Amazon Vine – Product Testing

Do Amazon have a review panel?

Yes, it’s name is ‘Amazon Vine’ and whilst I am not yet a member of it, I have been writing product reviews on their site for the last few years and have now reached a ranking below 10.000. This might not sound very impressive, but most users start off with a ranking in the millions.

How do I join Amazon Vine?

Membership is by invitation only. The only way to get into Amazon Vine is to write quality reviews, climb the rankings and wait for an invitation. To climb these rankings, the aim is to receive as many helpful votes as possible. The key to getting these ’helpful’ votes is to write clear, detailed reviews that assist the consumer in making an informed choice as to whether the product is suitable for their needs or not.

So, the idea is to write a review that describes the product based on your experience with it. For example, if you have bought a photograph album and after slotting in a few photos the pages start falling out, explain that clearly in your review, rather than just writing ‘rubbish product’. This might seem obvious but, time and time again, I see reviews that state ‘worked for me’ or ‘arrived late’. Whilst this information might be true, it is not helpful for a potential customer making a purchasing decision.

Another tip is to include photographs in your review. Often the colours in the stock photographs can be a bit off. Sometimes, the seller has been a bit sneaky and made the product look better than it actually is. Therefore, it can be very helpful to post a picture of what the product really looks like.

Anything else that I need to know?

You may have heard that there are companies that offer free or heavily discounted products in return for reviews. However, these are best avoided as Amazon really don’t like this practice. If you are caught, they will wipe all of your reviews and you will need to start all over again. The problem with these companies is that they expect a 5 star review which states that their products are wonderful, which is not always a genuine description! They also resort to some underhand tactics and ask reviewers to buy the products on Amazon and then refund via PayPal so that the review appears on the site as a ‘verified purchase’.

Similarly, there was an infamous incident a few years ago where Amazon clamped down on ‘author circles’. These (mostly) self-published authors were writing overly gushing reviews on each other’s books as well as marking each other’s reviews as ‘helpful’ in order to increase their rankings on the site, and therefore, their sales. One day these ‘authors’ woke up to find all their reviews deleted.

Any product in the Amazon catalogue can be reviewed  – even if you have not purchased it from their website. It is, however, known that reviewing Amazon ‘verified purchases’ carries much more weight in terms of reaching a higher ranking.

Why not give it a try when you have a spare moment? Also, if you are interested in writing reviews in exchange for free products – check out my overview of a few different product testing companies here.


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About me

Hi, my name is Jo. I am originally from Lancashire, but have been living in London for the last 20 years. I work from home as a freelancer and have built up my business from scratch. Between projects and in my spare time, I enjoy testing  products and over the years I have gained some knowledge on this. So, I have written a few articles about product testing which can be found in a dedicated section of this website here. I also top up my income by participating in activities including matched betting, selling products on eBay and taking part in  prolific academic surveys. See this section for ideas on how you can earn money online. Please get in contact with me at jo@daftgiraffe.co.uk if you have any questions or even suggestions for me. Thanks for visiting. Jo Facebooktwitterpinterest

Instant Win Competitions

Recently, entering instant win competitions has become part of my morning routine. To save time, I have set up a folder on my Firefox browser which includes all of the following websites bookmarked onto the necessary page. Each morning I fire up the laptop and click on ‘open all tabs’ whilst the kettle boils. Then it is a matter of checking each website for a win and closing the tabs as I go along – this usually takes me about 3-5 minutes and it’s a great way to kick start the day.

Most of these websites involve creating an account and then setting yourself up for winning a prize by picking a set of numbers or entering your date of birth, postcode or street name. The requirements are different for each instant win competition and the prizes are quite varied – some of them are as low as a bag of Haribo whilst on other sites you can win up to £1000. Here is what you need to do:

Freemoji Lottery

Register with your email address and choose your emoji combination. Check the main draw and afterwards click on the ‘Unlucky. Try the fivers draw’ box to see if you have a win there too. Sometimes you will be required to watch a short video to see the winning emojis. Draws refresh at 7pm. Join here.

Pick my Postcode

Sign up by entering your postcode and email address. Check the following tabs.

Main Draw – Instantly see if you have won a prize. Video Draw – Play a short video and a postcode will pop up at the end. Survey Draw – This is usually a 1 question survey, and they pay 1p towards the bonus draw for completing it. The postcode appears at the end. Stackpot – Check the list of winning postcodes to see if you have won a £10 prize. Bonus Draw – when you have reached the bonus amounts required (£5, £10, £20) you are also entered into these draws.

This website refreshes at 12pm, except for the Stackpot which refreshes at 9am and 9pm. There is also a Mini Draw at the bottom of the Main Draw page which appears at 6pm daily. Join here.

Free National Lotto

Register by picking your 5 numbers and entering your email and desired password. Then, each day just check the main page and see if your numbers have come up. Join here.

