Earlier this week, I shared with you some valuable ways to save on your most precious resource: time.
But sometimes, there’s no escaping it — you need money.
Or sometimes, you’ve already got enough time and occasionally suffer from boredom. In which case, why not get paid for a diversion or two?
That’s what today’s article is all about. Because here I’m going to propose a very interesting, very unconventional and often quite lucrative way to exchange some of your time for money.
I want you to be a guinea pig.
Now, to be clear — I won’t be recommending anything dangerous. It’s not worth risking your health for a check.
And these opportunities won’t be for everyone… It takes a certain type of person to embrace embarking into the unknown.
But if you happen to be one of these people, you’ll love what I’m going to share today.
Getting paid to be an explorer. Embarking on an adventure, entirely sponsored.
Or, ya know, occasionally putting up with fluorescents buzzing above your head for hours, in the interest of making a quick profit to pay for an unexpected expense.
Whatever your motivation — curiosity or otherwise — these are some of the best ways to get paid to donate your time to interesting studies.
Whaddaya Need, Doc?
When it comes to experiments, medical research always quickly comes to mind.
After all, every drug needs human trials. Every human body function requires study.
Some of these tests are easy… like taking aspirin with a new coating. You’re really, really unlikely to have a bad reaction.
Some are intrusive but lucrative. Like sleep studies that require you to spend most of the day in bed for weeks at a time… but will pay you well over $10,000 for your trouble.
Or you can get paid to test out various beds or mattresses under different conditions — like going to bed buzzed on wine. Not the worst way to get paid.
And if you’ve got any sort of preexisting condition — from asthma to Crohn’s disease to smoking — there’s a group out there that wants to pay you to try out new treatments.
Getting paid to get healthier — that sounds like a nice trade to me.
It’s hard to give too many links here, as most of these sorts of studies require you to live near whichever research center is conducting the study.
You can see a number of clinical trials come up on this list… but your best bet is to search online for clinical trials in your area. Unless you truly live in the middle of nowhere, there will be trials around you.
From there, it’s just a matter of deciding what you’re willing to do. I would never do anything that stood a good chance of putting my health at risk. Others might.
However, I would be willing to lie in bed for a week, while that might drive other folks crazy.
Figure out what you’re comfortable with… then set up a Google Alert to keep an eye out for interesting studies in your area.
Worst case, you get a few extra bucks doing some silly things. Best case, you make many thousands doing a longer-term study like a sleep study… or you get to try out a cutting-edge treatment for a chronic condition.
You might just wind up getting paid to be cured. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Rather than trying out new treatments or participating in studies, you can try out new products. Like new phones, new foods or new TV programs.
All that — and plenty more — is available when you sign up to join focus groups.
Focus groups often get a bad rap. Probably because no one likes to be criticized, and the folks who get criticized by focus groups often have very loud megaphones.
But the truth is focus groups can be very interesting. And a great way to get paid just to share your opinion or try out something new and see how you like it.
The highest-paid focus groups will usually be on-site and will take some time out of your day.
But the opportunities run the gamut — including online surveys you can take in your PJs before bedding down for the night.
If you’ve ever walked out of a movie saying, “They couldn’t pay me to watch that!” well, time to put that to the test.
If you’ve ever looked on enviously at action shots of a new gadget in use out in the real world and wished it were you using it… here’s your chance.
Or if you’ve grown tired of arguing politics around the kitchen table… here’s your chance to move it to a conference table and get paid to do it.
Whatever tickles your fancy, odds are you’ll find it in a focus group. And there are so many options… you can afford to be picky.
Only participate in studies that appeal to you. So if discussing politics is the furthest thing from your mind, great — just stick to pop culture focus groups.
The important thing is — there are plenty of paid opportunities for anyone looking to capitalize on their free time.
One Step Closer to Home
While focus groups occasionally test products, they spend at least as much time on opinions.
But if it’s products you want, you can get products.
Plenty of them — mailed directly to you.
There are dozens of different sites that will hook people up with products to test.
At one extreme, Pinecone Research has the highest average pay, but the products usually won’t inspire much passion.
At the other, Product Testing USA often doesn’t pay you a thing… but it does let you keep high-end products that you test if you’re randomly selected as one of the lucky “winners.”
As I write this, they still have iPhone 11 Pros advertised as available for testing. There’s a gamut of advertising and questionnaires you have to get through, but there is indeed the chance to get high-end products free on the other side.
There are, again, dozens of options in this space. Do a number of searches to see what’s available in your areas of interest. You can test everything from cars to video games. From new cereals to new furniture.
Just be aware that there are scams in this space as well. Once you’ve settled on a potential site, check out the reviews. The last thing you want is your name ending up on a spam list.
But with the barest amount of research, that’s easily avoidable. And the benefits of product testing — or any of the other types of testing discussed today — are just too great to ignore.
Dip your toe in this water, see how you like it and who knows — this time next month, you could be pocketing extra hundreds or thousands just for exploring new and interesting things.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. Have you ever been a guinea pig, tested something out or gotten paid to give your opinions? Tell us all about your experiences by writing us at email@example.com. We want the whole story — especially if you’ve had any great successes, great products or great pay you’ve gotten out of the deal.
Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.
Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...