How I Make Extra Money as a UX Tester

When you find a way to make a little extra money online that works and actually pays decent, it’s worth sharing. Last year, I became a user experience (UX) tester for UserTesting, and quickly became a fan.

I get the opportunity to test websites and applications for top brands and give them valuable feedback. And then I get paid $10 for each testing session I complete (each one takes just 15 to 20 minutes of my time).

It’s a win-win.

How It Works

How a target audience intuitively navigates a brand’s website, or application (on either a desktop or mobile device) is extremely useful for a company. A bad user experience can make or break a brand, or at the very least, cause them to lose sales.

This is where UserTesting comes in. They provide a platform where their clients (the brands) can see exactly how a user interacts with and experiences a particular website or application. UserTesting pays people like you and me to be the testers. You need to:

  • Know your way around a desktop computer and mobile devices.
  • Know how to navigate websites and applications.
  • Be able to speak clearly and thoughtfully while moving through a test and answering questions.
  • Be able to write clear and useful feedback.

Watch this video to see how the program works:

How Much It Pays

Most of the tests pay $10 and, as I stated earlier, take approximately 15–20 minutes to complete. You take a very short pre-screener questionnaire that will determine if you qualify to take a paid test.

The UserTesting clients who create the tests are looking for a specific audience or demographic, and if you fit the mold, you are accepted and can begin testing immediately. Here’s what a testing session looks like:

There are also Live Conversations that you may qualify for. These are scheduled Zoom calls where you connect directly to a UserTesting client to provide your feedback. I haven’t qualified for a Live Conversation yet, but they pay well if you can get in on one:

  • $30 for 30 minutes
  • $60 for 60 minutes
  • $90 for 90 minutes
  • $120 for 120 minutes

*Update on 3/10/21: I qualified for one of the Live Conversations — a 30-minute session via Zoom for $30. The company I connected with was evaluating the design of their mobile app on tablets. I was guided through a series of instructions to find certain things on the app and talk about the normal way I would consume information on a mobile device. It was easy and fun!

Getting Paid

If you qualify for a paid test and complete a session successfully, you will be paid exactly seven days later (the funds are deposited directly into your PayPal account). I have always received my payments on time, just like clockwork.

You can find more information on UserTesting’s payments and schedule here.

Of note, PayPal is the only payment method UserTesting uses, and you will need to open a new account with PayPal if you do not have one.

What I Have Earned So Far

My main goal when I joined UserTesting was to earn enough money to pay for my $14.99 monthly subscription on Upwork that allows me to be part of their Freelancer Plus program.

I have easily exceeded that goal since signing up for UserTesting in October 2020. To date, I have completed 16 tests at $10 each, which has given me total earnings of $160.

Woman holding cash
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

How Much Time I Spend Doing This

A few nights a week, I will come home from my day job, log in to UserTesting and spend five minutes or so answering questionnaires to see if I qualify for any tests. Sometimes I qualify, and sometimes I do not.

If I do qualify, great. Each test (it’s usually 1 or 2 that I qualify for) takes approximately 15 minutes. If I don’t qualify, it’s no biggie — I’ll check back another day.

It’s pretty easy to fit into a busy schedule, especially for someone like me, who works a full-time job and freelances on the side.

Woman typing on laptop
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

I Do Get Rated by the Clients

Once you complete a session and the UserTesting client reviews it, they can either give you a star rating, choose not to submit a rating, or submit a ‘hidden’ rating that you will not see. Here is the scale:

  • 1 star = Participant was not helpful
  • 2 stars = Participant was a little helpful
  • 3 stars = Participant was somewhat helpful
  • 4 stars = Participant was very helpful
  • 5 stars = Participant was extremely helpful
Five Star Rating
Image created by the author.

All of your test ratings are combined to give you an overall rating. Your overall rating is important because it determines how many tests will be sent your way. The higher your overall rating, the more tests you can try to qualify for.

At first, my overall rating was 5 stars, and my dashboard was full of opportunities. In my first month, I made $50 after qualifying for five tests and was quite pleased.

However, at some point, I must have received at least one ‘hidden’ rating that was low because suddenly, my overall rating dropped to 3 stars. It was at that point that I saw fewer available tests.

It wasn’t until I completed a test a few months later and was rated 5 stars, which bumped my overall rating up to 3.5 stars, that I started seeing more activity on my dashboard.

How To Join UserTesting

To be accepted to the program, you will need to take a practice test that the UserTesting team will evaluate. Do not simply jump into this before doing your homework — there are specific requirements and aptitudes you must have to do this well. Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Make sure you have the proper equipment (a PC, Mac, and microphone). Your computer needs to have these minimum requirements.

Step 2: Review UserTesting’s FAQ to have a good understanding of how the platform operates and what will be expected of you. Watch this video for some valuable tips about being a good test participant:

Step 3: Begin the application process by entering your email address on UserTesting’s sign-up page. You will be contacted to take the practice test (unpaid) and provide some demographic information.

Step 4: Provide the requested demographic information, then take the practice test and perform it to the best of your ability. Follow the instructions carefully.

Step 5: Wait a few days for the UserTesting team to evaluate your practice test and determine if you will be accepted as a tester.

Step 6: If approved, you are ready to begin! I suggest reading the Getting Started tips so you get off on the right foot.

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