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Have you ever taken a look at the customer reviews when you shop on Amazon.com?
If you visit the website with any frequency, you’ve probably seen reviews marked with a special symbol next to reviewers’ names that marks them as a “Vine Voice“.
That’s is your ticket to getting free products on Amazon.
What is Vine Voice?
Amazon Vine members are reviewers who have become part of an invitation-only group, somewhat like a club, that indicates that they are considered to be very important reviewers by Amazon.
So How Do You Become a Vine Voice Member?
The first and most basic rule about getting into the Vine Voices circle is having highly rated reviews.
If you write a good review and people approve of it, then you’re already well on the way.
It’s not quite that simple, though, so we’ll go a little more in-depth.
Amazon does not publicly state exactly what the criteria are for being invited to their exclusive reviewers’ club. On the Vine FAQ page, it says that the two most important criteria are writing well-thought out, useful reviews, and having an area of expertise.
Someone who has written reviews for many types of power tools might expect to attract a little more attention than someone who reviews one power tool and one blender.
Let’s talk a little bit more about what a “well-thought-out” review is, though, and how you should go about that.
Writing a Good Review
So just to start at basics, you’ll obviously need to have an Amazon account to place the reviews.
The more reviews you place, the better– so long as they aren’t low quality!
Placing a bunch of badly written reviews is akin to spam, and will be treated as such, so it is far more important to keep a ‘slow and steady’ type of pace than anything.
Some people choose to boost the number of reviews they place down by reviewing products on Amazon that they’ve purchased elsewhere (or maybe even a product that they’ve never even purchased.) However, Amazon has subtly discouraged this by adding the option to advertise if you’ve actually purchased it through Amazon.
In a practical sense, all this means is that the review-reader will be able to notice if your review seems less “firsthand” than the others. It is recommended to only review products that you have purchased because the quality of your review is likely to reflect the authority you have on the matter.
Readers love a review that is no-nonsense. That means in addition to writing genuine stuff, you should keep the focus to a practical examination. Explicitly state what is good about the item, what is bad about the item, what the user experience is like and why you would or wouldn’t buy it again.
When a potential customer reads your review, they want to feel like they’ve used the product themselves.
A good review will make or break the reader’s opinion on the product, so try to include the type of information you’d want in a review.
- Is the product durable?
- Does it work as advertised?
- How does it feel in your hands, or look on your counter?
You have the option to edit your reviews, and I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of it. An important aspect of a good review is good layout; you’re going to want to use good grammar, punctuation, and spelling if you can help it.
Proofread the review before your post it, and come back to reread it later. You can always change it around if you spot any errors.
If you have a hard time typing, or you just don’t like it, Amazon does offer a video review option. Those of us that are comfortable with a camera can throw up a video review in no time at all, and it might reach certain customers more effectively than a written review.
Writing a “Helpful” Review
So, if you are familiar with Amazon’s review system at all, you surely have noticed that each review has a display that says “__ out of __ users rated this as helpful.”
This is key to how Amazon thinks of your review, in terms of being considered for a Vine Voices position.
A review that helps a customer decide whether to purchase or not and gives them a strong insider look at the product will be the most helpful. As we were talking about above, a good review makes the reader feel like they’ve already used the product before.
Relaying your user experience is very important.
To give a little more of an idea on how important being a thorough reviewer is: there are many Vine Voices who only have around 150 reviews posted in the lifetime of their Amazon account. Some people on Amazon have posted hundreds and hundreds of reviews without becoming Vine Voices, so you can imagine that quality over quantity is important here.
You should note, though, that new accounts will not be invited to be part of the program. Your account should be at least half a year old if you want to be considered for the position.
Furthermore, making a connection between your Amazon profile and your reviews can be beneficial. If you say on your profile, “I work as a carpenter,” then people might be a little more inclined to heed your opinions on the new table-saw you just reviewed.
If you inject a little professionalism into your reviews and your “reviewer persona,” it will make people respect what you have to say more. People heeding your advice means people finding you helpful, and people finding you helpful will reflect in your reviews, which will put you another step towards your coveted invitation.
But What About Once I Make it In?
You don’t want to squander the opportunity once you get in, so make sure you look up the guidelines as soon as possible and follow the directions to a T.
You request up to two products and you must post a review before you can request more items. This is Amazon’s way of keeping the Vine Voices accountable.
It’s possible that you’ve considered using this program to get some stuff you can sell after reviewing. You won’t be surprised to hear that other people have had that idea, too, so you can imagine that the high-value items like that are going to get snatched up by the other Vine people very quickly. Instead, it is probably best to only request products that you were interested in to begin with. If you’re a gardener, stick to the garden tools– not only will there be less demand for your specialty items, but you personally will get more use out of them than a reviewer who doesn’t even have a yard!
That said, as reported by NPR, some of the vendors have started sending free items to the top reviewer. So, becoming a top reviewer could get you way more free stuff without you even having to ask.
Lastly, I’d like to dispel the notion that this program is an “insider job.”
It’s true that a vendor has to sign up for the program and they have to give away a few of their products to members to be reviewed but they are not bribing you for a good review. In fact, the participating vendors are not allowed to alter your review at all.
They’re theoretically paying you to review Amazon products.
So even if you write a blistering review, completely discrediting the product, you’re fine. They can’t change it. But let’s be honest, your chances of getting selected to get freebies in exchange for reviews in the future become very slim once the sellers see your negative reviews of the past products. So there is that!
Hopefully, reading this article has given you a little bit of insight on how to get started down the path as a Vine Voice so you can get free stuff on Amazon for reviews.