Rant 1 – 2019 – The Problem with sports watch reviews, freebies and tech bloggers

Do you fancy starting a sports tech blog and getting loads of freebies?

This post highlights lots of reasons why that won’t happen.

Well, you can start the blog but the freebies will probably not follow.

This post is quite long and hopefully either entertaining or enlightening into the ‘evils’ of sports company freebie giveaways to biased and ‘paid off’ bloggers.

This is a 2019 update of the same post I produced in 2017, geared towards all you newcomers here over the last 2 years.

Also, I’ll list some of the problems with reviews that you might not be aware of. Two posts in one.

CONTENTION: Consumers suspect that PRODUCT REVIEWS are biased because the reviewer has been given a freebie.

Let’s accept that there’s probably quite a bit of truth in that. But let’s also expose a few of the prevailing myths from the side of the blogger and the industry rather than from the perspective of the suspicions of the reader.

First up.

I’ve said it before. If you want to write a sports blog to get lots of free stuff; then you can. If you like socks, nutrition bars, $20 earbuds and the like then you probably can get vast quantities of those. You’ll have to spend a fair amount of time doing that. Not too much, but a fair amount. If you want to treat that as a hobby and accept that your time is not too valuable then you’ll be happy.

Maybe you see getting free stuff as a challenge. It will be a good challenge.

Polar Vantage V M ReviewGetting Hold of Kit to Review

Let’s put to bed your expectations of a free bike and a nice little income stream to pay for your kids’ college fees.

Unfortunately, you will NOT get to keep lots of nice free stuff like power meters, bikes and high-end Garmin cycling computers. Well, maybe you might, BUT it will be EXTREMELY difficult for you. And I’m not just using a superlative for effect, it really will be hard.

If you are lucky, then a company might suddenly approach you out-of-the-blue. It will start off with a snack bar company and then if you are lucky, a Bluetooth earbud company. More likely it will be a Kickstarter company with no product who themselves want a freebie from you and who will probably never, ever return the favour. All that is likely to be happening here is that someone within the company has been tasked with the desperate task of getting ANY coverage from ANYONE and they are trying a scattergun approach with lots of blogger names that popped up after they tried a few, somewhat haphazard, internet searches.

Just like with my blog, most companies will never have heard of you – most of them don’t really care too much about bloggers and developing a ‘special ongoing relationship’. Which is strange, as they should care about persistent digital content shouldn’t they?…apparently not!…I would if I were them.

FWIW: I’m at the stage now where some ‘quite good’ brands approach me but that is rare.

Let’s say you get off to a great start. As a new blogger with 100,000 “hits” a year no-one is likely to be that interested in you. No-one. You are on the lowest tier, unfortunately. Exceptions exist for 100,000-hit blogs, not many though. To be clear: my stats are significantly higher than that level. I’m not boasting, just saying it how it is to put things into perspective for you. When I started writing this blog I did it for ‘fun’ and I half-imagined that one day when I got to 1 million page views a year I would be able to go off and buy a part share in that tropical island with DCR. Hint: Even 1 million page view a year is NOWHERE NEAR enough to make a living from. NOWHERE NEAR. 10 million might be the magic figure for a blog. MIGHT…

The Problem of Time Delays hold you back from building the content on your blog

Just getting loan items from MANY brands/PRs is VERY time consuming and, in many cases, plain difficult. I say that from experience. I have reasonably good stats for this blog and it IS still generally difficult for me to get loan items – and it takes several hours with each new company. Even when you get the loan item you may well find that your country is way down the order in the list of countries in which the product is released. So, devices might only ARRIVE in your country 1-3 months after release in the USA. You might also find that, in your country, the supplier or PR agent has tiers of media outlets that are served in order of importance. Guess which level you will be on 😉

Some PR companies and brands probably get many requests from people like you and me. You are a distraction not an asset in most cases.

In my approaches to PR companies/Brands I almost always say “Look, I’ve got all the gear I could possibly EVER need (and more besides) for me and my sports. I don’t want a freebie, I will return the device to you after 4-6 weeks” They are still not interested as a rule.

