Some of you reading this may remember a time when TV, radio and print media (mainly newspapers, but also stuff like billboards) were the only way businesses could advertise and compete for the public’s business. Instead of arising in a flash, popular brands took years to build. Word of mouth recommendations, from people you trusted, was worth gold, and no such thing as social media influencers existed. Most importantly – from the point of view of those reading this article, anyway – there was no real way of making money with coupons. If you wanted to save some cash, you could use a pair of scissors, but sharing discounts with others would not put dollars and cents in your pocket.
Table of Contents
- 1 Rise of the Promo Code
- 2 Is It Possible to Make Money by Sharing Coupons?
- 3 How Making Money with Coupons Works
- 4 Advanced Coupon Hunting: Where to Find Discounts You can Share
- 5 Where to Share Coupons
- 6 Making Money with Coupons Shared on Your Own Website
- 7 How Does Making Money with Coupons Compare to Other Side Hustles?
Rise of the Promo Code
Then, of course, the internet happened. The traditional ways of doing business became much less relevant; companies that failed to adapt simply failed. The first major (and in fact ongoing) change was in how businesses could advertise to consumers – it’s really hard to avoid ads these days, and they’re becoming ever more relevant to your specific interest, location, and lifestyle. Moreover, with online shopping, acting on them requires no more than a couple of mouse clicks.
With potential customers being blasted by so many commercial messages, advertisers have to get creative if they want to stand out in a crowded room. One strategy involves the clever use of social media to promote their brands. Another is to offer discounts online, often either in the form of coupons that can be printed out at home or a code consisting of letters and numbers. This has been shown to be effective at drawing in customers, with the additional advantage of measuring exactly which online marketing campaigns are most effective.
Right, so much for the background, let’s see how all this translates into a money-making opportunity you can pursue as a side hustle or source of passive income. You don’t need any special skills and only a small investment, plus you can get started today.
Is It Possible to Make Money by Sharing Coupons?
Like we mentioned before, coupons used to show up about once a week in your local newspaper. If they didn’t apply to products you were interested in, you were simply out of luck, and you had to buy another copy if you wanted additional savings.
Due to stiff competition among advertisers, we’re in a very different era now. Whatever you’re planning to buy, you can almost certainly find a discount on it with only a couple of minutes’ mild effort. You’d think that, with so many chances to save money available, people would all go: “Whoo-hoo! Free money! Gimme gimme gimme!”
As it turns out, this isn’t what happens, at least not for many people who could otherwise save plenty through smart couponing. Many simply don’t want to take the time to search for coupons, some don’t even know how to use them. A few individuals, however, have a nose for finding the best discounts and are willing to do the legwork on others’ behalf. If you’re one of the latter, you can turn these attributes into an online business making money with coupons.
How Making Money with Coupons Works
The way this kind of business operates is by connecting bargain-hungry consumers with businesses eager to sell to them. Your service to the consumer, obviously, resides in providing them with the kind of savings they’re interested in. Various companies, for their part, enjoy cooperating with people willing to work at making money with coupons: they’ll pay you a percentage of all sales made using promo codes distributed by you.
So, that’s the foundation of this business model. In order to be successful, however, you also need to understand the concept of competitive advantage. How, in other words, are you going to make people get their coupons through you rather than one of their many other options, including simply looking for discounts themselves?
There are many possible approaches to solving this problem, but the first step is generally to build an audience. There are plenty of couponing websites that aim to provide the largest possible variety of discounts – there is practically no chance that you’ll be able to compete with these go-to resources. On the other hand, there are numerous market niches that lend themselves to making money with coupons. If you make a special effort to appeal to dog lovers, for instance, who know how expensive it can be to keep a pet fed and healthy, you can focus on serving these needs.
In addition, you should spend a significant amount of time on finding the very best offers. You will want those that pay the highest commissions, but more importantly those that will seem like good deals to your chosen audience. If you are diligent in searching these out consistently, there’s a good chance that you’ll develop a loyal following over time. It’s also important to get rid of offers that are no longer available in order not to waste people’s time, and explain how each promo code works clearly and without it sounding like a sales pitch.
Good research will often set your efforts at making money with coupons apart from the rest. Some of the terms and conditions can be enough to give a philosophy professor a headache, especially if you “stack” (i.e. combine) several different coupons and promotions. For example, it could be that you’re able to save $10 at some restaurant on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with a certain code, but only if your total order comes to more than $30, you have a child under 13 with you, and you arrive before 11 a.m. Plus, this will only work until December 12th. Few people are willing to go to the trouble of figuring out all of that; by helping them find these kinds of deals, you’re providing a valuable service that’s sure to be appreciated.
