elements and improvements have been corrected, so the company is not facing an uprising from it’s market.

    If a product is well developed and I can promote it, then I don’t mind doing so on commission, but I’ve reached the point that if people come to me with a product and ask me to review or promote, it’s going to be a ‘pay me to review it, and IF it’s good enough to promote, I’ll refund your money and promote as your affiliate. If it’s half assed, I keep my fee for telling you how to fix it.” And if you don’t have time to do that before your launch, that’s your problem, not mine.

    /rant (for now)

    1. Hi Dani,

      A few years ago, Joel Comm wrote out to his list and said that from now on, if any of us wanted him to review a product to promote, the price was $1,000.

      Back then, I thought that this would mean that the little man wouldn’t be able to afford it. But now I know that Joel wouldn’t be able to afford NOT to ask that price. He was probably getting hundreds of requests per week.

      I really loved that you brought up this problem, and I know what you mean by spending hours reviewing a product that’s NOT promotion worthy on launch day and then see all the swipe-file-affiliates get all the sales.

      That sucks!

      But if Tiffany Dow is right that kind of affiliates will end up with a list full of people who don’t trust them. And then they might turn to those of us who do test and review products for real.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top