Four Easy Ways to Make Money on the Side

If you know where to look, you can make more than a penny for your thoughts.

In an effort to better understand consumer behavior, several companies pay people for their opinions on everything from chocolate to computers to restaurants. I call it “moonlighting money” and it’s a great way to earn a few extra bucks without a lot of effort.  Here are four ways to make money.

  • Focus groups. Participate in a focus group and you can earn between $30 and $300 depending on topic, length and location. Focus groups do everything from taste testing to rating product packaging. Search for market research companies in your area and sign up in their database.
  • Mock juries. Before heading to the courtroom, some attorneys test their cases on a mock jury. These mock trials are done in person through market research groups and can pay about $200 a day. You can also look online at sites like, which pay $5 – $10 for about 35 minutes of your time.
  • Mystery shoppers. Several retailers, from restaurants to clothing stores, hire mystery shoppers in order to better understand their customer’s experience. In addition to paying for your time and feedback, some businesses also let you keep the merchandise. Learn more at Mystery Shopping Providers Association.
  • Poll workers. You can help others express their opinions through voting by working in your area’s polling place. Visit your county’s website for more information. Some counties have programs for students and some pay as much as $122 for a day’s work.

The Final Word:  Getting paid for your opinion is a great way to earn extra cash. Just remember, no legitimate market research or mystery shopping provider will ask you to pay a fee to participate or try to sell you a product or service.

The article above was written by our newest contributor – Jeanette Pavini – an Emmy award-winning consumer reporter and personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.



7 thoughts on “Four Easy Ways to Make Money on the Side

  1. Some more ideas:
    Amazon’s Mechanical Turk allows you to work on “HITS” – human intelligence tasks. This can be everything from taking a survey to categorizing products. The tasks are usually very simple and can be done at anytime.
    If you’re Internet savvy and interested in reviewing new products, check out You get paid to give feedback on websites.
    Use CL to find opportunities like focus groups or online surveys. Just be sure to check out each opportunity carefully BEFORE submitting any personal information.

  2. Am I missing something on the Mechanical Turk site. Most everything I looked at paid nothing or ,03 cents…maybe it’s me, but I’m not understanding how this can make me extra money.
    If I am correct, why would you even put up such a bogus site?
    Thank you

    • @Patricia – Thanks for your comment. Mechanical Turk really isn’t a bogus a site – it is, after all, owned by Amazon. 3 cents per action may not seem like a lot, but it could be that the action takes a few seconds to perform. So let’s assume that you can perform the action in 10 seconds. There’s 3,600 seconds in an hour. 3600/10 = 360 actions per hour. 360 x .03 per action = $10.80. Therefore, your hourly wage would be $10.80.

  3. hujdp38

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