[Disclaimer: I am being paid for this review of ReviewMe, but am not obligated to write a positive review. Furthermore, I was one of the beta testers of the site.] ReviewMe is a brand new site that launched Nov 9/06 and is essentially similar to PayPerPost in that it’s a means for advertisers to have bloggers write about their products and services. Bloggers do get paid, and in the case of ReviewMe, they must disclose that they are being paid for the review. They are not obligated, however, to write a positive review. Morally, bloggers should be honest and thorough.

Signing up is easy - just enter your name and contact info. Bloggers in the US must enter their SSN (Social Security Number) or business tax id. Everyone else does not have to enter anything further. Payment to you can be by check or Paypal, so make sure you enter the proper email address.

Now you can enter your sites: name of site, URL, web feed URL (go for your Feedburner version, if you have one), up to six category tags, and a description. The ranking system is transparent and I assume it’s similar to Text Link Ads/ Feedvertising. That is, you have to have achieved a certain Google Page Rank (PR), some Alexa rank, a certain number of backlinks, etc.

You can only register six active sites, but there’s no limit to the number of reviews you can write per site - unlike PayPerPost, which only lets you write one review at a time and applies a different criteria to qualify sites. Minimum payout is $20, max is $200. (That’s after ReviewMe has already taken their 50% cut.) There’s no referral program yet like that of Text Link Ads. However, Andy Hagans, whose baby Reviewme is, tells me that there will be a referral program.

My stance on ReviewMe and paid product blogging: Generally speaking, I see nothing wrong with ReviewMe’s structure. It requires bloggers to be ethical about what they are doing, and is more ethical than, say, product placement in movies and TV shows. At least, if the product or service is relevant to the blog in question, then an honest review will be helpful to some readers. Back when I was publishing a monthly print entertainment magazine, we ran reviews of books, film and music. On occasion, we would review something - positive or negative - and the next month, there might be an ad for that item. (Lack of advertising ultimately killed the otherwise popular rag, which made its way to 3 continents on its own.) Though we never sought an ad in return for writing a review. Never. I always refused such offers. I see ReviewMe along similar lines. I might have otherwise reviewed the product or service anyway, and since I’m allowed to be honest (though I want to be constructive), what’s the harm?

What I am doing with any ReviewMe review revenue: I plan to donate fully 25% of gross earnings from all of my ReviewMe reviews on all of my registered sites to literacy programs. It’s not necessarily going to be lots of money, but if you are with a literacy organization and are prepared to prove it, you can apply for some of these funds. If I get no takers through this site, I will seek some out on my own and reveal all such donations here on this site after the fact. [Send email and details to rdash001 #at## yaho-dot-ca#]