Win a Dinner

Register with your email address and simply scroll down the main page and see if you are listed as a ‘Dinner Winner’. The draw refreshes at 4pm on a daily basis. Join here.

Free Daily Raffle

Register with your email address. The winning raffle ticket appears on the main page each day. Join here.

Free Lucky Lottery

Enter your email address and choose a lucky 4 digit pin to register. Check the main page on a daily basis to see if you have won. The draw refreshes daily at 1pm. Join here.

Big Free Giveaway

Register with your email address or Facebook account. This is a weekly draw – check the ‘results’ page to see if you have won anything. Join here.

Free Draw Friday

Enter your desired username and email to register. A weekly draw. You can collect tickets for the draw by; listening to radio, watching videos, referring people or playing bingo. Join here.

Free Birthdate Lottery

Register with your email and date of birth. Open the home page to see if you have won. Usually you need to click away an advert to see it. Join here.

DOB Lotto

Enter your email and date of birth to register. Check the daily draw page to see if you have won a prize. Join here.

My Lucky Patch

You are given an allocation of patches when you open an account and then you need to grab your patches on a map. Click on the pink ‘Claim £xxx’ box on the Lucky Patches page to see if you have won. Each time you log in, they allocate you extra patches – which quickly build up and increase your chances of winning. Join here.

Happy Birthdates

Register and enter your name and date of birth and they will automatically generate a unique ‘birthdate code’ for you. Each day you will be presented with 10 draws – you will need to check each one to see if your claim button lights up. The draws are refreshed at 12pm. It is an advert heavy website and pop ups do appear but they are easily clicked away. Join here.

Free Cashpot Lottery

Enter your chosen username and email address and your 6 digit code will be generated. Check the draw page on a daily basis. Join here.

These following require a bit more effort as you need to enter your email address each time you check them:

Free Treats

The treats up for grabs on this website are: free Haribo; free Cash ; free Coffee and free Chocolate. Join here:

The Prize Pig

Fill in your name, email address and date of birth to register. Click on ‘enter draw’, input your e-mail address and password to check if you have won a prize. Join here.

The next two websites on this list are not strictly instant win competition sites, but are worth signing up to just for their daily poll as they reward you with points for completing it. After you have earned enough points you can request a payout. Both sites also offer ways to earn money online, including taking surveys or watching videos, but the rewards are low for the effort needed.

Swagbucks – Join here.

Branded Surveys –Join here.

Many of these sites also have extra competitions on their other pages but generally I only check the main page. Otherwise this would get a bit too time consuming and I prefer to use this time to make money online. Check out some of my methods here.

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Volunteering in a Charity Shop

Roughly 2 years ago I started volunteering at a local charity shop. My reason for doing this is that working from home I miss contact with other people.  Also, it is nice to involve myself in the local community. So far, I have found the job very enjoyable and have learnt a lot from it.

Volunteering in a charity shop.

What does volunteering in a charity shop involve?

There are many different tasks that need to be done in order to maintain the smooth running of the shop. When volunteers start out, their main task is to tidy the shop. This includes making sure that all the clothes are hung correctly and colour coordinated, and that displays are tidy. After a few shifts, they are given access to the till and become a fully-fledged member of staff.

Aside from serving customers and keeping the shop organised, behind the scenes we sort through the donations, price items and clean stock if necessary. Additionally, we also arrange window displays, complete our paperwork and so on… there is always something to do!

What are the donations like?

Our shop is located in a very affluent area so we sell mostly designer brands. Our customers donate many new items from designers such as Louis Vuitton, Diane von Furstenberg or Prada. Sometimes the brands donate their seconds, or clothes that have been used for modelling shoots directly to us.

We don’t sell very many ‘high street’ brands unless they are in new condition and from the more expensive end of the high street. Absolutely no items from shops such as ‘New Look’ or ‘Next’ are kept – we transfer these to other branches.

How are the donations dealt with?

Occasionally we get fake items which we cannot sell. We offer these to a textile recycling company, who visit us once a week and take away our unwanted items. These also include items that are unsaleable, such as stained clothing, dirty cuddly toys or odd socks.

Also, we get items that need to be disposed of, including broken mugs and used dish draining racks. This is a bit frustrating as they are costly to get rid of – roughly £2.50 per full bin liner. People mean well when they donate these items, but we really can’t do anything with them.

What skills do I need?

No specific skills are required. The volunteers in our shop come from a variety of backgrounds and bring different skill sets with them. Some are very artistic, which is brilliant for displays and dressing mannequins. Others are great with people which makes for increased sales figures.

Can I do this on a short term basis?

Absolutely! Whilst we have a few long term volunteers, most stay for a few weeks until they find paid employment. Most people work 1-2 days a week, but some are here for 2 hours and others nearly every day – it just depends on the individual’s circumstances.

If you can spare a few hours a week – why not give volunteering a try? Do you also work from home? If so – check out my top tips here.

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