Hi Dave. I’m a big fan of your site and love that you’re doing so many reviews now. I’ve noticed, however, that there are some other people who contribute reviews too. Nice. How can I become a guest reviewer for your site?
So far, no-one’s ever asked about writing for this site outside of my circle of friends and colleagues, so you raise an interesting question. Just to be direct up front, we believe that the cornerstone of reviews is credibility and that’s what makes it hard to publish a review from an unknown author. What if, for example, you want to review a new iOS game but neglect to tell us — or our readers — that your husband wrote the game? You’ll be laudatory but is it legit? Is it fair?
That’s why one of the most important aspects of any review or editorial is what’s know as transparency. We might run a review of a new iOS game written by the programmer or their spouse if they disclosed their relationship and bias up front. Tell us your situation and where you’re coming from, then let us decide how much we believe it’ll bias the review. Same token with things like restaurant reviews. If your son works there, we might be a bit skeptical of your glowing commentary but then again we might just enjoy learning about a new Indian restaurant or sandwich joint.
Then there’s the issue of compensation. If you’re expecting to get paid for writing a review, you’ve come to the wrong site. The Federal Trade Commission is pretty darn strict about that type of disclosure, even if your compensation is a free program, free device or free subscription. We’re obsessive about disclosing our relationship with vendors on this blog too, because it’s a good idea and because, well, it’s the law.
In that light, my recent purchase of five shares of Facebook stock has raised a bit of a dilemma in that regard too: do I then disclose each time I write about Facebook that I have a minuscule investment in the company? Haven’t figured that one out yet…
That’s all about the backend logistics.
In fact, the most important criterion for us evaluating whether you could serve as a guest author or not is whether you can truly embody our philosophy, best described as reader first, business need second. If your primary goal in getting a guest review published is to drive sales to the merchant or vendor, you’re not going to work well with us. We are not interested in helping companies be successful other than through publicizing really great products, apps and services.
The real issue surrounding us deciding whether to work with you or not is trust. If we can’t trust you to be fair and at least reasonably unbiased about a product you’re reviewing, then we can’t reasonably expect our readers to trust you, so we’ll unfortunately be done before we start.
To build trust, participate.
Lots of the articles on this site have unresolved questions in their comment streams: start by answering them in a smart and engaging manner. Serve our community and you’ll start to raise your own visibility. Then we can start working towards building a relationship that could include being a guest writer.
Hope that answers your question and thanks for the chance to clarify our philosophical approach to content and reviews on this site.