Backpack promotion


Estarer, a seller on Amazon, is wanting to promote their line of business laptop backpacks.  These are perfect for the commuter!  Durable and stylish, and large enough for a 17.3″ laptop!

Please check out the bag here, and then use the promo code GFFKFS86 for 20% off this bag at checkout!


Amazon is big


In the news, Amazon is making headlines for trying to purchase Wholefoods.   But they have their hands in tons of other arenas, seemingly branching out into not only groceries, but home service support, cloud services, video streaming and much more.    I don’t hear many private citizens complaining though, the complaining seems to be only in the media.   No one I know, or even casually know on social media, is concerned about Amazon’s growing dominance.

Conversely, I recall that 10+ years ago lots of everyday people (and the media) were up in arms about Walmart getting to big, saying they were undercutting other local businesses. In several cases, towns were trying to stop future Walmart stores being built in their jurisdictions.  People have argued that most of their product offerings were made in sweatshops in China using forced labor, and therefore they were not only selling second rate products that would not last long, but also propagating sweatshops in China.   There is some evidence to support that claim, and although it’s hard to find anything beyond a couple instances, it still could point to a systemic problem.

Amazon is bigger than Walmart ever was and sells many products from China, but no citizen outrage.    I think this is for many reasons.    First, because Amazon does not have many physical stores and you can’t tangibly see their footprint, they only exist in your computer.  Second, because Walmart got type-cast as “easy to hate” almost a quasi-political movement.   Third, because we have come to rely on Amazon so thoroughly, we enjoy each new service they bring and we want to see more of it and are unconcerned if no one else can come close to competing because the prices are pretty low.  And fourth, as to the sweatshop argument that people make about Walmart, it could be said that Amazon is only allowing sellers to sell their goods and cannot be held liable for how those products are manufactured.  They get the pass because they are in many cases only the middle-man.

If Amazon does cut out all serious competition, will their prices necessarily rise and will people begin to turn on them?  Time will tell on this one.   They have marketed themselves very well and it would take a lot to turn public perception against them.

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How to get into reviewing, part 2.

coupon clubMy original post about how to get into reviewing was (and remains) quite popular but it occurs to me that I should write an update, as the reviewing world has changed drastically since that post with Amazon’s TOS changing.

If you have not done so already, familiarize yourself with Amazon’s new reviewing policies if you are going to review primarily on Amazon.

There are still other sites you can review on besides Amazon.   Xberts, Fat Wallet and Slick Deals come to mind.   And probably the best way to review is on other social media or your own blog.  Admittedly, getting into reviewing now is hard if you don’t already have a large audience or a solid reviewing reputation.   Everyone has to start somewhere though.

Here is my advice then for starting out:

  1. Review all items you bought where you bought it (if you bought it on Amazon, review it on Amazon).   Amazon now limits the number of reviews per week you can do for items not purchased through your site.   You can review 5 items per week, but it might be worth it to do that.   I focus a lot on Amazon, because it takes so much of the retail spotlight these days, who DOESN’T shop at Amazon?
  2. Review your items on other social media, as well as the place you bought them.   The point of this is to begin to build an audience.   If your reviews are good, and enough people like them you will succeed.
  3. Start your own review blog in addition to your social media channels.
  4. Seek out the myriad of groups on Facebook and elsewhere that are geared towards reviewers with free giveaways or super low cost items.  If you were going to buy items anyway why not get them at a discount?
  5. Contact retailers directly and ask for samples to review.   Mention your website or number of followers if it is relevant.   You will get a lot of rejection, but every once in awhile you will get someone interested.
  6. There are also review groups out there that you can join and get free samples, although since Amazon’s TOS has changed the numbers have reduced.   But doing an online search you can find others out there.   Green mom’s review is one that would appeal to a niche audience, for example.  Some of these review outlets have stricter requirements than others so do your research.   Amazon continues their own reviewer’s club, but it is strictly invitation only.
  7. Work as hard at building your audience as you do at leaving reviews.  Consider being a niche reviewer of one type of product and become an expert in that arena.


It’s been a strange couple weeks.

warning-838655_1280I have had a strange couple of weeks with Amazon.    They first determined that they were going to delete some Vine member reviews, apparently they had too many Vine reviews on some products and wanted to make way for some other customer reviews. My first thought was that if they didn’t want so many reviews, why send out so much product to be reviewed? While my reaction was one of “Ok, whatever”, some Vine members were angry about it, their stance being they spent so much time on these reviews only to have them deleted seems like a huge waste, and also they were angry about all the positive votes being lost on deleted items.  The latter is a good point, but still… not anything that was going to affect me too much either way.  I find that my Vine reviews don’t get as many up-votes as my non Vine reviews (with a few exceptions).

