First, the formal disclosure:
- I do not accept payment to review a product or service.
- I typically purchase the software that I review, recommend or link to out of my own pocket. I do occasionally accept complimentary evaluation copies of products and books which I would then keep. On rare occasions, I may request a complimentary evaluation copy.
- For any link to a product – be it a review, a formal recommendation, or simply a link in my content – I may be paid a commission if you purchase that product. These “affiliate links” do not affect the price you pay.
Now, with that out of the way, here’s the more important practical interpretation:
I try to make sure that my evaluation of a product has nothing to do with whether or not a product is free to me or whether or not I might make a commission when you purchase it.
The reality of how I work actually turns out to be the quite the opposite – it’s the products themselves, or the discussions that crop up about them, that drive what I mention:
- I’ll first hear about a product often enough to become interested in it or want to mention it.
- I may get a copy, typically by seeking it out and using the publicly available trial version, or purchasing a copy for myself.
- I may evaluate the product to some degree myself, or research the experience of others.
- I’ll decide that I want to mention the product, or perhaps even formally recommend it.
- Only then do I investigate whether or not a revenue opportunity such as an affiliate program exists and if it’s convenient to me, I’ll use it. (And even then, only if it’s not going to affect the price you pay).
Finally, some of the sites or products I mention might belong to business acquaintances and friends. My relationship with them might cause me to evaluate their product sooner than others, perhaps, but does not impact my final decision whether or not to mention their product. Each is evaluated based on my opinion of its merits.