Type: eCommerce, Internet, Online
The internet provides a plethora of ways to earn money online, from taking interminably long surveys to getting paid to surf the web to selling your 80s prom dress on eBay or Craigslist (hey, it's vintage!).
One of the more popular options is Swagbucks.com, a website that rewards members for searching the web, shopping, taking part in daily polls, recruiting new members, and more.
Members receive "Swagbucks" which can be accumulated and eventually turned in for prizes and gift cards - kind of like an online version of Chuck E. Cheese.
The site is especially popular with stay-at-home moms looking for ways to make a little extra money.
This writer happens to fall into the aforementioned demographic, and after a friend sang Swagbucks' praises, she signed right up, dollar signs gleaming in her eyes.
Here's how it works: to start earning your swag, simply create an account online, install the Swagbucks toolbar, and begin participating. I received 30 Swagbucks just for signing up!
Since I do a lot of research online, I opted to rely mainly on the toolbar for earning Swagbucks. A ledger helped me track when and how many Swagbucks I'd earned. I didn't have much of a problem tracking the 1 Swagbuck I earned daily.
The toolbar gathers search results from Ask and Google, and was eventually the reason I gave up on my dream of amassing large quantities of Target gift cards. I deferred to Google too often, and the extra toolbar was slowing down my computer.
Other point-earning options are more lucrative: if you're already spending hours playing addictively silly games your iPhone, you might as well find a fun game on Swagbucks and feel like you're accomplishing something, like getting paid.
Members earn the most points when they actually spend actual money. Opting in on special offers (think coupons and Groupons), shopping through the Swagbucks portal, trading in your old stuff (cell phone, video games, etc.), and referring friends all earns the big bucks, er, the Swagbucks.
How much, exactly, is a Swagbuck worth? It depends on where you're going to spend it.
A $5 gift card for Paypal - i.e. real cash - costs 700 Swagbucks. 2350 Swagbucks, however, can get you a $20 Target gift card. For most gift cards, 1 Swagbuck is worth between $0.05 and $0.09.
Joining Swagbucks is kind of like joining a frequent flyer program. Swagbucks works best for people who have very large online platforms. These are the frequent flyers. For instance, a person with a popular blog that has garnered loyal followers can utilize that blog to earn Swagbucks. Once they have a system set in place, they won't have to do much work; the work was initially done when they established a large and credible online presence. These are the world travelers, the ones whose job carries them around the globe (which no doubt nets them more airmiles than swagbucks).
For the rest of us, time is money, and deciding whether or not being successful on Swagbucks is worth the time it takes to do so is a matter of opinion.
For those interested in trying Swagbucks, there are plenty of online Swagbucks enthusiasts who share information that will help you get more bang for your buck.
One blogger bragged about all the swag she had accumulated within a 6 month period: an Xbox game, a t-shirt, a $5 Starbucks gift card, and $240 in gift cards. All of this came to total value of $290.00. Of course, she could have worked one 7.5 hour shift once a month at minimum wage and earned 450 "realbucks," but she wouldn't have done it watching segments of 30 Minutes Meals on her home computer. And it's no coincidence that learning to make meals in just 30 minutes provides her with more time to spend online... earning Swagbucks.
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