Are “Freebie” Sites Really Free?
You’ve probably come across a website with a banner ad that says “Get a free iPod”; or even one that talks as soon as you open a website. Have you taken a look at that, or did you just ignore it because we all know nothing in life is “free” and there has to be a catch?
I decided to look into these freebie-type sites to see what they’re all about. Turns out, it’s a whole world, with thousands of people participating, trading, and selling “offers”.
Here’s the basics of it:
- You sign up for a site that is going to give away a product or money that you want to “earn”.
- You complete “offers” from site sponsors, usually a trial that costs $1 to $3- you gain access to a site, get information in the mail, etc. Completing the offer gives you “credit” on the site you just signed up for.
- Once you’ve completed enough offers to earn the number of credits you need (often you just need 1 credit), you can refer other people to your site (like an affiliate site).
- As people you refer complete the site “offers”, you earn referral credits.
- Many sites give you a prize, reward, cheap promotional items, or a payment after just 1 referral; the more referrals you send to the site the more you can earn or the prize will have a higher value.
So what’s the catch? The offers that you complete are not exactly “free”, so you do end up paying something to get the “free” item advertised. Usually it’s a couple dollars though, in exchange for a more expensive item (like an ipod, laptop computer, xbox 360, cash sent to your paypal account). Still a good deal when you consider the amount you pay for the trials of the programs and the price of the item or cash that you can earn.
However, the biggest part of these programs is you have to remember to CANCEL the trial memberships, or you will end up getting a monthly bill. Basically, you are completing offers for membership type programs, so you have to keep very careful records of how many days you get it for the trial price, and how to cancel before you get charged.
I experimented with these programs for about two weeks. I joined a forum where people post “Trades” (you do offers on one of their sites and they’ll complete offers on one of your sites); or “Payments”. Some people will pay you money or give you promotional items to complete offers on their site. So I tried both! I completed 1 credit of offers on a website for one woman, who then paid me $24. It cost me $3.95 to complete the trial offers through the site, so I ended up profiting $20.05. It took me about 20 minutes to do the offers, and another 10 minutes or so to email or call to cancel the offers a couple days later to be sure I didn’t get charged.
When I traded, I completed a few offers on someone elses site, which cost me $4.95 and 30 minutes of my time. He then completed an offer on a site that earned me $60 for one referral. After my expenses, I earned $55.05 for about 40 minutes time (counting the time spent to cancel the programs I joined to get the credits).
There is money to be made here, but it’s a little confusing, and you can lose money if you’re not able to keep close track of what offers you need to cancel and by what date. Also, pop up blockers and not accepting cookies when you are using the internet can effect the crediting of the offers- so I actually had to delete cookies before I started, and turn off my pop up blocker when completing offers. Not a big deal, but just another detail that can turn people off of these programs. I only suggest it for people who are detail oriented and are willing to experiment to get money or imprinted promotional items.