Now, with that said, there are also a lot of legit places that you can get products or items in exchange for something that takes little effort or that you'd likely do anyways. Many companies look for people to review their products to gain more publicity and in exchange they will provide you with free samples (some tiny and not worth your time and others full-sized).
I've wasted way too much time finding out which of these many websites just want me to waste my time, and which ones actually end up with you getting good stuff. So, here's a list of a few sites that I think are worth your time if you're willing to review the product for them afterward or annoy a couple of your friends by posting about it on social media.
None of the sites I've listed require you to pay anything. I highly recommend avoiding any site that does.
Influenster is the mack-daddy of sample sites. It takes a bit of time and effort for you to get a box full of goodies (which they refer to as a 'Voxbox'.... and I have no idea why) but when you do get something, it is usually really, really good. The $120 Keurig I got for free (reviewed in my last post) came from Influenster. I have also received full-sized samples of Degree Dry-Spray deodorant from them which I will be reviewing in the near future.
If you want to score some seriously awesome stuff that you might fork out the money for otherwise, this is the site to sign up for. However, like I said, be prepared to exercise your typing fingers and occasionally post obnoxious stuff on your Facebook/instagram/twitter feeds. That's the cost of getting 'free products'.
In order to 'qualify' for voxboxes filled with different goodies, you need to be pretty active on their website reviewing products that you've tried and also have a widespread 'social impact' (aka. have a lot of followers on social media). They are a social review platform so you can basically review consumer products in any category from cosmetics to underwear. The more you review in a different category, the more likely you will be to qualify to get a Voxbox that contains items of that type. You earn 'badges' along the way while you review that essentially tally up what you've spent your time reviewing and using so you are considered something of an expert in that area. Obviously a company that provides eye shadow wants someone to review their product who actually uses eye shadow. For that reason, Influenster tends to be aimed a bit more at women. They have a strong focus on cosmetics which obviously leaves many men out in the wilderness. With that said, however, there are plenty of things that could make men qualify for different items. It's worth a shot if you waste a lot of your spare time online. I review a lot on websites anyways so the effort wasn't really an inconvenience.
Here's a link to sign up: www.influenster.com/r/1174342
In my opinion, the 2nd best website for getting samples and free products is Smiley360. Like Influenster, you don't get stuff as frequently as some of the other sites, but when you do, you get large, full-sized quality products. I've received anything from large bottles of juice to family sized laundry detergent bottles. A lot of the products are new to market or yet to be release but are almost always from big brands like Tide, Kelloggs, etc.
The best thing about Smiley360 is that you don't really need to do a whole lot in order to qualify for products and even less after you get them. Usually a review or single post to Facebook is all that's required. It's a pretty big win for so little effort.
You can sign up here: http://h5.sml360.com/-/zsyl
BzzAgent is probably one of the easiest of these sites as far as effort is concerned. You're ability to get products is based similar to the other's on your online social presence and responses to a surveys they send you on their website trying to match you with products that fit your profile and lifestyle. It is very similar to Smiley360 and you get high quality full-sized products with minimal effort. Likewise, it is rare that you qualify for new stuff so you might be waiting a while before your turn comes. When it does though, you'll be happy with what you get.
Sign up here: https://www.bzzagent.com
My least favorite of the major legit sample sites is PinchMe, mostly because the products are so small and the effort disproportionately large that you're almost wasting your time unless you have a bunch to spare. Once a month PinchMe has a 'sample Tuesday' where you may or may not be offered samples to try based on your demographics and some survey questions you filled out when you signed up. Although the tasks and questions that you are required to fill out after you've tried a product are the easiest to do of any of these sites, you have to ask yourself whether you really want to spend 10 minutes for 2 free Advil.
I've heard other people rave about their experience with PinchMe so perhaps I just don't fill the demographics for a better selection of products but it is rare that I actually receive anything worthwhile. Many times you may only receive a coupon for part of the cost of a product and still be required to fill out feedback.
You can sign up here if this seems like something worthwhile: https://www.pinchme.com/signup?referral_code=77kcy
If you haven't already guessed, I am an avid reader! I'm one of those book nerds who would often rather lay down with a book than watch TV or play a game. Yuck, right? Well, the only thing better than a good book is a FREE good book. Unlike the product sample sites I listed above, with all of these places I get free books, the ONLY thing you need to do is review the book on the respective site (and many of them claim that you don't even necessarily do that... but I suspect that your likelihood of getting future books somewhat depends on how much you review). You don't have to worry at all with these books sites I'm listing below about having to annoy your friend on social media. None of that is required... although if you are as big of a book nerd as I am, you probably already annoy your friends.
