For the audio Version of the Interview, CLICK HERE
LESLIE, The Freebie Guy: Hello and thank you for joining me. This is Leslie, the Freebie Guy, from TheFreebieGuy.net. Today we are going to start with the first of a series of podcast interviews with people that are heavily involved in the freebie industry. Our guest today is none other than Fehzan who is the owner of Macrobucks at Macrobucks.com, which has turned out to be one of the leading sites, the leading freebie sites in the freebie industry. We’re going to talk a little bit about the history of Macrobucks and how it has become what it is today, how you can get involved in the freebie industry, some general tips. And we’re going to look at how the freebie industry has evolved over time.
Without any further ado, let’s get right to the podcast interview. Once again, this is Leslie from TheFreebieGuy.net.
-Start of Interview-
LESLIE: All right. Thank you for joining us on this podcast. I have Fehzan from Macrobucks. He’s the owner of Macrobucks and been running it for a while. And I have him on this interview and I’m going to ask him a few questions.
Fehzan, thank you for joining us.
FEHZAN, Owner of Macrobucks: No problem. I’m glad to be here on this interview.
LESLIE: Awesome. All right, let’s just dive right in. For those of our listeners that might not know exactly what Macrobucks is all about or what freebies are all about, can you kind of give us an idea of what Macrobucks does, how the system works and so on?
FEHZAN: Okay. Macrobucks is an incentivized freebie Web site. Basically, you have users who are referring other users and those referrals are completing offers, which are basically subscriptions like Blockbuster, for credit. And once you reach full credit, they’re counted as completed referrals. And a completed referral is worth a certain amount of money; so it could be $40, it could be $60. And then the referrer earns money that way. And the referral generally gets paid a certain percentage if they’re trading or offering cash for their—to complete the Web site.
LESLIE: Okay, so how much has Macrobucks actually sent out in prizes to this point?
FEHZAN: Since we started, which was in February 2007, we’ve almost shipped $500K to date in gifts and cash.
LESLIE: Wow. That is pretty amazing! How are you able to send that amount of prizes—you said from February 2007?
LESLIE: Half a million dollars. How are you able to do that? Does it come out of your pockets? How does that work?
FEHZAN: Well, the way it works is that when users complete advertiser offers, they pay a fixed amount of commission. So say Blockbuster counts as a full credit on our Web site, which pays about $45 for completion. Therefore, the user gets $40 and we get $5. And so we just pay $40 to the user. Basically, the advertisers are paying for your gifts. We’re just the middleman.
LESLIE: Okay, that makes sense. Is it really worth it for the advertisers to pay you that much for a referral?
FEHZAN: Definitely it’s worth it because they get exposure and they get a lot of conversions. People end up liking things like Blockbuster and Stamps because they all have good uses. They’re all worth trying. And they generally get a better user/customer base. And it works for them and it works for us. Or else—I mean, if it didn’t work for them then it wouldn’t be happening at all.
LESLIE: Okay, so it’s pretty much a win-win situation. The company wins because they’re getting someone to try out the service, Macrobucks is winning because they’re getting paid from the affiliates, and the user is winning because they’re getting paid for every referral that they bring to Macrobucks.
LESLIE: Okay, that makes sense.
Why did you start Macrobucks? And in that process, what steps did you take? How did Macrobucks come to be?
FEHZAN: Well, I started Macrobucks after doing freebies for almost 2 years. And the reason I started it was because of the experience I had in freebies already and just my general experience in computers. And I thought I had something really good to bring in to the industry, which I eventually did. And I definitely like—the $80 Web sites that you see now are definitely derived from Macrobucks. I was one of the first sites to ever introduce a 2-credit Web site. At first, we just planned on doing it. It was kind of impulsive. We were sitting in macroeconomics and it was at a community college. Me and my partner were talking. We were throwing names out there like “Free Stuff,” “Cash.net” and just things that people really wouldn’t want to go to.
And eventually, it was 5 minutes before class was starting and we’re thinking—and it’s a macroeconomics class, it’s all about money. And so we’re like, “let’s start putting things together with ‘macro’.” So then we started throwing out a bunch of things with “macro”: “Macrobux” with the U-X, and then the “U-C-K-S”, and then eventually that’s just what we decided on. It was mainly because of the situation that we decided on Macrobucks, which is actually pretty cool, I’d say.
