If you've read my blog for awhile, you'll know that I participate in a few programs to earn a bit of extra cash, most of which I use for guilt-free book buying. You're not going to get rich participating in these programs, and they do require an investment of your time, which is why I say the books are "nearly" free, because I value my time, and I assume you do too. The three websites below are in my opinion, the best sites to use to garner a bit of extra cash.
Swagbucks-Hands down the best way to make a bit of pocket cash on the internet-not only for how quickly you'll earn, but how little spam you'll run into. Install their toolbar, use it for searches (I win SB every day, the amount varies) and watch the swagbucks add up. You can also earn points daily for flicking through special offers, voting in the daily poll, and often they have quick videos to watch for a few extra swagbucks. If you're really into it, you can snag codes they post a few times a week, do surveys and complete special offers (a lot of them are free.) I've been a member for about 9 months and have redeemed $40 in Amazon gift cards, and have about another $40 in my account that I'm saving for some of the late summer/early fall book releases. When you join, you get 30 SB. A $5 Amazon gift card is 450 SB-so you can earn pretty quickly.
My Points-Similar to Swagbucks, but I primarily earn points through reading e-mails they send me. You'll want to get a spam e-mail if you sign up if you don't already have one. They usually send between 3-5 e-mails a day, and you earn 5 points each for looking at them. They also have a shop & earn points program, a toolbar you can install to get points for searching, and a daily spin & win game of chance which is fun (even if I often lose). I've been a Mypoints member for two and a half years and have earned approximately $250.
Synovate Global Opinion Panels- Most survey websites suck. They make you go through 20 questions and tell you "sorry, you don't qualify!" Sure, if you have a lot of time to kill, you can go through that, but Synovate won't waste your time. You're not going to get surveys as often as with some of the crappier panels who send the same e-mails to everyone, but you can earn quickly here. Even if you don't qualify for a survey, you usually earn 100 points for your account. You get so many points for signing up and can earn quickly if you respond to every survey link. Right now I have about $6 in my account, but I've only been participating for about three months.You can start redeeming rewards at $5.
Now for the part you've been waiting for: ARCs and galleys!
If you're a beginner book blogger, it can be hard to get your hands on those coveted ARCs. I know for some it can seem frustrating when it seems like some bloggers seem to get all the books-but have a bit of perspective. Most people had to blog for months if not years before garnering relationships with authors, publishing houses or publicists. This sort of thing doesn't happen over night, it takes time to get the sort of blog that will get you noticed. There's plenty of good advice out there for turning a good blog into a great one, but that's not the advice I'm dispensing here. Here are a few tips:
1. Join an ARC or book tour. There are several of them, just off the top of my head: Dark Faerie Tales, Around the World Tours, and TLC Book Tours. They all have varying rules, but the gist is you get an ARC to review on your blog before the book is released. There is a small investment involved in shipping the book off to the next person on the tour, but the cost is relatively minimal.
2. Enter a contest. Book bloggers are a very generous sort, and a lot pass on ARCs when they're done with them. Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century has a contest link-up every Thursday so make sure to check it out!
3. Lastly, there's a new service called Net Galley, which is pretty nifty if I do say so myself. It's an inexpensive way for publishers to get their galleys into the hands of reviewers. You register for free and request books you want to review. Not every publisher is taking part yet, but more are getting wise to the service all the time! I have to admit that I don't use Net Galley yet, but I'm planning on signing up soon. I don't have an e-reader of any sort (yet-maybe at Christmas?), and I just can't see myself reading a book while holding my laptop. Maybe I'm just too old fashioned. But regardless, Net Galley seems like it's a great way to link book bloggers and publishing houses even closer together!
Of course my local library is also invaluable in helping me get "free" books, but do you have any tips for getting nearly free or free books?