For example 3 years ago I found, with the Polar M600 launch, that I could not get hold of one until 2 months after the announcement. This was no fault of the UK arm of Polar or their PR agent it’s just the way their international rollout worked. Maybe you accept that as a time-cost of being a start-up blogger to jump-start a possible ongoing relationship? Indeed that seemed to work for me as later, in 2018, Polar was kind enough to include me with DCR and others to check out the new Vantage device prior to announcement/launch. Even then, to get to that stage with the Vantage launch,  I still had to dig around through contacts until I finally found the right person in the product team who dealt with the Vantage rather than the lead in my local country (UK).

So you may well have to wait a few more months than I have to.

Perhaps you should think about the implications of the time delay on the likelihood of you being able to produce high-ranking content for Google?

By the time UPS deliver your dishevelled and re-used 2nd hand PR sample, the product could already have been out for 5 months. You may be the third person to have this specific PR sample. Nevertheless, you dutifully write your review and will then be dismayed that it will NEVER get anywhere near the top Google search results pages. NEVER. Consequently, your Google ranking will stay low as your blog never gets any hits. Catch 22.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. There seems to be a window of opportunity for you with a brand new post. Google seems to reward ‘newness’ for a while; so your position in search results might be good for a few days, or so. If you don’t get any hits in that period then you really are doomed into insignificance. eg my Polar M600 review is now on page 5 or 6 of an ‘appropriate search phrase’, virtually no-one reads it via google. You’ll likely rank even lower than me, not that it makes any difference as neither of us will be read via Google!!

Velocomp Aeropod ReviewThe Problem of High Ranking Domain Competition

Part of your problem is that the rubbish review from the likes of high-ranking WAREABLE.COM or TECHRADAR (or whoever, I’ve not read their reviews) will appear well ahead of you and be written by someone who has little idea of what they are writing about in their short review that re-hashes a Press Release. That is somewhat annoying as clearly YOUR CONTENT is better but they simply rank higher because their DOMAIN RANKING in the Google algorithm is WAY higher than yours.

Actually, we say they are RUBBISH REVIEWS…yet they are more successful. Hmmm. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

The Problem of Product Type

Then there are also issues with the kind of product you want to review. If you want to review a mass-market Samsung device then ALL of the REALLY high-ranking sites will get first dibs. eg techradar, arstechnica, wareable, pcmag and CNET…those kinds of sites and more besides. Their inherent domain-importance to Google’s ranking means that they can write absolute drivel and still rank highly and WELL above your perfectly crafted review. Some of them absolutely do write absolute drivel.

FWIW I am WAY down on Samsung’s list of priorities, they first want tech media and maybe lifestyle media. I’m an endurance-sports-tech blogger which is too niche for their mass-market offerings. I’m even too niche for their GALAXY SPORT WATCH offerings. So, in reality, I’m not on Samsung’s list AT ALL and it’s not because I am ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘whatever’…I’m just to small for THAT KIND OF MAINSTREAM PRODUCT.

OK you can always go out and buy the item. That works for a while but then becomes quite expensive. Actually it becomes VERY expensive. Maybe you could buy and then sell them on eBay but it just adds to the time demands.

There are other, less scrupulous ways to get hold of free kit that I know some bloggers use, but I don’t do that and I don’t think you should … so I won’t tell you what they are 🙂

Favero Assioma duo uno review p1 vector

L+R, BLE+ANT+

Kit and the N+1 rule

The ideal number of bikes really is N+1. Where N is the number of bikes you currently own.

However with other kit, that rule breaks down rapidly and it just becomes a faff to keep it all somewhere safe, kept with the right charger and app; and making sure it’s charged up and paired with the ‘right’ other devices. Because of the ‘faff’, the ideal number of sports watches for personal use is no more than 3 or 4.

So REALLY why do you want to get free kit? It’s MUCH easier to buy 3 or 4 devices. Buy them and spend more time with your friends and kids.

But you have a cunning plan and, no doubt, you have a cleverer angle than mine and realise that there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are easier ways to make money than commissions on referred product sales.

