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  • Writer's pictureGary Grewal

A Fun Way to Earn Extra Money, Have a Blast, and get Free Food

Did that title catch your attention? Good! Surely, you’ve heard of a thing called “Brand Ambassador”, which Wikipedia defines as “a person who is employed by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light, and by doing so, help to increase brand awareness and sales”. This might make you think of celebrities and athletes with major endorsement deals, but brand ambassadors can also be those people wearing a company’s attire and passing out their flavored drinks at a festival or college event.

In my experience, anyone can be a brand ambassador, it just depends on what you do. You don’t have to be employed as one. In fact, you can probably just do a one-off event, like a contractor, for staffing the company’s booth at an event.

I first got wind of the world of a brand ambassador when I volunteered for the Dana Point Turkey Trot in 2014. It was a beautiful, sunny Orange County day (so nice, in fact, that I swam in the ocean..on Thanksgiving..dreamy!). There were dozens of booths set up, many of which were handing out snacks and samples to runners as they passed through the finish line. The vendor area was known as the “finish village” I was a volunteer, and after sorting through the recycling, they pulled me into one of the booths to help deal with the influx of runners. I was in the booth handing out Justin’s Honey Almond Butter squeeze packs and bananas. Let me tell you, the combination was amazing and this was the start of a love affair with almond butter. (If I could only take one thing from the grocery store with me it would be almond butter!) I put it in everything; smoothies, oatmeal, oat balls, pancakes, even hummus and sauces! Anyway, after reading this, if you haven’t had almond butter, go out and try some of this stuff because it’s lightyears better than peanut butter IMO.

Back to the point of this article. While I was in this booth, the booth next door was a team from CLIF Bar (which was founded by a person named Gary, just saying). There was a guy and girl who told me they worked for CLIF Bar as “brand ambassadors”, and that they basically went to events in the area, driving around this company SUV and handing out snacks. On top of all the bars you could want, they got PAID for this! I don’t know how much, and I heard it’s not a lot, but if you think about it, you are being paid to have a pretty good time. Races, concerts, festivals, you name it. You usually have a front-row seat, an all-access badge, and you share your enthusiasm for the company while handing out samples and talking up the product. What a great idea! I even met a girl who worked for another bar company, who said that she gets paid to travel all over the country, going to events, and handing out samples. Imagine that! Getting paid, all your travel and food comped and having a blast.

I wish I knew more about these jobs in college because I think they are a great way not only to earn money right out of college, but also to meet people, network, build interpersonal skills, and have a blast while going to all kinds of events.

I kind of did this as well, but I was a volunteer. I volunteered at tons of races and events, usually on the Zero Waste Team, because I was passionate about seeing my work making a real difference in reducing the waste and littering caused by an event. I’ve worked at events like the Vans US Open of Surfing, The Underground Music Showcase, and the Boulder International Film Festival. By volunteering, I had no real worry or responsibility about performance, because who fires a volunteer? I got front row access to these events, better access than even some people who paid top dollar to be there! I made friends, got tons of free food/branded items, and made a positive difference as well.

So, whether you want to be paid or volunteer, you can still save money either way. Even if you volunteer, you are saving money by not buying a ticket to the event, and also getting food and drinks for free. I’ve also gone home after volunteering with boxes on boxes of bars, snack packs, squeeze packs, trail mixes, you name it. They had more leftover than they gave away and didn’t want to pay to send them back, so to thank the volunteers they handed them out. Some bounties even lasted me a full year!

So, if you’re interested in volunteering at any events (now that they are finally coming back, woohoo!) Just find the part of their page that has volunteer opportunities, or reach out to them directly if you don’t find anything and offer to help. Be sure to list your areas of expertise and availability, so just in case they don’t have volunteers, they might bring you on to help anyway and give you major perks.

To become a paid ambassador, ask for the card or contact information from the staff at various booths and ask how you can join them. Look at the vendor list of festivals and events, then reach out to ones you are interested in via social media (chances are, the person who manages their social media and marketing knows someone in marketing who works with their brand ambassador teams. Also, if you’re on Facebook, search for groups, like “Brand Ambassadors of Atlanta” or whichever city you live in.

Most of all, don’t just fire away at any and all brands, focus on your favorite brands so that it’s something you believe in and it comes out in your interactions. Plus, you’ll enjoy your bounty that much more.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money on festivals and events, I’ve got a whole chapter (or maybe two) dedicated to this in Financial Fives. Take a read, and that’s all you’ll need!


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