06 February 2013

My view on product reviews

I've never done a product review before, but that is about to change.

Before I introduce you to my inaugural product review later in the week, I wanted to clear the air about where I stand on monetising, product reviews and sponsored posts.

I have no problem with bloggers attempting to make money from doing something they enjoy. A lot of bloggers spend a lot of time and energy on their blog and good luck to them if they receive financial reward of some description in return.

Personally, I was initially hesitant about putting any type of advertising on my blog. My blog is personal and at first I thought of monetising as a kind of "selling out" of our stories. But then, as I began to spend more time on it and my readership widened, I thought "why not?". So I joined Nuffnang, effectively putting my hand up to have ads placed on my blog.

Now, this has hardly turned into a money-making machine, but as it's not the primary purpose of the blog and as I don't spend money on my blog, it's neither here nor there for me.

Recently I was approached to do a product giveaway with accompanying review. I thought long and hard about it, as I admit that sometimes my eyes glaze over when I see product reviews on other blogs - I don't read them too often, unless it's a product that I'm already interested in. I decided against the giveaway - it's a compliance minefield with different rules for different jurisdictions, and with a lawyer's practising certificate to maintain, I have no desire to put that or my professional reputation at risk by opening myself up to a potential breach. I did decide to go ahead with the product review, though, purely because I was interested in trying out the product and I thought - if it was as good as the company said it was - I would get a lot of use out of it. You'll find out soon :-)

I don't like blog posts which do product reviews when you don't realise it's a product review until the end or halfway through - it makes me feel a little cheated out of my time and as if I've been tricked into reading something which I may otherwise have chosen not to read. I get that it's an art / cool way of writing for some, but I'm not into it. So if I'm doing a product review, it will be in the heading of my blog post and tagged in "labels" as such.

I will not write an "ad" without first reviewing the product myself. I will not review products or services which are in conflict with my day job.

I've never been offered money to write a blog post about a product or service. If I was I would, again, think long and hard about it. Rest assured that no matter what I do in this space, I take my own integrity and, by extension, the integrity of my blog very seriously. Benefits - financial or gifts - will be disclosed in the review post and my opinion will never be swayed by receipt of such things.

(Note: I will be setting up a PR page on my blog with an abridged version of this post setting out my stance on product reviews)


  1. It is really complicated isn't it?

    I have done a few giveaways...mostly because I thought why not...everyone likes free things and if a company wants to send me something that I can pass on to my readers then I am happy with that.
    I haven't ever received a gift along with the giveaway...it has just been the one item that I passed on.

    I am also doing my first product review and I contacted the company myself to see if they would send me product to review.
    As that obviously is something that I felt would suit my blog, I am fine with it.

    But I do think it is a fine line to walk...and as I don't know the legal ins and outs of accepting money or gifts I generally steer clear!

    I am looking forward to your review!

  2. Thanks for this post Francesca. I still don't know where to stand and what to do regarding this subject and my blog... I'm just curious and feel free if you want to answer this question or not but what does it involve to do a giveaway? What are the risks?

    1. Hi Rita, I'm by no means an expert, but if you do a giveaway where the winner is drawn randomnly, in some jurisdictions you need to purchase a licence for the giveaway, as it's classed as a lottery. Also, I'm fairly sure that the jurisdiction is determined by where the entrant is. That's why you might see some giveaways only open to Australian residents, for example. Each state in Australia has different rules though, set by state legislation, so if licences are required, they need to be purchased separately per state. I don't want to be paying around $80 for a NSW licence and goodness knows how much for other states to drive traffic to my blog if my total advertising revenue EVER is sitting at $2.

      It is not a lottery (and therefore doesn't need a licence) if it is judged based on skill, but from my reading of the NSW requirements, skill is to be judged by an expert. Who is an expert is anyone's guess.

      My blogging is supposed to be fun, so I'm not going there! I do enough deciphering legislation (albeit in a different field) at work! I hope this answers your question.

      Disclaimer: I am not giving legal advice. Before making a decision, please research and seek expert advice if necessary!

    2. Thank you so much for your detailled answer Francesca. I appreciate that and your answer helped a lot.

  3. It was exactly that feeling of conning people that made me do a double take. I'd never considered it before because it was "just the way it was done", but when I stopped and had a think, I felt a bit dishonest and I wanted to change.


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