My Problem With Product Reviewers..

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If you watch my YouTube channel you’ll know I moan a lot about product reviews on YouTube. I’d just like to say here, that although I may come across as moaning, that’s not what I’m doing. One of my pets hates is being conned, hoodwinked, or lied to. I hate to feel like someone is treating me like an idiot. I may well be an idiot, but I don’t want to be treated as one, especially by someone I either don’t know or who isn’t paying my mortgage 🙂

Anyway, that said, it’s not really caravanning channels I’m talking about here, although it happens there too, it’s more a general thing. For instance, I watch a lot of camera review channels. Naively, I thought these people were reviewing things for the benefit of someone that might want to buy said product. I probably assumed they paid for whatever they were reviewing, I probably assumed they were saying something was good, well, because it WAS good.

Now I know I’ve moaned about this in some of my vlogs and I fear certain people think I’m having a go at them. Well, I’m not. Do whatever you feel is right for your channel, I don’t care one bit. However, if I’m looking to buy something I want, be it a water container, some caravan accessory or even a caravan for that matter, I watch reviews, look at the plus points and some of the (generally very few) bad points and weigh up whether the product is actually any good before I look at one. When I bought a camera this way, it wasn’t as good as all these “experts” had said, there were fundamental issues, they had been somehow overlooked by experts. “That’s weird”, I thought, surely I hadn’t been lied to?

Well, after I started blogging and vlogging, I started to notice camera channels getting the latest and greatest cameras and reviewing them. “Wow, their channel must be making money as they can go and buy all this technology”. Once I’d got over 1,000 subscribers I could monetise my channel, so you get money for views. Then I thought “Wow, these guys are NOT buying that equipment”

So what’s going on here then? Smallish channels reviewing some pretty expensive cameras. It seems obvious now, but a lot of the reviewers are being given items to review by manufacturers. What’s the problem with that? I hear you ask. There might not be a problem with that. However, how do I know they’re not just trying to keep the manufacturer happy by saying it’s a good product? I mean is it an ADVERT, or a review?

This came even more obvious to me when I started watching a particular YouTube channel, that talks about cameras, but his whole “unique selling point” is that he points out all the bad things about cameras and accessories, albeit in a humorous way. He has over 80 thousand subscribers but never gets to review anything. By that, I mean companies won’t send him stuff as he’ll be “honest” about the product. He relies on other “anonymous” You Tubers to send them stuff they’ve already reviewed.

So, that got me thinking. Is every review of any products just a glorified advert on YouTube? If it is, it’s not adding any value to me. I’ll just watch an advert and know it’s biased.

I’m not sure if it’s something I need to concern myself with really until it comes to my own YouTube channel. I’m not so naive to think everyone on YouTube does it for nothing. The thing is, my view on my YouTube channel is that I’ll “review” or rather tell people about products I use and I’ve bought. Before you say anything, I was “given” a Jockey Wheel to review and keep. It cost about £60 and took me 17 hours to film and edit. That’s £3.50 per hour. I know, I know, get the bloody violins out 🙂

My point is if I’m watching a review of a camera, or, something I’ve looked at recently, online training course and website hosting reviews, can I trust them? If I watch a review on a website hosting company, the reviewer will say “company A” is the best of and “use my link for a 10% discount”. Hang on! So, that company has offered you some kind of “reward” how do I know it’s actually the best one? For all I know, you’re just keeping the company sweet.

You see, now I’ve uncovered this little “secret” I find it everywhere, especially on websites. Why I even do it myself. If you google “top 10 caravanning accessories” you’ll see my website

Caravan Accessories

It’s something I’m very proud of and takes a lot of work. However, my point is, what am I actually trying to achieve? I’ll pause here. You might be thinking, “You put a lot of work into your channel and website, you deserve some kind of reward” Well, thanks for saying so 🙂 But that’s not my point. My point is, I’m happy to tell you about something and say that if you buy it from my website, I’ll get a little “kickback”. My point is some people will just say something is good, get you to buy it, knowing that it’s not actually as good as they’ve said.

It’s a bit like talking to your mate about a car. They might say their Ford Kuga is brilliant and you should buy one. Based on this you buy one, No problem there. However, take the scenario where your mate is telling you his Kuga is brilliant and unbeknown to you, they actually get £1,000 if you buy a new Kuga. Now, that would make you feel differently about their “recommendation”, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, back to my website, if you click on the link shown on google, I won’t make any money. However, in the article I describe caravan accessories, it’s not a review, but I tell you about accessories and if you want to buy one, I put Amazon links for you to click on. If you do click and buy from Amazon, I might get say 5% commission. So if you buy, for example, a Thetford Cassette Tank Cleaner (1 litre) I get .76p. Wow. Now, in the article, I don’t say “this is the best item, it’s a must-have, it’s the best one ever please buy!” I just say this item is available, which is different from doing a review. I might even say I use it, if I do use it. Now, I do reviews on the website, such as awning pegs, where I pass an opinion of awning pegs that I’ve actually used.

As I say, since I’ve uncovered this secret of the internet, where products are reviewed and the reviewer could be gaining something if he (or she) says nice things about a product, I’ve become sceptical of almost every review. I don’t think that’s a bad thing and over time you create a trust with certain reviewers and it’s not a problem, but it’s an important thing to know about IMHO. You are meant to disclose if you have a financial interest in someone buying something.

Having said all that, now I’m in a quandary. What if someone now asks me to review a product? A product that I liked and wanted. Take for example Lock ‘n’ Level an E&P self-levelling system, or even a roof-mounted air-con – of course, these are extreme examples, and I’d lose a lot of payload ha-ha. But imagine I had 40k subs and I was offered it to review. Would I be able to say, “It’s ok, but don’t waste your money” How would I approach it. It would be very tempting of course, I mean I could easily convince myself I’d do a fair and measured review. But surely in the back of my mind, I’d think I had some kind of loyalty to the supplier?

I pride myself in being honest about things in any review I do. This does of course mean I can only review things I buy myself. I do think though, that if you have a lot of subscribers in any given niche, you can afford to be more honest about a product, as long as you not just bad-mouthing a brand just for the sake of it. Or, at the VERY least, only review products that you yourself actually like or believe in. Loyalty should be first with your readers/subscribers. I do, of course, understand some people are doing it as their job, they need to make some kind of money from what they do.

Still, that’s definitely a problem I won’t have to deal with today at least! Of course, now I’ve said all that if the day comes and a big brand asks me to review a product, what do I do? A question for another time I feel.

What’s the point of this article? Well, mainly to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained through creating a website and YouTube channel and exploring the ways that money is made through product reviews. Not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s all upfront, honest, unbiased opinions. I wouldn’t want to buy a caravan based on someone that has little experience and is getting paid for saying how good the caravan is. That’s not a review, it’s an advert. Not that this has happened to me of course, I’m an International CaravanVlogger and I don’t need advice from anyone.

Thanks for reading.

Oh and don’t forget to subscribe, click the Amazon links, buy products – and did I mention I had a couple of Ebooks for sale? 🙂 #SellOut !

Happy caravanning

Graham

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