Being Amazon’s top reviewer comes with some sweet perks.
Just ask Joanna Daneman, a Delaware woman who has achieved Amazon’s Hall of Fame recognition 12 different years, making her the #1 Hall Of Fame reviewer of all time.
She’s part of the company’s elite, invitation-only Vine program, which means that she gets boatloads of new products sent to her for free.
“It’s almost an embarrassment of riches,” Daneman tells Business Insider of the trove of stuff Amazon sends her at least once a month.
Amazon started the Vine program seven years ago to help increase its number of useful reviews. Its only stipulations are that participants need to write reviews of the objects they receive and they can’t resell the products afterwards. Companies pay a fee to Amazon to participate.
Since joining Amazon, Daneman has written nearly 3,000 reviews, 97% of which other Amazon users have deemed exceptionally helpful and says that she averages one post a day, though sometimes it’s much more.
Although she isn’t the most prolific reviewer on Amazon (another Hall of Fame member has written more than 30,000), Daneman’s reviews are insightful, easy to read, full of detail and personal touches, and occasionally funny.
Here’s her profile at the top of Amazon’s rankings:
Daneman receives a wide range of free products through Vine, from the super-expensive to the strange, including strobe lights, green tea powder, a “zombie dissection kit,” memory cards, knives, a printer, a soldering iron, baby toys, and a Japanese kitty litter system. Often they’re things that Daneman never would have thought to purchase herself otherwise.
When Daneman spoke to Business Insider she had just recieved a welder, which she planned to test out on a friend’s farm over the weekend.
The system used to be that Vine Voices would receive a list of goods to choose from every month, but now, Daneman says, she constantly has a queue of new products that she can browse. She says can’t even guesstimate the value of what she’s recieved over the last seven years, but it is a lot.
Here’s a five-star review Daneman wrote about a toy bear (she has a friend with a young child) that’s packed with colourful details:
But Daneman doesn’t always give our five stars. She says she has recieved a lot of really good kitchen stuff, but this strawberry slicer didn’t make the cut:
Daneman admits the Vine program has kindled jealousy in reviewers who aren’t part of it, who will sometimes ding a review just because a “Vine Voice,” as members are called, wrote it. Daneman insists that just because she gets products for free doesn’t mean that she’ll give them glowing reviews, and that there is no obligation to do so from Amazon or the companies who supply the products.
Daneman’s fast-paced review-writing habit started in the early 2000s. She was living in Germany at the time and fell in love with Amazon because it was the easiest way for her to get her hands on English books. Daneman is a voracious reader — whipping through 30 or 40 books a month — and since shipping costs so much, she’d carefully pick through reviews before ordering a book.
She always found community reviews to be the most helpful, so she started writing some of her own as a way to give back. Her fun, frequent, and thorough reviews attracted a following, and when she came back to the states, she actually had several people come visit her. She’s still friends with several other reviewers.
Daneman kept her habit going because she loves to write, but doesn’t like to journal. She works as a financial advisor at Edward Jones and doesn’t write for her job, so she keeps her skills sharp through Amazon. Before Edward Jones, she was a product manager at HP.
“Amazon created a community,” Daneman says. “Wherever else you might buy things online, you’re not talking to anybody. On Amazon, you’re yakking away to a bunch of people.”
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.