Want Free Stuff from Amazon? Become a Top Reviewer

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B4TM9Y Macro screenshot of the Amazon online shopping website (Editorial use only).. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.
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I rely heavily on Amazon to ship me products that I don't have the time to buy in stores, like diapers, light bulbs and cat food. But while I've ordered hundreds of things from Amazon, I've never taken the time to write a review. However, an invitation-only program called Amazon Vine has me rethinking my ways.

The e-commerce giant boosts its bustling community of reviews from opinionated consumers by offering free products to its top reviewers, dubbed Vine Voices.

Amazon (AMZN) sends new items released by its partners and retailers to its top reviewers for testing and review. One Vine Voices member says Amazon sends him a list of products each month, and he chooses two that he'd like to review. The only requirement is that he has to write a review on those products within a month of receiving them.

So: How does one become a top reviewer and start receiving anything from a free laser printer to a free spin bike?

According to Amazon, "Amazon Vine is an invitation-only program. Vine Voices are selected based on several criteria, but primarily on the helpfulness of their reviews as judged by all other customers." In other words, if other customers like a person's reviews, Amazon takes notice. Amazon guidelines for becoming a great reviewer include describing why you like or disliked a product, being specific and keeping the review between 75 and 500 words.

"Review helpfulness plays an important part in determining rank," Amazon says. "Writing thousands of reviews that customers don't find helpful won't move a reviewer up in the standings." And don't worry if you're a novice reviewer, like yours truly. "The more recently a review is written, the greater its impact on rank. This way, as new customers share their experiences with Amazon's ever-widening selection of products, they'll have a chance to be recognized as top reviewers."

So if you're feeling confident about your ability to write helpful reviews, and getting free stuff from Amazon each month sounds like a pretty sweet perk, it might be time to limber up your typing fingers and take a crack at being invited by Amazon to become one of the Vince Voices. I know I sure won't forget to review my next Amazon order.

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