LESLIE: that works out pretty good, I think.
Now you said you were a freebie trader before you became a site owner and you did that for about 2 years, you said?
FEHZAN: Yep. I was a really big trader back in the day, actually. I actually earned an iPod, a digital camera, and TV from the Gratis Network—which is now known as FreePay. And it used to take like a month to get your gift back then. You had to really wait.
LESLIE: Wow. I remember watching one of the videos I have on my site, TheFreebieGuy, the owner of Gratis Network is talking about it, they were backordered for about a month and so on. It’s quite interesting. And obviously, there’s been some large strides because how soon do you guys send out prizes after someone completes the offer requirements?
FEHZAN: Well, we send them out within a few hours to 24 hours now…
FEHZAN: … and it generally varies per Web site, but it’s usually very quickly. And even when we first started, we were only shipping only once a month. And that was the standard back in ’07—early ’07. Later ’07, it started becoming more instant. But it’s really just evolved now to where it’s instant, which is really good.
LESLIE: Wow, that’s pretty amazing, especially when you’re sending out that many prizes.
Okay, so you said that you were a freebie trader before becoming a site owner for about 2 years. So you’ve obviously been involved in it for a while.
LESLIE: Have you seen a big change over time? How have things evolved in the freebie industry in that time that you’ve been involved?
FEHZAN: Back in 2005 and even up ‘til mid-2007, like I said before, you wouldn’t receive your gifts ‘til later on. It would be like a month later so it was really hard to keep earning money unless you had a lot of capital to start with to pay your referrals. But the one positive part was that now we pay—what you guys pay $26 a referral sometimes, but we were paying $15, $20 a referral. But it was all at a tradeoff because you weren’t going to get paid until later on in the game.
FEHZAN: And there weren’t that many Web sites that existed. I mean, back when we started, there was only 10-15. So you would run out eventually. I mean, I had breaks in between—like 6-month breaks—because I would just run out of sites to do because they weren’t repeatable. There was no such thing as getting your offer requirements waived. Things are much better now, I would say. And there’s a variety of choices, of Web sites. And there’s a lot more advertisers to pick from.
LESLIE: Okay, now for the users that might not be familiar with what you’re talking about, when you say they weren’t “repeatable,” can you explain what that means?
FEHZAN: Right, right. “Repeatable” just means that once you earn your prize once, you are eligible to earn it again. And if it’s not repeatable, it means you can only earn 1 prize on one Web site and that’s it… never again.
LESLIE: Okay. And do you have to complete any more offer requirements in order to get another prize?
FEHZAN: Nope. You get your offer requirements waived right after you order. And it’s no charge, it’s free. I mean, there’s a complete incentive to redo it if you had a good experience the first time.
LESLIE: Okay, so you can just refer people and refer people and get paid and get paid over and over and over again?
FEHZAN: Yep. You can make lot.
LESLIE: That’s awesome.
Now how many members does Macrobucks currently have?
FEHZAN: We currently have about 35,000 members, around that range.
LESLIE: Wow. Now when you started Macrobucks, did you foresee it becoming this big or is it a surprise to you? Do you wake up and check the numbers and say, “wow, this is crazy.” How does that go?
FEHZAN: It’s actually pretty funny because when we first started in February, we actually created a forum, like a points-forum Web site. And I had coded it to where everything was a point interface. And we were making a bit of money that way, but we weren’t—everyone didn’t really like the idea.
FEHZAN: So we switched over to the general referral script to where you refer people and you get paid for referrals. And once that got started, within a few days of introducing that, I would just wake up every morning and check the conditions and it just exploded. I never expected it to be like that, but I’m glad it did.
LESLIE: I could imagine you would be glad. Now that many members and so many people interested in the industry, one thing that people are concerned about is scammers. What do you guys do to protect your users against scammers?
FEHZAN: My support rep actually goes through accounts as they sign up. And she’ll check for the validity, she’ll check their IP addresses to see if they match up. She’ll check their number. If their number leads back to somewhere else or even a business, we’ll give them a call to make sure that they aren’t scamming anyone. Our whole goal is to protect everyone from scammers, users and advertisers alike and to make sure that everyone has a good experience. And so we’re also—whenever someone submits an order, we have a few checks—I don’t really want to share exactly because it’s like a private check…
LESLIE: Okay, not a problem.
