Tag Archives: review sites

No Reviews Are Better Than Fake Reviews

Star of starsI was just following along with a discussion on one of my favorite review groups (Wanda’s amazing Amazon reviewers on Facebook) and the discussion was about paid review sites. Are they ethical, and how do we feel about Amazon going on a witch hunt for them.

I’ve never used a paid review site, but I consider it often. Rumor has it that 20 reviews is ‘the magic number’ on Amazon to trigger their cookies to promote you.

It’s taken me four years to get 20 reviews on End of Mae organically. When the book was first published I asked for reviews from a handful of reviewers, but other than that I don’t ask. If the book is reviewed, that’s a gift to me. I don’t hunt down and seek reviews much because I don’t have time.

If I could simply pay someone that would guarantee me 20 more reviews, I would do that gladly. The most important thing, however, is not the reviews but the honesty of them. A glowing, dishonest review is a nail in the author career coffin.

I have bought a few books based on five star reviews. After reading a badly edited and pointless work, I went back to the reviews wondering if I was crazy and missed some vital part that magically made the book steller or was I a victim of the emperor’s non-existent new robes? I have decided the latter, and that author gets blacklisted on my reading list. I will never buy a book of theirs again.

The sad thing is that author may be quite good some day. To a writer, seeing our name in print is the biggest reward sometimes and we can fall prey to publishing lust. The urge to get it out has to be reined in, but is a forgivable offense. Publishing a rough manuscript can be overlooked by most readers, but no one likes to be lied to. A glowing review on literary junk will not be forgotten.

So I’m all for paid review sites but I won’t use one until I can find a guarantee that they are unbiased. Ironically, I already tread in dangerous water with my meager 20 reviews because they are all four and five, a little suspicious for a first novel. Mr. Bonejangles, published at the end of 2013, is picking up steam with 11 reviews already with an average rating of 4.7. Again, a little high for beginning works. I love it and am happy (please don’t stop!), but I feel hesitant to promote that at the risk of looking dishonest. It’s a conundrum—if I talk good about me it looks bad. If you talk good about me I must be good.

So here’s the kicker in the author world as I see it today: if you write a genuinely good book it can look like a crappy one because it has too many high ratings. If you write a crappy book you can sell it temporarily as a good book but eventually you will be found out and blacklisted. The only way I have found to have success as an author is slow, boring, boring advice steeped in persistence.

Write a good book. Polish it until it gleams. Hope your readers will feel inclined to give you word of mouth promotion, the most effective kind, and will review it honestly. There is no quick path.

Reviewing for Rewards

MyBlogSpark|freebies|Yoplait|review sites
© Photo by Lori Alcorn

Imagine if Christmas came more than once a year and surprises came regularly to your mailbox.  That’s what Lori A. gets all the time as a veteran reviewer.

Dedicated to word of mouth marketing, Lori tries out products for different companies, and then posts her honest opinion of them on her blog.

MyBlogSpark is one of the companies that puts reviewers like Lori in touch with companies that need reviews.  The benefit to Lori is free goodies, like this workout set from Yoplait in the photo.

“MyBlogSpark is easy to use and has all your info for sparks in one place.  They offer you a product to try along with lots of great gifts to go along with it –  you also get the offer to give to one your readers.  I do any MyBlogSpark I am offered and its been my pleasure to work with them.  I have never had a package missing or in bad shape. MyBlogSpark are professionals and I love working with them.”

While Lori is an experienced reviewer, Kira S. is just getting her feet wet.  She has just recently joined MyBlogSpark to try it out.  I’ll be covering both their experiences here for anyone who’s interested in seeing how these programs work first hand. 

Can you really get boxes of goodies in exchange for your opinion?  Not only can you, I’ll show you how, what, when and where right here.  If you already use one of these sites, please share your experiences with us in the comments section.  Now’s your chance to plug your stuff!  😀

My(big)BlogSpark Surprise

The postman only had to ring once to deliver the giant mystery box at our house.  We were expecting a few small packages to be delivered, but this one was almost as big as me.  Eagerly ripping it open, inside we found it was stuffed full of fun surprises.  It was Christmas all over again, thanks to MyBlogSpark.

