Because it’s important to me that I feel completely free to say what I please about anything I write about on GearAbility, as a rule I refuse any offers for free products or goods.
I want to know, and I want my readers to know, that I’m not beholden to anyone, and that my opinion isn’t colored by something that might feel like a bribe, however well-intentioned.
The exception to this is items under $20 (USD), which I will accept. This is a rather arbitrary cut-off point, which has to do with the cost of sending/shipping things. It’s not really cost-effective to ship an under-$20 item back and forth. I’d like to keep the door open for smaller products, and smaller companies, especially those who may have a single useful tool or gadget, but neither a budget, nor a program, for sending these items back and forth for review.
In ALL cases where an under-twenty-dollar item has been supplied to me (and I haven’t paid for it), the review will explicity say so. I will NOT review a “free” item without making it clear that it’s been given to me.
I may make an arrangement to donate a smaller review item to a nursing home, a community, or other non-profit group or institution. In that case, the review will explicitly state the disposition of the item.
If a company would like me to review a product I don’t own, and that item costs over $20, I may agree to do so, but only if the company makes prior arrangements for return shipping. I’m happy to review anything viewers might find useful, but, for ethical reasons, won’t keep more expensive items I don’t buy (as noted above), and, for financial reasons, prefer not to fund return shipping.
There are no ads on GearAbility at the present time; and I do not receive any compensation for “click-throughs.” Many bloggers receive a small fee, or a percentage of sales when readers “click-through” on links to companies or products. I don’t necessarily think that this is bad (though I wish bloggers who have this arrangement would state so explicitly), but I don’t do this, and don’t plan to. Again, this is an issue of my independence, which I value highly. I want to be able to write exactly what I want to write, without giving any consideration to whether it will create ad revenue or not.
It is possible, even likely, that at some point I will enroll in a program like AdSense, and agree to have relevant ads obviously placed in a sidebar on GearAbility. When readers follow those links, I would receive a small fee. In these programs, the ads are isolated to one side, and clearly labeled as such. This strikes me as a good balance between keeping independent content on my pages, and finding enough revenue to keep GearAbility online as the bandwidth usage increases.