I've been running this site since 2016. When I first started working on the project, I looked at it as a fun way to pick up some new skills, and maybe make a few bucks along the way. Five years later, I've earned commissions on over $500,000 worth of sales on Amazon, but the most valuable part is the insight and data I've gained along the way.
Having said that, there are three main components to my review process after running this site for over five years. First is the sales data that I have access to. The second is user reviews that I find online at retailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. Finally, I base my reviews on first hand experience when it is available.
Affiliate Sales Data
It's an important thing to mention because it really gives me unique insight into the industry itself, being able to see not only which brands and models are purchased most often, but also which ones end up being returned. I know the data might not be perfect — I only see data for people who end up buying something after they click one of my links — but the trends that I see are very clear and apparent.
To dive in a bit further, Amazon makes several reports available that essentially tell you the items that are purchased, the quantities they are purchased in and the prices at which they're purchased. They will also tell you what items (and how many) were returned. For myself, the last couple years have been pretty substantial in terms of traffic to the site and sales on amazon. Virtually all of the half-million in sales that have been generated through this site have occurred in that time.
My next step is to take that data and import it into a database so that I can do processing on that data. This is what allows me to see trends and identify other patterns in the sales data that really give me insight that most people don't have. It's what allows me to say, with confidence, that "Company X has sold at least $12,320 worth of this product this year" or "Half of people who buy this model return it, but literally nobody returns this other model". For those reasons, this kind of sales data has really become the backbone of how we review and rate products around here.
Online Reviews and Information
For a very long time, online reviews were the primary source of information used to write the articles on this site. To be honest, when I started out, it was overwhelming. I looked at competitors' sites and felt like I would never be able to attain the level and quality of content that was present. I did my best to put in the time to learn the brands and models, and it's rewarding now to look back and realize how far I've come.
Doubt is part of every blogger's journey, whether they admit it or not. It has been an issue for me for quite some time. I had a realization recently, though, that made me feel a lot better. I was walking my dog and saw an inflatable in my neighbor's garage. I thought to myself, "that's the Blast Zone Magic Castle", and just kept walking. A few minutes later it dawned on me, that the hours of research put in over a period of years was really paying off. Most people can't name two bounce house brands, let alone any specific models.
The knowledge that felt impossible to obtain at the beginning was now just second nature for me. It reminded me of a quote, that if you want to move a mountain, you start by carrying away small stones. Without realizing it, over a period of five years, I've carried away quite a few stones, and now I feel right at home with all the other moms, dads and professional bloggers who choose to write about this subject that we all love.
First-Hand Use and Experience
The last factor that I take into account for my reviews is first-hand experience. While we haven't owned the vast majority of these bounce houses, we've definitely used our fair share. They're becoming so popular today that everybody knows somebody with a bounce house. Whether it's a cousin, a neighbor or a friend, most kids have enjoyed these in back yards and basements across the country. We're no different and, being that I run this site, I always make sure to ask a few extra questions when we meet somebody who has one.
These tend to be smaller, residential units but for the purposes of this site I think that's ok. The vast majority of my readers are looking for units for at-home use, and so I don't consider that a problem at all.
There you have it! That's how we conduct our reviews here. Thanks for sticking around to read more about our process, and as always let me know if you have any comments or questions.