The great thing about the internet is that anyone can make a website, a blog or post videos to YouTube. All these mediums are good for reviewing products but these days you don’t even need to go to that much effort to start on your journey to becoming a tech reviewer.

Consider first why you want to do it, though. If it’s just a hobby and you want to do it for fun, great. If you’re doing it with a view to starting a career in journalism, absolutely fine. But if you’re purely doing it to try and get free or discounted products or make money, be careful. As long as you offer an honest, unbiased opinion and you’re able to tell others whether a product is better than its competitors, you’ll do well.

Amazon reviews

As long as you have an Amazon account, you can review anything, even if you didn't buy it from Amazon. It's the biggest site for user reviews. Every time you buy something you’ll be sent an email asking you to rate and review it, the company that sold it and even the packaging it arrived in. This is the easiest place to start.

How to become a tech reviewer

It takes only a minute to review a product after clicking on the link in the ‘please review your recent purchase’ email. However, if you want to be taken seriously, you’ll want to invest a lot more time than that.

Amazon has now banned incentivised reviews for tech after research led it to believe people were awarding higher ratings than a product was given to them for free or at a discounted price. While that still happens, it's strictly against Amazon's reviews policy which was changed in October 2016 and then further revised in November.

That doesn't apply to the Vine system (detailed below) however. 

How to become a tech reviewer Amazon

Getting your first review published on Amazon is just the first step. You’ll need a ‘portfolio’ of reviews if you want to rise up the ranks of Amazon reviewers and get noticed.

It’s well worth checking and developing your public profile – there’s a link in the menu bar. Add some information about yourself, your interests and also contact details if you want companies to approach you to review products. This could be an email address, a website or both.

How to become a tech reviewer

Amazon Vine Voice Programme

You may be invited to join Amazon’s Vine Programme. Vine Voice is for the “most trusted reviewers”, and you can’t ask to join: you have to wait to be asked.

When you review products as a normal Amazon customer you’ll get ‘helpful’ votes and a reviewer rank. There are various ‘badges’ on offer, which will mark you out as a ‘top reviewer’. You can read more on Amazon’s website about reviewer ranks.

YouTube & video reviews

How to become a tech reviewer

You don’t necessarily have to be a great writer to become a tech reviewer, but it helps. An alternative is to make a video review, which you can also do on Amazon.

YouTube is a better place to try and build a following, though.

Making video reviews is considerably harder than written reviews, unless you’re a natural in front of the camera or are a video-editing ace that can add effects and voice overs.

Some products are better suited to a video review anyway: you can show people how something works for easier in a video than trying to explain it in words.

How to write a good review

Before you even start a review, you ought to know a product inside out. This is why it’s a good idea to review products you’ve owned for a while.

It’s not enough to know just its features and specifications, but its strengths and weaknesses. What does it do, or have, which competitors lack or, conversely, what doesn’t it do which rivals can. Does it work reliably? Does it perform well?

You can run tests or benchmarks on some products to find out how they perform and including these – in addition to opinions – will always add to your review.

It’s your opinion of the product that matters most, though. That, of course, is subjective. Whether it’s the design, build quality or performance, you’ll need to know how it compares to similar products, which is why it’s hard to review a camera, a PC monitor or a pair of headphones if you don’t have much to compare it with.

You can run tests or benchmarks on some products to find out how they perform and including these – in addition to opinions – will always add to your review.

Most importantly, put yourself in the shoes of the reader and answer questions that they can’t. You have the product in your hands and they don’t. It’s not particularly useful to talk about features and specifications they can find in the product’s listing. Far more useful is to explain whether those features work well or not. How long does a battery-powered product really last? How loud are the speakers? Is it well made?

Give a more detailed breakdown of the overall score, and avoid giving things full marks unless you can justify why this product is the best of its type.

Don’t make the mistake other reviewers do and mark a product down because it arrived late or damaged. The review is of the product, not the delivery service. It shouldn’t be too short or too long. This will depend on the product: a more complex product will require a longer review. But people want the key points, so a summary at the top of a long review will prove helpful.

The review should be accompanied by good-quality photos that highlight points you make in the review. If it’s a video, be sure the lighting and sound are good and keep it relatively short.

The basics are, then, mainly common sense.

How to review products without buying them

This is probably the most-asked question of all. If you’re just starting out reviewing tech products, companies aren’t going to send you stuff simply because you send them an email asking to review it.

This is where it will help if you have a website, blog and / or YouTube channel with a catalogue of reviews already in place. Companies will look at your following – your audience and influence – as well as the quality and quantity of reviews.

Some Amazon reviewers have found they receive emails such as the one below offering a choice of products to review. Typically, these will be provided at no cost to the reviewer as ‘payment’ for the review. As explained above, this is now banned, but it still happens. Note that the email below was sent before the policy changed.

How to become a tech reviewer

However you obtain a product, it's crucial you don’t give it full marks just because you were given it free, or at a discount.

As certain Hall of Fame Amazon reviewers have discovered to their cost, awarding five stars to everything without reviewing it properly is a good way to have your reviews and profile deleted.

Word-of-mouth networks

Companies often get external agencies to find people to test out new products and offer their opinions. Sometimes this is done in the form of focus groups, but a new type of scheme has popped up, which likes to call itself 'word of mouth marketing'. 

Sites include BzzAgent and The Insiders, and they get users to register for 'campaigns' in which they're interested. These can include expensive tech products such as smartwatches, tablets and phones.

Rather than give feedback to the company, the idea is that you post an honest review online, hence the word-of-mouth part. 

Become a tech reviewer

You may or may not be chosen for the test (samples are usually limited) but if you are, you'll probably have to pay a refundable deposit in order to actually get the device. This may be less than the value of the product, and you may be able to keep it at the end of the test without paying any more, but be extremely careful as there could be elaborate scams which take your money and send you nothing at all.

Never give your bank details as 'security' - we recommend paying using a method that's not directly linked to your bank account. Also check to see if a site offers any contact details and be suspicious of any which don't.

Each site has a code of conduct and rules about how you should post your review online.