You know those people who say social media is a waste of time? They’re doing it wrong — and missing out on extra cash.
Tools like Twitter and Facebook offer lots of ways to make money, just by being creative and open to new ideas. I’ve won fabulous prizes and earned extra money simply by spending my social media time wisely.
If you want to go really crazy, try putting your talents to work as a social media wedding concierge, live-tweeting and Instagramming weddings. For those who just want to get their feet wet, here’s how to get started making extra money through social media.
Get Paid to Spend an Hour on Twitter
Tweet chats are a fun way to interact on Twitter while enjoying good conversation and earning a few prizes. Companies want to spread the word about their brands, and social media helps them build online buzz.
To join a tweet chat, simply log into Twitter and search through one of the many hashtag conversations happening. No matter the industry, you’ll find tons of conversations happening at any given time. Check out this Twitter chat schedule for a complete list of industry hashtags, days and times.
Tweet chats often include cash prizes, gift cards and other valuable items like clothing, software, or even jewelry. The prize depends on the industry and what kind of service or product the company is promoting.
Just by attending a Tweet chat for an hour, I’ve won over $200 worth of Amazon gift cards and several VISA gift cards. Chats and giveaways are especially popular around holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother’s Day.
Make Money by Tweeting
PaidPerTweet is a company that allows users to monetize social accounts by connecting advertisers with influencers on Twitter. Brands approach the company with a new product or promotion campaign, and PaidPerTweet reaches out to users who are interested in creating buzz. Basically, you set your price for tweeting out links to websites, promotions, press releases and other content aimed at helping companies gain exposure.
Depending on how often you accept an assignment, the sky’s the limit on what you can charge per tweet — and the more often you participate, the better paying assignments you’ll get.
An alternative service called Sponsored Tweets, which is no longer accepting applications, helped me earn $25 for a single tweet about Dove’s new beauty campaign. That’s pretty good for only a minute of time spent tweeting!
Win and Resell Prizes from Twitter Giveaways
Leverage your Twitter account to win freebies and resell them for extra cash. I’ve won everything from lotion gift sets, jeans, books and jewelry to makeup and other small items.
Start by searching the #giveaway hashtag and entering the contests that sound most appealing. You’ll find the most giveaway opportunities right before a big holiday. For reselling, I’ve had the most success using eBay and Etsy.
“Like” Facebook Fan Pages to Enter Contests
Just like Twitter, Facebook is perfect for entering giveaways and contests. On any given day there are companies hosting competitions and contests for fans of their pages.
The majority of the time all you have to do is “Like” a company’s fan page and fill in your information to enter the contest. Facebook makes this easy, since most of the time you can just click “Sign in with Facebook” and your information will be automatically populated.
Finding the kind of giveaways you want to enter takes a little bit of effort, since contests on Facebook aren’t heavily advertised. One of the best places to start is with the Wildfire Sweepstakes page. This app runs most of the Facebook giveaways, contests and coupons, and it gives a complete list of giveaways at any given time. Quickly scan contest by category, most popular or even ending time.
Another great place to find both Twitter and Facebook giveaways is the About.com Sweetstakes forum. Depending on what kind of prize you’re looking for, you could enter to win anything from cash, to cars, to other big prizes. In addition to contests, keep an eye out for coupons and other special discounts.
Launch a Blog Dedicated to Giveaways
Most brands or companies set aside a large portion of their marketing budget for freebies and giveaways. It’s kind of like a grocery store that gives away free samples: once a customer tries the product, the brand hopes they’ll come back for more.
Start your own website that deals exclusively in giveaways. Shannyn Allan of Frugal Beautiful launched Beautiful Giveaways last year with a team of four other bloggers. In the process, she learned how to reach out to brands that wanted to send her free items and pay her to give extras to her audience.
Starting your blog takes time and reaching out to big companies isn’t easy. But even if you start out small, you could quickly receive free clothing, household goods, books, beauty products and more to enjoy yourself or give away to your awesome readers. What could be better than that?
Your Turn: How have you turned social media into a money-maker? What ways have you used your Twitter, Facebook or other accounts to earn cash or win prizes?
Carrie Smith is a financial writer, solopreneur and founder of the blog Careful Cents. In May 2013 she quit her small business accounting job of 10 years to pursue full-time entrepreneurship and blogging. You can connect with her on Twitter @carefulcents.