FEHZAN: …we keep it on the down low so that no one knows exactly what’s going to go on or else the scammers figure out what’s going on and they find a way around it.
LESLIE: Okay. How many sites do you guys currently own at Macrobucks?
FEHZAN: I believe there’s 9 or 10 Web sites.
FEHZAN: And they all pay different rates. I mean, some of them pay the same ratio. But in general, we have a do-it-yourself Web site, which is basically, you complete offers and you get paid for completing the offers. It runs out eventually, so then we have the referral Web sites, which are: one pays $40 a referral, one pays $60 a referral, one pays $80 a referral, one pays $100 a referral, and one pays $120 a referral, so there’s a large selection you can pick from depending on how much you want to earn and how capable you think you are doing certain Web sites as they are harder than others.
LESLIE: Now let’s talk a little bit about that. Let’s talk about the earning potential. Some of your top traders, how many referrals are they referring to Macrobucks monthly?
FEHZAN: We’ve seen anywhere from 140 to about 200 with our best referrer ever who generated like $9,000 a month for 3 straight months until for some reason he just completely stopped. But he’s starting to come back now so we’ll probably see that again.
LESLIE: Okay, that sounds good. And what was your craziest day? How much did one person bring in, in 1 day that was just ridiculous.
FEHZAN: Well, there was this one day back in April 2007 where I cut a deal with some guy who owned a blog.
FEHZAN: So he would get a ton of referrals. He would get say 20 or 30 to sign up in one day. And I think he actually had about 11 or 12 green on 1 day. It was the $80 payout Web site.
LESLIE: Okay. Wow, that’s pretty good.
FEHZAN: It was amazing because generally, it takes a few more days than that, but…
LESLIE: Okay. Now let’s talk about some of the day-to-day things at Macrobucks. How many support tickets do you guys get on a daily basis?
FEHZAN: On a daily basis, we’ll probably get anywhere from 20 to 30 support tickets. And they’re generally just generic questions that we’re answering and—about orders—basically checking against scammers. That would sum them up.
LESLIE: Okay. And what would you say sets Macrobucks apart from—you said last year around this time there probably were a handful of sites. Now we have so many sites, hundreds of sites out there. What sets Macrobucks apart from the other networks that you see?
FEHZAN: Well, Macrobucks has been around for a really long time. And I think we kind of set the standard for a lot of things. Like we’ll introduce things like 2-credit Web sites and right after, everyone introduced the 2-credit Web site. I think what sets us apart is our ability to come up with something new and eventually, everyone just jumps on the bandwagon also with us. Like we were one of the first to do large referral contests and now you see them everywhere.
LESLIE: Yes, I do see those popping up left and right now.
It sounds pretty good from your side. Would you recommend for someone at this point to start a freebie site or a freebie network?
FEHZAN: Well, you know I’m a bit biased so it’s kind of tough to take my word. But I don’t think I would recommend anyone start a freebie network now mainly because there’s close to maybe 100 and some of them we’ve never even heard of and they require a lot more now because it’s a lot tougher, the competition is definitely there. And it didn’t exist when I first came in.
LESLIE: Okay. So it would be much tougher to start one now, at this point, of course.
FEHZAN: Right. I mean, I know a ton of people who are vying me about how they were going to start up a Web site and months later they’ll offer me to buy their Web site because they couldn’t make anything of it.
LESLIE: Okay, so you would say it’s more beneficial to be a freebie trader?
FEHZAN: It’s a lot more beneficial to be a freebie trader because right now, I’d say about 50% of freebie traders that do it right are making more than some of the Web sites that are out there.
LESLIE: I see. Now let’s talk about freebie trading in general. Why would you say that freebie trading is a good place to start if you want to try to make money online?
FEHZAN: Well, for one thing, it works. It works and there’s no doubt about it. You type it in online and get a ton of proof so you know it works.
FEHZAN: And all those other moneymaking online opportunities, the ones that are legit, don’t actually pay that well. I mean, there’s actually e-mail reads and those pay like $0.05 an e-mail. And the earning potential is very high. And you have to have some type of experience with marketing on the Internet to actually rack in enough. But with freebie trading, you can make a good sum of money without being experienced at all.
