Are you a general knowledge freak?
Do you love looking things up online?
If you answered yes to those questions, you could be using your knowledge to make £10 an hour through a text service. People text in their questions, you answer. It’s as simple as that.
The UK has a range of text answering services. They may not be as popular as they were before everyone got smartphones, but those companies continue to hire researchers to answer questions. Customers can text a question 24/7 from anywhere in the world. They can ask absolutely anything – fun, serious or just challenging.
If you’re willing to spend the time on being a researcher, you can make money with a text service.
The good thing about working for a text service is flexibility. This means 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. With that in mind, some people do it as a full-time job, while many others log on whenever they can to earn a bit of money.
To join a text service, you need to be fluent in English and have excellent writing skills. You should also 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.
Another useful idea is to have other resources such as reference books or magazines at hand. Those can help you with general knowledge. But remember, 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.
- For AQA:
To become a researcher, send your CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll then receive more information about the work, including an application form and test.
Typically, when you take the test, you’ll answer several questions. Then a mentor will 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:
118118 Answer text service tends to test your research skills and knowledge first. 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.
Unfortunately, 118118 aren’t recruiting right now.
Meanwhile, you can send a speculative application (submit a CV and covering letter) to email@example.com. 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 text service research community. Consequently, you’ll need to download the system software and create 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
The faster you can reply, the better. All text services endeavour to answer questions within 10 minutes of receiving them. Although the average time it takes to answer a question is just one minute.
Since AQA began in April 2004, their researchers answered more than 30 million questions. But don’t worry if that sounds like a lot of pressure. 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.
Where to get answers
Sometimes you’ll be given the answer automatically. For each question, the text 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.
Other times, however, it’s not that easy. You may need to dig deeper and 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
First of all, you’ll need to answer each question using full grammatical sentences, but stick to the 160-character text limit. Therefore, you have to be good at reducing complex statements into short sentences. A tough one would be to name the English football squad. With 22 names, that’s quite a challenge.
Each text service has policies about the types of questions it cannot or will not answer. They’d typically also specify the type of questions where professional help may need to be given.
Since you receive questions from total strangers you have to take care – you don’t know anything about them. For example, they could be a teenager asking about bankruptcy or a 56-year-old asking for advice about their boyfriend or girlfriend.
There’s one thing that will help you, though – you’ll be able to see previous texts from the same number. While the number is private, the texting history is available and it could help you answer further questions. This, in turn, can be crucial in relationship questions, for example. In some cases professionals will help give answers in precarious situations.
Earnings in this type of work will vary and the amount you make depends on the time you spend answering questions for your text service. Some researchers like to have their own targets and hours to fulfil, for instance. 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, though.
Working for a text service, you’re paid directly into your account at the end of each month. As such, the job is regarded as self-employed, so you must do your own tax. For more information about how working for a text service works, have a look at our article here.