Each time I’m disappointed by a new vacuum cleaner, wine cooler or skin lightener, my husband says, “I told you not to trust online reviews!” That’s also his reaction when I push to try a restaurant that got 40 fabulous reviews minutes after it opened. I’ve accused him of being overly suspicious only to find out that those unrestrained, enthusiastic reviews are BOGUS.
This I discovered while looking at craigslist postings for writing gigs, thinking I might find a better answer when asked, “How does someone break into writing these days?” I don’t know what other writers say when posed with this — usually by a parent with an unemployed, grown child aspiring to be a writer and again living at home. I’ve recommended creating a blog as it’s a great way of developing a style and will be useful when writing samples are requested. The parent, hoping the unemployed, grown child aspiring to be a writer will get an actual job, looks as disheartened by my suggestion as I did after thirty days of using the highly touted product and seeing my skin spots have not improved at all.
Writing gigs on Craigslist are often non-paying, the reward being, “you will get exposure.” One caught my attention, promising, “$50 hour writing product reviews for health and beauty products.” Could that be how I got sucked into buying the totally ineffective $30 bottle of skin lightener? I decided to go undercover and apply, which led to an email saying, “Our first short project would entail writing 4 brief product reviews for certain health and beauty products. You must email us the links to the posted reviews to receive payment.”
That wasn’t necessarily illegitimate. Maybe they would provide the product for me to test. After writing back to say I had the required account, I was invited to participate with this instruction: “Here is a step-by-step breakdown as to how to post the reviews you write as well as information on the products. Write and submit your reviews for each product, THEY MUST BE 5 STAR POSITIVE REVIEWS.”
Not only did my undercover work fail to provide a way of breaking into writing, it proved that my husband is right and I can’t rely on online reviews if I’m looking for a new air conditioning unit or appliance to give as a wedding gift. Instead of shopping elsewhere, when you need a gift – for yourself or for someone else – you can trust the endorsements on my site.