LESLIE: Okay. So it’s pretty much easy to get into and you can make a decent amount of money.
FEHZAN: Right, as long as you’ve been taught properly how to go about it.
LESLIE: Okay. So that leads right into the next question. If you are starting today as a freebie trader, knowing what you know right now but of course not owning Macrobucks, how would you go about it? What steps would you take? What would you recommend to the average person that comes in off the Web, finds out about freebie trading and is interested in making a decent amount of money in freebie trading? What would you recommend to that person?
FEHZAN: Well, for one thing, everyone just quickly jumps into it. That’s one thing no one should be doing. You don’t want to be so in a hurry that you mess something up. You want to take the time to find someone to teach you properly, to read the articles about it and how to get credit and how to maximize your earning potential, all of that good stuff. So what I would recommend is basically, to read the articles, find someone that knows what they’re doing that could teach you how to do it. And go really slow and make sure that you complete one site at a time because when you’re completing multiple Web sites, it’s easy to get confused and it’s easy to get your credits all jumbled up because the cookies are going everywhere.
LESLIE: Okay, so you would recommend working with one person for a while or do you think it’s beneficial to get an idea of how many people do it? So work one trade with one person, one trade with another person and go on that way? Which one? What would you recommend where that’s concerned?
FEHZAN: I would recommend that someone would work with one person, ideally, the first time. So they work with one person—hopefully they pick the right person. And that first person helps them make money on quite a few Web sites. And from there, if they feel like they’ve got it, they should move on to another trader.
LESLIE: Okay, so it’s kind of like a mixture of the 2. You’re not getting too much of one. It’s not too much of a one-sided experience. You’re still getting some good training from one person.
LESLIE: But then you can work with someone else and get another perspective and see how someone else does it.
FEHZAN: Yep. And the best part is everyone’s always making money.
LESLIE: That works. Now you mentioned not rushing into it and I can understand that, but for someone that’s just really excited about something. I mean, I know I’ve been involved with other things before where I’ve just been so excited and I’ve dived in headfirst and have gotten messed up where that’s concerned. What are some of those kinds of mistakes that a freebie trader—a new person coming into freebie trading can make that you would want to avoid?
FEHZAN: Well, for one, you might complete advertiser offers and you might not get credit, which is horrible because you just paid for something and you’re trying the product, but you’re not going to get credit, which means you’re not going to get paid. And that’s why you’re here: you’re here to get paid. And when you really get really mixed up when you first start, you complete offers and you don’t keep track of what you’re completing and you might complete an offer twice. And that would invalidate you on the Web site and your money would be held per the terms of service on the Web site. And another thing is a lot of people who rush in are kind of still skeptical so they’ll provide false information. And that’s definitely not good because the Web sites make sure to check that the information is real. And when false information is provided, there is a chance that their money might be held for a little while.
LESLIE: Okay. And when someone gets put on hold on one of these Web sites for doing one of these things, is that something that can be easily resolved all of the time? How does that work?
FEHZAN: Well, if they provided false information, it’s not very hard to resolve that. A lot of the times, I would just ask for a phone call to have the profile updated. But at other times—this may sound like a hassle, but sometimes you need to submit a scanned ID and a utility bill so that we can verify that this person is who they’re saying they are. And it slows things down, but if they are legit, then they have nothing to worry about. We’re not going to hold anyone’s money that is theirs.
LESLIE: Okay. And if someone just decides to be an idiot and really mess stuff up, can that really affect them negatively?
FEHZAN: Generally, you’ll be looked down upon by the Web sites. You’re going to have to go through all of them and generally ask if you can complete their Web site based on your previous record with freebies. And sometimes site owners will say yes, sometimes site owners will say no. And it really just limits what you can do. You don’t want mess up.
LESLIE: So pretty much, it’s a legitimate industry. If you’re doing it, you need to be honest. You need to hold yourself accountable and make sure that you’re keeping track of what you’re doing and try your best to be as honest as possible because that benefits you in the long run.
FEHZAN: It pays to be honest.
LESLIE: It definitely does.
