Work-at-home Saturday: Swagbucks

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Search & Win

As long as we’re doing work-at-home Saturday stuff, let’s talk about Swagbucks. Since we’re now at the end of the Christmas shopping craze for this year, it’s time to start thinking about next year (don’t hit me!). What I mean by this is: Let’s start thinking about using sites like Swagbucks to add to our holiday funds with minimal effort for the next year, so that next holiday season you have a bunch of free money sitting in your Amazon account to spend on gifts for your family.

Swagbucks, it is silly, and people get sucked too far into it and spend too much time hunting down the codes. But if you can avoid that nonsense and simply use it for everyday activities, and enter the free codes as they come to you, points can add up. (I often post these codes here or on the Mashup Mom Facebook page.) Think: If you only make $20 a month in Amazon gift certificates, which is a very reasonable goal, by the end of 2011 you’ll have $240 in your Amazon account — and that’s nothing to sneeze at, if they have the same excellent deals we saw this year. :)


  1. Sign up for Swagbucks here. Use code JoinIn2010 to start with 60 bonus Swagbucks instead of 30.
  2. Existing Swagbucks folks (or if you create an account today): There is also a 9-point Christmas Swagcode on their blog, good all day. If you’re newer to Swagbucks, you simply copy the code, then paste it into the “enter your swag code” box on their home page.


I do not use the Swagbucks toolbar, because I find it both intrusive and annoying. What you can do, though, is instead add their search plugin to the built-in search in your Firefox or Internet Explorer browser. Scroll down the page here under the toolbar download, and you can download a plugin.

What this does is add Swagbucks to the list of search engines in your built-in search at the right-hand side of the top of your screen. You can use Swagbucks to search for things you already know where they are, like, say, “mashup mom” — I use it to go to my own site and to other sites I commonly visit. In this case, I don’t have to worry about their craptactular search capabilities, because I already know where I’m going and can easily scroll through the junk sponsored results to get the one I want.

Now, if you want to do a real search, what you’ll want to do is switch your search engine back to Google. You can either just go to in your browser, or very quickly click the little arrow next to the Swagbucks logo in the search box in the upper right and pick Google from the list.

Use Google for your important searching, then you can switch back to Swagbucks when you’re done.

Why is Swagbucks search worse?

Well, they have to make their money some way, and one way they make money is by “sponsored” searches. Sponsored searches means someone paid Swagbucks to have their site show up in the top results when someone searches for given keywords, regardless of whether it’s actually relevant to that search. Let’s see, for instance, what happens when we search for “mashup mom.”

In Google, if you search for “mashup mom,” I’m the first result. (As well I should be — there’s only one me! lol) In Swagbucks, I’m the fourth result, and mixed in with other irrelevant sponsored results… Williams Sonoma, sexy mommy quiz, Polish pottery direct (?). If you’re searching for something simple like mashup mom, OK, that’s easy enough to weed through. If you’re searching for something important, like, let’s say, information on a medical condition, Swagbucks is not what you want to use.

Then why do you use it yourself?

I wouldn’t be talking about Swagbucks at all if I didn’t use it myself. I do use it, and keep it as my default search engine in that search bar in the upper right of my screen. But I use it almost exclusively to visit my everyday sites, rather than using it for real searches.

I continue to use Swagbucks because I do earn for my searches, and do like having money in my Amazon account. The trade-off is worth it to me, but I think it’s important to be aware of Swagbucks’ limitations and to realize that they’re not going to give you something for nothing; they’re making money off of this too!

Other stuff

If you have extra time, you can do “trusted surveys” and “no obligation special offers” on their site for additional Swagbucks. Be very careful of anything that asks you to download software or make a purchase in order to earn. Like anything else, you’ll make more Swagbucks the more time and effort you put into it — but like anything else, it’s important to be aware and to protect yourself online.

What is Swagbucks and how do I sign up?

If you want to sign up for Swagbucks, you can do so here. This is a referral link, so I will earn some points for the points you earn from your searches if you sign up under me.

Not familiar with Swagbucks? It’s a “search to win” site — you get random “swagbucks” for searching, which you can add up and redeem for gift cards and other prizes on their site. Most people redeem for gift certificates, since a $5 Amazon certificate runs you 450 Swagbucks.

Note that their search is NOT ANYWHERE NEAR as good as Google, no matter what they claim, because it only includes a few results from Ask and Google mixed in with sponsored (paid) links, so I use it mostly for things that I already know where they are — type in Mashup Mom, for instance, when you want to come here. You’ll see a lot of people very uncritically promoting Swagbucks with lots !!! of exclamations!!! Why is this?

The very best way to make money on Swagbucks is through other people.

If people sign up under your referral link (either when you email friends or post that link on, say, a blog), you earn matching Swagbucks for those they earn from their searches, up to 1000 Swagbucks. Even though I post seldom about Swagbucks, and post warnings whenever I do, I still earn more from referral searches than from my own. Now, think how well some sites can do by pushing it uncritically and often.

Whenever you see someone pushing Swagbucks or anything else online, stop and think: What’s their motive? That’s not to say that Swagbucks is inherently bad (again, I do use it myself), but it’s important to be aware and to take anything you read online — here or anywhere else :) — with a grain of salt. Use it, but use it in the right way, and know that most non-blogger people earn between $10-$20 a month for light everyday searching, not hundreds of dollars a month.

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  1. Liz says

    The JoinIn2010 didn’t work for the 60pt credit, I cut and pasted it and I know it’s case sensitive. Just a heads up.

  2. Cindy says

    Don’t forget the new coupon feature that earns you 10 swagbucks for every coupon redeemed. I think they are the same ones as because you cannot print 2 from each. I really hope this works since I have already redeemed several coupons.

  3. Liz says

    Rachel, you said, “I do not use the Swagbucks toolbar, because I find it both intrusive and annoying.”

    So far I’ve been getting a swagbuck a day by using the tool bar. So you are missing out on some easy points.

    Note that the point is added to my account simply by opening my browser, so you could attach it to the browser you don’t use and just open that daily.

  4. TECH_GURU says

    @Liz Any toolbars (like AVG or Swagbucks ) make your computer insecure (TOOLBARS = A UNSECURE HOLE IN COMPUTER SECURITY)

    SWAGBUCKS In toolbars have direct link and u can use that rather than some toolbar for penney a day

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