You are probably right and paid content might be one of them. After all, you are good at writing and good writers the world over deserve to be handsomely rewarded for their literary skills.

Well. If you want to get paid to write about gadgetry-stuff then you DO NOT want to write a blog like this. The cleverer way to waste your time is with Instagram or Youtube.

The sort of thing that paying brands are generally more interested in seems to be ‘lifestyle’ bloggers. Have a look at @challengesophie. Here’s where you do interesting stuff and fit the gadget or placed item into the content you produce. Naturally, you share that experience with your followers. The kind of desired content that brands want is moving away from TWITTER and TEXTUAL content like mine and more towards INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE and maybe also FACEBOOK as brands are looking for visual impact and ENGAGEMENT. You might wonder why

Why?

OK, here goes…

You can buy INSTAGRAM followers to make your channel seem more important than it really is – there have been cases reported in the mainstream media. Larger brands have just about figured that out by now and so they are starting to look for ENGAGEMENT as that demonstrates that you really do have REAL followers. Actually, you can buy comments and likes too…if you want to try to build an Instagram Channel, based purely on such dodgy foundations, then good luck with that.

Brands have also realised that, for example, the video content they produce is expensive and often simply not watched by enough people.

Simplistically: many brand-produced, professional, in-house videos can cost many thousands of dollars and get about 40 hits when put on youtube. With my limited knowledge of accounting; that’s ‘rubbish’. So the brand gets someone who is a bit more popular than them (the elusive vlogger) to produce something for the vlogger’s followers and then get maybe a 1000 hits. How many of the followers will watch all of a relatively poorly-produced, and turgidly-long, 10-minute videos? Not many. But SOME. Yes, some vids are very good though (emphasis on SOME) but you must have noticed with your kids or your friends’ kids or even that YOU are now starting to watch more things on YouTube just for entertainment.

Maybe the brand also hosts the video content themselves on their corporate site and get a further 50 hits. The problem for you is that they will probably only give you a free XXX device and £500 to cover some expenses. .

So if you are showcasing their product on your trip across the Sahel; that trip is still costing YOU THOUSANDS of pounds/dollars and a great deal of time. They are just helping out a bit with the costs. Which is fair enough.

You are providing them with slightly more interesting content at a significant cost discount to that produced to a professional standard.

You are a paid hobbyist. Which is OK, if that’s what you want to be.

Continental Grand Prix 5000 GP5000 Review

Yes, there are some high-end exceptions to all of what I have just said.

You won’t get paid MONEY to write a review. Here’s why.

PR agencies get paid by brands to do whatever PR agencies do (awareness, mentions, tweets, editorial inches, etc.). PR agencies don’t want to waste their fees and profits on you. You are an amateur and they are professionals (allegedly). They don’t have to pay you and won’t. The reason they don’t have to is that the more traditional mega-domains eg Pocket-Lint, Wareable, etc make their money out of on-site ADVERTISING. Those mega-domains are playing a numbers game where they want lots of TRAFFIC from frequently read, new content. simplistically, their traffic generates revenues from the number of ads that are DISPLAYED and to a much lesser extent the number of clicks they deliver to the advertiser. So THEY NEED LOTS OF gadgets to review; and upon which to create content which gets LOTS OF advertising or commission revenue. Their content gets displayed lots of times over the world. That’s a WIN-WIN. Free gadgets in exchange for ad revenue from mass-displayed coverage/content, the downside is that they have to pay their staff to write the reviews.

To even stand a slim chance of getting paid to directly write a review you would need to bypass the PR agency. You would have to pitch directly to the brand. But:

  1. The brand manager is busy and “Who are you anyway?”, “What’s a blog again?” go and talk to my PR company.
  2. Your site is too small. Why would I want YOU to review my awesome product?
  3. Even if the brand manager is convinced that you have a good pitch; you are still too risky to put too many assets (cash) into. How do they know you will deliver ANYTHING AT ALL?
  4. But persevere, it could work, if you have the time.