All right, let’s move on. What advice would you give to a freebie trader that’s having a hard time? They’ve been doing it for a few weeks, a month and they’re having a hard time getting referrals. What tips can you suggest in terms of increasing the success of that person?
FEHZAN: Well, if you’re trading on the forum, you definitely want to stand out. You want to be more active in the forum and helping others without them asking and then the attention will be on you and you can slowly gain referrals that way. It’s all about strategy really and the best strategy wins. But another way of getting referrals is by methods that aren’t on the forum and that’s probably the best way to earn them. Which we can discuss now or later, that’s your choice.
LESLIE: Well, we can actually get into that now. You’re talking about getting referrals outside of the forums like Anything For Free and the Free Lunch Room and so on. How would somebody go about doing that?
FEHZAN: Outside the forum, there are many options because your best traders will actually get their referrals outside the forum. There’s friends and family. You can go out to a college campus and try to get some of those college kids to complete the Web site. And you know they’re always looking for a way to make money so…
FEHZAN: … they’ll definitely do it. And there’s blogs and people with blogs are fairly successful based on their choice of subject.
LESLIE: Okay. And what about having a Web site, it’s that something of a benefit to someone?
FEHZAN: If you have a Web site and it has very good traffic, if you put up a banner, you’ll definitely see some interest because everyone wants free stuff. And once they sign up, it’s pretty easy to get them on board: you send them an e-mail, then they’ll probably e-mail you back and ask you more about it. And there’s definitely a lot of proof that you can show them. And I’ve seen many times that they’ll jump on and they’ll get into it.
LESLIE: Yes, I’ve noticed that myself because I have my own Web site. And I have a MySpace page and a Facebook page and I tried once where I just posted in my status that I was having fun getting these free prizes that I’m getting. And I got people to respond to me asking me how they can do the same. So that’s a very good point: you can use other sources online to get those referrals.
FEHZAN: Definitely. And like you said—I forgot this completely, but there’s Facebook and MySpace and as long as you aren’t spamming, it works really well to get your friends on board or really anyone that visits on board.
LESLIE: Now what do you mean—let’s just assume someone listening to this might and not understanding what you’re talking about—what do you mean by spamming? What is spamming in terms of trying to get your referral links out there?
FEHZAN: Spamming is where you take your referral link anywhere you possibly can and you completely disregard Internet etiquette, like you’ll post it somewhere that’s irrelevant or you’ll post it somewhere that people don’t want to see it.
FEHZAN: Or you’ll send it to someone that you don’t know. There’s e-mail spamming where you just e-mail a list of people. And nobody wants that because when you go to your e-mail, everyone has spam and we’re all pretty angry about that. We all just straight delete it.
LESLIE: I can definitely identify with that. I get so much spam that it’s ridiculous. But that’s another topic for another time.
What do you see as the biggest threat in the freebie industry at this point?
FEHZAN: I think the biggest threat is that everyone is really relying on the forums. I think the forums are a good thing, but the forum is getting traffic from somewhere—with people who want to complete freebies, so why not try to do that yourself because you already know that people are willing and signing up everyday. So hopefully, figure out how to complete freebies. Eventually, what if the forum doesn’t get traffic anymore? What if there’s too many people on the forum to get trades? And that can really bring it down. People leave and they won’t come back because of that sometimes.
LESLIE: Now, if you didn’t own Macrobucks right now and you just found out about the freebie industry, is it something that you would get involved with as a trader at this point?
FEHZAN: Definitely. It’s still worth it. You just have to find new ways of making it work for you. There’s a lot. You just have to find new ways of making it work for you. There’s a lot. There’s untapped potential everywhere in this industry because it’s still fairly young and I’d be just as excited as I was in ’05. In terms of how hard it is, it hasn’t really gotten any harder, it’s only gotten better.
LESLIE: So it’s good time, in other words.
FEHZAN: Yes, it’s a good time.
LESLIE: What do you see as the future of the freebie industry? Do you see it changing significantly in the future? Do you see it becoming better? What would be your forecast for the industry?
FEHZAN: Well, things are always evolving in the freebie industry, they’re always evolving for the better. I think we’re going to see more unique ideas and I actually have one under wraps at the moment. But when that comes out, I think it’ll make a lasting impression in the freebie industry.
