Saturday, August 14, 2010

Making money

Still nothing about the paper--it's been 5 weeks, and we were told we would hear yesterday, and we haven't. So, I am thinking this is not good news. Instead of stewing about it, I've decided to avoid talking about the general anxiety it is causing me.

In the spirit of changing things up, I have talked to multiple people in the last week or so about earning money through the interwebs. While I would consider the money I earn through the drug store savings to be somewhat internet-related (since I find a lot of deals/coupons there), I'm going to focus on things that don't involve you leaving your house at all. Although, I really only do Rite Aid deals at the moment, and I've made a few hundred dollars (plus getting all the free personal products I need) by combining sales with coupons. If you want more info on that, I can fill you in.

So, in order of how good of a deal it is, here's my list:

1) Communispace from Anthem: this was invite only, but I make $10/mo in Amazon.com gift cards for doing about 5 minutes worth of work every week, and there are lots of bonus activities that can bring in $10-$20 Amazon.com money at a time. I've made close to $200 I think (maybe more) doing this since joining less than a year ago. If you get an invite, do it!!

2). Valued Opinions: a general survey site. This site is pretty good at quickly screening you out of surveys you don't qualify for (a big pet peeve of mine), and when you do qualify, the rewards are good. I just finished a panel that made me $25 for minimal work. And, sometimes you'll qualify to try out full sized products in exchange for giving your opinion about them later. In a year, I've made about $160, which I've redeemed in Amazon.com money, but there are a few other redemption offers as well. And, if you join InboxDollars first, you can get another $2 for joining Valued Opinions through your Inbox Dollars account (more on that later).

3). Mypoints: I've been doing this program for many years, maybe going on 10. It's very simple: you get a few points (around 5) for reading emails, 10 points if you don't qualify for a survey/~50 if you do, and then some points for offers, shopping through the site, etc. I don't do much of my shopping through here (I earn more through ebates or fatwallet usually), but just clicking emails/doing surveys earns me between $50/$100 a year. If you want to be kind and link up through me, I'll earn a small percentage back from your referral. Not necessary, but if you feel like sharing the love, send me an email with your email address and I'll send you a personalized link :)

4). Zoompanel: This is a middle of the road survey place for me. On one hand, the surveys are (usually) pretty straightforward, and you get 5 points if you don't qualify. On the other, you only redeem for merchandise, and I've had trouble in the past getting credited the points that I've earned (though after I've contacted customer service, I usually get credit). It seemed like one style of survey never wanted to credit for me, but I've started saving the emails with survey links in a "completed surveys" folder in my email, and then I can double check to make sure I get the points. In about a year's time, I got enough to redeem for a 10-cup food processor, which runs about $60. There are other rewards that are cheaper on the site. I prefer cash/gift cards, but this isn't bad. I've also gotten full size trial items to try through this site, which is fun.

5). Inbox Dollars: This one took me a while to get enough money to cash out, but after that, it's going a little faster. Basically, you get 2 cents for every email you read. You can get money by doing free offers (like the Valued Opinions signup I mentioned before), or more money for trial offers (which I don't do, because I forget to cancel). After you get $30, you can cash out. They'll tell you that it "costs" $3 to cash out, or if you agree to wait a while and earn more money, they'll cash you out for "free". Whatever--I cashed out, and I instantly got a $3 "cash-out survey" that made up for the "fee" they charged. It's slow earnings, but money is money, right?

6) Surveyhead: I've earned decent money on this, but it's more of a time-waster. I do NOT end up qualifying for the vast majority of the surveys they send, and you get nothing if you don't qualify. So, it takes about 2-5 minutes to find out I don't qualify (or that it is full), which drives me crazy. And, it takes 6-8 weeks to get your reward once you cash out (even though the reward is online usually). But, you can get your money transferred to PayPal, which you can then put into your bank account, so it is the closest thing to cash that I've found. I usually only choose to do the surveys that seem like a good fit from the title/description and try to save time that way. I've earned about $80 in 1.5 years, so at least it's decent money. And you may be able to sign up through another program (like Inbox Dollars or Mypoints), so that would earn you more money too.