Mr Rainmaker COULD get paid LARGE sums of money to write reviews – many tens of thousands of dollars/pounds per review. Easily. He knows that. However, he appreciates that getting paid would jeopardise his business model and so will not do it. Good for him. And he has a business model that probably VERY easily pays him an annual, multiple 6 figure sum. Why should he change his currently successful business model? I wouldn’t. He has gone on the record, I seem to remember, to say that he believes that reviewers SHOULD be paid for their time/content. For the reasons just outlined, that won’t happen for people like you and me.

Maybe it SHOULD happen. But it won’t happen in the current climate.

Nevo Balade ParisienneThe Madness of Print Advertising

In my ‘other work’. I see competitors spending, say, >£5,000 on an A4/single page glossy ad in well-known trade magazines. Maybe it’s the same in 220 triathlon, I don’t know. For my ‘other industry’ example, let’s take a monthly circulation, including subscriptions, of 50,000 (and it really is another industry):

  • How many of those 50,000 people will see the ad? – a fair amount. (BTW not even all subscribers read the magazine).
  • Of those how many will spend more than 10 SECONDS looking at the ad? Almost none.
  • Of those how many will remember the ad? – some, not too many. 10%??
  • Of those how many will be prompted into making or changing a purchase decision? – a few. Let’s say 100 Garmin 920XT’s – that works out at an advertising cost of £50 per sale (ie more than the marginal cost of production of the same item)
  • What will be the additional impact of that ad next month? – ALMOST ZERO. The magazine is already in the bin by then.

Repeat that £5,000 spend across lots of media publications/channels and you’ve easily spent 10x that amount. Factor in the costs of producing the high-quality ad; the marketing staff, or agent; and the costs multiply again.

Compare and contrast the following…

I’ve MOST DEFINITELY had more than 50,000 unique visitors for product reviews (per single product review); so that number EASILY compares with the circulation of some good magazines. You could probably assume that both readerships were from similarly relevant demographics.

  • How many of my unique visitors will see my review? – most readers specifically expressed a google-search interest to see the review. VERY MANY saw it and read it – taking 5-10 minutes. That’s a MASSIVE ENGAGEMENT in the content compared to a print ad. I know for a fact that the MAJORITY of those visitors then go on to read something else on my site with a small minority going on to buy it.
  • How many will remember my review? – ahem. Obviously, I’m highly entertaining and enlightening:- ) but quite a few I hope will remember the few minutes they spent on my site. By definition, they remember the product as they knew about the product before arriving on my site for the review.
  • How many will be prompted into making or changing a purchase decision? – very many I would imagine. They are INFLUENCED in some way, positively or negatively. Especially in conjunction with other similar content from other bloggers. PLUS if someone is READING A REVIEW they may well be close to the point of purchasing something…perhaps weighing up a few options.
  • What will be the additional per-person impact of that review next month? – 100% – the content is there FOREVER (near enough, Google results permitting).

Print advertising. It’s madness. IMO. Well at least print media is madness for small brands.

Of course, there are exceptions.

Of course, many people will buy a watch and never read a review.

But it is OBVIOUS from my site’s stats and other review sites that VAST NUMBERS of people read reviews before buying technical sports products. VAST numbers (vast=millions of people all over the world).

Brands: At least use Google AdWords and create a decent landing page on your home site that speaks with a genuine voice. In many cases, that is WAY more cost-effective than traditional advertising and WAY better than the corporate-speak blandness you currently have on your site. If Garmin changed the word ‘Garmin’ on their site to ‘Polar’ it would probably sound the same to Polar’s site. Think about that. GENUINE VOICE is 2019 corporate-speak is c1985.

Brands: Or, instead, listen to your marketing team who all did MBAs. Keep paying them £/Eu/$30-80k, or more, each and keep paying your external agencies to support your integrated MARCOMMs campaign. Look at how agile startup clothing and gear brands can generate massive sales volumes with small marketing teams.

Apple Watch 4 Review Nike 44mmThe Madness of Twitter

The witterings of the Twitterati can be entertaining.

But of all the hundreds/thousands of people, I follow there is absolutely NO WAY I even see all of their witty and insightful tweets.

