Welcome to the latest post in my side hustle series, looking at tried and tested methods to earn extra income. There are so many ways to make extra cash when you need to. This week Simon Donald tells us how to make money as a website tester.
Simon is the author of Pennies for the Piggy Bank, a blog dedicated to helping you with tips to improve your finances. Simon mainly writes about simple ways to save money and making extra money from home.
How to Make Money as a Website Tester
One of my favourite ways to make money from home is website testing. Now I know what you might be thinking – “Don’t you need to be techie or have web design skills to make money as a website tester?” The short answer is no… Website testing is a fun side hustle that anyone can do… and get paid very well for. So, in this post I’d like to give you an introduction into this well-paid side hustle.
What is Website Testing?
Website Testing or Usability Testing is a process used by companies and web developers to make sure that their website is easy to use.
Now if you’re developing a new site then there are several ways that companies or agencies might test this. One way would be to use staff to test the functionality of the site, and this is fairly common. The disadvantage is that the people doing the testing generally know the company, the products and probably the website itself. So, you’re not really getting a true picture of how genuine customer would use it.
That’s where usability testing comes into play. There are several website testing sites that act as an intermediary between the site owner and paid testers (you and me). The company that owns the website outsources the usability testing to one of these middlemen. They then create the tests and send them out to people that they have on their books.
Think of it a bit like paid surveys but with a bit more interaction.
How Much Can You Earn?
The main reason I like website testing as a side hustle is that the pay rate can be really good. The market rate tends to be around $10 for a 20-minute test, which is way higher than any survey site will pay.
One of the drawbacks though is that the number of tests you get sent is fairly limited, so you’re not going to make a full-time income from it. This suits me as I haven’t got enough spare time to carry out hundreds of tests each month so the odd one here and there is fine.
How Do You Start to Make Money as a Website Tester?
To start making money as a website tester you need to sign up with a few testing sites. But before signing up for every company going it’s probably worth trying a couple out to see if it’s something you enjoy doing first. A few that are worth trying to start with are:
- UserTesting (probably the biggest and most well-known). If you want to know more you can read my review of UserTesting.
What’s the Process?
Once you’ve signed up with one of these sites, the process can differ slightly depending on the company.
Some sites require you to download some screen recording software so they can record your computer screen and microphone during a test. Other sites manage this through the browser, so it does vary.
You also might have to take a practice test (again this varies depending on the company). This is just to make sure that you’re comfortable speaking your thoughts aloud and that you can follow and on-screen instructions during a test.
Once you’ve done this and it’s approved, you’re then eligible to start receiving tests – these are usually sent through by email. Then you can accept the test and complete it.
What’s Involved in a Typical Test?
Tests can be quite varied; it really depends on the website client. With all the tests, though, the structure is usually similar.
- You get given an initial scenario that you need to place yourself in mentally.
- You’re then sent to the test website and you’re given a set of instructions to work though one by one while speaking out loud. You’ll need to say what you like about the site, what you don’t like or find hard to use, or if you can’t complete the task you’re on for some reason. This often happens as it’s a prototype site so there’s often still bugs in it – that’s one of the reasons you’re there!
- Once you’ve worked through the tests you then often get a set of exit questions. This is basically a very brief survey about the tasks and site that takes a couple of minutes to fill out.
- Finally, you upload your recorded test.
- Once it’s reviewed and approved, your payment’s confirmed.
I’ve done a variety of tests such as:
Transactional Website Tests
Tests like this are focused on e-commerce sites, where you have to make a transaction to make sure everything works OK. Examples are things like booking a holiday on a booking portal or signing up for a credit card. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to put in your real details or anything like that!
With these tests you’re simply being asked to try and find the answer to a hypothetical problem. The idea of tests like this is that they want to test how easy the site is to navigate for people who’ve never seen it before
Face to Face Skype Calls
These are scheduled in advance and are usually when a company needs more in-depth information about a website concept. They’re scheduled in advance and pay much more than standard tests.
You’ll be reviewing a prototype website prior to launch and giving your feedback. Again, this is just likely to be things such as what you like and what you don’t, plus any other insights into how you would use it. You might even get shown several concepts of screen designs for example if they’re trying to decide on a final layout for the site.
Yes, that’s right you can also get more traditional surveys on these sites, and they pay much better than traditional survey sites. Usually these don’t require a screen recorder, so if you’re not in the mood to speak out loud then these can be just the ticket. These work in the same way as traditional surveys, but they’re just focused around either a specific website or how you use a category of websites in general. For example, you might get asked about which sites you use to book holidays online and which sites you’re aware of.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
Generally, all you need to get started is a computer with a microphone (so your voice can be recorded during tests), and a fast internet connection. You’ll also need a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed while you’re taking a test.
What are the Pros of Website Testing?
- It can be very well paid for the time you invest. $10 per 20-minute test works out at $30 per hour which is about £25 at today’s exchange rate.
- It’s interesting and fun. You get to see prototypes of new websites or apps, which can be quite an interesting experience.
- If you’ve ever got frustrated with a website you’ve been on and wanted to vent a bit, then it can be quite liberating to be able to do it and get paid. This is after all what the website owners ultimately want. They want to know what’s wrong with the site so they can fix it, so feel free to let rip!
- If you provide decent test responses, you can get invited to even better paid sessions. For example, I earned $60 for a 1-hour Skype call with a customer about a new site they were launching.
What About the Downsides?
- The number of tests you get from each site is limited. You can probably only expect around 4 a month (sometimes it’s more – this is the average). So, if you want to make a decent side income from it you need to sign up with a few different sites. Luckily there’s loads of them, so this isn’t too much of a problem.
- You’re not really in control of how much you earn. Like surveys, it just depends what you get sent through based on your demographics.
- Some of the sites screen you out, which can be annoying. UserTesting is probably one of the worst culprits for this.
Who Can Start Website Testing?
The great thing about website testing is that you generally don’t need any experience or qualifications to get started. The testing companies are simply looking for consumers who would potentially use the website.
This makes it an ideal side hustle for anyone who wants to earn a bit of extra cash and is great for combining for other side hustles. You’re probably going to be able to take more tests though if you have a flexible schedule making it ideal for self-employed people or remote workers, stay at home parents and students.
- Make sure you have somewhere quiet to take the test. If you have young kids, it’s probably best to wait until they’re in bed so you’re not disturbed.
- Speak loudly and clearly to make sure you get a good rating – this helps you get more tests in future by gaining a good tester score.
- If a test comes through and you’re able to do it straight away, accept it. On some of the sites I’ve used tests can get taken by other testers quite quickly – this does vary from site to site quite a bit though.
- Don’t rely on it as a regular source of income. Just see it as a nice top up to combine with other side hustles such as paid surveys and mystery shopping, for example.
- If you want to earn as much as you can, you’ll need to sign up with several website testing sites to make sure you get more tests sent through.
Many thanks to Simon for this side hustle idea. I hadn’t considered that I could make money as a website tester before and will definitely be trying it!