3 Awesome Things One Freelance Writer Got from Writing Free Gear Reviews

Carol Tice

The author grabs some air.

By Ted Bendixson

I’ll admit it. I’m hopelessly addicted to snowboarding.

I have been for the last six years of my life, and as I do it more and more, it’s only gotten increasingly expensive.

When you’re out there every day, you go through gear like nobody’s business. Lucky for me (and you), there is a way to use your writing skills to get the products you want for free — hundreds and hundreds of bucks’ worth.

It’s pretty much as good as getting paid, from my point of view.

Here’s how to get started:

Reach out to sites that review products

I got my gear reviewing job at ActiveJunky by responding to a Craigslist ad looking for a snowboarder to write content for the site. I’ll admit it was a lucky draw, but there are a number of websites out there looking for product reviewers.

A friend of mine runs a popular snowboarding website, and he can’t get enough people to test the products companies send him. You don’t know there’s a need until you ask.

Be active on forums and build your own website

That same friend started out in the online snowboarding forums. He built a following by doing product reviews there, and then he started to post the reviews on his own snowboarding related website.

Eventually, people started going to his website instead of the forums. The companies followed up with the products shortly afterward.

As you get further along in your gear reviewing career, more doors will open up. I don’t get paid cash for most of the reviews I write, but I do get these three benefits:

  1. Free gear. I usually snowboard over 100 days a season, so it’s very helpful to have a closet full of jackets, goggles, boots, and snowboards. It saves me a ton of money, and my friends are extremely jealous of how “fresh” I look all the time. My favorite piece of gear I got from a free review is an outerwear set from Oakley that retails for around $500. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any other clients who are willing to pay $500 for a single blog post.
  2. Industry contacts. ActiveJunky, the site I review gear for, hooked me up with free admission to a snowsports trade show in Denver this year. It was an amazing opportunity to network and build contacts in the snowboarding industry. I’m certain those contacts will eventually lead to some paying gigs.
  3. Paid vacations. One recent sponsored trip I snagged through my gear reviews is an epic, two week snowboarding adventure in Chile. If I pay the airfare, ActiveJunky covers everything else. Their promotion of the ski areas gets them deals on food, lodging, and lift tickets that I wouldn’t be able to get on my own. On top of having a great time on this vacation, I’m pretty sure they’ll pay me to function as the editor for any content we create while we’re down there.


Companies are always looking for feedback from passionate users of their products. I don’t get paid cash for the reviews I write, but they’ve certainly made it easier for me to pursue my snowboarding addiction. Some things are better than money.

Have you written free reviews? Leave a comment and tell us how that worked for you.

Ted Bendixson is a freelance writer and iPhone app developer who travels the world to snowboard year round. In 2011, he rode over 200 days.


  1. Campbell

    Thanks for the great advice in your article! I like reviewing gear and have so far only reviewed items I already have. I’ve been thinking about trying to do something like this for a while, but haven’t gotten around to contacting companies yet because I’ve been busy with so many other things.

  2. Adeline Yuboco

    The most that I’ve reviewed are restaurants, but I have to shell out for these. Would be really great to find a review gig in my niche (travel and food) where the flow of money is inward, not outward. So far, most of those that I’ve found that offer these are limited to other countries. I’m gonna try checking out those avenues that you’ve mentioned and see if I get any luck.

  3. Pam

    I am really hoping to find gigs like this. I’ve been writing Amazon reviews for awhile and am now a top 3000 reviewer. I’ve got a 97% helpfulness rating on 135 reviews, but I have not yet found a way to turn that into some income, or even some free stuff. I am hoping to get invited into the Amazon Vine program, but no luck yet.

    From this post, it seems there are two paths to getting better review work:

    1) There are a number of websites out there looking for product reviewers

    2) Be active on forums and build your own website

    Taking the time to build a website and drive traffic to it in hopes of getting some review work is not a good income prospect compared to other kinds of business building and income generation.

    The other path – of finding sites and publications that need reviewers – seems to be more likely to get somewhere. That would get me free stuff (no pay, but I could sell the stuff) but also open the door to other writing assignments.

    Does anyone use their Amazon reviewer rating on query letters, or does that look unprofessional?

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve never seen anyone use Amazon reviews as part of their writing portfolio.

      Seems like you’re expending a lot of effort on something that isn’t really building a portfolio for you.

      The point of the post is that reviews are generally not a great-paying niche. You could pitch clients writing product descriptions, which does pay a bit.

      But as the writer notes, if you have a hobby you need to support, free reviews can help. Otherwise, we think this isn’t a way to make a living.

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