There are so many sites out there that tell you that your opinion is valuable. And, why wouldn’t it be? After all, companies need to know what consumers are thinking and what they value in order to make money. But, can you really make money with your opinion or is that all a lot of hype?
Well, there are two main ways that you can make money with your opinions and these vary considerably from one another. So, let’s take a look at what these approaches actually offer and whether they’re worth the time involved.
Sharing Your Opinion Online
When it comes to making money with your opinion the most common approach is through online survey and opinion sites. There is a huge number of different sites like this online. Many of them are free to join but some others try to charge you for getting involved.
In most cases, these sites take a similar approach. They focus on how you can make money by providing your opinion to various companies. Normally, this will happen in the form of a survey.
The idea of taking surveys for money appeals to a lot of people. One reason is simply that this is a way of earning money that is entirely online. Making money online is appealing for all sorts of reasons, especially if you already work a ‘normal’ job.
At the same time, surveys are a way of making money that doesn’t require any specific skills or qualifications and it is something that people can pick up and get started with right away. Those factors certainly make the idea exciting.
To a certain degree, the idea of earning money sharing your opinions on these sites is legitimate. These sites do have large numbers of members and some of those members do earn money.
However, that doesn’t necessarily make these sites great ways to make money.
The Issue of Time versus Income
The biggest problem with opinion sites is the amount of time you have to put into them. Sites will often claim that you can earn a decent amount per survey, including estimates that suggest you can make more than $10 for some surveys.
Yet, estimates of how much you earn are almost always misleading. In reality, most survey sites will pay you significantly less than $1 for most surveys. At the same time, the surveys that do pay more will also take longer to do. In many cases, this could mean that you spend more than an hour doing a survey that only earns you $2.
I’ve personally tested a wide range of survey sites for various reviews and out of thousands of different offered surveys, I’ve only ever seen a handful that pay out more than $5 or so. I also wasn’t eligible for any of the higher paying surveys for a variety of reasons, usually location being the problem. Some other issues were interests or experiences that were required to be eligible.
In fact, that is an ongoing issue with any survey site.
Members will only ever qualify for a proportion of the surveys available. In most cases, a survey will have a smaller preliminary survey that acts to screen out people who don’t fit the criteria. That practice can be frustrating because you might try multiple different surveys before you find one that you’re eligible for.
Typically, you don’t get paid for any surveys that you are screened out of and the process of filling in those preliminary surveys does take time.
The end result is that typically you end up earning far below the minimum wage when you use this type of site. For example, I’ve spent 3-4 hours on some survey sites and never even earned enough to cash out $20 (the minimum on most survey sites). In most cases, I’ve never even reached the $10 mark. People are fighting for a $15 minimum wage in the US, but you'll probably make less than $5 an hour doing surveys online.
There are also some other issues when it comes to making money from these sites. For example, you have to accumulate enough points to cash out, which will typically take some time. Additionally, most sites are fairly lean in the amount of surveys they provide. So, you will end up spending a lot of time waiting for more surveys.
In general, surveys can work okay if you don’t mind spending a lot of time and if you are only looking for a little bit of money. For example, I’ve seen some people getting involved to pay off their Spotify subscription every month, or buy a small item on Amazon. But, that’s probably the best you can do even if you do find a really good survey site.
Getting Involved in Focus or Research Groups
Perhaps the most extreme example of making money with your opinion is focus groups and research groups. There are some cases where companies or researchers are interested in opinions from a specific group of people. For example, a company might be interested in finding out how a given product is going to be received or which ads people are most likely to respond to.
In general, this type of approach can be quite intensive and you normally have to be physically present. So, this might involve taking part in a group discussion for an hour or two, or it could even involve a couple of half day sessions.
This type of approach is fairly appealing because it can pay well. In some cases, focus or research groups might pay you upwards of $100 for your involvement. Normally your pay depends, a bit, on what you are doing specifically and how much time it involves.
Financially, these groups make a lot of sense for earning money. But, they still aren’t as good as they seem.
