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Reaping the Rewards of Reviews
by Jennifer Brown Banks

As an editor and columnist for several national print and online publications, my plate is pretty full when it comes to writing gigs. Like most writers, time and money management are crucial to the success of my freelance business, not to mention my sanity.

So how do I stay on top of my “bottom line?” I typically work in advance of my deadlines, multi-task with the ability of an octopus, and incorporate reviews as a regular part of my writing repertoire.

Though they won’t get my foot through the door of the major “glossies,” I’ve found that reviews are one of the best and quickest ways to gain visibility, expand my portfolio, and make money from writing, for the least amount of time and effort.

For example, in one of my recent “Jennifer’s Gems” columns, I reviewed six relationship books, entitled it “Savvy Reads For Women” and earned $40.00 for less than 2 hours of work. Not bad, wouldn’t you say?

On another occasion, I did the same thing with exercise videos. I took a trip to my local thrift store, purchased various exercise video tapes for 6 bucks, (Regis Philbin on Fitness, Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies, Tae Bo, and one on hip-hop dancing), took them home, worked out a bit, rated them in terms of difficulty, and penned a piece called “The Best Fitness Videos For Busy Singles.”

The pay off? I sold it to a lifestyle publication for singles, made $50.00, and am now the proud owner of a fitness library that I resort to from time to time when I find that my gluteus maximus is becoming maximum.

These experiences began my beautiful love affair with this type of writing.

Another bonus of reviews is that they are a staple with many consumer magazines. The next time you’re at your local grocer or bookstore, browse through the various publications, and see what I mean. Whether you’re giving your opinion on popular eateries in your area for food reviews, rating music, or giving your two cents on books that keep you burning the midnight oil, chances are, you’ll find a market to get published and paid.


Reviews not only help your readers to make better choices about future services and goods, they help to enrich your life through the information you collect and assess.

Reviews are not labor intensive. They don’t generally require lengthy research on the Internet, nor do you need to expend energy citing sources.

This type of writing requires very little financial investment. You can purchase used books, music, and tapes at your local thrift store, or get them for free at your nearest library. For food reviews, simply dine out for dinner or lunch, and take a pad and pen to record your experience.

No clips or previous experience is required with most publishers.

It’s a fantastic way to get freebies. As a reviewer, I’ve gotten free tickets to plays, Aromatherapy candles, books, and other goodies.

Here are a few markets I give two thumbs up.

WWW.CHICAGOREADER.COM Accepts reviews on arts related topics--Music, movies, theatre, dance, of 600-1200 words. Compensation is $150.00-$250.00, depending upon length.

WWW.ONLINEDATINGMAGAZINE.COM Pays $15.00 to members of the “review crew” for books on dating, relationships, and self-improvement.

WWW.MAHOGANYMAGAZINE.COM Book, food, and music reviews of 500-700 words receive $25.00 and 2 authors’ copies of the publication.

Everybody’s got an opinion. Why not get paid for yours?

© Copyright 2008, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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