I Asked to Write a Product Review: Here’s What Happened

Sometime in June, I signed up for an Angel List account. I don’t really like websites like this, but signed up anyway because one of my online pals recommended it so highly. Angel List is a website that matches projects with angel investors, though it seems to also work very much the same way as many mechanical turk sites do. I wouldn’t mind a few angel investors, though I’ve been down that road before, and know that I have to put in much more work at their beck and call than I would normally do, even as a small business owner.

I looked over what others were looking for, investors, recipients, and turks — and found that many of them were peppered with phrases similar to, “I don’t want to work hard, I just want pay for my half-baked idea” and “I want you to work your ass off for less than minimum wage, which should come easy, since you probably already do that while touting your wares, and we don’t have a budget for actual staff. Do you live in a high-priced area? Do you want to eat 3 meals a day instead of one? Maybe you should look elsewhere”. Each of these had the perks every freelancer looks for: getting in at the ground floor on a hare-brained scheme, and widespread exposure.

Since I have already gotten so much exposure over the past twenty years that my daily wardrobe is sometimes only chaps and a golf visor, I passed over nearly everything…until I came across a listing for an app I already use.

I honestly can’t remember what the job listing was for, though it strikes me now that it probably had something to do with being a community manager, writing a product review or forty, and the like. Since I already use the app they built, and I adore it, I applied. I will be discussing more about that company in future posts. Since this isn’t about that company, but the product I reviewed (which also had little to do with the company), I won’t discuss them here. This is not their fault. They are just the vehicle that allowed me to get here.

What I thought was that this would be a chance to further demonstrate my copy writing skills. Besides writing here and for school, I’m a copy writer. The things I write are often ghostwritten, and super-niche. That means that, not only do I get no credit for writing the article, I spend hours researching what I’m writing about. I get paid well for my efforts, but this limits what I have in my portfolio to display to the public or any potential clients.

So, the company and I connected, and have been talking all this time. A few weeks ago, there was an opportunity to do a product review. I wouldn’t be paid for it, and I would get the product for free. That product was a wine decanter. Ordinarily, I love bar ware. I am about to move into a motorhome, though, and a crystal wine decanter won’t travel well. I took the assignment anyway. I mean, I can do this, right?

Wrong.

I did the video and review. I wrote a few hundred words on something I didn’t want to write about, something there was no incentive for me to be engrossed in the subject. I drink wine. I have no use for a decanter, because I’m about to head out on a journey where having glass might not be the best option. That was the most difficult part — writing about something I didn’t have a spark for. Not only that, this was also a ghostwriting opportunity, so I didn’t get credit for any of it. Which, in this case, is perfectly fine. I don’t really want my name associated.

It was gross. It was inauthentic. I lacked enthusiasm. And though the company I wrote it for loved it, I can’t justify doing that ever again.

I set out to prove what I have said over and over: you’ll never see me writing about anything I don’t have a spark for. It’s too hard, takes too much time and energy. It’s MUCH easier to be true. It’s all about keeping things authentic, folks. People can tell when you’re not.


Originally published at asporkintheroad.net on August 31, 2016.

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