Reviewing Products and Services You Don’t Own: A How To

Reviews provide you with a great opportunity to earn commissions when affiliated with the product.

However, unless you’re one of the “big boys” in the industry that constantly receives review copies of a product you’ll soon realize that trying to provide these reviews can take a toll on your budget.

It’s unlikely that you have the capital to purchase every new product just to write a review.

So, how do you go about creating reviews if you don’t actually own the product?

Owning the product obviously gives you an advantage because you can actually feel its value – you can talk about it from a real-world perspective since you own the item.


You don’t necessarily need to own a product to understand (or convey) its value especially if you’re willing to do the research and understand the industry, as a whole.

Here are a few of the methods you can employ to conduct these reviews without spending money …

The Online Research Method

Becoming an expert within the industry requires you to invest as much time and effort into understanding every piece of detail.

You should know the major players, the up-and-comers, products and services with buzz, and so much more. In essence – you have to be a part of the industry – not just an outsider looking in.

Once you’re acquainted with the major products/services and players of the market you can begin to make speculations based on your understanding. This is, essentially, how you would go about creating reviews using the research method.

It basically comes down to this:

1. Spend enough time within the industry so you can get to know the movers and shakers; purchase the hot products to really get a feel for how the bar has been set.

2. Using search engines, seek as many professional and amateur reviews of a product you plan to cover. Dig into the videos, too, so you can see how it may feel when owning it. Really get to know the technical side of things but also how it brings value to the owner.

3. Decide the angle you wish to choose when creating the review (see this post for examples). Understand that you may not have the ability to write it from the first perspective so angle it in a manner where you convey your expertise within the industry and you’re providing your thoughts about its value to the consumer.

With enough research you should be able to understand enough about the product to make an accurate judgment. Leveraging reviews from others will give you the proper perspective since you get to understand all angles of its value.

The Showroom Method

A sneaky method to create reviews and avoid spending the money is to use showrooms such as those at big box retailers. The product is sitting out there so you can play around with it and come up with your own decision on whether or not to make the purchase.

You can use this time to really get to know the product, skip the purchase, and come back home to write the review.

This works especially well when you need to review big ticket items but don’t have the funds.

Your experience will be genuine because you had actual physical interaction with the product.

If you took enough time playing with it then you’ll have enough understanding to convey the major value points to your readers. You could also do these showroom reviews with a friend to gain an alternate perspective on the product and to cull important questions you may not have thought on your own.

If you can find a shop that has the items you want to review then you’re in luck.

You could knock down multiple reviews in one go if you have the time. Its money saved and you get that opportunity to earn commissions with your opinions.

The Community Method

One particular method of conducting reviews that is a real cinch is by tapping into your community to provide the “meat” of the content.

Two methods should immediately jump out to you:

  • Ask community members to submit reviews of products
  • Asking questions about a product and using community opinions to form the review

The first is by far the easiest method. Community members that happen to own the product may have already wanted to share their opinion about it but didn’t have a platform to do so.

By giving them the chance to submit content you benefit from having a review and the contributor gets to make a name for themselves within the community.

You could even work out a deal where the affiliate link rotate between you and the contributor so each party wins.

The alternative method is to use the comments, feedback, and opinion from the community to create a big picture of the product. Using specific questions about each element of the product will give you enough information to create a review post.

You could go as far as to use quotes from these community members so you can skip over the entire writing process.

By having opposing viewpoints about the particular elements – readers of the review will gain an unbiased look which may encourage them to make a purchase since it’s not slanted and pushy.