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Posted in Featured, Freebies

Finding Freebies Online: Comprehensive Guide

Finding Freebies Online: Comprehensive Guide

Think there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Think again. The economy may be slumping, but companies still have their wallets open. They’re handing out freebies to people willing to provide their time and opinions or share content with their friends on social media. If you’ve got the time to search, you can find freebies online with just a little effort.

At a Glance

Finding freebies online is easy. Most companies don’t truly give products away for nothing, though. You may need to spend some time writing, filling out surveys or encouraging people to sign up for offers. Be very wary of scams.

Be careful, though; there’s nothing scammers love more than to prey on unsuspecting consumers hoping to get something for nothing. To find freebies online, be prepared to devote a bit of time and energy to your efforts and stay on the lookout for some common freebie scams.

Subscription Freebies Online

Consider the razor-and-blades business model; when a product requires consumable items to work properly, companies often sell starter kits at low up-front prices hoping that you’ll later buy more profitable items to keep the products working. In the world of finding freebies online, a classic example of this is the free e-cigarette scam.

E-cigarette kits usually cost at least $50, with refill cartridges selling for around $10 per pack. Some companies have taken the razor-and-blades model to an extreme by offering these kits for shipping costs only. If you read the fine print, though, you’ll see that by accepting the offer you’re committing to buying refill cartridges each month for several times the standard retail price.

Companies can apply the subscription business model to nearly any product with consumable accessories. If you see an online freebie with almost no up-front costs, you should ask yourself where the company is making its money and read the fine print carefully.

Signup-Driven Online Freebies

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Affiliate marketing is a popular way for entrepreneurs to earn money online. The affiliate marketer recommends and links to a product. Then, she earns money if a reader clicks the link and follows through with a purchase. In some cases — offers that pay when people apply for credit, for example — affiliate commissions can be very large.

Companies offer larger affiliate commissions for more expensive products. So, some affiliate marketers offer incentive-driven programs and return some of their commissions to the people who sign up. The most common examples of this are freebie offers involving electronics such as laptops and tablets. This type of online freebie offer may be legitimate. However, getting it won’t be easy; you’ll not only have to sign up for at least one offer yourself, but you will also have to convince several other people to do the same.

If a website offers laptops as freebies online, it’s earning thousands of dollars from all of the signups the offer attracts. It makes financial sense for them to give a bit of that money back in the form of free laptops. Many of these online freebie offers may be legitimate, but beware; if you search for reviews of free laptop offers online, you’ll mainly see reviews from people who have never received free laptops and are merely hoping to attract new signups themselves.

The Online Freebie That Isn’t

You may have seen television commercials for auction websites claiming to sell expensive electronics for a fraction of their normal value. These websites claim to sell large televisions for $25, cameras for $3 and so on. This is called the “penny auction” system; the website lists an item for sale and bidding advances one penny at a time until the timer runs out. At that point, the timer extends for a few seconds at a time until no more bids come in. When the auction is over, the winning bidder agrees to buy the item — usually for a minute fraction of its retail price.

As is typical in the world of online freebies, though, this “elevator pitch” for the penny auction system doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, to bid at a penny auction website you must first pay for the privilege to bid. You’ll need to buy “bid packs” costing at least 50 cents per bid. You’ll pay each time you bid — even if you don’t win the auction. If a product has a retail value of $1,000 and sells in a penny auction for $30 with bids costing 50 cents each, the total cost of bid packs actually generates the website a profit of $530.

You can see, then, how selling an item in the penny auction format could be far more profitable than listing it in a standard auction format. People flock by the thousands to penny auction websites with the hope of obtaining near-freebies online. Penny auction websites may be legitimate, although there is suspicion that some fly-by-night websites may use automated scripts to drive bid prices up and ensure profitability.

Before you join a penny auction website and begin bidding on a near-freebie online, though, consider the number of people you will be bidding against. You can’t recover the cost of your “bid packs” regardless of whether you win an auction or not. Therefore, you may spend a great deal of money and win nothing. In that sense, bidding on a penny auction is essentially like gambling. Make sure you’re comfortable with that before bidding.

Online Surveys for Freebies

Today, companies rarely release new products or relaunch their brands without extensive market research. Instead, they pay for the opinions of real consumers. Search for the term “paid surveys” online to find some examples. Anyone can complete surveys for money and freebies online. However, some surveys are only open to consumers who meet certain demographic requirements. There may be times when you’ll answer qualification questions only to find that you won’t be able to complete the paid survey.

Nevertheless, paid surveys are a good way to monetize your time when you’d otherwise be on the computer chatting with friends or playing games. Don’t expect paid surveys to replace your “day job,” though; companies typically pay participants just a few dollars each.

Also, remember that people wishing to take paid surveys are often targets for scammers. Before signing up for a paid survey website, check for a clear privacy policy stating that your personal information will remain confidential. If you are asked to pay a membership fee, don’t sign up; you’ll never earn enough money to recoup your expenses.

Mystery Shopping for Freebies

Mystery shopping may be a fun way to get freebies by having another company pick up the tab on items you would have bought either way, such as food. If a company selects you as a mystery shopper, you’ll shop anonymously at a specific location and report on your experience.

Depending on the type of research that you need to conduct, you may need to take pictures, complain about a problem or ask employees for help. The company conducting the research reimburses you for the expenses incurred during mystery shopping.

To be a successful mystery shopper, document your experiences in detail. Mystery shopping is an opportunity to get freebies from supermarkets, department stores and restaurants — and many mystery shoppers find the experience of “playing the spy” rather exciting. In most states, mystery shopping requires no special certifications or training. Therefore, competition can be intense when mystery shopping positions open up. Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down many times before landing your first steady gig.

Company-Sponsored Freebies

In highly competitive industries, it’s not uncommon for companies to sponsor giveaways with the hope of gaining favor among the readers of popular blogs and social media users. To find company-sponsored freebies online, search the Web for pages on which the words “sponsored” and “giveaway” both appear. Try this link to get started — it’ll only show pages published within the past year.

To enter in one of these giveaways, it’s often necessary to perform an action such as sharing a certain URL with friends on Facebook. If you plan to spend a significant amount of time finding freebies online, it may be wise to open secondary social media accounts to avoid spamming your friends.

Blogging for Freebies Online

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Many bloggers review products online. They may do so for fun or because they hope to drive traffic to advertisements or affiliate offers. The road to success in blogging is long and difficult. If you build a large audience, though, companies will offer you freebies in exchange for exposure.

If you’re already a blogger, don’t be afraid to ask for freebies online via email. When asking, give the company a few links illustrating some of the detailed product reviews you’ve written in the past. If a company knows that you’ll write a high-quality impartial review, they may find the expense of sending you a freebie worthwhile.

If you aren’t a blogger, pay close attention to the blogs you read. Bloggers who receive many freebies online generally can’t use them all. To engage their readers, they offer them in random drawings. If you see a drawing on a blog with a smaller reader base, you’ll have a good chance of winning. Want to get started easily? We recommend HostGator for cheap, stress-free hosting. They’re who we use.

Online Freebies at the Source

When you search for freebies online, it’s always worth the effort to go to the source. When a company launches a new product — particularly when that product is a food — it’s common to see thousands of free samples offered. By giving the product away, the company generates awareness and establishes a foothold in the marketplace. If the manufacturer of a product offers it as a freebie online, grab it and enjoy a treat!

Image sources: Markus Spiske, NOGRAN s.r.o., zement