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How to make money from TV

MoneyMagpie team 27th Oct 2016 3 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Have you ever wondered how you can make money from TV? It’s not just for celebrities. Ordinary people can make money from TV in all sorts of odd ways.

Just as important as being on the box is what happens behind the box. Whether you want to make a few pounds or become a millionaire, it depends what you’re willing to do and how much effort you want to put into it. In this guide, find out how to talk about TV and get paid for it, how to come up with an exciting new game show and how to sell your story to a magazine programme.


Make money from tv by giving your opinion

Man watching TV

It’s important for media companies to know what the general public are thinking and feeling when new TV shows come out, old ones change time slots or presenters are changed. They also need to know things like which news service gives better coverage to the big issues.

To find out, they survey a cross-section of the public, whether in a personal focus group or via online surveys. The media firms asking the questions appeal to market research companies to find a random sample of people for them. Most commonly it can be 50 males and 50 females who watch TV, but samples can be defined within geographical location, occupation or even such elements as how many hours they watch TV per week.

Focus groups

3 young women watching TV

In terms of physical focus groups, where a group of people will come together to discuss TV, these are usually paid around £50 for an hour or two, plus refreshments. Now although you may want to run past every person holding a clipboard on the streets, those people are not always ‘chuggers’ (charity muggers for those who don’t know the term), some of them are actually recruiting people for market research – even to talk about TV. So if you see the bucket of coins shaking, run; but always ask them what they’re doing as you never know, they may want to give you money for your opinions! Alternatively, see our article on being in focus groups for more suggestions on how to take part.

Online surveys

Someone completing an online survey on a laptop

Media companies don’t do their own surveys, they bring in market research firms to recruit users. You can earn anywhere from 50p to several pounds doing surveys online, as well as being put into prize draws and collecting points to convert to cash or coupons. There are many companies out there to choose from, such as Inbox Pounds.

We have loads more survey sites and more information on the finer details in our online surveys article.

Review programmes

Woman beside a star rating system graphic

These days anybody can be a critic, and the public often is the best critic. Word of mouth can make or break a new film or TV series, so why don’t you get in there and take a slice of the pie using online virtual community sites that pay you for your time?

Virtual communities now also have earnings schemes where the more you write, the more income you can generate when others read what you have written. These communities share information and help each other out, and by referring new users and expanding the sites with content, you’re rewarded with cash. This is the easiest way to earn money by writing reviews and one paid virtual community we really like is Helium.

Helium is a community of writers who provide knowledge on a variety of topics and give opinions – bypassing the need to listen to publishers. It’s a great place to get some writing together, and not only give your own opinions, but read others’ views, too. Basically, the better the writing, the better the payment. You can also earn money by referring friends, entering contests, writing for the marketplace and linking in your articles to other websites and blogs. Write and earn with Helium here.


Sell your story to a daytime TV programme

Once upon a time written by a typewriter

They don’t always like to admit it, but daytime TV shows can have a hard job getting the right people to participate on air. Some shows are willing to pay, and quite well, to get you there. Some just cover the costs of you going on the show, but if producers are willing to pay to have you and your story on their show, it’s likely to be around the £200–300 mark.

It’s not for everyone, but if you do want to sell your story the best way is to let a PR agency do the work for you. They’ll receive a commission for handling your story, but they can broker the best deal for you financially. PR agencies can act as a buffer between you and the media and arrange to keep you anonymous if you wish. They can help you if you’re trying to get media coverage for campaigns, certain events or issues that affect peoples’ lives, or tell any number of stories that you feel the national press should know.

There are many agencies out there, but a couple of good ones to get you started are Ferrari Press Agency and Jonathan Hartley Associates. See our article on how to make money from misery for more ideas.


Write a game show format

Tv show concept

It doesn’t matter where your ideas come from, it just matters that they work. With the right idea, you could make game-show history.

A good idea is difficult to come by, – really difficult actually – but if you crack it you could create yourself a gold mine.

Really successful shows like ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ and ‘The Weakest Link’ get sold all around the world (at least the format does) and their creators make millions (literally).

However, it’s very difficult to come up with a winning format and those who have ended up making a fortune usually spent a few years having idea after idea rejected.

However,if you’re a big fan of game shows already, you’ll probably have an idea of what makes a good one. If you watch them several times a week then you’ll be studying them already without realising it.

  • Start making notes about what you like and what you don’t like about certain shows
  • See what the similarities are between successful formats and make sure you include some of those elements in your creations
  • Put some ideas together and run them by friends who also watch a lot of game shows to see if it grabs them.
  • If you think you have a great idea, make sure you can explain it on one side of A4 paper. Ultimately, if it’s easy to understand from that, then it has a chance of working on screen.

Once you have an idea then it’s time to take it to producers. Look at which companies produce your favourite shows. Look them up online and ring them up. Really, it’s as straightforward as that. Try and get a meeting with a producer in at least one company – ideally a few – so that you can run your format past them. Even if they don’t go for it the first time, they might be able to come up with ways to hone it into something acceptable.

Don’t give up!


Write a TV script

make money from tv

If you fancy a good drama, or know how to make people laugh with a comedy, you could try your hand at writing for TV (again, not exactly easy but definitely do-able if you can write and you’re keen).

Most genres have a certain style or type of script that you can often find when researching online, or you may want to create something a bit different, which really is the key.

Find stories that differ from what you’ve seen before, something so far out that you’re script will become widely viewed and well-known. We’re not saying you should aim for something like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ or ’30 Rock’, but give us a giggle, add a touch of drama and a pinch of romance and remember to enjoy the experience of writing a TV script.

There are a lot of courses around on how to write scripts, both for TV and radio, so do one of those, even if it’s just to give yourself a deadline each week to get something written.


be a voiceover artist

Male voice actor

Have you ever thought about being one of those loud, yelling voices on TV ads selling cars, or the soft, purring woman talking about why you should get life insurance?

Voice talent is always needed to read radio and TV commercials, so if you can speak clearly and present your voice in a friendly, energetic (but not over the top) and persuasive tone, then give this one a go. This is a cool way to make money from TV.

The voiceover industry is highly competitive and really big, lucrative jobs are almost exclusively put through the big, London-based agencies which only take celebrities, actors and some presenters who are members of Equity.

However, in the online world there are a number of ‘virtual’ agencies, mostly run out of the USA, that anyone can join and bid for work.

Agencies like Voice123, for example, have hundreds of jobs every day and if you can make a demo of your voice, upload it to the site and apply for any relevant ones that come in each day.

Most of the jobs are from America, so paid in dollars (if paid at all – some want you to do it for free), but if they’re easy and if you have some basic MP3 recording equipment at home, they could be worth doing.

Another way to get work is to sign up to media promotion agencies, such as Voice Talent Depot, which accepts professional voice demos to add to their website. They provide small talent to radio and TV stations, internet companies, consumers and businesses.

Check out our in-depth article on how to become a voiceover artist here.


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3 years ago

Writing a TV Script a good idea, you need writing ability to succeed.

5 years ago

I could talk the hind legs of a donkey so the thought of making money talking is right up my alley. Sounds really interesting

Jasmine Birtles
5 years ago
Reply to  Jo

Haha – go for it!

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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