Having said that, it’s clearly a percentage game. I DO see some tweets, obviously. I’m not sure what role TWITTER plays for a blogger. It can be a good alternative to an email sometimes but, to me, it seems to be best for brands to use as something like a support tool or a flash promotion/competition where it very briefly intrudes into the lives of those who communicate for a purpose on twitter.

Let’s say I tweet something, maybe 100-200 people will see it? Who wants to pay for that? Madness. If you/me, the blogger, get two sales from that (which you won’t) that’s about £15-£25 for you and only a slightly higher profit than that to the brand.

On-Site Advertising

I introduced ads in 2018 knowing that it would annoy some people, although I didn’t do that specifically to annoy them! There is good money to be made from advertising. Admittedly mostly in November and December – although sometimes in the early Spring too.

The numbers are something like this: you could get about $3 for every 1000 ad impressions taken (called $3 RPM). For every page that is viewed you can have several ad units so the actual amount per page view can be higher than $3RPM but, at the same time, your ad broker will not seek to place ads with every visitor to your site. So maybe only 70% of your views will be ‘taken’ by the ad agency. You can do the math. If you try to scale up the return per pageview by placing too many ad units then a) it annoys your readers (sorry) and your traffic may fall or bounce more as a result and b) it can bring your site to a grinding halt because of the processing demands of the displaying dynamic ads. You will then have to upgrade your hosting package, get a CDN etc. (Time, money)

A further problem is that if you decide to have a site like this one then advertisers realise that a good proportion of the traffic here is from people who could be at the advanced stage of buying a product. So the advertisers want to get that traffic OFF your site AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and get the sale themselves either via Amazon or direct to Garmin.com or some other conversion site. Amazon could well turn out to be one of your biggest contributors to ad revenue. At the same time, you might strangely notice that any Amazon affiliate revenue you once generated for yourself soon dries up. Strange that.

When I have my ads enabled, at various times of the year I get from 0.1 to 1 cent per impression ($1-$10RPM). So with 40 million hits per year dcrainmaker should make between $40k and $400k from his advertising channel alone. Nice.

However he restricts the potentially more lucrative advertisers and so will make less. He wants to do that and can afford to do that…you would have a dilemma.

You also see that I have a SUPPORTER mechanism and one of the supporter benefits is that ads are disabled when logged in. DCR kindly let me know the software he uses for that which I eventually got around to implementing it. If you are a one-man-band then getting it to work may not be easy. Then, if your sales model is complex, tailoring the display of ads to match your sales model is tricky and time-consuming. And that’s another recurring theme here TIME…everything takes so much time.

Wahoo Elemnt Review Comparison specifications Features Buy Deal Price

Early Season 2018 Cashback Deal

Problems – Content

We all make mistakes.

But the real problems with reviews of new products are many-fold. Take the initially under-featured Suunto SPARTAN.

Most reviewers, like me, want to produce a review as soon as possible to get on the Google bandwagon and get that traffic coming in to keep the Google rankings sufficiently high.

If the initial coverage of the product is not great then that content is often on the internet forever. That is a problem Suunto partly had with the Spartan. To which there was no solution other than rebranding their SPARTANs and we now have the Suunto 9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 series.

Another example is the Polar V650 which I reviewed in 2018, WAY after the launch. It’s a REALLY GOOD product at a REALLY GOOD price. But most other reviews were written over a year earlier and are not representative of the state of the current product.

So, let’s say that 6 months after a typical product is launched, the product is fixed and all featured-up…but the review is unchanged. The blogger has moved on. This is ESPECIALLY TRUE of larger review sites where the reviews weren’t that detailed/good in the first place and are never updated. At least I sometimes try to update some of my reviews (it takes MORE TIME) and know that I fail to update them all – look at the 920XT, it’s close to becoming a discontinued product and is highly improved compared to that which was initially released. I basically had to re-write the review. Remember, it’s not my day job and I don’t want to re-review 3-year-old products – I just changed it one day because I felt an urge!

