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Your opinions could earn you hundreds of pounds from testing products

Something to shout about: Dozens of survey websites and newsgroups have sprung up in recent years, willing to pay for independent opinions

Are you one of those people who have an opinion on everything? Then you might be able to make money from your opinions on anything from politics to dog food. You could earn hundreds of pounds a year.

Dozens of survey websites and focus groups have sprung up in recent years, willing to pay for independent opinions.

They use this research to refine the products. For example, to see which packaging attracts customers’ attention or which tastes they like the most.

Something to shout about: Dozens of survey websites and newsgroups have sprung up in recent years, willing to pay for independent opinions

Something to shout about: Dozens of survey websites and newsgroups have sprung up in recent years, willing to pay for independent opinions

Share views in person to earn the most money

Focus groups tend to be the most lucrative – you can earn up to £200 for your opinion. In these, you join a group of people to share your perspective on what you think about a product or service.

In the past, focus groups consisted of sitting on ottomans or on a table in an office. But nowadays, a lot of opinion sharing happens through online meetings where you only see others on a computer screen.

Market research agencies such as Saros, Angelfish Opinions, Research Opinions and Market Research 4 U typically pay £50 per hour. If you receive an assignment that requires you to test a product over the course of a week or so, you can often earn around £200.

You need to answer a number of product questions, which can range from a new line of yogurts to a new credit card. Agencies will also ask questions during your initial registration to ensure that you match the client’s profile.

Although the money can be generous, people are usually only chosen for focus groups once every six months – or more often if they are registered with multiple agencies.

Emma Coombes, Head of Client Services at Angelfish, says: “When choosing an agency, consider a member of the Market Research Society that has a strict code of conduct for members that includes ensuring that sensitive data is shared responsibly. .”

Case Study 1: I need to compare lip balms

Abbey Thornhill has just won £200 for testing lip balms for a cosmetics company. The 25-year-old civil servant, from Brixton in south London, says: “I sign up for discussion groups on topics that interest me – any money is a bonus.

“As someone who has used dozens of different lip balms over the years, this was a great opportunity to share my perspective on making sure what is being sold is hopefully what the people want – not just what companies want to sell.”

Abbey was given a selection of products to try for a fortnight via Saros and, via an online focus group, asked to compare them to others on the high street. She says, “I kept a diary and spent a few minutes each day writing down my findings.”

She also recently participated in a discussion group where she shared ideas on how she shares music with her friends.

Case study 2: My baby and I won £200

Georg Alleway recently won £200 testing baby food with his 18-month-old daughter Sylvie through research agency Saros. “The cheese and pickle went surprisingly well,” says the 38-year-old police sergeant from Woking in Surrey. “It’s gratifying to know that we could have an impact on what is stocked in stores in the future.”

George also won £150 by sharing his thoughts on car design with market researcher Research Opinions. Giving his point of view earns him at least £400 a year.

It’s rewarding to be the first to try new things

Julia Russell admits she is opinionated and is thrilled to be earning hundreds of pounds a year from the habit.

The 55-year-old, who is a volunteer first aider for the RSPCA, said: ‘You’ll never get rich quick, but it’s rewarding to test something new in the market.

Rewarding: Retired nurse Julia, from Wallington in south London, is signed up to Angelfish and tested a range of products

Rewarding: Retired nurse Julia, from Wallington in south London, is signed up to Angelfish and tested a range of products

Retired nurse Julia, from Wallington in south London, is registered with Angelfish and has tested a range of products from washing powder and shampoo to cat food for her pets.

She says it’s more than a tick box exercise.

“When I was looking at a shampoo, I was asked to comment on everything from the lather and scent to the size and look of the bottle.”

‘I won £24 on the polls but had to work for it’

A growing number of market research companies are paying for people’s opinions through online surveys. Some of the most popular include Ipsos iSay, Swagbucks, Branded Surveys, Toluna Influencers, Inbox Pounds, and LifePoints Panel.

Registration is simple. You provide a few personal details and then you are contacted for surveys that take five to 30 minutes to complete.

You will rarely win more than a £1 or more for a survey. But you can complete them from the comfort of your couch on a laptop or smartphone whenever it suits you.

I myself have an opinion or two – so I signed up with a number of online survey companies to see how much I could earn in the afternoon. Toluna is one of the most generous. It claims to deliver “the equivalent of a £20 Amazon voucher in record time”. I complete an eight-minute survey on snacks and sweets.

The climax is when an image of Mr Kipling’s apple pie appears on the computer screen and I’m asked what emotion it makes me feel. I choose “desire” from a list of a dozen; others included ‘shock’ and ‘sorrow’.

Don’t forget the tax

If you earn more than £1,000 in a tax year from surveys and focus groups, you may have to complete a self-assessment tax return and pay tax on your earnings .

However, everyone is allowed to earn up to £1,000 every year from side activities like this without declaring it to the tax authorities.

However, once done, I find that I have to complete another two dozen surveys to get the correct one. I calculate this as two 40p apple pies per questionnaire.

Branded Surveys sent me over a dozen surveys in a few days. I earn points for each one I complete, and I’m told that once I have 500 I can cash them in for reward vouchers. However, each survey only earns a few points, so completing 19 jobs costs just over £1 an hour in vouchers for retailers such as Argos and John Lewis.

Ipsos iSay also makes me work hard for my money – requiring me to complete six separate surveys just to get my profile. After five minutes of answering questions about the booze I drink, the coffee machine of my choice, and the cars I use, I’ve had enough.

I’ll have to earn 980 points to get a £10 voucher – and at 45 points for a first grill it doesn’t seem worth it.

A word of warning: when researching legit online survey companies, I came across several that claimed to be genuine, but seemed anything but.

Alarm bells should ring if an online survey or focus group asks you to pay a membership or registration fee. Walk away otherwise you could fall into the trap. Using your personal email address can also lead to a deluge of unwanted survey requests and spam. So it’s best to create a new one for surveys.

Be careful when transmitting personal data online and make sure you know exactly how your information will be used.

Sweet: Toby was asked what emotion an apple pie produces

Sweet: Toby was asked what emotion an apple pie produces

Be a mystery shopper… or try restaurants

You can also earn some extra cash as a secret shopper. You go undercover to test goods and services on the high street. Market research companies such as Market Force Information, GBW and GfK typically pay £5 for you to test the quality of a store experience during a store visit.

Companies want you to snoop on everything from how salespeople are dressed to whether there are empty spaces on store shelves. You’ll need to keep a mental record of what you see and write it down later so you don’t give yourself away by taking notes. Sometimes you will be asked to secretly record your findings and take pictures.

If you are asked to check food outlets, such as Greggs or JD Wetherspoon, the searcher will usually also add the price of a meal or sandwich.

Mystery shoppers don’t usually earn big bucks, but it can be a good way to fund meals and earn a little extra cash by going to the malls you plan to visit anyway. It may take a few weeks for the money to reach your bank account, so you cannot rely on it for income. Some companies will pay travel costs, especially if you are asked to visit a location a bit out of the way.

Make sure you only sign up for reputable companies.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any business relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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