New blog series: Fitness Product Reviews

I recently launched a new series on my blog: fitness product reviews. It’s something I’ve been mulling about for almost a year because I get asked for my opinion about fitness and nutrition products and services often. Each time I think, I should really write this as a blog. Two things have delayed my start (until now):

  • I’m busy. Haha, I know, who isn’t? In fact I feel a bit sheepish saying that when I have friends who have 4 or more kids. Right – I’m the busy one. Maybe it’s a relative thing, but I feel busy. I spend a lot of time writing blog articles, and meanwhile I’m also putting a lot of time into growing Custom Strength into what I hope is, or soon will be, the best personal training in Ottawa. But I am starting to feel that my efforts on building Custom Strength have lead me to the point where I don’t need to commit quite as much time any more, which frees up more time for writing. This excites me because I really love both.
  • I want to incorporate affiliate sales into my product review series without compromising my integrity, and if possible, without even compromising the perception of my integrity.

Okay truthfully, the delay is about 5% time and 95% figuring out a way to do the reviews with affiliates, with integrity, and with the perception of my integrity still in tact. This was a very big obstacle for me. I believe integrity is everything, and I hope that belief is evident in how I present myself and my business both in person and online. I have no fear that an affiliate program will affect my integrity: it’s been 40+ years in the making, so it is solid. But people’s perception of my integrity also matters to me. Maybe it shouldn’t – I shouldn’t worry about what people think and blah blah blah. But it does, and I do worry about what other people think. I cherish that I have a reputation as someone with integrity, and I don’t want to damage that.

But I also have a desire for success in business. Sometimes I think we’re not supposed to say that. Somehow, I think there’s a perception that if we passionately love what we do, that we shouldn’t care if we make money at it. I don’t subscribe to that theory. Making money is not my only goal. If it was, I wouldn’t have left a successful engineering career to become a personal trainer. But it is one of my goals. It turns out that I like stuff. And I like travel. And stuff and travel have price tags attached.

When I saw that many products and services sold on the internet have affiliate programs, meaning they pay people who refer buyers to their site. I wondered if that was something I could and should do. Initially I resisted because I thought that if I was getting paid for my opinion about something, that my opinion was automatically less valid. But then I thought about it the other way: if I review a product, and someone decides they want to buy it based on my review, and if they will pay the same amount regardless of whether they are clicking an affiliate link or not, then who is benefiting from me not using the affiliate link? The person selling the product. My reader doesn’t benefit – she’s paying the same amount either way.

The challenge:

If I become an affiliate, people might think that:

  • I will be more likely to give great reviews because that will increase my revenue
  • I will only review products that have affiliate programs

Maybe I’m making a bigger deal of this than I need to, but back to what I noted earlier: integrity is everything, and I want to be sure my readers don’t think I am losing mine.

My solution:

I came up with this just a couple of days ago. For products or services that I review:

  • If I liked it and it has an affiliate program, I will include both an affiliate and a direct (non-affiliate) link in the review. If you read my review and are not bothered by me getting a commission, then I hope you’ll use the affiliate link. If you are bothered by me getting a commission, then please use the direct link. I promise I won’t be offended (and frankly I won’t know).
  • If I liked it and it does not have an affiliate program, then I will include a single direct link. At this point I won’t promise to reserve a set percentage of my reviews for non-affiliate products because I don’t want to feel I have to review certain products simply to prove a point.
  • If I didn’t like a product, I will only provide a direct link instead of both a direct and an affiliate link. I am new to the affiliate stuff, but I gather linking ?with an affiliate link from a bad review is frowned upon. I will also not commit to a set percentage of bad reviews because maybe I’ll actually like everything I review (haha – everyone who knows me well is laughing now). But rest assured, if I review a product that I don’t like, the review will reflect that.

Choosing products and services for review:

This will be the hardest part as there is a lot out there, and I don’t have infinite time. And here’s a little secret of mine: I’m actually a slow reader, so reviewing books takes me a while.

I have a short list of products that I’ll be reviewing next, but after that, I’ll be adding new items for review based on:

  • what I want to review (I know, obvious)
  • suggestions from readers and clients (so please feel free to submit suggestions – I can guarantee a response but I can’t guarantee I’ll do it – it will depend on time and how relevant I think it would be to my readers and clients)
  • suggestions from product manufacturers and authors. I have recently had a few requests from manufacturers and authors to review their products. I am happy to do so, but before they send me a copy, I warn them that if I don’t like the product, I will say so in my review, so they should be comfortable with the possibility that I will give their product a negative review before sending a sample.

The review itself:

Rather than read a description of how I’ll review products, please take a look at one of the actual product reviews, listed below. As I do more, this list will grow.

 

My commitment:

If you read a positive review from me, purchase the product using my affiliate link, and then get the product and think “what was she thinking? this stinks!“, please let me know. I can’t imagine that this will ever happen, but if it does, I will want to know if I’ve made a mistake, and I will want to make it right.

 

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