The next issue that came up did hit me a bit harder.   All but 5 of my most recent reviews vanished.   I had over 1,500 reviews.   My ranking was still in tact, but the reviews were gone, and so were all the positive up-votes.   This was a bit of a shock to my system.   I reached out to Amazon to inquire about it.   Two days later I got a message from the review department saying they were reinstating all the reviews and offering an apology for the inconvenience.

Then, a few days after that my review ranking went from being in the top 500, down to 179,058, and I lost my top reviewer badge.   That is a bigger jump than I have ever had, and quite a demotion!    This ranking stayed in place for 3 days but mysteriously refreshed again and I was reinstated back to my prior ranking complete with my old badge.

Not sure what is happening over at Amazon, but it seems that they are further tweaking their reviewing system and stats.


Amazon by the numbers


Remember back in 1994 when Amazon was primarily about selling books?  Now, it’s morphed into a gigantic retailer of every product imaginable.   Let’s take a look at Amazon by the numbers:

  • The latest estimate (which is 2 years old now) says that Amazon has 244 million customers. 54 million of those subscribe to Amazon Prime.
  • Amazon’s customers are mostly male 61% (compared to only 39% female).
  • The average user spends $1500 each year at Amazon.  (Is that because we get free shipping with Prime?)
  • Amazon made $107 billion in gross sales last year.
  • Amazon sells about 2 billion items each year.
  • 51% of online consumers do most of their shopping on Amazon.
  • Number of Amazon employees : 268,900.


Check out my archives!



Amazon Badges

10279177113_0f9fb48ece_bAmazon Badges are icons that Amazon places on your profile (and by your name when you review) to recognize something unique about you or something that would distinguish you from other reviewers.

Anyone can earn badges by contributing great content on Amazon (although in many cases it takes a lot of time).   Most badges are of a temporary nature tied to your review ranking or participation in an Amazon program, and some can be permanent.

To see if you have any badges, check your profile page.

What kinds of badges are there?  Most badges relate to reviewer ranking.   Some badges like “#1 Reviewer”, “Top 10 Reviewer”, and “Top 50 Reviewer” would be arguably hard to achieve since there are millions of reviewers on Amazon and only a limited number of people can get to the highest levels.  It’s not even certain how Amazon determines what a “top reviewer” is.   It’s probably a combination of factors, but none are public knowledge.

There are also “Top 500 Reviewer”, “Top 1000 Reviewer”.  I myself am currently a Top 500 Reviewer, but tomorrow I could just as easily drop back down into the Top 1000 range.   In this case my badge would change from “Top 500” to “Top 1000”.   Ranking badges are not permanent and they change as you move up and down in the rankings.

“Hall of Fame” reviewer badge is from what I can tell, a permanent badge.  This badge is given to reviewers who have been consistently high ranked in previous years.  A reviewer who gets the ‘Top 10’ rank on Amazon, even for a day, will become a ‘Hall of Fame’ reviewer for that year. They will receive the ‘Hall of Fame Reviewer’ badge and will be listed on the Hall of Fame page permanently.

“THE”.  This badge is given to famous people using their real name.  This is a permanent badge.  This lets you know that the review is written by the actual famous person and not just someone with the same name, or someone pretending.   Not sure how well known one has to be to get this badge.

Amazon employee representatives get their own special badge “Amazon Official”.  This (according to Amazon) is permanent, so presumably even if the person is fired or quits.

“Author” badges are just what you would think.  Someone wrote a book that sells on Amazon and they are permanent.  So too with the “Artist” and “Manufacturer” badges.  I have never seen anyone with the last two badges.   I’ve seen a couple reviewers who had the “Author” badge though.

“Vine Voice” badge is one near and dear to me.  Vine Voice is an invitation only program through Amazon.  This is not a permanent badge (although Amazon states it is).  You can voluntarily exit from the program, or be kicked out by Amazon for violating its rules.   I saw one occasion that someone left the program and the badge no longer appeared on their subsequent reviews.   It did however appear on the past reviews they had written for the program, so perhaps that is why Amazon describes it as a permanent badge.

“2008 Holiday Team” badge is one I am not familiar with.  Here is the Amazon description.  Amazon states this is a permanent badge.   So to with the “Community Forum 04”, this one is a permanent badge for people who participated at the corporate headquarters in Seattle.

Hey – check out my archives.   You won’t get a badge for it though.