JohnnyMac is a flashlight, vaping, gun, and EDC enthusiast who feels the drive to share what he has learned with other like minded enthusiasts. Holding down a full time job along with being a dedicated family man makes finding time for his hobbies and passions a bit tough at times.
Reviewing products in objective detail takes many long hours of photographing, testing, teardowns, editing, and publishing. He doesn’t get paid for his reviews and does them simply for the love of it. His greatest reward is when he receives notes of gratitude from readers who benefitted from his efforts. Sometimes life gets in the way and reviews take longer longer than expected to complete.
His fiance and children are his greatest blessings and their patience and understanding about his obsessive hobbies is a God send. Usually the Mac residence is littered with flashlights, vaping gear, and testing equipment and the family’s teasing and jokes at his expense are never in short supply but always with a smile on their lips.
Here are a few questions that Johnny is asked most often…
Q: Where do you get the products you review?
A: Most of what I review is purchased by me. Lately the majority of my flashlights are provided for review by Sponsors listed on my home page.
Q: If products are given to you for review are you still objective?
A: Absolutely! My integrity is my highest concern and the value of even the most expensive lights I review don’t come close to compensating me for all the time I spend reviewing them. I find it easier to be completely objective when a light is sent because I have no emotional or financial investment in it. I believe that people who spend their own money on a product can feel a subconscious need to justify their purchase and it has a stronger chance of influencing their opinions. Even when I do purchase a product for review I do my best to present completely objective data and opinion.
Q: So you get no compensation from your reviews?
A: Correct… for the most part. The only benefit I get is through my Sponsor links and product links in my reviews. If, after reading my review, you find yourself wanting to purchase that product, clicking on the product link on my page lets the sponsor know that you read my review. This, in turn, makes them more willing to take a chance on sending another product for review. My only benefit is an increase in my hardware collection, less space in my small house, and an ever increasingly frustrated fiance. 🙂
Most of the products that I purchase to review are from a particular source for the sole reason that they cost me very little. My product and sponsor links, when used to make a purchase, can, depending on the sponsor, earn me a few pennies on every purchase in the form of points. When they add up to enough I use those points to make a purchase on a product I can review. Considering the time it takes to do a review it is small compensation but since I am a divorced man with alimony and child support to pay it’s the only way I could afford my hobbies. If I relied on reviewing to make a living I’d be sleeping outdoors on the ground and eating dirt. If there is a way to make a living from this I’d love to know how. 😀
Q: Your pictures really make your reviews interesting but why so many of them?
A: To maintain complete objectivity. I use so many pictures in my reviews because I want the reader to see exactly what I am seeing and talking about when I review a product. I try to photograph every detail of the light both externally and internally. I find that the best way to be objective in a review is to let the product do most of the talking. Pictures really are worth 1000 words. This is why I do my best to completely disassemble a flashlight, for instance, so the reader can see exactly what goes into the light. People read reviews to see if a product is worth investing in purchasing. Few of us can afford to spend our hard earned money frivolously. My family jokes about how I research things to death before pulling the trigger on something I want to buy. I want the reader to see exactly what they are getting if they decide to buy something I recommend to them.
The same goes for my testing data. I present the facts and just the facts. I wish I could afford even more testing equipment so that I could plot things such as runtime and output graphs directly to my computer for even more accuracy. As it is I have to settle for the information my light meter and Integrated Sphere provide for real world output figures.
I know some respected reviewers who show lovely glamour shots of flashlights and wax poetic in their reviews. By the time people are done reading them they can’t wait to run and buy the reviewed product. I always laugh at this because I always scratch my head after reading these reviews and think to myself, “This review didn’t tell me a god damned thing about the light!”. No output figures, no hard data, no real breakdown photos…just fluff!
Q: Most of your reviews are positive. How come?
A: Most are, this is true. The reason for this is that I hand pick most of what I review. Back when I first got into lights I bought my share of duds. I reviewed a few duds in the beginning, too, and this was when I bought all of my lights with my hard earned money. I spent way more than I should have in the beginning when I caught “flashlight fever”. It taught me quickly what to look for when buying flashlights and coupled with my proclivity to research the hell out of something before buying I began to be a lot more picky. The first few reviews were fun even if the light wasn’t much good. Reviewing quickly became time consuming and spending time reviewing a crap light was a prospect that filled me with dread.
I use my lights so now, when I am offered an opportunity to review a light that is provided for me, I try to pick a light that interests me in the first place. I also know what to look for when choosing lights so I’m not wasting time on a bad light. It is rare that I get a light for review without knowing what it is ahead of time and agreeing to review it. Take all this into consideration and you will see why there aren’t many lights that get a bad review. They are ALWAYS reviewed objectively though.
Q: Do you ever turn down products for review?
A: Absolutely! I have turned down many “budget” flashlights from dealers who’ve offered me something to review. As I’ve said before, I don’t earn a living from this. Taking the time to review products in depth, especially flashlights, takes a LOT of time that I really don’t have. It puts a lot of stress on my relationship with my fiance and I am eternally grateful for her understanding and patience with me. She truly is an angel! As time has gone by I find myself refusing to review budget flashlights as they simply aren’t worth the time involved in reviewing them. Other times I’ve had some high-end products that have had issues. If I find an egregious flaw in a product I will contact the manufacturer to let them know about it. Sometimes they will ask that I forget about the review and simply not review it. Out of respect I will skip the review. Othertimes they might be aware of an issue and be working on a fix. Since this fix will be applied to all future lights they may ask me to hold off until they can send me a replacement part or an entirely new updated product. When this happens I agree to do so. I’m still waiting for a new tailcap to resolve an issue with an Xtar light. I don’t think it will ever happen.
One thing I won’t do is blow smoke up your ass and write a review that hides a defect or flaw. At best I simply won’t write the review at all.
Q: So getting free lights to review doesn’t affect your objectivity?
A: Not in the least. Reviewing flashlights truly is a chore. There is a reason the word “labor” is in the phrase “labor of love”. Most of the time I get halfway through a review and wish I had never agreed to do it in the first place, especially if I’m not really excited about a product. Believe me, if you were in the same position as me, you would understand how it’d be cheaper and easier for me to just buy a damned light myself and not be obligated to review it. I won’t deny the fact that it was pretty awesome in the beginning but that wears off quickly. 😉
Q: I love flashlights or vaping hardware and always wanted to do reviews. I’d love to have dealers and manufacturers send me stuff! How can I make this happen?
A: I can only tell you how I did it. It won’t happen overnight. Join a forum dedicated to your hobby and write reviews about the products you’ve purchased yourself. Build a solid reputation among your peers for being a solid reviewer. In time you will build a portfolio of reviews. Dealers and manufacturers really do seek out reviewers to review their products. If you work hard at it like I did and are lucky they will notice you and make an offer. It took me well over a year until I was offered something. Also, once you have a solid portfolio of reviews, you can contact vendors and manufacturers and ask them if they would be willing to let you review their products. I did this as well. It doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of hard work on your part.
Q: What other stuff are you involved in?
A: My best bud lives in the UK and goes by the moniker “Spasmod”. He and I partnered together and created a couple of forums dedicated to our favorite hobbies – flashlights and vaping. Feel free to visit and become a member of our growing communities. You flashaholics can join us at The Flashlight Forum (aka TFF) and you vaping enthusiasts can join us at The Vaping Forum (aka TVF). You will find me by my usual moniker, “JohnnyMac”. 🙂