There are certain opportunities for getting free and discounted products. The most commonly known reviewer platform is Amazon. There are also BzzAgent, CrowdTap, Influenster, House Party, and more. These come with specific guidelines that you need to know to follow.
THE FTC'S ROLE
These types of platforms are usually social media based and you sign up to those websites and fill out appropriate surveys that give information about your household (ie; if you have children, ages, pets, appliances etc) and they will match users with companies for review opportunities. Not everyone has the opportunity to review, and there are many things you may not be approved for. It may take a lot of time on some platforms to be accepted. Once you are accepted however, you are normally sent a decent proportioned box of freebies (often full sized) along with coupons and samples for you to give to friends, colleagues, and family all in exchange for your opinion of the products.
THE PROBLEM WITH AMAZON
Amazon has been taking a lot of heat lately over their reviewer base. The problem lies more so with scamming sellers but reviewers often take the heat for breaking terms of service. One of the biggest issues is that most of these types of reviewer bases do not link through the actual Amazon website, but rather third party websites that are not affiliated with Amazon at all (but may lead you to believe that they are). They also tend to inform the reviewers that the Amazon Terms of Service does not count - as they are handing you a promotional code to get their item for free in exchange for a review.
AMAZON REVIEW GUIDELINES:
Amazon Reviews are actually quite strict in regards to freebies. These are outlined in their Reviewer Terms of Service so please read carefully and ask me any questions you need to for clarification.
Amazon updated their Terms of Service and Promotional Content Guidelines effective 10/6/16. What has changed is due to the increased amount of fraudulent reviews and manipulation of the different ranking systems (as described below). Amazon no longer allows any kind of free or discounted reviews - with the exception of book reviews and Vine participants. This is clearly outlined in the Terms (as you can read through the link above in their Promotional Content Guidelines.)
Third party sites that link these coupon sellers to the discount reviewers are informing their reviewers that as long as they do not include the DISCLOSURE, they are fine and are blaming Amazon for stating they shouldn't. Amazon's terms still state that no matter what - a disclosure is included for those types of products as per the FTC guidelines.
The thing is, Amazon has been - and continues to remove reviewer privileges for these acts. With or without the disclosure statement, the reviews will be removed and privileges will be revoked. They will be able to tell by use of coupon codes. A lot of this information is closely followed and discussed in the Amazon Top Reviewer Forums.
While reaching out to Amazon personally, two different representatives provided the same information regarding ALL free and discounted items :
Upon attempting to contact several well known coupon review groups (specifically Amazon Review Trader, Snagshout, LaunchZon, and ReviewKick, with questions of how their businesses could continue, I was immediately banned from their social media pages after posting this message and a few of them decided to try to argue as well through emails. Upon posting the disclosure requirements from the FTC, two of them informed me that even IF legal action would be taken, it would fall at fault of the reviewer, not at them.
If you are in a club that:
*makes you contact the seller before posting a negative review (Sellers are supposed to welcome both positive and negative feedback)
*doesn't let you leave a negative review (Again, should allow both positive and negative feedback)
*asks you to down-vote negative reviews (Review manipulation)
*asks you to up-vote positive reviews (Review manipulation)
*asks you to search for items instead of giving you a link (Rank manipulation, this makes their products appear higher in the search list)
*asks you to add items to your wish list (Seller manipulation)
*asks you to review items within a certain period of time after receipt (Review manipulation)
*says "I'll give you this for free, I won't ask for a review but *wink wink* (Going against TOS)
*gives you a product coupon/promotional code and you write a review with or without disclosure that the item was free or at a discount (against Amazon TOS)
*gives you a gift card code to purchase an item with or without need to review (Against Amazon TOS)
*gives you a free or discounted item and does or does not require a review in exchange (Against Amazon TOS)
HOW TO WRITE A GOOD REVIEW:
1. Determine whether or not you liked the product. Generally as a rule of thumb, a 4-5 star is an amazing response, 3 is mediation and 1-2 is not impressed.
2. WHY do you like or dislike the product. Be specific and concise. You are allowed to make comparisons with other similar products/brands.
3. Reviews should be at least 20 words and are limited to 5,000 words. The ideal length is 75 to 500 words. Video reviews have a 10-minute limit, but it is recommended 2 to 5 minutes to keep your audience engaged.
4. Remember that it is acceptable and encouraged to be critical.
5. Keep it professional (don't use curse words) and USE SPELL CHECK!
6. If you review any vitamins, weight loss supplements, or anything that otherwise would take time to test, TAKE THAT TIME. Do not post the review as soon as you receive the item or your account will be flagged. Take time to review the product. Do not feel pressured to immediately post a review for any other product, allow yourself time to really have the opportunity to test it out.
WHAT NOT TO DO IN A REVIEW:
1. Do NOT use profanities or obscene words. Even with adult products you must use your wording carefully. Do not use hate speech or any promotion of illegal conduct such as drugs, underage drinking, violence, animal or child abuse, etc.
2. Do NOT mention seller or shipping experiences in reviews. Reviews should be souly focused on the product only. Feedback about the seller, your shipment experience, or packaging should be shared at www.amazon.com/feedback or www.amazon.com/packaging.
3. Product availability or alternate ordering options should NOT be included in your review and only shared by contacting Amazon.
Where to Write Reviews
Write reviews for already purchased items on company websites, seller websites, social media (and tag the brand/company in your post; make sure the post is set to public!) or start a quick entry blog. On all of these, it is important to disclose if you receive any item for free, as a sample, at a discount etc if there is a direct correlation with the seller.
Keep track of your reviews as other opportunities will like to look back on past reviews you have done to determine if you are eligible for product testing, sampling, etc. My advice would be to look into other reviewing options - don't review on Amazon unless you purchased an item full price or you are in their Vine program.