Michael Erb is the number one reviewer on Amazon with 850 product reviews and over 22,000 helpful votes from Amazon community members. He was recently interviewed on NPR Radio about how the process works, and all the free stuff he has received from both Amazon and other companies in exchange for his promise of a review. He is part of the Amazon Vine program, which is kind of a secret club, where Amazon sends free products to top reviewers in exchange for their promise to review the items. Before you get all excited about becoming a reviewer and racking up on the free stuff, be aware that part of the Amazon Vine agreement states that participants can't sell or give away the free products. They can only use the products themselves, or discard them into the trash.
Erb began reviewing products about 13 years ago, beginning with a review on a book. He took a year to review another product, but then started ramping up his reviews, sometimes spending 8 hours a day on Amazon. His reviews are across a wide range of product categories including electronics, health and beauty, office supplies and many more. He posts text reviews as well as video reviews, which are actually pretty entertaining to watch. After doing a number of reviews, companies started contacting Erb asking if he would review their products, and that is how the freebies started. On Amazon, even a bad review is better than no review. Manufacturers have realized the power of the Amazon Review in the marketplace and they are reaching out to consumers who consistently post reviews to get their help. In other words, the reviews are done in exchange for a free product.
Amazon contacted Erb to invite him to participate in the Amazon Vine Program, which only has a few select members. Once a month, Erb and other Vine participants receive a list of products and can choose two of them to review. He has 30 days to post a review or, per the agreement, has to send the item back to Amazon. He has never sent anything back yet. His wife says that their home is starting to look like a warehouse with products literally all over the place, and there is a pile of UPS boxes full of free products on the front porch every day. Erb receives not only the two free products from Amazon each month, but many more from independent companies who seek his reviews.