Side Benefits and Networking


Choosing a niche that you have a passion for has many benefits. In the early days it’s much easier to concentrate on a topic that interests you and ideally it will be like being paid to do a hobby you enjoy. The best job in the world is finding what you enjoy doing most and then finding somebody to pay you to do it.

Once established in your niche you can often get “freebies” and review items from companies interested in your audience. Over the last year I’ve had about 3K worth or free gadgets, most of which I’ve used as competition prizes. Last week I got my coolest freebie yet an all expenses paid trip to Solvenia courtesy of Renault.

Buzz Paradise is a company that specializes in creating a buzz around new products, I heard from them for the first time a couple of weeks ago when they invited me to test drive the new Renault Twingo over in Ljubljana, Slovenia. What I find really cool about this is that a company like Renault is looking at the web and bloggers to help market a car, it just shows how blogs are moving more and more into the media mainstream. If you are a blogger I suggest registering your interest with BuzzParadise for future promotions.

The trip was very short notice and to be honest until I was sat on the plane I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to happen but once I was there the organization was immense. We got to test drive the Twingo for a couple of hours and visited Lake Bled (an awesome sight). We then got taken out to see some celebrity chef teach us how to make some dish the name of which escapes me but it tasted pretty damn cool.

We were then given a booklet of “beer vouchers” to spend at a riverside cocktail bar which was followed by a nightclub until ~5AM, not something I’m at all used to.

After 4 hours sleep we were all taken out for brunch and a bit of sightseeing, followed by a lift to the airport. All in, it was a very enjoyable two days. The test drive was cool and the fact everything was paid for was a bonus but the real benefit was the networking involved. I got to meet fellow bloggers from the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and a massive thanks to Sandrine of Renault, Nils and Vicky of BuzzParadize.

So not really a post about making money or business today, but hopefully a nice example of one of the perks. Working for yourself offers so much more than just money. If anybody else has had any cool perks or sample products I’d love to hear about them.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. What do you think to the Twingo? I drove one in France a few years back when working over there and although I specified and wanted a Clio, I got the twingo. I thought it was a bit weird but suprisingly quite large inside. That was back in 1999 though, so I am sure the new one has changed a lot since then.

  2. That would of been the old one in 1999, I’ve not driven one but everybody I spoke to said it was pretty crap. The new one was a nice drive and pretty nippy for a 1.2

  3. Which reminds me, I must start that new Lamborghini review blog website type thingy I have always been meaning to do 😉

    Good work if you can get it Al. Now if you could get a test on the Jet Packs I really would be envious

    • Maybe I could take the Ferrari review blog! The jet pack would be interesting to test although Id be frightened to death that the minute or 2 of fuel would suddenly cut off.

  4. Nice Perk 🙂 makes me think back to late 90s when i was in france and the twingo had just come out!

  5. Wow, that was something. Fringe benefits of being a blogger.

  6. You posting put a smile on my face. Many of the blogs I read have writers who are trying to maintain a voice of independence as an author and want their voice to be heard. When I first starting reading your blog I noted you had found a way to talk to the other side of this equation – you can enjoy the paid privileges of products for review and it improves your voice. Nicely done.

  7. Christ, I would be happy with a complimentary bottle of wine…celebrity chefs, beer vouchers…you’re a rock star Al! 🙂

  8. Great perks there Al, this blog never stops giving others something to aspire to and helps keep us all motivated online…

  9. Well you are one of luckiest people I know

    You deserve it

    Did you get to know anything new from all these European bloggers?

    • One thing I found interesting is how popular blogging is in Europe. They have regular blogging parties where people meet up to discuss stuff (or ignore each other and play with their laptops).

      I think the UK is quite a bit behind with the offline social side of blogging.

  10. Hi Allan, nice trip ;-), nice group of people/bloggers, nice country, nice car. What else do we need? It was just great; intense, but still great! It was really nice to meet you. Take care of you!

  11. What a cool time… Nice to meet you there Al !

    And there will be more !!

    All of you bloggers : come and join us and you’ll be contacted also to give your opinion on new products ;-). For the girls especially : a new (and very cool) operation coming very soon in the UK…

  12. It was great to meet you both over there and all the other bloggers. I now need to find somebody getting married so that I can organise a stag weekend in Slovenia 🙂

  13. Hi Al,

    See I’ve been thinking about your comment about the regular blogging parties in Europe… and not in the UK so I’ve decided to create one in London. Drop by, if you’re in London that day !

    Sandrine – missing the Slovenian weather 😉

    Recommandé par des Influenceurs

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