Thursday, December 8, 2016

Best Freebies & Money Making Gimmicks of 2016 - Treat Yo Self!

Influenster PinchMe BzzAgent

Over the course of 2016 I stayed a loyal member to many of my survey panels but sought out product testing and other incentivized apps and websites to bolster my income, especially this holiday season (who can't use a few extra dollars for that festive peppermint mocha?? not me!!). It paid off. To date, I have earned $600 in PayPal and Amazon gift cards and the year is not over yet. Now do I have your attention?! Yeah, I thought so!

Back in February, I joined PinchMe! at the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Robyn!), which sparked my curiosity about similar websites. A simple Google search lead me to join Pact, Influenster, BzzAgent, House Party and Digital Reflections.

Here are my earnings, my hauls and a bit about each so far:
  • Pact - $110
    Pact is not for the faint of heart. In general, you bid on your own success in completing healthy activities. Failure to do so means a charge on your credit card or PayPal account. Completing your pact means a small monetary reward, redeemable via PayPal every time you bank $10+. Since February, I have earned $110. I have paid a few times, but only 3 or 4 ($15-$20 total - DON'T TELL ROSS!!). Intrigued but not sold?! I have written several blog posts about it already - check them out.
    Pact App: Tips and Tricks
    Pact App: Tips and Tricks (Update)
  • Influenster
    Influenster is a community of "social savvy shoppers who stay on top of latest product news and expert tips, review products, share honest opinions with brands and the community, and test products for free based on social media influence." Influensters are encouraged to link social media accounts and media influence scores are tallied based on followers. Your reviews and interests qualify you to receive "voxboxes" (free products) to test and tweet (or 'gram, etc) about to qualify in the future. Influenster does not pay in money, but it pays in awesome products to test and add to your collection. Check out my physical VoxBoxes below. I have qualified for many "virtual VoxBoxes" which sends me on missions to the store to photograph products on the shelf, tweet about new products, or share products to my Facebook. These "virtual VoxBoxes" usually help you qualify for some of the bigger, awesome physical VoxBoxes. Like how this sounds? Sign up here.
  • BzzAgent
    BzzAgent is very similar to Influenster. BzzAgents answer surveys upon signing up and qualify to receive BzzKits full of awesome goodies to test and talk about. Completing activities well raises your BzzScore and keeps your account in good standing. I've had seven BzzKits since signing up in February; Check out the list of what I qualified for below. Feel like doubling your freebie potential? Sign up for BzzAgent here!
    • Russell Stover Crunchy Caramel Bark
    • SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence
    • Paula's Choice Eye Cream
    • L'Oreal Paris Pure-Clay Mask
    • Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream
    • Arnott's Tim Tam
    • BIC Soleil Shine
  • PinchMe!
    Each month PinchMe! compiles samples from some of the top brands and sends them out to Pinchers whose profile match up (ie. I don't have a baby, so I don't qualify for diaper cream samples, etc). After your PinchMe box arrives, you have several weeks to complete guided feedback (answer questions and write a brief review) to keep your account in good standing. It doesn't get much easier. Sign up for PinchMe! here.

  • Digital Reflections $115
    Digital Reflections is an online panel researching how the internet is being used. Members are asked to install a piece of hardware to monitor home internet activity. This tends to scare a lot of people away. The research gathered is used to understand browsing and buying habits. Since installing in July, we have earned $115 towards household expenses...not too shabby. Digital Reflections is invite only, so keep your eyes open!

  • Swagbucks/MyPoints: $125
    Swagbucks and MyPoints are websites that reward members for the things they are already doing online. Members earn points for shopping, watching videos, answering surveys and searching. Points build up and can be used towards gift cards from a ton of retailers (I usually opt for Amazon) or PayPal. Do you do a lot of shopping online? Swagbucks and MyPoints offer points/dollar if you click to an online retailer through their site. Online purchases are usually credited to your account within 30 days. I am a member of both because they offer different incentives for different retailers - I like to shop around and get the best rewards. Join Swagbucks here and MyPoints here.

  • Media Insiders: $125
    Media Insiders is very similar to Digital Reflections. They are an online panel researching how people view, use and share media - primarily television. They ask members to install their app on their cell phone and simply keep it nearby while watching TV. Each week a survey is sent with questions about shows your phone heard and how you watched them (live, on demand, DVR, Netflix). As a loyal member of Media Insiders, I have earned $125 this year and counting. Media Insiders is not currently accepting new registrations, but keep checking back if this sounds like something you're interested in.
  • Surveys: $230
    I am a member of various online survey panels which tend to pay a few pennies here or a dollar there. My favorite are E-Poll, DataIntelligence and Pinecone Research. E-Poll does not bombard users with invitations. When you are invited, their surveys are generally 5-15 minutes, the reward varying accordingly. Users can cash out points for PayPal or a few digital gift cards. DataIntelligence is an online panel. Panelists don't just qualify for surveys, but also focus groups, fragrance testing and in-home product use tests. I have qualified for several different product use tests through them which have helped me accumulate points in my account. Panelists can cash out points for Amazon gift cards. Finally, Pinecone Research is a sweet and simple online survey panel. Their formula is reliable and that is why I like them - surveys are always about 10 minutes and panelists always earn $3 in points to their account for participating. Points can be cashed out in their online store for gift cards, products or PayPal.
I'd love to hear about other panels and groups that people have joined for freebies or rewards! Share me your favorites in the comments.