, , , ,

You could probably take some of the information in here and apply it to other review sites. But I’m focused on Amazon.com, since that’s what I’ve spent my time on.

Anyone reading through Amazon.com reviews, knows:

  • There are some excellent reviews
  • There are some silly reviews (reviews left for comical reason only, not to actually be helpful in buying the product or not)
  • There are awful reviews

For me, I don’t only write reviews for a review’s sake, but I’m trying to write reviews to get Helpful Votes and increase my Amazon reviewer ranking. At the time of this post I’m hovering around reviewer rank: 375, out of millions of reviewers.

Why Should Anyone Care about Their Rank?

Amazon occasionally increases their Vine Reviewers list with fresh blood. Being in the Vine program means you get “free” stuff to review weekly / monthly. Many of the items offered to program participants are perfect for my needs and my family’s needs (printers, food, books, toys, etc). I’m grateful to be part of the program.

Since my rank broke the top 500 mark, my personal email gets 2-3 solicitations per week, asking for reviews on books, phone cases, self-defense tools, etc. These come from large or small companies, or often from self-published authors, all looking for reviews.

How I Got Started

The entire reviewer thing started for me in the year 2000. I had moved for the second or third time in a 12-month period and was tired of lugging around boxes of paperbacks and hardbacks. Also, the space they took up (6+ large boxes) was cramping the storage space in the garage. Thus I decided to read one(1) book a week until I cleared out the boxes.

Two challenges:

  • My average reading speed at that time was one book a month
  • Years later, I needed a way to remember what I thought of the book after I read it. I figured since my reading speed was more than tripling, I’d have a huge drop in reading comprehension and needed a way to take notes on the books I read.

Thus I entered the Amazon review process! I started reviewing the books I had read and then eventually started reviewing all types of items.

What I Learned

Being a reviewer on Amazon is a strange thing, because people vote your post as being helpful or unhelpful for no clear rhyme or reason. Very few customers take the time to leave you comments, so many times it’s a guessing game as to what people want to see in a review.

After experimenting with different content and depending on the type of product I’m reviewing, I try and capture certain aspects of a product in each review.

Book Reviews

  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Ending (satisfying or not)
  • Suspension of belief or not
  • Mature content or not
  • If it is a YA book that my teen also read, what was his take on it

Movie Reviews

  • Casting / Acting
  • Plot
  • Special Effects
  • Ending (satisfying or not)
  • Suspension of belief or not
  • Directing / Editing
  • Mature content or not
  • Special Features on the Blu Ray / DVD
  • If it was a movie I watched with the family, what did the other family members think

Other products (housewares, food, etc):

  • Features vendor claims versus how well those features work
  • Practicality of certain features
  • Durability
  • Aesthetics
  • Do they have good customer support or not
  • Will it make me fat or not
  • Cost compared to competitive products
  • If I can make a video showing me trying to assemble the product or use the features, i try and do that

Videos go a long way! It is on the video reviews I tend to get the most comments and helpful feedback on what to improve in my reviews.

The newer the product the better chance of getting a lot of eyes checking out that product. Trying to rate a classic science fiction novel, typically means the review gets lost in the mix and the new customers checking out that product are low, which means very few votes. But rating a new gadget tends to generate tons more votes.

Some Do’s and Dont’s

  • Do reply to comments left on your reviews and reply in a timely manner. You should get an email notification when new comments are left.
  • Don’t try and create another Amazon account (or use a family account) to mark all your reviews as helpful. This is counterproductive to Amazon’s algorithm and will actually hurt your ranking in the end.
  • Don’t mark someone else’s review as unhelpful, unless you are willing to leave a comment. It’s just common courtesy.
  • Don’t think providing reviews is easy. It takes work. I constantly leave first draft reviews that have bad writing. I change the bad writing to poor writing by draft two and hopefully to good writing by draft three.
  • Do care about your reviews and the quality of your reviews. This will come through in your writing or video and customers will appreciate it.

There is no guarantee that your rank will increase and fans will flock to your reviews thinking you’re the hottest thing since white bread. But by following some of the things I list above could increase your chances of receiving helpful votes, which increases your ranking and could lead to vendors contacting you to review more items.

Not only isn’t it easy, it takes time. The top 10 reviews tend to have 3-4 times MORE reviews than I do . . . and I have around 600 reviews. But for those of us who like to read reviews and leave reviews, over time and across lots of reviews, it can be worth it on many levels.

If reviews aren’t your thing, there is always so much more to write in other areas (fiction, travel, etc).

Keep writing!