Are you a general knowledge freak? Do you love looking things up online? You could be using your knowledge to make £10 an hour answering questions that people send in by text.
The UK has a range of text answering services that are constantly looking for more researchers to answer the thousands of questions they receive per day. Customers can text a question 24/7 from anywhere in the world and can ask absolutely anything – fun, serious or just challenging.
If you’re willing to spend the time on being a researcher, you can make a lot of money. These services receive on average 20,000 questions a day.
You can work from wherever you want; all you need is a computer and an internet connection. You get paid for each question you answer and you’ll be working on a self-employed basis. Some people do it as a full-time job, while there are many who just log on when they can to earn a bit of money.
You need to be fluent in English, with excellent writing skills. You need to be able to use your own knowledge and internet skills to help come up with great answers for the multitude of questions customers are going to ask.
Having other resources such as reference books or magazines on various topics you like can help even more with general knowledge. Sometimes it’s just a case of having a phone book or street map in your care.
The three main text answering services in the UK are AQA 63336 (Any Question Answered), Maureen 118212 and 118118 Answers. On average about one in 10 applications are accepted by the companies.
- For AQA:
Send an email to [email protected] quoting the reference UK – IB/FR/UK1 if you’re based in the UK. You’ll be sent more information about the work, including an application form and test.
When you take the test, you’ll answer several questions and have a mentor check them for editorial policy and style. Once you’ve passed, you can begin answering questions.
- For Maureen 118212:
Use this contact form to get in touch and enquire about vacancies.
- For 118118 Answer:
To work for the 118118 Answer text service you must take an initial challenge that tests you on your research skills and knowledge. If you pass that, you take a test where you must handle a certain number of questions, answering them to the standard required. If you’ve got good research skills, a bit of common sense and a sense of humour, you’ll likely do well. Agents are paid per answer.
Unfortunately 118118 aren’t recruiting right now, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on their website as opportunities can crop up all the time.
In the meantime you can send a speculative application (submit a CV and covering letter) to [email protected] They keep all applications on file for future vacancies, so it’s certainly worth doing.
Becoming a researcher
After passing the test you’ll become a part of the research community by downloading the system software and making a username and password to log on. You can then access senior researchers, a database of answers already given, a forum to discuss any issues that arise and the never-ending queue of questions that need answering.
How long you have
All services endeavour to answer questions within 10 minutes of being texted, but the average time it takes to answer a question is just one minute.
Since AQA began in April 2004, more than 27 million questions have been answered and are now stored in their database. If there’s a question you just cannot answer it’s possible to put it back in the queue for someone else to pick up.
For each question the service database can provide you with a number of possible answers and you can choose the most relevant and shoot it off to the customer.
Sometimes it’s not that easy, and you’ll have to refer to alternative resources to answer a question. Although the internet is helpful, it’s also good to have newspapers and reference books or make a phone call – all those old-school devices can help.
You can also talk to other researchers on the forums to ask where information can be found.
How to answer questions
Each question has to be answered using full grammatical sentences, but still has to fit into the 160-character text limit. You have to be good at reducing complex statements into short sentences. A challenging one would be to name the English football squad. With 22 names, that’s quite an effort to fit in.
Because you receive questions from total strangers you have to take great care – you have no idea about the characteristics of the texter. They could be a teenager asking about bankruptcy or a 56-year-old asking advice about a boy/girlfriend.
You are, however, able to see previous texts from the same number – the number’s private, but the history is there to help you answer further questions. This can be crucial in relationship questions, for example. In some cases professionals will help give answers in precarious situations.
The amount you make depends on the time you spend answering questions. Some researchers like to have their own targets and hours to fulfill. On average you can earn about £10 an hour. Dedicated researchers tapping out answers on a full-time basis can pull in up to around £25,000 a year.
You’re paid directly into your account, on time, at the end of each month. The job is regarded as self-employed, so you must do your own tax. For more information about how this works – have a look at our article here.