How many parents are still paying off Santa’s shopping spree while the holiday toy haul gathers dust?
With newer and more expensive toys coming out every year it might feel hard to keep up, but what if there was a way around those price tags? What if you could get toys for free — or better yet, what if your children could earn toys themselves?
A Cool Job for Kids: Toy Testing
It sounds crazy, but it’s entirely possible. Many legitimate toy companies hire normal kids to be toy testers. If you want your child to be one, the age range seems to vary depending on the application, but typically companies are looking for toddlers through preteens. The company will either send your child a toy to review or ask you to take them to a toy lab at the company’s headquarters.
Interested? Here are three tips to help your child land the gig:
1. Get a Jump on the Toy Testing Competition
These jobs are hard to find. They pop up unexpectedly, so you should always be on the lookout. As journalist Samantha Christmann explained, be proactive by emailing toy companies directly and asking about opportunities. For example, you can email your contact information and your child’s name and interests to [email protected] to find opportunities at Fisher-Price.
2. Prowl Social Media
Follow toy companies on Facebook — both major ones and smaller players. For example, the toy company Step 2 posted on its Facebook page that it was looking for kids to test a Thomas the Tank Engine bed. The company wanted to send the bed to several families to try out. The families got to keep the bed for free in exchange for a product review.
Krystal Butherus, a Florida lifestyle blogger, was selected to test the Thomas the Tank Engine bed after hearing about the opportunity in a blogger Facebook group. Butherus advises anyone interested in toy testing to set up a blog and social media accounts “to show influence if you’re interested in being a toy tester.”
“Word-of-mouth marketing still seems like a big deal to brands,”Butherus advised. “And it’s worthwhile if you actually use the product and enjoy sharing the information with your friends and family.”
As another example, in 2014 The Warehouse toy company in New Zealand gave its prestigious toy testers $200 worth of toys plus $8,000 cash for their families! To snag one of those jobs, kids had to buy a toy from their store and upload a video of themselves playing with it and explaining why they’d be a great toy tester.
Some examples of popular toy company Facebook pages to keep an eye out for include:
And if you want to stay updated on toy testing opportunities for Mattel and Fisher Price toys you can sign up to become a part of their companies newsletter through the Fisher Price Family Club.
If you want your kids to land toy testing opportunities like these, make sure they are comfortable in front of the camera and have no problem selling their skills! Toy testing is a great opportunity for them to learn marketing skills and the power of social media all while hopefully getting tons of free toys.
3. Curate Your Online Presence
As Butherus advised, you should have a strong online community to be a toy tester, even if it’s just an active Pinterest page, to be more desirable to toy companies. The bigger online reach you have, the more likely it is that you will be selected as a toy tester.
Another way to build your online presence is creating a toy testing YouTube channel. One famous example of a child that made billions creating toy testing review videos is Evan. This ambitious 8-year-old made millions of dollars testing and reviewing toys with his channel EvanTubeHD and still makes videos today with over 7 million subscribers.
If you want to toy test regularly, prepare your blog by reviewing toys that you already have. That way, you can use these posts as a portfolio to show companies that you write well and review products thoroughly.
And if you’re looking for additional free toys for your children to review on their YouTube or blog, The Freecycle Network is a great place to get started. This grassroots non-profit movement was created to practice sustainability and keep quality items out of landfills. The Freecycle Network has over 10 million members and spans across 5,300 towns in the U.S. for people to give and receive free items, including toys.
4. Make A Thorough Toy Review for Companies
When doing a review, be sure to describe the product in detail, including the size, the color, and the age group it’s designed for. Make sure to mention any special or unique features. Have your kid play with the toy for about a month before posting the review, so you can comment on how it held up to wear and tear.
Also, don’t be afraid to mention if you weren’t happy with a toy. Remember, many toy tester jobs exist to check on the safety and reliability of a product, so it’s an important job but also one that involves a bit of risk. Make your reviews honest and reliable, and the companies will thank you.
While it might seem like these toy tester jobs are too good to be true, many kids out there are not spending $20 for a new toy . Instead, they can put that money in their college funds and enjoy playing with free toys instead.
Catherine Alford is a full-time blogger, personal finance freelance writer, and mom of twins. She writes about how to balance life and a budget all across the web including on her own site, Budget Blonde. Freelancer Caroline Gaspich contributed to this report.