From mystery shopping to reviewing restaurants, there’s money to be made from giving your opinion – here’s how
Your opinion could be worth thousands of pounds if you know how to monetise it. Customer feedback can be invaluable to companies who want to know how to target or improve products. As a result, the internet is filled with websites and apps that are designed to put market research companies in touch with consumers.
Much of this work can be done on your commute to work, while you are out 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 time investment and the ability to complete assigned tasks.
Carry out tasks on your commute or in front of the TV
Within a few minutes, you can sign up to an organisation and before long your email inbox will be full of polls to complete or shopping assignments to carry out.
In fact, it is worth setting up a separate email account to filter these messages as some companies can send around 10 a day.
It is also important to declare these additional earnings, as they are taxable and must be declared to the HMRC via self-assessment.
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 an online survey afterwards.
It is a way for companies to evaluate their customer service covertly without staff being on their best behaviour for a visit from a senior manager.
It can also be a great way to get items free that you would normally buy – and be paid on top.
Some of the top websites are Market Force, International Service Check, Ragdoll Research, Red WigWam, Proinsight and GfK, and you can sign up and select jobs near to where you live. There are also apps such as Field Agent and BeMyEye. Watch out for scamming apps – it should always be free to sign up for mystery shopping.
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.”
Refer a friend and earn £5 or £10 per person
These types of assignments can be harder to come by, but there are plenty of supermarket tasks, restaurant reviews and shopping jobs readily available. However, it is always a case of weighing up the time it will take you 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 was a free spa day with a treatment and they paid me £10,” adds Ms James.
If you live in a remote area and cannot access mystery shopping spots, there are other ways to make money from shopping.
ShopandScan is a market research survey that measures the buying 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.
Complete surveys and studies
This can be one of the easiest ways to start earning extra income and can be done anywhere, anytime via apps and websites such as CitizenMe, OhMyDosh, Opinion Outpost and YouGov.
The amount you earn from a survey or study 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 a series of 20 tasks, which can be very 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 while 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.
You can even complete video surveys and give your feedback on a product via your phone or webcam with apps VoxPopMe and Mindswarms, which can pay up to $75 (£58).
Join 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 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 often take place in hotels or client offices.
Focus groups can pay £40 an hour for your opinion
You may be asked to watch something, complete a task or even take part in a one-to-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 travelling expenses will be covered but taking part can be 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 from the comfort of your own home.
Lily Canter writes for Metro, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times
“I saved £100 a month and earned £50 on top from mystery shopping”
Avid mystery shopper Emma Jordan, 41, (pictured left) organised her social life around assignments for two years, meaning she could eat and drink out for free in Plymouth.
“When I worked in the city centre, it really fitted with my lifestyle. If I was meeting friends or family, I would suggest a place where I knew there was an assignment.
For each job, she would be given a budget and a list of things to feedback on such as cleanliness, communication of promotions and whether staff wore name cards.
“It had to be anonymous, so I would write notes on my phone and then go online afterwards and fill in a questionnaire. I had to upload photos and also a copy of my receipts.”
Each visit would have a budget of around £15 to £20 maximum and earnings of around £2 to £5 which would be reimbursed and paid monthly like a salary.
“There is no limit on how many you can do. I was doing two to three a week, mostly in coffee shops. I was reimbursed around £20 to £30 a week and earning £10 to £15 a week.”
Now that she works at home as a digital writer, Emma finds it more difficult to fit in the mystery shopping but would definitely recommend it to others.
“I am a keen shopper anyway, so I really enjoy making sure the customer service is good. The mystery shopping meant I could meet friends and not have to pay for meals and I had a pot of money at the end of the month for treats for me or my family.”
“Online polls made me £1,000 to save towards a house deposit”
When Jessica McDonnell (pictured above), 27, and her husband were given a year to buy their rented accommodation in Huddersfield, they had to come up with a deposit fast.
Mrs McDonnell spent her evenings in front of the television completing surveys and found academic research company Prolific particularly profitable.
“It is high paying and quite rewarding as you are helping people do university research, so the work is interesting. You test out different things or you might play a game that someone has created. I earned £300 in the past year from it,” says the public relations officer.
She also made £100 from clicking on online adverts, using the app Qmee.
But negotiating the best apps and websites does take some trial and error.
“I much prefer authoritative websites such as YouGov, so you aren’t tricked into signing up for unsuitable stuff. Vox Pop Me is also good. You do a video recording of an answer to the question of the day,” she says.
In 2017 Jessica made £1,000 from a variety of survey sites, which she funnelled away towards her house deposit.
“If you need the money for something important, you will invest the time in it.
“With surveys, if a job pops up and you have a spare 10 minutes you can just do it. It’s easy and convenient and as a little side thing the money isn’t bad.”