About me

Hi, I have been working from home as a freelance translator for a few years now and have built up my business from scratch.

In between projects and during my spare time, I top up my income by partaking in activities including matched betting, selling products on eBay and doing the odd prolific academic survey.

On this site, I am sharing my experiences of this and also sharing some other tips on how to make some extra money online. I also enjoy testing free products (who doesn’t?) so have dedicated a section of this website to product testing here.

Please do get in contact with me at jo@daftgiraffe.co.uk if you have any questions or even suggestions for me.

Thanks for visiting.



Amazon Vine Product Review Panel

Do Amazon have a review panel?

Yes, it’s name is ‘Amazon Vine’ and whilst I am not yet a member of it, I have been writing product reviews on their site for the last few years and have now reached a ranking below 10.000 – this might not sound very impressive, but most users start off with a ranking in the millions.

How do I join Amazon Vine?

It is invite only. The only way to get invited into Amazon Vine is to write quality reviews, climb the rankings and wait for an invite. In order to climb these rankings, the aim of the game is to attain as many helpful votes as possible and the key to getting these ’helpful’ votes is to write clear, detailed reviews that assist the consumer in making an informed choice as to whether the product is suitable for their needs or not.

So, the idea is to write a review that describes the product based on your experience with it. For example, if you have bought a photo album and after slotting in a few photos the pages start falling out, state that in your review, rather than just writing ‘rubbish product’. This might seem obvious, but time and time again, I see reviews that state ‘worked for me’ or ‘arrived 2 days late’. Whilst this information might be true, it is not helpful for a potential customer making a purchasing decision.

Another tip is to include photos in your review. Sometimes the colours in the stock photos can be a bit off or the seller has been a bit sneaky and made the product look a lot better than it actually is, so it can be very helpful to post a picture of what the product really looks like.

Anything else that I need to know?

You may have heard that there are companies that offer free or heavily discounted products in return for reviews, but these are best avoided as Amazon really don’t like this practice and if you are caught, they will wipe every single one of your reviews and you will need to start off all over again. The problem with these companies is that they expect a 5 star review which states that their products are wonderful, which is not always a genuine description! They also resort to some underhand tactics and ask reviewers to buy the products on Amazon and then refund via PayPal so that the review appears on the site as a ‘verified purchase’.

In much the same vein, there was an infamous incident a few years ago where Amazon clamped down on the so-called ‘author circles’. These (mostly) self-published authors were writing overly gushing reviews on each other’s books as well as marking each other’s reviews as ‘helpful’ in order to increase their rankings on the site and therefore their sales. One day these ‘authors’ woke up to find all their reviews deleted.

Any product in the Amazon catalogue can be reviewed  – even if you have not purchased it from their website, however it is known that reviewing Amazon ‘verified purchases’ carry much more weight in terms of reaching a higher ranking.

Why not give it a try when you have a spare moment? Also, if you are interested in writing reviews in exchange for free products – check out my overview of a few different product testing companies here.


Boots Review Panel

Do Boots have a Review Panel?

Yes. I have been a member of the Boots Review panel for 6 years and enjoy being a part of it. Over the years, they have posted me a wonderful array of products to test ranging from L’Oréal mascara to a lovely bottle of Mon Guerlain perfume.

Boots Review Panel

What does product testing for Boots involve?

When Boots send out a product, you must read the enclosed instructions and test it accordingly. Then it is time to leave a product review on their website. This needs to be done within 28 days of receiving the product which allows you ample time to test it diligently.

How will I know when products are available to test?

If there is a product available to test which fits your profile, you will receive an email advising you that they are going to send out a product and give you the option of opting out if you think it is unsuitable. Boots also give you a time frame of when to expect it in the post.

Any tips?

There is no minimum word count required for the reviews. Having said this , the more detailed and informative they are – the better. This is because online users are able to vote whether the review was helpful or not. Whilst a lot of ‘yes’ votes won’t hurt and will probably net you more products to test,  any ‘no’ votes can be detrimental to your account.

I believe this to be the case because in my early days of testing for the Boots review panel, I wrote a review for a shampoo in haste. Reading it back now, it is plain to see that it was not detailed enough. This resulted in two ‘no’ votes and I did not receive any products for months afterwards. This worried me a bit, so was quite surprised when Boots eventually sent me another product to test.

Is it worth it?

Definitely! You will get to try out a wide variety of products for free. Some of them are from the lower end of the market, but many of them are luxury products. Most of the product tests consist of a single item, but they do send out bundles too – sometimes in the form of a beautifully packaged beauty box.

How do I join?