7) Swagbucks: I just joined this on Thursday, and I've already got 342 swagbucks (a $5 gift card to Amazon.com is 450). There is a swagcode out now that gives you a total of 70 swagbucks at signup (I can direct you to the code, but it expires tomorrow, 8-15-10, at midnight). You usually get either 30 or 40 for a regular signup. They had a code hunt on Thursday that gave me a bunch of codes, and then I won some big codes from searching the internet yesterday. I'm still figuring this out, but basically, you do your regular internet searches through their site (or toolbar, which I installed and find much easier to use), and periodically you "win" swagbucks that you can then redeem for prizes or gift codes. We'll see how well this earns me money over the next few months, but after I figured out the learning curve, it seems pretty intuitive. One note: if you find swagcodes, you can't just post them online. You can give clues to people to help find them, but if the site finds out you just posted the codes, they'll deactivate your account. Just an FYI--my impression from reading other sites is that they take this pretty seriously.

8) Other sites: I just signed up for Global Test Market (through Inbox Dollars) and Opinion Outpost (through Inbox Dollars) less than a month ago, so I can't vouch for those yet. They don't seem as fruitful as some of the other survey sites, so once I reach a cash-out level, I may bail on them.

9) Bzzagent: I've been doing Bzzagent for several years. You get invited to campaigns, they usually send a full size free item plus some coupons/trial size items, you tell people about them and write reviews, and then you get rewarded in Mypoints. The freebies vary from awesome (Starbucks, scrubbing bubbles, and covergirl) to kind of lame (Michelin--just a tire gauge, no easy way to Bzz). I've gotten over 20 campaigns in the last 2.5 years,  and it's pretty low key and easy to do. Sometimes I'll be in 4-5 campaigns at a time, sometimes none, so it just varies. And until you earn "honeycombs" to increase your status, the campaigns are usually a little slim. But it's a great way to get new products to try before they are on the market, and spreading your real opinion about them can be fun.

10) ExpoTV: I just joined this recently, but it's basically a video review site. They post items for which they want reviews, you upload a short (~2 minute) video giving your honest opinion, and they reward you with points. They also have a tryology section where they send you a product to review, and you upload a video--you don't get points, but you get to keep the product. I've gotten about 5000 points from this in a few months, and a $50 Amazon.com gift card is 6000 points. Plus, I've gotten 3 tryology campaigns, 2 of which had great goodies. I don't love seeing myself on the computer screen (a personal hangup) but the points reward to time ratio is good.

11) Earning money through online shopping: both mypoints and inboxdollars will reward you for shopping through their links, but I usually find a better deal through ebates or fatwallet. Plus, those usually have a $5 bonus for signing up (or more if you take it in a gift card). The trick is you have to start on their site, you cannot already have anything in your shopping cart at the site you are purchasing, and you can't use a coupon code that is not listed on the ebates/fatwallet page. I usually find what I want at the shopping site, write down the catalog number, then go to ebates/fatwallet to link to the site, then search for the item and add it to my cart.  I check both sites to see what the discount is at my desired shopping site (either ebates/fatwallet is better for each particular site), and I also search retailmenot.com to see if a discount code will save me more than the percentage I might earn from ebates/fatwallet. It sounds like a hassle, but it doesn't usually take me more than a minute or two to figure out the best deal. I don't earn a ton from this (most of my online shopping is at amazon.com to spend the gift certificates that I've earned, and there is no shopping reward there), but a few dollars here or there isn't bad.

One note: if you are unsure about a site, google it first. I signed up for a panel last week, and then I thought to research it, and an almost instantaneous google search showed it was a scam.  I also recommend using an email account that you check regularly, but isn't your primary personal email. I don't use my school email for anything other than personal/work email, and I have a yahoo account that I use for personal/legit sites (those listed here), and then I have a yahoo account that I use for questionable sites and freebies that I only check maybe once a week. That way, if I get spam, it's not clogging up my regular email.

Overall, I earn a few hundred dollars a year through about an hour or two's worth of work every week. It funds most of our "fun" purchases, like CDs and video games, and we also redeem for gift cards that we can give as gifts or spend (it is financing a good part of our deck).  It's a bit of a learning curve at first to figure out what is the best use of your time, but once you figure it out, enjoy!

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