Over the past couple of years I've learned that there are a myriad of ways online to get things for free, whether it is product samples or coupons, to Amazon.com gift cards or power tools. While not all of the ways are legitimate, I've found that there are a ton of easy and ethical ways to get things you want online, without a ton of work.
Among the things that I've won over the past couple of years are Amazon gift cards totaling $250 or so, a $25 Best Buy gift card, a nice 18 volt power drill, an iPod Nano and a digital camera. In addition I've been the recipient of bunch of free t-shirts, free books, swag bags and other free goodies. How do I win all these contests and get all these freebies? Today I'll look at some of the ways that I've been able to get these things at no cost to myself (besides my free time).
Enter Blog Contests
This is probably the biggest way that I've been able to get things for free. I've found a ton of contests on blogs and other websites where all you have to do to enter is usually either leave a comment, tweet a message using your Twitter account, sign up for blog post updates or like a website's page on Facebook. Basically they just want you to become a regular reader of the site or they want to get a company or product's name out, and they're willing to give away things in order to boost their numbers.
Depending on what a site is giving away, there may only be a few entrants – or if they're giving away something like an iPad – there may be a few hundred. In any event, entering one of these contests usually only takes a few minutes of your time – if that. Here's a quick video tip on how I've done it.
In case you didn't catch all that was in the video, a great way to find these contests and giveaways is to go to Twitter.com, and do a search for hash tags for these giveaways. Do a search for #contest, #prizes, #giveaway, or similar searches and you'll find tens of contests to enter every week. Also, when looking at search results you'll also see other hash tags you can search to find giveaways.
You can also try doing a google search for similar keywords to find giveaways to enter, but by far the best way I've found is just doing the searches on twitter. Here are some of the things I've won in the past couple years by entering blog giveaways:
- Nice 18V Cordless Drill
- $100 Amex Gift Card
- 2 $50 Amazon Gift Card
- $50 Smarty Pig Gift Card
- 2 Books
- Kindle Fire (thanks to Elle @ CoupleMoney.com)
- Google Nexus 7 (thanks to Elle @ CoupleMoney.com as well!)
So as you can see right there I've won probably $700+ in products and goods in the past couple of years just by entering the occasional blog contest. Give it a shot!
Just Ask Companies For Free Promo Products Or Upgrades
Another way to get free stuff online is to just ask for it. A lot of companies, especially ones you're already using, will send you free swag if you just ask them for it. It usually helps if you have promoted their service, or talked about a good experience with them online somewhere. The best places to contact the companies that I've found are on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter has been especially successful for me.
Things I've gotten for free by asking:
- Media Temple: My old hosting service had seen me praise them on Twitter. They gave me 3 free t-shirts and swag packs over the years i was with them.
- Storm On Demand: My current host gave sent me a swag pack of a t-shirt, mug and other assorted swag to say thank you for my review.
- Lending Club: I have talked about Lending Club quite a bit on this site, and have mentioned how I think they're a good way to make a little extra money on the side. When I saw they were printing t-shirts, I asked for one on Twitter – and they sent one.
- Free Coffee Samples: I was looking for a coupon to buy some coffee and via a search I found the Facebook page of Folgers. Through that page I was able to get a free sample of one of their coffees.
- Free Cable Channels: I called my cable tv provider a while back and mentioned that I was considering leaving. To get me to stay they gave me HBO for free for 6 months. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
- Bank of America: When i complained to Bank of America's Twitter support team about a bad experience I had with phone support, they fixed it and sent me a $50 Amazon gift card. Read my story here.
Be A Blogger
As a blogger I'm constantly getting free things from book publishers and financial companies. The key here is to be in a topic area or niche that has the kinds of things you want to receive – and to have enough traffic to matter to some of the bigger companies.
As a personal finance blogger I get a lot of offers of free personal finance type books. When I was still newer to the blogging scene I was happy to take all of these books. At this point, however, I get so many offers that I can't accept them all – I just don't have the time to read that many books!
The finance niche also tends to get financial companies who want to promote their products, and will offer gift cards and prizes to the blogger and that site's readers to get people to write about something. Some that you've probably seen include giveaways of American Express gift cards, cash from certain financial sites as well as some that have given away prizes like Flip Video cameras.
Those are a few ways that you can find things for free online via contests and giveaways, as well as by just contacting the companies directly. In the end you're only limited by your creativity in finding these giveaways and promotions, and if you enter enough of them you're bound to win eventually like I have.
I know I'm only scratching the surface with this post. What other tips do you have for finding freebies online, and have you won any? Where do you find contests and giveaways? Tell us in the comments.