Polar Vantage V Review, Polar Vantage M Review

Problems – To lie or not to lie…that is a tricky question

I often write negative reviews. Unsurprisingly I can confidently assure you that they generate ZERO sales and an unwillingness of the manufacturer to work with you ever again.

If you want to make money…go figure.

The counter-strategy is that if you are honest then people come back for more and you can monetise their visits with advertising or with the sale of other products. The reality is a little more nuanced than that but I ‘ll let you discover how it really works yourself 😉

However, in my experience, if any criticism you make about a product is fair and correct then the manufacturer is OK about it. So there is no need to lie to please the manufacturer.

Problems – Where is the money?

By the way…if you want to make money, you’ll only make enough of it from sales of Garmin products. Everyone else is too small. Everyone else does not generate enough sales. Well, at least that’s a good general rule. The problem is that everyone else knows that, so everyone else wants to do Garmin reviews to get Garmin sales. But, I’m sure you will have a special Garmin angle that no-one has thought of 😉

Out of my own doggedness, I have zero relationships with Garmin. I’m just a customer EXACTLY like you. No PRs, no inside contacts that I use, nothing.

Fake Reviews

You might not agree with what I write. Fair enough. But I hope you don’t think my content is false. I guess some of you might…your call.

However, lots of reviews are false. The reviewer has simply NEVER used the product. LOTS of reviews are like this.

I originally used stock photos produced by the brand as I thought that the quality was much better than what I could achieve (it is). But the upshot of that was that no-one believed I had actually used the device but rather that I had just read the manual! So now I take pictures 🙂 and, yes, I still RTFMs.

Even some pictures in ‘reviews’ are ‘false’ ie the image is of a demo unit being held by the ‘reviewer’ at a trade show. Sometimes these are labelled as ‘hands-on’, sometimes not. This is done by quite a few of the big names who can actually afford to send their staff to trade shows in other countries for a jolly! Nice work if you can get it. To be fair to those big-name review site brands (you know who I mean) they have got better in the last couple of years and are more honest about the 200 seconds of experience they have had with the product.

Reviews are copied from other reviewers to varying degrees. Ray knows this. We all suspect this. I try NOT to write mine to a repeated formula to keep my creative juices flowing (takes time) but I do a sense-check against at least two other reviews once I’ve finished – sometimes that will be DCR but really sometimes not as well.

Reviewers are biased for all sorts of reasons. Every reviewer is biased (yep, him too). Even trying to be fair and independent might sometimes mean that you sometimes try harder than normal to find fault in a product. If you have a standard template or methodology to rank products then that will favour the discussion of features from some brands whilst overlooking innovative, new features from other brands.

So what I try to do is be BALANCED. For example, you will see that some posts I write about Garmin are VERY positive and some are HIGHLY CRITICAL. You are all big boys and girls and I’m betting on you being able to make up your own minds unless you were simply looking for an echo chamber.

I’m reasonably sure you don’t need me to think for you. But I throw my thoughts and opinions into the mix in any case.

Wasting Time Finding Answers

PRs: PR agencies do not know the answers to half-complex technical queries. I’ve given up trying to waste my time asking technical questions with nearly all of the PR companies I deal with; as the response either gets forgotten, mislaid or never correctly answered. Certainly, it rarely gets answered in a timely way that enables me to meet my deadlines.

Assumptions: Every time I assume something that is undocumented I invariably assume wrongly. Nightmare.

One solution: Brands need to open a direct channel with reviewers rather than having complex questions passed in a slow manner via a PR company. Otherwise, they expose the likely awfulness of their customer service/help desk. If I have to wait 2 days for a response from a PR company (that will be incomplete &/or wrong) then I’m just not going to do it. Some smaller companies do have that direct channel to the owner/manager/liaison manager – STRYD, BIOSTRAP,  FIRSTBEAT – they’re all doing pretty well in their chosen markets, right? Strange that. Go figure.

And remember it’s not my day job. This all takes SO MUCH time.

Wahoo Tickr Fit Review

So how do I/You make money?

I don’t make a lot of money from the5krunner.com. Certainly not enough to live off. Probably an AWFUL LOT less than you think I do. But enough to keep me going. I have this hope that if I keep doing the same thing then one day the outcome will be different.