Many of you may remember my recent post on Internet Moonlighting where I mentioned a marketing company called MyBlogSpark, located in America.  While I couldn’t personally sign up with them and try them out due my being overseas, their customer service was so outstanding and friendly I thought they deserved mention.

I was already impressed with their efficiency and professionalism.  They were very personable with their responses to my initial questions and the individual I was exchanging emails with, Courtney Rauch, won me over as a forever fan.  The huge goody box was just icing on the cake… MyBlogSpark had me at first email.  Here’s a list of everything that arrived in the box, along with a beautiful hand written letter from Courtney:

  • Chocolate Spa Collection Gift Set
  • Betty Crocker Homestyle Creamy Butter Mashed Potatoes with measuring cup, spoon and potholder
  • Yoplait Delights Parfait Vanilla scented candle (on my desk now & it smells like yum!)
  • 24 count box Crayola crayons (made with solar power… more green then just the color)
  • Cute refrigerator magnet from Kibbles’nBits
  • Compact mirror from General Mills
  • Insulated lunch bag by Built featuring a French Bull pattern
  • 4 Piece exfoliating shower scrubber set by Cabana Bay
  • Awesome soup mug from Progresso Soup (husband’s preferred bowl now)
  • Sport blanket by LogoMark
  • Green plastic coupon file
  • Silicon pot holder by Norpro
  • Awesome Bamboo bowl from Totally Bamboo Basics
  • Stainless steel travel mug from Nature Valley
  • 250 piece Memories scrapbooking kit by Paper Boutique
  • Large zippered reusable shopping tote from myBlogSpark (excellent for Australia where you have to bring your own bag!)
  • MyBlogSpark button
  • Personalized letter from Courtney and the team


Internet Moonlighting – Ways Your Internet Can Pay

Lately it seems all my friends are looking for extra cash.  There are so many ways to make it pay, I can’t possibly cover them all in one blog post, so this is my brief overview of different options I explored last night.

I personally signed up for some of these and gave them a try, some of them I read about or had friends tell me about, and one I wouldn’t touch at all, even just to explore.  I didn’t even begin to cover selling real goods online, like with Etsy or eBay.  That will have to be another post entirely.

When I started looking around the internet for the best ways to make extra cash and goodies from it, I found a mass of useless advertisements being masqueraded as information.  I have explored a lot of income options on the internet over the years, some have panned out and some were colossal wastes of time.  Last night I took some time to explore what’s out there now and try it out, and here’s what I came up with.

Product Review Sites
These are websites that need chatty people and bloggers.  Large companies depend on these sites to gather together people willing to try their products and review them.  These companies fall into the category of word of mouth advertising.

To date, I’ve only tried Vibe Village of all these, but it was a rewarding experience.  They sent me the large package of Tetley Tea in the photo for free.  Inside were two large boxes of tea, a ton of smaller sample packages to pass out to my friends and a carton of soy milk.  All I had to do for it was respond a short review, and then tell them three different ways I shared the tea.  Past campaigns have been Cadbury Chocolate and Bulla Ice Cream.  Unfortunately I joined up with them afterwards, so I missed out on the chocolate.  Sigh. 

Oddly enough, I could only find one company in the US.  MyBlogSpark came came recommended to me from a friend who loves it, and when I contacted their customer service they responded quickly and were very nice, so I’d think they would be a good choice.  You do need to pick one from your own country due to the cost of shipping overseas.  If I were in the US, I would definitely try out MyBlogSpark.  Here’s a few sites to get you started:

The Soup Australia
Vibe Village Australia
Word of Mouth Club Australia
Yooster Australia
MyBlogSpark USA (my favorite)

Reward Sites
These sites give you incentives like giftcards and PayPal credit in exchange for your activity on their site.  I’ve used Gather casually for a little while and would highly recommend them.  Squidoo is a new one I just found, and I’m actually going to check it out just because it looks like fun.  SwagBucks has been used by a number of my friends, and last night I spent a frustrating hour and a half on MyPoints filling out my information for what seems to be nothing.

