How Your Opinions Can Make You Money

Your friends may tire of hearing your thoughts on shampoo, politics or hotels, but there are indeed businesses that find your input so valuable they’re willing to pay.

And unlike traditional side jobs such as serving cocktails or umpiring a baseball game, helping companies by giving your honest opinion doesn’t even require leaving the house.

Businesses of all kinds are eager to know exactly what their customers, and prospective customers, want. There are all kinds of survey, sample sharing and focus group opportunities, with widely varying time commitments and incentives. Some are more worth the time than others. Here are some of our favorites:

Fill Out Surveys

For frequent travelers. If you take a lot of vacations at IHG properties, such as the Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza Hotels, let your thoughts earn you some extra IHG Rewards points to supplement those you earn with hotel and travel credit cards. You can sign up for their Opinion Check-In program to earn IHG points for taking surveys on all kinds of topics. Emails alert you about new survey opportunities, including the amount of IHG points (usually less than 100) and how long you’ll have to spend (usually a half hour or less). It would take a long time to get a free room, but if you’re already close, the survey points could be a big help. One ValuePenguin contributor has earned more than 1,000 points in about six months of completing quick surveys.

For those with a lot of spare time. Swagbucks is one of the more popular ways to earn extra money online. You can fill out surveys on a huge variety of topics and trade in that time for a gift card. Many surveys earn you around 50 or 75 Swagbucks. You can redeem your Swagbucks for as little as a $3 gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts or Amazon (300 Swagbucks), up to big-ticket cards like $100 to Target (10,000 Swagbucks). Or you can opt to get rewards in the form of cash via Paypal, much as you do if you own a cashback credit card.

Opinion Outpost is another survey-focused site, in which a lot of time spent can add up to some nice-sized gift cards. And they, too, also offer cash through Paypal, if you prefer that option.

Join A Focus Group

Another way to earn, usually in cash rather than product, is to join a focus group. The money is usually good (many companies don’t pay less than around $50), but the opportunities come about less often than the surveys.

You may remember news coverage of Frank Luntz’s focus groups during the election. He tweeted attendees’ reactions during the presidential debates. Luntz’s company has a form you can fill out for consideration for a future group in your area.

Focus Pointe Global is another company with multiple locations nationwide that pays people to join focus groups. According to their website, typical pay ranges from $45 to $250.

Another way to find a focus group is simply to search “focus groups” in a search engine, and some options in your state should appear.

Check Your Inbox

Many organizations will entice their customers, employees or community members to provide their opinions by entering survey respondents in a prize drawing. Whenever you patronize a business and receive an email survey, be sure to open it and check to see whether there’s a chance to win a prize. For example, if you’re an AAA member, the perks can extend to more than roadside assistance and the like; the club has sent customers surveys to assess how well their needs were met, and respondents were entered for a chance to win a Visa gift card. Clothier maurices has done the same.

Yowana is a former product analyst at ValuePenguin, specializing in credit cards, rewards programs and travel. He previously covered mortgages, banking and insurance for the website. Yowana graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science.