My displeasure for making product review videos

I’ve made many reviews on pens. Or maybe some of them would be called a ‘product impressions’. I think I’ve built the most of my audience around the reviews of pens. As well as other art supplies. But about a year ago (ok maybe longer) I had a realisation that all of these reviews could possibly be teaching my audience something that I didn’t believe. That you need new or expensive supplies to make good art. I couldn’t disagree more with that.

In fact, when it comes to the world of pens (the subject I normally gravitate around), I find that the laws of diminishing returns starts quite early.

You can can spend 200 dollars on a fancy reusable pen. Or 20. Or maybe 10. Is there any difference in the end result? No. Is there any like… undue suffering caused by using a cheaper pen?


It seems that there is an equal variety of practical pens in the $20 price range as well as in the 200 dollar price range. You don’t need a 14K gold nib; a good steel nib can feel just as good. I once watched a video of blind folded people writing with steel nibbed fountain pens and also gold alloy nibs and they couldn’t tell the difference. The feel of a ‘superior pen’ is just so subjective.

The only two factors I’ve found when it comes to a pen that really matters is:

  • I can hold the pen for long periods of time without getting RSI or something?
  • Can I get used the feedback of the nib as it’s dragged on the paper?

Quite often just a cheap plastic pen body is more than adequate for a pen grip. It is more grippy than metal I find. And also I can quickly get used to the feedback in almost any cheap pen.

So it was never hard to find a pen that matched my needs. I was just on a foolish quest to replace my lack of skill with some kind of superior drawing tool. I the hope that I would find some kind of implement that would no longer inhibit the creative energies flowing down arm so they would effortlessly pour onto the paper. When all I really needed to do was to get used to the tools I had. Because its only an unexpected hurdle that will trip you up.

The best kind of pen is the one that you are used to.

So in short: I might never make another pen review video ever again.

And that is going to be very difficult for me. As you’ve probably noticed as I haven’t made many videos over the past year.

Because making a review video on some product is really easy! Once you’ve become used to looking at many similar products. You can just spend time with the product for an hour and get the general idea of what it is like. At least just enough to seem knowledgeable to those not as well educated on your little pet subject. So if you buy product to review, of the kind that your used to, eventually it seems that your just buying a ready made video script. The video just seems to write itself. You don’t even feel that you need to be particularly creative. The product just seems to tell you its merits and also what’s wrong with it.

How to make a ‘Product review’ for Youtube:

All you do is sit in front of the object with the camera rolling. You open the box. People seem to like it when you open the box. I don’t personally find the fascination with opening the box. We all know what’s in the box; that’s why we clicked the video. Then you take each object that you find in the box and put it on the table. At this point find something mundane to complain about. This will make you seem knowledgeable about the product as you’ve already found some nuance that your viewers didn’t detect or even think about. Then after you’ve rambled on about the accessories for a few minutes and thrown the instruction manual away in a comical manner (because no self respecting reviewer would read an instruction manual on camera to reveal their ignorance). Take out the main article and start pointing out all the differences that you can recognise from similar products. If you’re finding that difficult just point out the specifications which you can read from the instruction manual that you pretended to throw away earlier. If you are good at multitasking you can even pretend to use the product, like drawing with it or typing with it, while you are talking. Or you can bicker with some unseen and unheard person off camera. Now when coming up with a conclusion for the product make it easy for yourself and keep it as non-objective as possible. It’s hard to weigh up all of these facts and figures, like who has time for that. So just look at the object and take the emotional impression it gives you and pretend that it’s a logical decision. Then you justify your decision by grabbing random little possibly unrelated facts from the specifications. For example you could say: “I don’t mind this laptop. I just wish it didn’t… (look up a specification)… have an Intel processor. Because I prefer … a PowerPC .” Or some kind of nonsense like that. And do not elaborate any more than that! Otherwise you’ll show that you have on idea what you are talking about to every side of the argument. Then say goodbye and beg for submissions or whatever it is.

Also I find that it is easy to make an entertaining review as lots of people do enjoy listening to people complaining about stuff. And if you complain enough they might even be grateful because you “told the truth” about what might be an extremely subjective subject.

The other advantage with product reviews is that they are vastly more searchable and discoverable than some personal creative project. Unless you already have an audience… good thing I started making review videos I guess then…. no one might know about me otherwise.

Anyway I’ve found making any other kind of video with isn’t a review/’product impression’ video really difficult recently. I’ve already made quite a few videos which are not review videos and they are really bad. So I remake them again and they are somehow still not to my satisfaction. So they just sit on my computer for many weeks until I delete them out of disgust. I think I’ve remade one like three times, including re-filming. Sometimes starting from scratch and it still looks like something which was made without any care at all.

This is going to be an annoying and awkward transition… into a thing called hard-work!

But I will persevere.