The great thing about the internet is that anyone can make a website, a blog or post self-made videos to YouTube. All these mediums are good for reviewing products but these days you don’t even need to go to that much effort to start on your journey to becoming a tech reviewer.

Before you start out, though, consider why you want to do it. If it’s just a hobby and you want to do it for fun, great. If you’re doing it with a view to starting a career in journalism, absolutely fine. But if you’re purely doing it to try and get free or discounted products or make money, be careful. As long as you offer an honest, unbiased opinion and you’re able to tell others whether a product is better than its competitors, you’ll do well.

How to become a tech reviewer: Amazon

How to become a tech reviewer

Update 24 November 2016: Since its policy chance in October 2016, Amazon has applied the same policy for reviews through its EU and UK sites - sellers have received an email (see screenshots below) containing the new policy change - whereby they aren't allowed to offer products for a discounted or free price. Its Vine system detailed below will continue as normal, however.

How to become a tech reviewer Amazon

Update 4 October 2016: Amazon has now banned incentivised reviews for tech after research led it to believe people were awarding higher ratings than a product was given to them for free or at a discounted price. 

Amazon is, of course, the biggest site for user reviews. Every time you buy something you’ll be sent an email asking you to rate and review it, the company that sold it and even the packaging it arrived in. This is the easiest place to start.

It takes only a minute to review a product after clicking on the link in the ‘please review your recent purchase’ email. However, if you want to be taken seriously, you’ll want to invest a lot more time than that.

How to become a tech reviewer

Getting your first review published on Amazon is just the first step. You’ll need a ‘portfolio’ of reviews if you want to rise up the ranks of Amazon reviewers and get noticed.

It’s well worth checking and developing your public profile – there’s a link in the menu bar. Add some information about yourself, your interests and also contact details if you want companies to approach you to review products. This could be an email address, a website or both.

How to become a tech reviewer

You may be invited to join Amazon’s Vine Programme. Vine Voice is for the “most trusted reviewers”, and you can’t ask to join: you have to wait to be asked.

When you review products as a normal Amazon customer you’ll get ‘helpful’ votes and a reviewer rank. There are various ‘badges’ on offer, which will mark you out as a ‘top reviewer’. You can read more on Amazon’s website about reviewer ranks.

How to become a tech reviewer: YouTube & video reviews

How to become a tech reviewer

You don’t necessarily have to be a great writer to become a tech reviewer, but it helps. An alternative is to make a video review, which you can also do on Amazon.

YouTube is a better place to try and build a following, though.

Making video reviews is considerably harder than written reviews, unless you’re a natural in front of the camera or are a video-editing ace that can add panache with effects and voice overs.

Some products are better suited to a video review anyway: you can show people how something works for easier in a video than trying to explain it in words.

How to become a tech reviewer: Learn to write a good review

Before you even start a review, you ought to know a product inside out. This is why it’s a good idea to review products you’ve owned for a while.

It’s not enough to know just its features and specifications, but its strengths and weaknesses. What does it do, or have, which competitors lack or, conversely, what doesn’t it do which rivals can. Does it work reliably? Does it perform well?

You can run tests or benchmarks on some products to find out how they perform and including these – in addition to opinions – will always add to your review.

It’s your opinion of the product that matters most, though. That, of course, is subjective. Whether it’s the design, build quality or performance, you’ll need to know how it compares to similar products, which is why it’s hard to review a camera, a PC monitor or a pair of headphones if you don’t have much to compare it with.

You can run tests or benchmarks on some products to find out how they perform and including these – in addition to opinions – will always add to your review.

Most importantly, put yourself in the shoes of the reader and answer questions that they can’t. You have the product in your hands and they don’t. It’s not particularly useful to talk about features and specifications they can find in the product’s listing. Far more useful is to explain whether those features work well or not. How long does a battery-powered product really last? How loud are the speakers? Is it well made?

Give a more detailed breakdown of the overall score, and avoid giving things full marks unless you can justify why this product is the best of its type.

Don’t make the mistake other reviewers do and mark a product down because it arrived late or damaged. The review is of the product, not the delivery service. It shouldn’t be too short or too long. This will depend on the product: a more complex product will require a longer review. But people want the key points, so a summary at the top of a long review will prove helpful.

The review should be accompanied by good-quality photos that highlight points you make in the review. If it’s a video, be sure the lighting and sound are good and keep it relatively short.

The basics are, then, mainly common sense.

How to review products without buying them

This is probably the most-asked question of all. If you’re just starting out reviewing tech products, companies aren’t going to send you stuff simply because you send them an email asking to review it.

This is where it will help if you have a website, blog and / or YouTube channel with a catalogue of reviews already in place. Companies will look at your following – your audience and influence – as well as the quality and quantity of reviews.

Some Amazon reviewers have found they receive emails such as the one below offering a choice of products to review. Typically, these will be provided at no cost to the reviewer as ‘payment’ for the review. You then get to keep it.

How to become a tech reviewer

It’s crucial you don’t give products full marks just because you were given it free, or at a discount.

As certain Hall of Fame Amazon reviewers have discovered to their cost, awarding five stars to everything without reviewing it properly is a good way to have your reviews and profile deleted.