I make some money from coaching (not really the5krunner.com but it is linked to here), a few affiliate partnerships (which are disclosed NRG, PMC), advertising and from disclosed, click-through purchases from Amazon which many of my kind readers click from time-to-time and which I really appreciate. But the costs of buying the kit and taking time from my real job does add up to quite a big number as well.

Is the opportunity there?

I know for a fact that reasonably popular reviews that I write can EASILY lead to 3 figure unit sales of that item on Amazon. Or absolutely no sales at all if the timing is wrong and the google ranking position too low.

  • If you are certain your reviews can lead to sales then the best route is to buy and hold the stock for resale. But you are not certain! Neither am I. And holding stock takes time and cash.
  • The next best option is to partner with someone. You might get a 5-10% commission. But unless you also offer the buyer an incentive (discount) then they won’t necessarily click on one of your links. So if your business partner also agrees to give a customer discount as well as a commission to you then all is good. However, now we are talking about a reduction of maybe 20% of the revenue for the seller which may well be at least half their profit. If you give a coupon for a discount then the seller will also be worried about that coupon being passed around and used by people who have NOT visited your site. So for all THAT to work you have to deliver LARGE SALES LEVELS to make it all worth the while for the brand…you can’t, you won’t, you’re too small. The fact that your blog is too small means you won’t find a partner who will work with a discount+commission structure; unless you are lucky.
  • That 20% reduction CAN be handled by small companies if they are selling directly. They don’t have to give a margin to a shop to resell. But that 20% discount (eg for my relationship with Power Meter City) is MUCH more difficult to make work financially as the margins for resellers are probably something like 25-55% (40% might be a good average, I don’t know).
  • I don’t know why some retailers are that concerned about lowering their margin if they are getting sales that they would not otherwise get. Other than ‘I don’t want to lower my %age margin’, I can’t really see a reason.

There are numerous tactics you can use to drive traffic, like competitions. But they don’t directly make you any money. They might improve your standing with the brands and competitions will CERTAINLY cost you a lot of time. On the flip side, they might boost awareness and interest in your site. I’m not convinced it works for a site of my size.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you realise that it is possible to make large profits doing tech reviews. I know for a fact that some sites do. However, it is extremely difficult and time-consuming. If you want to try to copy my mode…don’t bother, you won’t make any money. And if you want to try to copy DCR’s model then ‘Good luck with that’ – there are so many different angles to his model that need to fall into place to make it work and I’m pretty sure that YOU won’t be able to copy it for reasons that you probably haven’t even thought of yet (and that aren’t covered above).

Of course, there could be an even better and more innovative way.

Or you could just do the reviews on you blog or YouTube because you enjoy it!! I do.

Anyway, I’ve waffled on too much. Penny/2 cents for your thoughts?

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7 thoughts on “Rant 1 – 2019 – The Problem with sports watch reviews, freebies and tech bloggers

  1. I guess, this is a good opportunity to say Thank You for all your work with this blog. It is highly appreciated.

  2. I’ve only just recently come across your site whilst researching Garmin GPS running watches — and trying to decide between Garmin 45 vs Garmin 245 (no music needed because I’ll have my phone with me!!) — and have truly enjoyed your “Bible” reviews and other posts. Just read this one — “Rant 1 – 2019 – The Problem with sports watch reviews, freebies and tech bloggers – the5krunner / March 7, 2019” — and thought it was great, in spite of the fact that I will never, ever try doing any such things.

    But this “Rant 1” article prompted me to write to you, and say, THANKS for a great site with great info. I am not currently a runner (I’m nearly 61 years old, overweight, and now working to get back into a shape that’s more fit and more likely to live longer, but I’m working toward, maybe, running again by next spring). However, your site has become one of my new fave “running stuff” places — and if I survive getting myself back into running condition, I’ll buy you that cuppa!!

    Keep up the great work !

    “Sleep is for wimps.” That’s why I keep Death Wish Coffee in stock at home !!! 🙂

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