The first step towards making money with coupons is obviously getting your hands on some, especially those that will appeal to your chosen niche market. Let’s say it again: specialization is key here. Generally, your goal will be to build an audience that shares some specific, monetizable interest, not pad your coupon portfolio with whatever discounts you happen to stumble across. If people come to rely on you to help them save money on video games, for example, showing them a promo code for kitchenware will only confuse and annoy them.
A simple Google search should already yield an impressive number of discounts. In addition, you will want to review the following websites regularly (or join their mailing lists) to see if you’d like to share any of the coupons they offer:
Many people do this routinely every time they go shopping; it doesn’t take much time and is a great way to make a dollar go further. If you want to start making money with coupons, however, using these resources is not enough by itself. By the time a promo code shows up on one of these websites, you can consider it to be common knowledge. You can’t become a valued, trusted source for discounts if you’re only sharing coupons that people can get anywhere. Here are some other places to look:
- Follow your favorite brands on social media. Their Twitter and Facebook accounts are where promo codes are often made available first.
- Check manufacturer websites every now and again. It’s a good idea to look beyond the name you see on the box, too; Unilever, for instance, owns dozens of individual brands.
- Many companies offer special discounts to seniors, students, members of the military, and various other groups. These can often be stacked (combined) with promo codes and coupons but, strangely, they aren’t always advertised. Emailing a few companies asking what savings are available may bear fruit.
As you start out searching for promo codes you can share, you’ll soon realize that there is a real art to finding the most lucrative ones. As it happens, this can even become a full-time, salaried job: unions and similar organizations sometimes employ professional coupon hunters to point out opportunities for savings to their members.
Finding an especially large discount on a well-known brand can therefore be hugely rewarding. Where do you go once you have them, though?
The easiest way to make money with discount codes is to share these on one of the many existing websites that serve bargain-hunters. CouponChief.com, for instance, only requires you to create an account and submit any promotions you happen to come across. Subject to certain limitations (such as that the coupon needs to be valid and unique, i.e. you must be the first one to post it), they’ll pay you 2% of the value of any resulting sales. Payouts are limited to $25 from each participating store, though, meaning that this is not the most lucrative side hustle out there but certainly an easy way to earn some extra cash.
Note that numerous other couponing websites also encourage you to share the promo codes you come across, but this is seen as doing the community a favor and generally doesn’t result in a reward for the coupon hunter. If you’re serious about making money with coupons, you’ll have to develop your own channel for sharing them.
Building a website that actually turns a decent profit is not that easy, but getting one up and running is much simpler than you probably think. Thanks to tools like WordPress, you can create some pretty snazzy-looking pages without knowing the first thing about coding. Registering a domain name and hosting costs under a hundred dollars a year, so as long as you have some free time to spend on this project, you’re not gambling much.
Why would you want to create a website to share discount codes? Well, there aren’t many better ways of making money with coupons. Here’s why:
- Offering coupons on your website can easily be combined with other sources of revenue, such as selling advertising space and becoming an affiliate marketer.
- If people start to make a habit of visiting your website, your income will be larger and more consistent.
- You can make use of tools such as a mailing list and push notifications to connect with customers.
- In time, if your website becomes popular, you can negotiate exclusive deals with retailers and receive promo codes associated only with your business that kick back a portion of all sales to you.
Running and – especially – promoting a website is very hard work, though. You may need to pay to advertise it, write plenty of high-quality content (like blog articles related to your chosen niche), create Youtube videos and social media accounts to drive traffic to your site, as well as learn the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization, or how search engines decide which websites to show). You can tackle most of this gradually, though, and it may just pay off handsomely if you’re lucky and persistent. Apart from coupons you dig up or create yourself, you can use the following resources to get started and maintain an up-to-date catalog of coupons:
How Does Making Money with Coupons Compare to Other Side Hustles?
In theory, sharing coupons should be a great part-time business: easy to do, cheap and simple to set up, and with the potential to earn cash even while you’re sleeping. In practice, though, you’ll be facing a lot of competition. There are some success stories, but most people’s efforts fizzle out before long.
The solution to this, assuming that you plan to do this through a website or social media page, is to narrow your focus as much as possible. A ton of people are going to be searching for something like “gardening discounts”; unfortunately, there is also a plethora of couponing resources for them to choose from. However, you may still be able to get a few visitors by defining your niche as something like “promo codes for specialized aquaponics systems” or something even more specific.
Another approach is to cater to a hyper-local niche. You could, for instance, target only shoppers in your county and approach local, independent businesses about offering exclusive coupons through your website or channel. Even if you do everything right, though, there’s no guarantee that the cash will simply come rolling in; you will most likely still earn part or most of your revenue from affiliate sales and advertising. That having been said, anyone who is already an avid couponer may as well take the next step: making money with coupons doesn’t need to take up much of your time and you’ll be providing a valuable service to other shoppers.