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Something a little bit different today! I’ve been wanting to talk more about the behind the scenes of being a freelancer here on the blog, and I thought a good way to start might be to share some of the side hustles I’ve tried. At this point, I make the bulk of my income from teaching English online through various companies, private tutoring, my Etsy shop and Teachers Pay Teachers, and independent illustration, styling, and design work. To supplement my income, and also just because I’m always curious about ways to make money as a freelancer, I’ve started experimenting with other side hustles. I hope to make this a monthly feature, since I know so many of you guys are side hustling too! I’ve had some great conversations on Instagram about working from home and supplementing online teaching income and I’m excited to finally collect my thoughts in one place. From now on, I’ll also be updating this page on my site with current gigs you guys might be interested in!
I’ve known about usability testing and surveys for a while now, and I’ve even tried some of these sites before, but last month was the first time I tried to use them all regularly and aimed to make a target amount. Basically, I wanted to see if I could pay my rent by taking surveys and doing usability testing work. I’m not sure if I’ll see the same results every month, and this definitely took a ton of time and patience, but in the end I was able to meet my goal and make just over $500!
The process for getting started with all of these sites was very similar: verify my email, enter basic demographic information, and in some cases record and submit a demo video. A lot of the sites provide example videos of what they are looking for, but basically you navigate through an app or a website completing a set of tasks while speaking out loud about what you are doing and thinking. You might be signing up for a service, searching for a product and adding it to your shopping cart, or testing a specific feature of an app. The sites will walk you through how to record your screen and audio, and within the tests themselves, you will be provided with an explicit list of tasks to complete. It’s pretty self explanatory once you get started!
A few things to remember
The companies are looking for specific, helpful feedback (i.e. “This font is easy to see, but the button itself was a bit difficult to find” vs. “This is good.”)
It’s important to keep up a natural running commentary as you go through the assigned tasks, and avoid long periods without speaking. Being an online English teacher actually totally prepared me for this! The goal is to describe everything you are doing in a calm and professional manner, complete all the tasks, and provide your honest feedback. If you like talking about your opinions, especially about design, products and services, and how websites and apps work for you, it’s pretty easy and even fun!
Most sites pay via PayPal, often every week rather than waiting til the end of the month.
You don’t have to give out any personal information when you take usability tests, and the sites I tried were very transparent about this. Lots of websites and apps want feedback on the signup process, and they will remind you to use a fake name and address (like the address of a business or a famous landmark). It’s good to make a new email account to provide in these instances too.
Here are the ten sites I tried:
Respondent is where I made the bulk of my income, and one of the platforms I would recommend most highly. Respondent pays you to participate in surveys and research projects, virtually or in person. To sign up, you just verify your email and fill out some basic demographic information to get matched to surveys that apply to you. After you fill out your information, you’ll gain access to the portal, where you can browse all the available projects and apply to whichever ones you’re interested in. Applying basically means answering a few questions specific to the project and your availability. The researchers will then contact you if you have been selected to participate.
Pros: The signup was really easy. I enjoyed the projects and they aligned with my personal and professional interests. The payout can be high.
Cons: You won’t be selected for every project. I didn’t get chosen for a lot of the projects I applied for, but the ones I did get were very lucrative ($100-$140 per test).
This site pays you small amounts (I’ve gotten $0.40-$1.75) to take short surveys about a variety of topics (politics, education, consumer products, etc.).
Pros: Lots of surveys are always available. I never have trouble finding work on this site. A lot of the surveys only take a few minutes, and the portal helpfully lists next to each survey how many minutes you should expect to spend on it to help you decide if it’s worth it to you.
Cons: Each survey is only worth a small amount, so you have to take a lot of tests to make a meaningful amount of money. Often my time is better spent on a more lucrative site, but this one is great if you want to earn a little extra cash quickly.
This site has lots of ways to earn small amounts that can add up to larger amounts if you invest enough time. You can earn points by taking surveys, uploading your receipts, watching videos, playing games, or just searching the Internet through their search engine. You can redeem your rewards for lots of different gift cards or for money through PayPal.
Pros: There are tons of ways to earn money, and many of them are pretty low effort or only take a few minutes.
Cons: The portal is more cluttered than some of the other sites, since there’s a lot going on. It’s difficult to make a significant amount without investing a lot of time.
This site pays you to take usability tests or participate in surveys, focus groups, and interviews. They even invited me to test a consumer product at home and review it.
Pros: The signup is really quick and no demo video is required. You just fill out some demographic information and they match you with opportunities as they become available. The pay per test is very good considering
Cons: I didn’t get too many offers, and you have to wait for them to invite you via email rather than checking a portal.
I had a fair amount of success with TryMyUI. The signup process was simple, but I did have to pass a simple qualifying test. I earned $10 for each 15-20 minute video.
Pros: The platform was easy to use. New tests appeared pretty frequently and matched my interests and skill set. I was paid very quickly.
Cons: I got invited to join lots of tests, but often they would fill up before I had a chance to sign up.
I didn’t make too much money with Userbrain, mostly because tests never seemed to be available. After my demo video was accepted, I didn’t receive new offers for several weeks.
Pros: The portal is easy to use and the site is very reputable. The pay seems to be about the standard for a short video. There is a large library with FAQs and demo videos to help you become a better tester. I received some helpful personalized feedback on a test I completed.
Cons: Few tests were available and the payout took a long time.
Userfeel was one of the first sites I signed up for, and while it has a modern feel and a good reputation I did not receive very much work. Userfeel pays $10 for each 10-20 minute video, and you must complete a qualification video before starting work. You might have more success testing with this site if you speak languages other than English. You can receive payment within a week via Paypal or Amazon gift cards.
Pros: Quick payout; signup is easy and the site is clean, modern, and easy to use.
Cons: I made virtually no money with this site. Tests were almost never available when I checked the portal and I did not receive emails about potential opportunities. The qualification test was nonpaying.
This site pays you to spot bugs in websites and apps. It requires a little more skill than some of the other sites I tried, but if you are familiar with web design and usability this might be the right fit for you.
Pros: I liked trying to find the bugs and feeling like I was really helping improve the sites and apps. The signup process was easy but a demo video was required to begin usability tests.
Cons: This site requires more familiarity with spotting usability errors and bugs. Payout only happens once a month and can take a while to receive.
This site pays you small amounts to take short surveys ($2-$5) or usability tests ($10). I didn’t earn as much here as on some of the other sites, but it was a quick way to make extra money, and there seemed to be lots of tests available. They also paid higher amounts for similar surveys than some of the other sites. Within minutes of signing up and filling out some demographic information, I had six offers for $2 surveys (no recording required) that didn’t take too long to complete. I had to pass a qualifying test to participate in the higher paid tests that required me to record my voice.
Pros: There were lots of short opportunities available. The signup was easy. This is a clean, cute, and modern platform to use.
Cons: It takes longer to get paid than some of the other sites (within 21 days rather than a week). Sometimes I would receive multiple emails inviting me to the same study, so it’s good to always check back with the portal.
I highly recommend UserTesting as well. Besides Respondent and TryMyUI, this is where I made the most money this month. This is a highly reputable site with a clean, easy interface to navigate.
Pros: You can take tests on computer or mobile. The live interviews are very lucrative ($60/hour). As soon as my demo video was approved, I did a live interview on Zoom (just audio, no video) and a recorded usability test and made $70.
Cons: It took a long time for my first video to be approved (about a week). I couldn’t do any more work during that time. Opportunities are not always available during the hours I want to spend working; you have to check the portal frequently to see if there are any tests available.