Taking money inexchange for reviews by Indian tech bloggers...
Some tech bloggers are telling that I am doing it "wrong"- and that I need to charge a fee to review a product. There are these few groups of tech bloggers who review products inexchange for a fee. Some say it, Some do not and keep it under wraps. I work very hard to produce an honest review- and that lead to many ups and downs....but as far as readership goes, it has a healthy growth. Not money wise to say the least, but that's a primary concern as of now.
And then some said about Techie-Buzz which has a massive following, but they clearly they say in their page
If you want free advertisements, you will not get them posted as an article here. We do sometimes provide independent reviews of products or services for a fee. If you want such a service please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't get it- how can tech bloggers in India use reviewing for advertising/PR????? How can people trust- or even trust such bloggers that they can create honest content? If I give you the product I made and I paid you a "fee" its human to expect/ask for a positive review. On what basis do tech bloggers ask for money??? But again- how can people even trust tech bloggers if this is how tech bloggers do it? Or am I an idiot not to charge money??? If I did charge money and since I am getting loads of review samples- everyone will say to give me 5 stars and all that. So question I want to ask everyone- including general users- why are you bloggers even terming reviews with advertising and PR? Reviews are made for people to know how good and bad a product is- and the feedback is taken to the RnD team- provided its reasonable.
It doesn't work that way. Reviewers earn via ad revenues or promotions/ event coverage- like doing a PR article or putting paid content but they put those in a way that it makes it obvious that its a paid content, but also made sure that its not a content which deems sponsor as "the best". The paid article gig that Indian tech bloggers get are usually those top 10 list stuff- yeah, they are sponsored content. Not all such lists are paid content, but yeah. Few guides are paid content- or atleast they appear paid content. Basically its written like a general guide and then in the end they mention so-and-so companies make good stuff yadda yadda yadda. Provided they have a track record of making good stuff, thats' good enough. However it doesn't really seem that way.
People who write sponsored reviews according to the specifications required by customers, are actually trading their readers for peanuts. They may have some short-term gains, but will most probably lose it on the longer term.
Yeah, that's the sentence I use to tell myself to be motivated and look ahead. TBH, couple of tech magazine are sloping downwards, one may keep on limping till ad flows in, another might be merged with their TV counterpart. But most of the Indian tech sources- blog or whatever- do things this way (well..some magazine/websites in mainstream media don't give anything more than 7 out of 10 and stuff like that if the company has no history of giving them ad revenues at all). But I am surprised that this is how tech is handled in India.
Let me update something here. This is a topic which was raised in Pune Blogger's meet, too.
I asked these question to tech bloggers. The same question, "How can someone give an unbiased review when he/she is being paid for it?"
And they confirmed back saying that if it is clarified in the beginning itself, why not?
I also believe that it is quite possible that you do an unbiased review even if you're being paid for it. The only thing which will happen in that case is that only those brands will approach you who are quite confident about their products. The flip side is that you lose a lot of potential earning, but the good part is that none of the craps with their crappy models approach you.
You can't know if something is crap or not without testing. You can't say if its good for someone who is looking for cheap stuff, or someone who needs good stuff- or something with badass performance without testing. Like this product that is bad on windows OS, linux? She flies!! Out of so many review sources around the world- only handful of them did it. You will bump into something that others have overlooked and that's always a probability. Even the most crappiest companies can churn out good stuff- and there were times. Judging a product based on a brand is something reviewers should avoid. You'll never know if its good or not unless you test it yourself.You will not get a product from a particular brand on a regular basis if you get paid for doing a review. They do reviews once in a blue moon. You still can't ignore the possibility of a crappy company coming infront to pay you. Indian companies and all which make tier 3 and below components don't make their stuff- in reality they make a massive bulk order from China and import it to India, then engrave their brand name. That's what crappy companies do- they do nothing but relabel. Their business model is no different from a guy selling stuff on the road, but they do massive business because the mass prefers dirt cheap stuff. A product worth about 50 is sold for 500. A phone worth 3k-4k fully loaded will have nothing more than 200-500 rupees of cost when manufactured. They have higher chances to bank on profits and usually go down this road.
If a crappy product guy is the one in touch with you and he pays a fee, its obvious he'll expect something. Good brands will go for the mainstream media guys. That's how it is. I interacted with lot of companies and I can say with confidence: no1 will give you stuff and money for reviewing unless they get something out of it. That's the ground fact.
I am against paid review, mouthshut.com has innumerable reviews which are all unpaid for. At the same time if companies want a review in common platform, they can organise seminar, contests and debates, which may be some form of inducement, but legitimate. The most unethical thing to do is to doctor, whether by polishing bad reviews into acceptable product or service or even getting a good review written by paying. Even an employee or their circle can pen a good review.
Ultimately a review has to be genuine so that a feedback goes back to the manufacturer, particularly those relating to drugs, which can have side effects. For example the biggest blockbuster drug in the pharma industry is anti cholosterol medication, but it has side effects of memory loss, i personally experienced it, and told my family doctor who was surprised but asked me to discontinue, it is not only my experience, the same was felt two other unrelated people whom i know, who can testify the same.
My grandpa used to say, if the money is yours it will come to you, you don’t need to run behind it. Point in case being, even in today’s times... honesty very much continues to be the best policy and I strongly believe the biggest revenue we as bloggers earn are - readers, genuine readers - and not some few bucks of currency.
Your hard work shows in the prolific works that you do and that is indeed commendable. As I see things, as a general blogger, It’s best not to run a blind race and ape others, it eventually leads us nowhere. People will always say things – either this way or that. Ignore. Chart your own way, and do what deems right to you. To stand up for what 'you' feel is right, does require a lot of guts and courage. Quite possible, others who charge money are not wrong either; we should stay away from generalizing perhaps, just that different factors motivate different people to do the same things differently.. we really cant be sure.
The answer to the question you pose, acc. to me, probably lies in that sense of pleasure and satisfaction, one that you get when you switch off your machines and go to bed after a hard days work... and I am pretty much sure you get a good tight sleep, don't you :)
yeah. When I was discussing this with someone on FB, he said the same thing. hmm..