Working as a freelancer has a bevy of benefits: you make your own hours, can work out of a home office, and get some pretty awesome tax write-offs.
The smart independent contractor knows, however, how to put the “free” in “freelancer,” by signing up for companies that offer products to test and occasionally compensation for extra cash. This can be a great way to spend your downtime between jobs.
It can be difficult to know where to find these companies, but never fear – we have compiled a list of the best companies to grab up some free stuff from below:
Pinch Me is an awesome company that gathers consumer feedback for major companies. And this is where you come in as the consumer.
How It Works: Create an account on Pinch Me. Then, create your profile. You'll be asked questions about your shopping habits. Fill all of this information out as completely as you can.
Next, see what samples are available and select the ones you'd like. They send out boxes of samples monthly.
Finally, you'll need to provide feedback on all the samples you've received after trying them.
How You Get Paid: You don't. Pinch Me considers your freebies the payment. But, I've signed up for this site and found it to be worth while.
The website calls itself a “community of over 2 million social savvy shoppers” that are trendsetters, product reviewers, and have a fairly large social media following.
How It Works: “Influencers” sign up on the website to test products, create lists, and write reviews. In exchange, these social-savvy folks will receive free items, ranging from coupons for high-end food, to beauty products, to movie tickets. The more active you are, the more freebies you can receive.
How You Get Paid: Influenster has a list of open positions on their Careers page, the majority of which appear to be located in their NYC headquarters, though some of the current positions, like the Campus Brand Ambassador and Sales Planner, seem to not necessarily be in-office.
It also may be worthwhile to send a discovery email, if you’re a freelance writer – you never know what company will need to have their website content updated.
McCormick Consumer Testing
This company specializes in spices, and chances are, you have a few of their flavors in your cabinets at home.
How It Works: Sign up to be a McCormick “panelist,” and become a taste-tester at one of their offices – so, at the very least, you’re getting a free snack!
How You Get Paid: Panelists are compensated in ranges from $30 – $100. If you want to test at home, compensation can be anywhere from $10 – $15.
This website is noted as one of the better ones when it comes to getting paid to do product research. The brand is pretty exclusive, so consider it a compliment if you get invited to join!
How You Get Paid: Participants get paid $3 per survey, which is pretty good for an online paid survey-taker. Usually the product testing opportunities also offer compensation.
One of the benefits of iSay is, like some of the others listed, that it offers both online surveys and product testing.
How It Works: Join online to start reviewing products and taking surveys.
How You Get Paid: iSay offers multiple ways to make money online, and offers a redeemable reward points programs
This website essentially just wants to pay you to read advertiser’s emails, sign up for offers, play games, watch videos, etc. In one of their videos, they call it “cash for having fun!”
How It Works: Sign up for Inbox Dollars – it’s free to join, and you get a $5 credit just for signing up.
How You Get Paid: After making probably the easiest $5 you have ever made in your life, complete your profile, start taking surveys, and watch videos – you’ll see cash being added to your “bank.”
If you log in a few times per week, you should see approximately $30 at the end of the month. As you take more surveys, you’ll find that you can also receive free products, though taking the surveys is a bit time-consuming.
Bonus: Google Fashion + Beauty Start-ups!
Our last suggestion deviates a bit from the norm, but the creative freelancer knows that that is the best way to stand out from the crowd and get lasting work!
Try Googling “fashion start-up” or “beauty start-up” in a major metropolitan area, like Los Angeles or New York – AngelList is always a great resource.
Then, begin cold-emailing; offer your services, whether it’s website design, writing web content or product descriptions, or photography.
Tell the owner that you’re happy to cut them a deal on your rates in exchange for product.
Be creative, and judge what content would be most valuable for this entrepreneur (and for you!) – sent them your portfolio that is hopefully chock-full of clients that are similar to their brand and what they do. Then, sit back and reap the rewards!