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Gear Opinion Free Gear

Stanley | Team TB

Amazingly Decent and Not-At-All Terrible Fishing
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If you have spent much time making videos on YouTube at some point you are liking going to come across the advertisements for free gear in your emails. Strangely I do not see many questions about this, though there is a lot of information to unpack.

What Is Happening
When you recieve one of these emails it is because one of two things is happening. Someone is selling a product (likely on Amazon) and they need a ratings boost on that product in order for it to rank in search (much in the same way that we deal with SEO for videos sellers on Amazon must deal with SEO for their products in the Amazon search). These sellers affect their SEO standing by gifting free products to people whom they trust to write thorough, positive reviews with pictures and they like to target YouTube channels because they often get the added bonus of video content that often gets put on YouTube (a seperate search engine) and will hopefully include a link back to their Amazon page.

Is It Legitimate
It can be. Though there are a host of scams there are legitimate sellers looking for legitimate reviews who offer legitimate products for free. Be diligent; these sellers often need you to make an order through your Amazon account and so they send money to your paypal to do so... a scam artist will pull that payment after the order has been completed. Some may offer Amazon gift cards etc to allow you to make payment and it is ok to ask for this in lieu of a paypal transaction. Be aware that though they rarely mention a desire for a 5-Star review it is likely understated in their request and you may want to let them know before accepting that you will be providing an honest review, and if you have a tendency of leaving anything short of 5-Star reviews they may stop coming to you.

The Value
Yeah, you get free stuff. But is it really worth it? Well, yeah, it really can be. Though I was careful I accepted just about every one of these review offers I could get my hands on in my first year on YouTube, and we managed to get our hands on just about $2,000 worth of product (retail value). The majority of that was stuff that we didn't necessarily need (I have more low-end fishing lures than i will ever use) but had I been more on point I likely could have turned around and sold all this product on Ebay for a couple hundred dollars. It also would make for good giveaway items on YouTube. But the real value came a few months ago. After writing reviews and blogs for several websites I was approached by a site who specifically focuses on reviewing merchandise for outdoorsmen. These reviews combined with links to my videos not only gave my channel a small boost in viewership but it also gave my affiliate links a boost.

And there is a hidden benefit to these Amazon reviews and having a healthy Amazon Affiliate account. These products give you an opportunity to provide a large quantity of reviews on Amazon, which boosts your potential to get an invite into the Amazon Vine program.

Never heard of Amazon Vine? Welcome to the club. Considered the 'secret-society' of reviewers on Amazon the Vine program is an invite-only club of reviewers. The requirements for invitation are not advertised, though it likely has something to do with the quantity and quality of the reviews that you provide for items on the marketplace. Once a member you are provided with free, high-end products for review. This is where legitimate, well-known brands go to have new products tested and reviewed.

Final Note
You don't have to be a novelist or poet in order to write the perfect review, a simple Google search will provide you with a template for a generic review and when filled with the correct information about the product that would be more than enough for any seller. You skills as a photographer and/or videographer are highly prized and should be utilized to take ahold of these product reviews. And while there is a wealth of opportunity I would stress again that before agreeing to any product reviews be mindful of the seller, do your research before making any purchases, be open with them about the review they will be provided and make sure to get payment upfront. There is a lot of opportunity available if you pursue relationships with these brands, but you first need to be mindful of the scams and pitfalls that are out there.

Rule #1: BE PREPARED TO TURN DOWN THE OFFER. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SAYING NO.