There are lots of websites that offer free ebooks and some are scams while others are not. Even most of those that aren't click-bait only give you access to books that are public domain or not worth reading. But all of these sites I'm listing offer access to new, popular (often eventual or recent bestsellers) copies of books. Joining these sites is a no-brainer in my opinion. I haven't paid for a book in years and have read most of the books that have made it on all the big bestseller lists (and many more which should have), often long before they were actually released. My bookshelf is sagging with galley copies of anything from Red Rising to The Girl on the Train.
The king of all book websites! Goodreads was recently purchased by Amazon.com but for years has offered giveaways of new, unused books from all types of publishers. At any one time there are thousands of books listed for giveaway and they set it up kind of like a contest. You essentially click the button to request a book and you are entered to win. You can enter as many as you want and new offerings are added on a daily basis.
Goodreads keeps their selection process fairly secretive so I'm not exactly sure how you become a recipient of new books but all I know is that over the last 4 or 5 years of entering giveaways, I have been sent probably in the neighborhood of 150 or so books from publishers (at their expense). No one harasses me or expects anything of me other than possibly a review when I'm done if I am so inclined (I always review them once I read them because I feel it is only fair to the author... but I am ALWAYS honest).
The books you can enter giveaways for are of every possible genre and from pretty much every publisher on the market. The majority of the books are galley copies (pre-release copies with minor editing errors) but ocassionally a publisher will offer up a copy of a recent bestseller from an author who has a new book on the horizon to spark interest.
I expect the reason that I receive so many books is that I also review a ton of books and generally make my reviews pretty thorough. I not totally confident that's true but I'd assume that you need to be somewhat active in reviewing to get books. Also of note is that only one person from a given shipping address can enter contests (so my wife has to rely on me if she wants to enter for a book)
All that you need to do to start entering giveaways is to have a Goodreads.com account (any human being should have one anyways) and go to the area of the site that says 'giveaways.'
If you have a Kindle and prefer ebooks, Netgalley is what you are looking for. It is very similar in concept to the way Goodreads giveaways function but unlike Goodreads, there is no other functionality to the site other than requesting and receiving book copies. All books on this site are delivered as Kindle books which are sent to you via your Kindle email address or through Adobe Digital Editions (not a huge fan of the ADE method). Copies sent to your Kindle are yours to keep permanently in your Kindle library whereas those you read in ADE you only get to keep for the period of time allotted by the publisher. For most books, both options are available.
Unlike Goodreads, Netgalley ONLY offers galley copies of ebooks (no recent bestsellers). However, the selection is incredibly good and many of these books achieve a place on the bestseller lists when eventually released. One of the biggest benefits of Netgalley is that approval for a book is much easier than winning a giveaway on GR. About 50% of the books I request I get approved for. I have so many books on my Kindle that I could read consistently for the rest of my life and not have read them all. This site has made me a hoarder of books.
You are much more likely to receive books if you have an active blog or other place you review books. It was built for professional reviewers but can be utilized by any of us normal folks too. I highly recommend signing up.
LibraryThing is a bit of an oddball for me. Probably the one that's been around the longest, it is also the most obscure, confusing and poorly designed. It is very similar to Goodreads in concept - it's also a book lover's social media site. The way you get books from this site is by requesting them from a list that is published once a month on the 'Early Reviewers' section of the site. All copies are for galley's of soon-to-be-released books, some in ebook format, some in physical hard copy, and some in audio format. The list doesn't change throughout the month so it's kind of a one-and-done deal each month. The list of offerings is much smaller than the other sites but they are all generally from popular authors and books that have been getting publicity.
I have only won a few books through LibraryThing but in all honesty I'm also not very active there as I find the website confusing. Unlike Goodreads, they have a paid account in addition to their free book management account so I found it unfortunate that I could only add up to 100 books on my shelf (my Goodreads shelf holds as much as I want and I currently have about 1500 books on it).
Other ways to get free stuff online:
Bing Rewards - If you are one of the confused souls who use Microsoft Bing rather than Chrome, than this is gold. You get points for searching from your computer and mobile devices and doing other stuff like completing trivia, etc. I suppose you are giving away your search history for free... but lets be honest, aren't we all anyways? You can turn those points into gift cards or contest entries. No quickly but eventually it adds up.
Google Screenwise Panel - similar to Bing Rewards, Google essentially pays you to track your every move from every device you own. This sounded to me like a scary big brother scenario from dystopian fiction so I have avoided it. Others swear by it and apparently get paid decently for little effort other than the sale of their soul.
There you have it folks. Here's a list of stuff I am familiar with and, for the most part, have tried and found to be a good source of "free" stuff. If you want to try your hand at getting goodies, don't blame me if you get sucked in!