An Honest Review or a Paid Advertisement?

Honest Product Reviews from What To Do With The KidsAn honest product review and not a paid advertisement.

When I re-launched What To Do With The Kids in 2011, I noticed that a number of similar websites displayed awards they had received from some impressive sounding organizations.  Of course, I wanted some awards as well thinking that to have them would provide credibility with my target market and attract new visitors.  As it turns out, there were many to choose from, as long as I had a major credit card!

One online company offered to review my website for $250 and depending on my “score,” I could qualify for one of three promotional packages that would allow me to use their name and logo to promote my award.  The packages ranged from $100 to use their name in text only, to $500 that would allow me to use the award artwork on my website and promotional material.  I’m guessing that very few companies who submitted their websites for review were ever rejected and all of them qualified for the top package.

The same can be found with some toys and games sold online.  Pay a fee, send in your product and we’ll review it before giving you a nice logo to put on your promotional package.  Many of these review sites however are involved in affiliate programs where they receive a commission for each sale of the product they just promoted.  We understand that companies have expenses but at the rates they charge, it’s good work if you can get it.

Years ago, bloggers were writing stories about their family life, sharing recipes and craft ideas with the few hundred “followers” they had but now bloggers are trying to cash in.  They’ve all read at least one article that explains to them how to become a “brand influencer” and get paid to write about the products and services they review.

Now, if someone is paying them to review their product, how tough are they going to be?  Manufacturers are not stupid.  They’ll spend their money on “influencers” who give positive reviews and the best way to get positive reviews is to give money.  Some bloggers make a little side-money reviewing products while only a handful in the whole world can actually influence people to go out and buy something.  Keep in mind that a lot of these bloggers have also purchased “followers” to inflate their numbers and that’s why I now ignore them.

I am also tired of sharing information with them and having them reply with a price list of the promotional services they offer.  Word of mouth advertising is the best but not when you know the person is paid to write about it.

Many bloggers now post a claim on their website explaining that they’ve received some sort of compensation for doing the review but that in no way does it affect their ability to do an honest review with honesty and integrity.  Ya, right!  Compare the writing style of their product review with the writing style of how they write about everything else.  Notice a difference?

The ultimate review program has to be with Disney.  Who would ever be really critical of any of the theme parks when they are receiving an all-expense paid trip to see it?  It’s a Small World is what hell is like as far as I’m concerned but if you paid to fly me down and covered my expenses, well…

That’s why What To Do With The Kids does not accept any payment or participate in any affiliate programs and we do not receive commissions on sales.  We ask for two copies of the product to be shipped to our office and that’s it.  Others will request as many as six.

We have reviewed a number of products and services in the past but we are now introducing our own logo of approval that can be used by the manufacturer at no charge.  When the manufacturer uses our name or artwork, their customers will know that it was reviewed honestly and without compensation.  Our reviews will not be regurgitated marketing slogans.

In the past we have rejected products that were not very good and have refused to even review one particular product because they wanted us to base the review on just their marketing material.  They felt that we were only in it to get free stuff.  If that were true, we would be hitting up every brewery and distillery in the country!

Over the years we have developed a method of reviewing products and services and use a network of parents and kids when needed.  Once reviewed, we send a report to the manufacturer and if their product or service passes, we send them a package of logos to use as needed.  It’s the best way we know of providing a fair and honest review.

To have your product or service reviewed, visit us at and if you have any questions, email us at

Please note:’  Although we review products for kids, we will accept offers from breweries and distillers.’ 




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