Blog reviews: To pay or not to pay?

Photo credit: pneumatic.transport
Review You, Review Me - Part 2

Paid blog reviews for the majority of bloggers will not come to fruition in a big way.

That's a bold statement. Here's why I'm sticking my neck out: Many bloggers are keen to have their sites reviewed but they're not willing to pay for such reviews. Why should they when there are blog review sites offering free reviews with links thrown in for good measures?

Likewise, there are plenty of blogs doing voluntary reviews of other blogs. Usually they will pick on blogs that they feel are similar to theirs. Or for the simple reason that a particular blog has great content and information that makes you want to write about it. I'll call this "goodwill gesture" and it'll also help to build links and traffic.

It does not matter whether one writes a short or long review. What's important is that people want to build bridges (links) and, as a blogger, this is a good, friendly gesture towards your blogging neighbour.

In a nutshell, here are some of the reasons why a review is written:

  • they like the content posted on your site
  • they have a kind of rapport with your blog

  • they hope to get tit-for-tat links, a reciprocal etiquette in blogdom

  • they want to create good karma and get the same back
Link Love vs the Money Factor

I have every reason to believe that doing free reviews is more gratifying. Everyone can do it without considering the money factor. It's gratifying because you're giving out link love without putting a price on it. You'll be getting the same from those blogs that you have tagged. It's an investment that will boost the "friendly neighbourhood" concept and has a more lasting value in terms of your blogging experience.

As a reminder, we are not really talking about writing reviews of commercial products or services via sponsoring companies like
PayPerPost, ReviewMe, Sponsored Reviews and others.

No doubt, this particular aspect of money-making opportunities has received tremendous response from publishers (bloggers) and advertisers. It will remain popular as long as advertisers want to promote their products and services and willing to provide these opportunities to bloggers.

And just to put a few things straight, I'm fully aware of money bloggers who move in the fast lane. It's their choice to charge as high as possible for a review based on the rankings of their blogs. And there are also the price under-cutters who will charge less for a review without using a middleman.

But you can bet there's not going to be many paid review offers from individual bloggers coming your way like a cattle stampede if I may make a parody of this statement. When reality sets in, you'll realize these offers are few and far between.

A blog that's not in the top half of the PageRanks can forget about advertisers coming to you for a review. Most bloggers are not advertisers, so paying for overpriced review fees has never been an issue at all, it's just not on in the first place.

Here are some reasons why most bloggers won't pay:

  • They are basically blogging hobbyists
  • They don't see a need to pay for a review and it may not be worth the price
  • There are other ways to get links and traffic without parting with your money
  • They are not in the same league as so-called probloggers in the fast lane
Why paid reviews did not catch fire?

It was considered cool to write paid reviews when the idea was first introduced but it has fallen flat. Look around your blogging neighbourhood and see how many review posts you can find that really look like a paid review. Maybe a few, maybe none at all. While you can get a viral buzz and exposure, paying for hundreds of dollars for publicity is out of reach for many bloggers.

The problem with paid reviews is that it can be a dicey proposition. There's a kind of uncertainties about them.

  • Will it get you a sudden spike in traffic following a paid review especially from a high-ranking blog?
Yes. It can help to kick-start your blog but there's no guarantee.

  • Will the traffic juice continue to flow or die off over time?
That depends on the flavor of your posts and how you keep up with your blog. A continuous flow of good, informative content will help to attract readers. But if you slack, the juice will start to dry up.

  • Can you do all the above without paying for a review?
Yes, so many blogs have succeeded without going down that path.

"Hire Me for $xxx" Widget: Eyesore or Decorative Device?

Did you notice that nowadays, most blogs don't show the amount of money that they want to charge for a review, especially if they are using a PayPerPost widget? All you can see is that "Hire Me" widget. Some bloggers, including yours truly, have taken the widget off completely.

Has the truth sunk in that there's hardly any taker despite these widgets?
Well, it's plain to see that these widgets are starting to make us look like duds. Even a beggar standing on the corner will have better luck with people dropping coins into his cup.

If you're still hoping to do some paid reviews from advertisers (that includes me), then it's better just to indicate that you're available by showing this as a text link on your blog's sidebar. Don't have to shout or moo about it.

Advertisers will know where to look. If they feel that you're up to it as a reviewer they will contact you in their own good time. They can tell by reading your blog posts. They don't need some silly widgets to make them jump.

Isn't there a better way around the paid review syndrome?

Yes. Write a post to let visitors know that you'll be willing to do reviews, not for money, but for a fair exchange of links. Specify that blogs wanting a review must have content that are relevant to your own blog but, sometimes, this is not necessary. You can also state the number of words for the reviews. It's your call.

Better still, just go ahead and write a review of any blog you have come across that catches your fancy.
You can read two of them which I did here and here.
You have the freedom of choice and you're not obliged in any way to sugar-coat the review. Just do a fair and honest assessment of the blog, highlighting some interesting aspects of its contents, layout and design and point out certain weak points and so on. And don't forget to add a link or two in your post.

As pointed out earlier, if the blogger understands blogging etiquette, he or she will link back to you unless you chew up the person's blog so bad that any reciprocal action will be thrown out of the window.

The best approach is to be a little picky about a blog. Pick a blog that is readable with good content which will put your mind in a positive frame when it comes to writing about the site.
Or you can seek out those specialized review sites where you can get your blog reviewed for free. Some will require you to do a reciprocal review of a blog that did a review of yours. You are required to link to their site and you get a backlink from their review of your blog.
Here's a site that provides free reviews not only for blogs but also for those who want to promote their websites, businesses, and organizations. I found this in a post at Hong Kiat's blog.

ReviewBack is a free review swapping and exchange network. You can say it's a marketplace and trading ground where bloggers and copywriters alike can get in touch with one another and help each other increase their exposure.
Another site that provides free reviews is Bloggeries.com which is also a blog directory. They will accept donations to be used for compensating their reviewers for their time.

Of related interests:

Review You, Review Me - Part One
Blogging With Amazing Grace
Are You One Of Those "Bad Apples?"


Christy said...

What an awesome post! I won't pay for a blog review, because I'm way too cheap! LoL. I couldn't bear to give an A-Lister even more money, forget it! :)

I can totally relate to the payperpost Hire Me button, ROFL! At first I had it front and center, then a bit lower...then lower...now I think I have it shoved to the bottom of my blog, lol. It does make me feel like some huge loser for whatever reason. It makes me feel desperate somehow. I have noticed more and more bloggers taking them off. Great subject to bring up!

snoopy said...

I agreed with you and my purpose of review non paid link is to make more friends and of cause to get more traffic.

MK said...

> Christy: Hi! You're always dependable. I'm sure more of these widgets will disappear over time.

> Snoopy: Thanks. Nice to hear we're in the same boat!

Anonymous said...

Hi Markk,

Thanks for bringing this up. Honestly this has not crossed my mind before you mention it.

And, being the subject of one of your reviews :), what I really want to say is I really appreciate your analysis of my blog, not only for your kind words and positive comments, but more importantly that you did spend much time walking through my site to get a thorough understanding of what's going on before commenting it.

I am really not sure whether I can get a review of this quality even I am paying for it...

MK said...

> Shine: Nice of you to come by. I'm sure there're lots of good reviewers in blogosphere.

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