For one thing, finding groups that you are actually eligible for can be difficult. Focus groups tend to use a relatively small group of people, such as somewhere between 8 and 20 individuals. After all, a key goal is often to promote discussion.
The people running the group will also be looking for specific characteristics or even specific types of people. For example, below is the criteria for one research study. While the study pays fairly well, relatively few people would be eligible for it.
Some people try to game the system by telling recruiters what they want to hear but even then, you’re likely to only get accepted into some of the groups you apply for. Many times, recruiters are trained to weed out folks like this, since it's a pretty obvious tactic.
At the same time, focus groups tend to be held in large cities and there is often strong competition for the positions. After all, focus groups do seem like a quick and easy way to earn money.
So, you might get lucky and get into a few focus groups – but the approach certainly isn’t reliable enough to be a consistent source of income. The process of applying for groups and going through the screening process also takes time and you could easily end up spending more time trying to get into groups than you actually spend doing the tasks of a focus group.
You also have to consider that you need to set aside time to participate. Many times you may have to drive to the research center, so if you have small children, you need to find a babysitter (costs money!), or if you have a job, you'll need to take time off (also costs money!).
Now, if you’re seriously interested in focus groups, there are some sites that help people to find them, like a site called Find Focus Groups or the database at AAPS. However, these sites will only list a proportion of focus groups out there and you would still have to do some legwork to find other groups.
Some survey and opinion sites do also provide information about focus groups, although it can be difficult to figure out whether the information they offer is genuine or not. Survey sites are pretty terrible in my opinion, and are designed to provide you with as little income for your time as possible.
Making Money with a Website
Both survey sites and focus groups offer some money making potential but they are also fairly limited. Of the two, focus groups tend to pay more for the time you spend. However, finding good groups is a pretty challenging task. In both cases, you’re at the mercy of other groups and you have no way of controlling how many surveys or groups that you can be part of.
Thankfully, there is a much better way to make money with your opinions.
This approach involves making your own website about a topic that you’re interested in and then using that site as a way to make money online. This approach is extremely powerful, and pretty easy since you can write whatever you want on your website. It's your digital real estate, so you can write any opinion you want on it.
The internet is full of online opinions!
One advantage is that doing this lets you create a website on a topic that actually interests you. For some people, that topic is food, while for others it might be makeup, motherhood, computer games, rock climbing or something different. Realistically, the options are endless. I have a website about computer software, one about beer, and another about keeping cats off your lawn lol. Seriously!
Your website could offers a platform for you to talk about your own opinions and perspectives. Then people that search the internet can find your site, read your opinion, and purchase products or services based on what you say. To me, that process is much more enjoyable than spending hours upon hours filling out surveys and answering questions that really aren’t interesting.
After all, if you’re going to try and make money from your opinion, wouldn’t you rather talk about something that is actually interesting? You also get to help people find useful information online, and purchase good products. Helping people is a very fulfilling activity, and the foundation to every successful, long term business.
The other advantage to this approach is that your potential for income is higher. In fact, a website also has considerable growth potential. People make thousands of dollars per month, even earning six figures or more from websites. This means that you can keep building and growing your business over time, rather than simply waiting around to see when you can next get a survey or get into a focus group.
With a website, you are the one in control.
Plus, building your own site and making money from it isn’t as hard as it seems. The process of site building has become much easier over time and now it’s something you can do without any coding education or training.
I’ve been making money this way since 2012 and you can do the same. The most important step is simply learning what to do. Thankfully, there is some amazing training out there that will teach you all of this. My #1 Recommendation is a training site that does just that. In fact, that site is where I learned a lot of what I know.
It's an online community for newbie entrepreneurs that want to make money from a website, writing about topics they care about. Everyone chooses a different topic, but helps each other with things like getting traffic to your site, and turning that traffic into sales. The combination of training and community support churns out a lot of success stories, including myself! I'm also still a member, and will be able to help you with your business as you take your first baby steps.