I have been writing this blog for exactly one year. In that time I have reviewed fifty products, or about a product a week. Lots of different folks have sent me stuff to review from big, well know companies like Leatherman to small boutique craftspeople like Inkleaf Leather. I have made over 200 posts. And I have given away quite a bit of stuff--an Inkleaf Leather moleskine cover, a Leatherman Sidekick, an Iain Sinclair Card Sharp II, and a custom Mini Grip. In all, the total amount has come to well over $200 in stuff. That is not a lot, but remember, I don't have ad revenue that goes directly to me nor do I have a sponsor of any sort.
I have been approached by a few people to review their products. They are not makers, they are sellers. Thus far I have been hesitant because I don't want to be seen as endorsing things for sale. I don't want to have a relationship where I am just shilling things for a website. But, I have done research on a few of these folks and some have turned out to be really stand up folks. So, what do you think? I would, of course, not keep anything for myself, but would it impact my credibility if I were reviewing things sent to me by a reseller? Keep in mind this would greatly increase the number of things I can review as right now I am limited to my own budget and the Adsense revenue. Post in the comments. Your opinion really does matter.
This has been money or products generated solely because of the website. The more readers, the more stuff I can give away. In the year since I started the blog more well over a quarter million people have stopped by and read my hopefully witty banter and your always perceptive comments.
I hope that this is just the beginning. When I started this blog I had one practical goal in mind: I wanted Sal from Spyderco to send me something to review. It has not happened yet, but I think eventually it will. As the daily readership increases, eventually, hopefully, I will get a Spyderco blade to review (and then give it away to a reader). The less practical goal was to create a library of reviews of lots of different products. I wanted something that I would like to read (if I hadn't written it). Now, with the aforementioned 50 reviews in hand, I think I about there, but I have no plans on stopping.
The next big giveaway is still in the works. I am trying to figure out a fair way to do it, but there are always concerns that one person will just swamp my email and make it impossible for others to enter. I would love to give the McGizmo away towards the end of the year and the Adsense revenue seems to be holding up.
In addition to giveaways, I have three new things I'd like to implement going forward.
First, I'd also like to do a few video reviews if I could. I have to get over the fact that they are more difficult for me to do than writing a review (I need a block of about 20 minutes to do it and with a little guy around that is hard to find).
I also want to do updates to the reviews I have already done, checking in a year later to see if the score stays the same or changes. Generally, I see two things impacting a score change: improvements in technology or ergonomics and long term usage performance. For example, the Sebenza has gotten better with time. I have played around with the pivot quite a bit and I like the action on the blade opening much better now than before. I also cut off the lanyard and it makes the knife smaller in the pocket and cleaner in appearance. It will obviously keep its score of 20/20.
Finally, I would like to create a database of small gear makers. I have hinted at it here and there, but the idea would be to create a single listing of all different kinds of small, US based gear designers and producers broken down into the following categories:
One Piece Multitools
Packs and Bags
If you have any suggestions for a mention, here are the parameters:
1. The gear maker needs to be a small set up. Leatherman is too big. HDS Flashlights are probably about as big a company as I would want to list.
2. The gear maker needs to produce things ENTIRELY or as much as practically possible in the US.
3. You need to have bought something from the gear maker so you can judge its quality and their service.
Send me an email or post in the comments section if you have any ideas. Custom makers are entirely okay.
Finally, I still have a coated aircraft cable keychain to give away. I have tried two different people, so go post on that thread and I will choose another person.
Thanks for reading. Getting my thoughts out has been very therapeutic. I hope it has been as fun to read as it has been to write.
PS: I have just bought the first product I was sent for review. I reviewed the Tom Bihn Cadet a few weeks ago, sent it back, and thought about it. It is a great bag. I just bought one. It was a huge hassle to do it this way and shipping wasn't cheap, but I think this is only way to maintain an appearance of objectivity.