It is easy to join the Boots Review Panel. Simply fill out this form and they will contact you if you are successful. Please note that they are not always looking for new panelists. However, they do open registration up every once in a while so it is worth bookmarking the page and checking it periodically.

Boots also have a volunteer testing panel which offers their own branded products to be tested at home or at their site in Nottingham. This is briefly covered here in my overview of product testing companies.


Instant Win Competitions

Recently, I have taken up entering competitions again, having been inspired by people showing off their wins on Twitter and Instagram. As well as the main giveaways that are listed on sites such as Money Saving Expert, I also really enjoy doing instant win competitions. When I started doing these, I set up a folder on my Firefox browser to include all of the following websites bookmarked onto the necessary page. Each morning I fire up the laptop and click on ‘open all tabs’ whilst making my coffee. Then it is a matter of checking for a win and then closing the windows.

Most of these websites involve registering for an account and then setting yourself up for winning a prize by picking a set of numbers or entering your date of birth, postcode or street name. The requirements are different for each site and the prizes are quite varied – some of them are as low as a bag of Haribo whilst on other sites you can win up to £1000. Here is what you need to do:

Freemoji LotteryRegister with your email address and choose your emoji combination. Then, check the main draw and then click on the ‘Unlucky. Try the fivers draw’ box to see if you have a win there too. Sometimes you will be required to watch a short video to see the winning emojis. Draws refresh at 7pm. Join here.

Pick my Postcode – Sign up by entering your postcode and email address. Check the following tabs on (at least – see below) a daily basis. Main Draw – Instantly see if you have won a prize. Video Draw – Play a short video and a postcode will pop up at the end. Survey Draw – usually a 1 question survey, you will be paid 1p towards the bonus draw for completing it. The postcode appears at the end. Stackpot – Check the list of winning postcodes to see if you have won a £10 prize. Bonus Draw – when you have reached the bonus amounts required (£5, £10, £20) you are also entered into these draws.

This website refreshes at 12pm, except for the Stackpot which refreshes at 9am and 9pm. There is also a Mini Draw at the bottom of the Main Draw page which appears at 6pm daily. Join here.

Free National Lotto – Register by picking your 5 numbers and entering your email and desired password. Then, each day just check the main page and see if your numbers have come up. Join here.

Win a Dinner – Register with your email address and simply scroll down the main page and see if you are listed as a ‘Dinner Winner’. The draw refreshes at 4pm on a daily basis. Join here.

Free Daily Raffle – Register with your email address. The winning raffle ticket appears on the main page each day. Join here.

Free Lucky Lottery – Enter your email address and chose a lucky 4 digit pin to register. Check the main page on a daily basis to see if you have won. The draw refreshes daily at 1pm. Join here.

Big Free GiveawayRegister with your email address or Facebook account. This is a weekly draw – check the ‘results’ page to see if you have won anything. Join here.

The Street LotteryEnter your desired username and email to register. The main draw is updated daily. There are quite a few competitions on this website. Join here.

Free Birthdate LotteryRegister with your email and date of birth. Open the home page to see if you have won. Usually have to click away an advert to see it. Join here.

DOB LottoEnter your email and date of birth to register. Check daily draw page to see if you have won a prize. Join here.

My Lucky PatchYou are given an allocation of patches when you open an account and then you need to grab your patches on a map. Click on the pink ‘Claim £xxx’ box on the Lucky Patches page to see if you have won. Each time you log in, you are allocated extra patches – which quickly build up and increase your chances of winning. Join here.

Happy BirthdatesRegister and enter your name and date of birth and a ‘birthdate code’ will be generated. Each day you will be presented with 10 draws – you will need to check each one to see if your claim button lights up. The draws are refreshed at 12pm. It is an advert heavy website and pop ups do appear but they are easily clicked away. Join here.

Free Cashpot Lottery

Enter your chosen username and email address and your unique 6 digit code will be generated. Check the draw page on a daily basis. Join here.

These ones require a bit more effort as you have to enter your email address every time you check them:

Free TreatsThe treats up for grabs on this website are: Free Haribo; Free Cash ; Free Coffee and Free Chocolate. Join here:

The Prize PigFill in your name, email address and date of birth to register. Click on ‘enter draw’ and enter your e-mail address and password to check if you have won a prize. Join here.

The next two are not strictly instant win sites, but are worth signing up just for their daily poll as you earn points for completing it. After you have earned enough points you can request a payout. Both sites also offer ways to earn money online including taking surveys or watching videos, but the rewards are low for the effort needed.

Swagbucks – Join here.

Branded Surveys –Join here.

Many of these sites also have extra competitions on their other pages but generally I only check the main page and close the window though as otherwise it would get  a bit too time consuming. However, if you are in a position where you have a bit of extra time on your hands, why not check them out?