Free Gear for Reviews and the Future of Honest Opinions

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Free Gear for Reviews and the Future of Honest Opinions

In the last few weeks, I feel like we lost a lot of trust in honest opinions about brands and products. Everyone started putting disclaimers up and all of a sudden everything that most people didn’t really think about became transparent.

Most people who do gear reviews need quality content – text, images, opinions, fresh thoughts, hacks, etc. Otherwise, nobody will read their posts and traffic won’t increase.

To make good reviews you can’t just use stock images.

You need to have that gear in your hands.

You also need to keep consistent posting schedule.

So just to sum this up, you need 52 new pieces of gear to write about every year. 52 because of 52 weeks in a year.

Most people who keep a blog and do gear reviews cannot afford to buy so much new stuff. It’s just not economical. Just getting your money back is a giant struggle, even if you already have a bit of a readership and people keep coming back.

So… brands/stores need to ship products to these bloggers. For free. And sometimes pay for the “sponsored post” which in my experience only very few camera gear brands can justify. Most of us are not Casey Neistat and don’t have millions of fans engaged daily.

If I get something for free, how easy it is to write crap and include a ton of negative comments? Once you do that, you’ll have a history of trashing brands. Who will send you anything for free after that?

Most of the bloggers also have affiliate links. I’ll be honest and say I cannot feed myself for a week with that annual affiliate income. I’m not sharing exact numbers, but you’re getting the idea.

If you’re an affiliate, you need to disclose it. And that’s when the whole trust from the reader burns down in flames. It’s also the case if you don’t disclose the links are affiliate. It’s not a winning scenario, but a necessary one at this point.

Where does all this lead?

  1. We need this new transparency to stay sane
  2. We can’t write quality reviews if we don’t test the gear
  3. Free gear or even loaners are not easy to write bad comments about
  4. Too many positive reviews are not trustworthy
  5. You can either buy your own gear and write trash or you opt in to not even write about certain things that are not great
  6. We always need fresh consistent content
  7. We also need to make a living

The best answer, in my opinion, for the very few of us, is to:

Make money some other way, buy some gear and be creative with how much you really need to keep the blog engaging, and write what you want about whatever you want. This takes a lot of time and only people really passionate about this will stay in the game.

Simple? No.

Clean? Yes.

Profitable? No.

Rewarding? Questionable. Depends on what you find rewarding…

Just wanted to put all this down on paper.

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