LESLIE: A teaser, I like that! I know the listeners would be very interested to see what that is when it comes out. I know you’re always working on making things better so that’s a good thing. Do you see it lasting a while? Do you see it as one of those things that in a year or so, it reaches to a point where the bubble bursts and people get harmed in some kind of way? What do you think about that?
FEHZAN: I think the freebie industry will be here for a long time mainly because the whole time I’ve been in the freebie industry, there have been times where everyone says, “oh, it’s gonna die out. The advertisers don’t want us anymore. Oh it’s gonna die out. There’s too many scammers.” And there so many phases when it happens, but in the end, we’re growing and growing. It’s never actually shrunk ever since I’ve been around. And as far as I know, it’s always been growing. I think it’ll be around for a very long time since the freebie industry is still fairly new. Most people didn’t know about it. The majority of people still don’t know about it. If you talk to people on the street, if you talk to friends and family, they’re not going to know what the freebie industry is and you can definitely get them into it.
LESLIE: Good point. What do you see in terms of the future for Macrobucks? Any particular developments that you are working on that you’d be willing to share? Where do you see it heading for you guys?
FEHZAN: Right now we’re just working on our relationships with advertisers to pull a larger variety of offers which makes it easier for referrals to complete. And also, we have something that’s coming out soon which I don’t want to uncover yet, but you guys will definitely see it.
LESLIE: Sounds good to me. All right, on a lighter note, how old are you?
FEHZAN: I’m actually 19. I just turned 19 in July, so I haven’t been 19 that long.
LESLIE: So you’re a pretty young guy doing this.
FEHZAN: Yep, I started when I was 17—Macrobucks I started when I was 17.
LESLIE: Okay. And what kinds of things do you like doing for fun? For the users of Macrobucks who are just interested in finding out more about Fehzan.
FEHZAN: What I like to do is go out and having some fun with friends to a restaurant eating and just talking in a large group. And I love going to the gym and I love learning. It sounds kind of weird, but I like to do that in my free time. I’ll just look something up and read endlessly. That’s really something I enjoy. And I like playing various sports. I don’t really particularly stick to one, but I’ll play anything really, for the most part. I really like hockey, but I’ve never really had a chance to play it.
LESLIE: All right. Let’s try to wrap this call up. But before we do that, what would you say has been the most significant big break that has happened to you in this process of starting Macrobucks and getting it as established as it is today?
FEHZAN: I think once we tossed out the forum-points idea and we brought in the referral script soon after, and we thought of the $80 referral, that definitely kick-started us and that’s how we started getting the flood of traffic. It just started pouring in because everyone was all over getting more for the referrals and the referrals were happy about it. Everyone was just happy about it. And then we were just noticing an increase in traffic as we introduced new process to the freebie world. We would provide bonuses on top of what you already received, like the $80 referral was soon $90 for quite a bit of time. And right now we’re actually doing that also. And that really brings the traffic. Pretty much to start that is where we got all our traffic from: the $80 Web site. Like the day after, it was just surged with traffic.
LESLIE: Okay. To really end it off now, is there anything else in particular that you would like to add in general for those that are listening either interested in the freebie industry—just any tips that you would want to give?
FEHZAN: I think everyone should at least take a look at the freebie industry and see if it’s for them. I think it’s for everyone, actually. But it’s not that much work and you can get quite a bit of money. And everyone wants money nowadays. Things aren’t the greatest right now as they were before. So it’s definitely something to look at.
LESLIE: Okay. Well, Fehzan, thank you for joining me on this interview. It’s been a privilege getting to know more about Macrobucks and the freebie industry, especially for the listeners that are new to this. So thank you for your time.
FEHZAN: All right, sounds good.
-End of Interview-
LESLIE: All right. That was Fehzan from Macrobucks giving us a little bit of history and insight into Macrobucks and the freebie industry in general. I hope you enjoyed. I hope you learned a lot. If you want to find out more about Macrobucks, you can visit them at Macrobucks.com or by using any of the links found in the notes page of this podcast interview. Please stay tuned to this Web site because we’re going to be having some more cool interviews for you to listen to, giving you even more insight into the industry and helping you to make even more money. Once again, this is Leslie from TheFreebieGuy.net. Take care and good luck.