In college, I was desperate for high-paying work.
I lived off campus to save money on housing. But between tuition and fees, books, food and other necessities, my part-time job was not cutting it.
I started looking for gigs that paid more than minimum wage and didn’t require a college degree. Then, I came across an ad to make a minimum of $25 per hour as a brand ambassador.
How? By simply pouring drinks.
Getting paid good money to pour alcoholic drinks in a cup sounds like a scam -- but thankfully, it wasn’t.
During my eight months as a brand ambassador, I easily made an extra $300 to $500 per month serving alcoholic samples on the weekends, with the potential to earn much more.
While I don’t do it anymore, I earned more than $4,000 to help pay for textbooks, rent and other expenses.
Have you seen people give out food samples in grocery stores? Alcohol demonstrators at the same stores likely do much less work and earn at least twice as much money.
Alcohol costs more and brands are willing to pay top dollar for in-store demonstrations and market research.
To get this type of job, you should be at least 21 years old and able to stand on your feet for extended periods of time. You don’t need to be a bartender, and there’s no specific training or certification.
I worked three shifts Friday through Sunday, and got to choose my location and workload. I made the choice to only accept jobs within a certain distance from my home, so I never had to travel more than 15 minutes away.
The company I worked for had contracts with hundreds of grocery and liquor stores all over my state. That meant I could pick up tons of local jobs.
Most of my shifts were about four hours long. They took place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 12-4 p.m. at grocery stores, and 4-8 p.m. or 5-9 p.m. at adult beverage stores.
I served everything from wine, flavored vodkas and liquor, to seasonal drinks (like pumpkin spice cream liqueur) and mixed drinks I prepared myself using basic recipes.
Having the freedom to pick up work when I wanted and choose where I wanted to work definitely made me reconsider my low paying part-time job. In fact, I often freed up my weekends to host alcohol tastings instead.
Here’s how to find jobs and start working.
You’ll have to weed through the illegitimate companies and scams to find legitimate jobs. One option is to run a search through an employment website like Simply Hired or Indeed.
You can also start by applying with one of these credible and trusted companies for a position as an adult beverage demonstrator or brand ambassador:
Some stores may offer you supplies, but, to be on the safe side, I always brought my own.
You’ll need a basic card or centerfold table to conduct tastings. I purchased a table from Walmart for about $20. You’ll also need:
Startup costs should only be around $40, if you’re mindful of your spending. You can earn back that investment after working your first tasting!
I purchased my tablecloth and a plastic bowl at a dollar store and borrowed a wine opener from a family member.
Once you get hired and obtain all your supplies, you’ll want to get to know your booking agent or manager.
If you’re hired to work in one specific store, you’ll most likely have a regional manager. If you’re an independent contractor who travels to different stores, you’ll have a booking agent who will regularly send you work opportunities.
It’s important to be professional, follow the rules and take initiative when you’re on the job.
Just like with traditional jobs, no one wants to hire or work with a slacker, and managers expect you to follow the rules.
I’ve had customers ask for extra samples on rare occasions, which is against the rules. But when I explained our policy and legal limit, they understood and went about their way.
Most of the time, I set up my display near the checkout counter in the liquor section, so a manager or supervisor was always nearby in case I had any issues. I never did, and it was a pretty safe gig.
This job isn’t only for students: It’s ideal for parents, retirees and professionals alike. I’ve come across a good mix of older and younger men and women doing in-store adult beverage demonstrations.
So be reliable and have a great attitude -- you’ll have a better experience and obtain more work.
Your Turn: Would you ever become an alcohol brand ambassador to earn extra money on the side?
Chonce Maddox is a personal finance freelance writer and a fun-loving mom in her mid-20s who’s obsessed with Disney movies, baked goods and earning extra money on the side. She chronicles her journey toward living a well-balanced frugal life and paying off all her debt on her blog, MyDebtEpiphany.com.