While you probably won’t get rich on any of these sites, they do help out with a little extra.  As Dee B, one of my new Gather friends says,”They do help cut cost for us. I’ve used all my gift cards for work done on our house.”  And here are the ones I found:

Gather (my favorite)
Sunshine Rewards

Virtual Business
I know I talk about how wonderful virtual worlds like Second Life are, but seriously, I am bringing in around $50 a week from selling my clothes designs.  To date, creating items to sell in our cyber shop has been the most financially rewarding thing I have done on the internet, aside from a past lucrative contract writing position.  Those were the days…

There are a large number of these “social games” to choose from besides Second Life, and there are a number of ways to earn money there besides creating items.  A musician friend of mine brings in around $100 a week for doing live shows where he sings and plays his guitar.  People can choose to be models for designers like me, run a club, be a dancer, a hostess for events… the possibilities are endless.  Use your imagination and jump in.

In Second life, you get paid in game money called Lindens which you trade for real currency.  At this time 1,000 Lindens comes to just under $5.  With 132,379 members on FaceBook alone, just a fraction of the total residents, there are a lot of people to discover, and pay you, for your special talents.  My advice if you do try this route is to stay focused on your goal, and remember you are there to work or you can get swept away in all the distractions and find yourself spending more then you make.  An excellent publication on the business side of virtual worlds is Hypergrid Business.  You can visit Second Life here, or google “virtual worlds”.

Temporary Hire
This is my first experience with these type of site.  The idea is that businesses that can’t afford to keep a staff on hand can pay internet surfers like us to do their work.  I actually tried out MicroWorkers.  I signed on to do a small job, which was to write 100 words about Marilyn Monroe and link back to their site, which you can see I did with my last post.  It was worth $4 for me to do that, and took me less then five minutes. 

Today I got a message back from the “hirer” saying my job wasn’t good enough and they wouldn’t pay.  I don’t really see what is wrong about my post, it came in at 116 words excluding the quote at the end, so I don’t see much of a future with MicroWorkers myself.  A lot of the jobs listed were things like signing up for a certain dating site, or leave a comment or rate a book on Amazon and they paid anywhere from .05 to $5.  I tried two other jobs with MicroWorkers so I’ll see how it all pans out.

MicroWorkers (tried it, still deciding)

Opportunities on the internet are as widespread and varied as types of bird, and to cover them all would take me a book rather then a blog post.  Second Life has proved to be the most all over rewarding venture, but of the rest of them, I enjoyed doing the product review for Tetley Tea best, followed by Gather and Squidoo. 

I did come across one more called Project PayDay, but it sounded so shady I didn’t even want to resister.  The idea behind that one, I am told, is that you get paid to sign up for offers and you have to remember to cancel the offers after you get your money.  On the other end, you can pay others to sign up for deals with you so you can get discounted goods.

The example I read about was a deal that gave you an Xbox 360 if you could get 5 people to sign up for a certain plan.  You were paying 5 people each $20 to join up, so you got an Xbox at a discounted price of $100.  I didn’t try it, and it sounds like too much bother for me, but if you decide to try it please let me know how it works for you.  I’m always curious to learn more.

That wraps up my exhausting search for money making on the web, I hope some of you can make good use of it.  Please let me know what works for you and what doesn’t, and anything you’ve tried that I haven’t mentioned.  I’m off to enjoy a lovely cup of Tetley Tea and explore my new Squidoo.

Updated Note:  We’ve moved from Australia back to the US so now I’m primarily working with MyBlogSpark and other US based companies.