MOST people love to voice their views, whether it is ranting at the television or comparing their favourite brands with friends.
But what if you could be paid to give your humble opinion and how much cash could you make?
There are hundreds of market research companies out there, all keen to sign people up to test out new products, give feedback on customer service or take part in academic studies. Much of this work can be done on your commute to work, while shopping or when you are sat in front of the television.
Participants can earn anything from a few quid to hundreds of pounds a month, depending on the time you are able to put in and your ability to complete the tasks involved.
It normally only takes a few minutes to sign up to an organisation and before you know it your email inbox is full of polls to complete or shopping assignments to carry out.
It is worth setting up a separate email account to filter these messages as some companies can send around ten a day. If you are signed up to ten different websites you will suddenly find yourself wading through hundreds of emails each week so you don’t want to miss any important personal or work messages hiding amongst them.
Also make sure that you declare any tax you make on these additional earnings and sign up for self-assessment on the HMRC website https://www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns even if you already pay tax through employed work.
Once you are set up and ready to go there are endless ways of making cash or earning rewards or vouchers by sharing your honest opinion or experience.
Go undercover as a mystery shopper
This can be one of the biggest earners, paying £5 to £100, depending on the task. It will usually involve travelling to a shop, or business, and either taking photographs, secretly recording an experience, or buying something and completing a survey afterwards.
It is a way for companies to evaluate their customer service covertly without staff being on their best behaviour for a senior manager. It can also be a great way to get items you would normally buy for free, and be paid on top.
Some of the top websites are Ragdoll, RedWigWam, Proinsight and GfK and you can sign up and select jobs near to where you live.
Money blogger Lynn James, of mrsmummypenny.co.uk, says the best rates come from mystery shopping at banks which can pay up to £100 for an hour’s work.
‘It could be opening an insurance product or a credit card or even buying a mortgage. You go in with a recording device and then you send it off afterwards. You don’t have to complete a survey so it’s really easy. And it doesn’t affect your credit rating as everything is wiped clean.’
You will not receive any follow-up marketing calls and your details will not be passed on to third parties.
These types of assignments can be harder to come by, but there are plenty of supermarket tasks or lifestyle gigs. But it is always a case of weighing up the time it takes versus the money. ‘If you are going shopping anyway it is a good way to make a bit of extra cash but sometimes they do take a lot of time. I did one where I drove round to four different Morrisons and it took five to six hours and I got £45 after tax. But a great one I did I got a free spa day with a treatment and they paid me £10,’ adds Lynn.
Surveys and studies are one of the easiest ways to make a start on earning extra income and can be done anywhere, anytime via apps and websites like CitizenMe, OhMyDosh!, Opinion Outpost and YouGov.
The amount you earn will all depend on the time it takes to complete, with two quick questions earning you 10p, to a 45-minute questionnaire paying out around £10.
Some websites, such as 20 Cogs, only pay once you have completed 20 tasks, which can be time-consuming, but can pay over £150.
One of the most profitable ways of making money from surveys is by referring friends, which could earn you a reward of £5 to £10 per person.
Idle time on your commute to work could be turned into cash and you could potentially make £200 a month completing surveys on the bus or train each weekday.
‘I log in on my phone and do them whilst watching TV or cooking or drying my hair. I don’t do it every day but I make £50 a month from surveys,’ says personal finance guru Emma Drew of emmadrew.info.
Emma recommends Prolific Academic because you are only shown surveys that you are eligible for. It means you don’t waste time starting something that you are screened out of half way through.
You can complete video surveys and give your feedback on a product via your phone or webcam via the app VoxPopMe. ‘Mindswarms is a really good one for video surveys. It is American but there are occasionally UK surveys and they pay $50 to $75 for a video with the product with you,’ says Emma.
But be aware of what you are signing up to because these videos may be used in marketing and are in no way anonymous.
Joining a focus group
Getting paid to watch TV and comment on it sounds too good to be true but it is a genuine way of making money. Some lucky customers are selected by Amazon Prime to take part in their Amazon Preview research which can pay £5 in Amazon vouchers for a quick survey, to £10 an hour for watching and feeding back on a pilot show before its release.
But if you are not picked for this previewing service then a good alternative is The Viewers, a new market research company focusing on television that can pay up to £70 for a 90 minute group discussion.
These focus groups take place in hotels or client offices or from the comfort of your own home via an online forum.
You may be asked to watch something, complete a task or even take part in a one-two-one interview with a researcher. Focus groups can be pretty lucrative paying £40 an hour for your opinion of a new product but it often means travelling to London or a large city.
Sometimes your travelling expenses will be covered, but it remains time-consuming.
An increasing number of companies are, however, shifting to online focus groups enabling you to log in to a forum, answer questions and discuss products with other members.
‘I did one online focus group giving opinions on frozen food. They get interaction between you and other members and I got £100 cash. I had to log in twice a week, for three weeks’, says Emma.
Scanning, betting and buying
If you are bored of answering surveys, or can’t access mystery shopping spots, there are plenty of other ways to make money online. ShopandScan is a market research survey which measures the purchasing habits of people in the UK. By scanning your weekly shop you can earn points which can be redeemed at a wide range of retailers including Amazon, Next and Cineworld.
Jobspotter is another handy little app where you upload photos of job adverts in shop windows in exchange for gift cards. If you live in a city and walk frequently, this can potentially earn you up to £30 an hour.
Matched betting can also be a brilliant way of making a large amount of money, up to £1,000 a month, as long as you have strong self-control. It is also tax-free so you don’t have to declare earnings to HMRC. It allows you to take advantage of free bets offered to new customers by gambling companies, and since it is based on a mathematical calculation rather than chance, it is viewed as non-risk.
Another way to make free money is to use cash back websites such as TopCashback when buying anything online from clothes to broadband. You can earn yourself hundreds of pounds by going via these websites — just make sure you shop around to ensure you are still getting the best deal.