Paid Blogging Revisted: ReviewMe

Reviewmelogo_1ReviewMe is a new online service that is in the business of paying bloggers (like myself) to review products or services. The company is owned by Text Links Ads, which was recently acquired by MediaWhiz. I only mention this because both companies are fairly well respected and give the automatically-labeled-as-controversial new business ReviewMe some much needed support.

Paying bloggers to review products isn’t a new concept. In fact, the easiest way to explain the idea behind ReviewMe is to call it a “PayPerPost-like” site (a rival service launched earlier this year, which is basically the reason that any site similar will have to work hard to shed the “controversial” image; I’ll explain more below). Ironically, many bloggers have issues with PayPerPost even if still promoting it indirectly by using it as the adjective to describe ReviewMe. But on to explaining ReviewMe:

Setting up an account with ReviewMe is straightforward and simple. If you have a blog, you submit its URL along with some basic information about yourself (the minimum amount of information for the company to send you money). ReviewMe then immediately evaluates your blog using an algorithm based on Alexa, Technorati, and other stats to determine its importance or value from the standpoint of an advertiser.

The site does have an undisclosed minimum level of traffic/rating required, as there is some buzz in the Blogosphere about excited up-and-coming bloggers being rejected right away. But assuming you pass the minimum (and there’s no harm in trying with your blog, the company even suggests checking back as often as every couple months if you’re rejected), the site matches you with advertisers of the type of products most appropriate for your blog theme.

The idea (if it works) is that these advertisers will be willing to pay hefty sums of money for your review of their products. The payment back to you is 50 percent of what ReviewMe charges the advertiser. These payments back to you range from around $15 to $1,000 (supposedly, the high $1,000 is more of a rumor floating around at this point) per post depending on your blog’s traffic/Technorati stats, which the company updates monthly.

Here are the rules: Your review has to be at least 200 words long and has to be made within 48 hours of you being notified by ReviewMe of the potential review opportunity. And you must make mention of the fact, somewhere in the review, that you are being paid to review the product. But, perhaps most importantly, in no way are you required to make your review positive. It can be as candid as you like. These basic rules and the company’s simple website are what distinguishes ReviewMe from the competition.

Bloggers not disclosing being paid for posts while positively reviewing products was the part of the PayPerPost model that had many a blogger loathing the idea all together. And rightfully so. Bloggers like to believe they are honest and can be trusted, something easily destroyed by monetary incentives for deception. But ReviewMe is boldly confronting the issue from day one rather than ignoring it like the competition. And its simple solution of full disclosure will probably work just fine, if it can get past the leftover bad taste in the mouth from PayPerPost.

As an aside, one thing ReviewMe makes no mention of on its site (at least that I could find) is how exactly reviews for tangible products might happen. Reviewing online services or websites is one thing even if fairly limiting. I’m curious to know if advertisers will be willing to provide physical products to random bloggers in addition to paying the fee for the review. I suppose ReviewMe plans to cross that bridge once it comes to it. But for now, the company has set aside $25,000 to be paid out to approved bloggers who review the ReviewMe site itself, which also serves as a nice test run of the service.

So, yes, Computers.net was approved by ReviewMe. And, yes, we are told that we will be paid for this post. And if you’re interested in more details on blogging and advertising, check out this Reuters article coincidently released this week: Blogs Becoming Force in Advertising.