Companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Pinterest and Facebook follow every swipe of your mouse, collecting information to sell to advertisers and marketers so they can better target you.
Right now we’re giving them all this juicy information for free. It’s a cheek!
It’s time to get a share of the cash, and make money selling your personal data. Here’s how.
- What is ‘selling your data’?
- How do you make money selling your personal data?
- Who do you sell your data to?
- Sell it to Datacoup
- Sell it to DataWallet
- Sell it to Panel App
You know how one day you get distracted and start scrolling through Thornton’s newest chocolate collections, until you finally start doing whatever it is you were meant to be doing – but then adverts for chocolate start appearing everywhere?
These are called ‘targeted ads’, which are directed specifically towards you as an individual.
Tracking companies use sneaky technology like cookies to follow:
- the sites you visit,
- what you research there,
- what you buy,
- and sometimes even what you post.
The data brokers might then sell this information to other corporations, or they might use it themselves to help them choose which ads to show you.
So all these businesses are making money selling your personal data in a multi-billion-dollar industry, but the way things have been so far, most of us will never see a penny of it.
Well, not anymore. It’s time to fight back!
Basically, these data brokers want to know everything about you that is digitally accessible, including your:
- What you buy, where and when
- Social media posts
- And sometimes some extra, like education or employment history
the internet is not free
Up until now, most things on the internet have seemed free. Well, they weren’t. You were just paying them in your personal data instead of money.
So a few sites have now set up to help redress that balance and give you a cut of the profit.
One of them is called DataWallet and the idea behind the site is that:
- Personal data should be under the control of the individual.
- The person themself deserves to make money selling their personal data, rather than having it taken from them for free.
- You only sell what you want to sell.
The advantage of these data-pooling sites for data brokers is that they unlock much richer, more detailed information which is volunteered by the participants (for a small payment, of course).
what data do you sell?
Typically, the data brokers have access to public data only. But when the individuals themselves are involved, exciting new information is revealed, such as –
- what users are talking about online,
- when they’re online,
- and what they care about.
So how do you make money selling personal data?
Well, the people making adverts want to know what these things are. That is why they’re willing to pay sites like Datacoup – and by extension, you – to get this information. It is much more accurate and detailed than the generic, boring, low quality data available everywhere else.
This is a platform designed to allow people to easily connect their data, including accounts such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. This allows the site to build data profiles out of data attributes.
Data attributes are just the normal volunteered facts about you, which are given a high, medium or low value according to how much demand is out there for that type of data.
It is an easy and accessible site to use, including:
- The home page: where you select the online accounts, such as Facebook and Instagram, that you want to make available for data extraction.
- A Market page: to show you who is buying your data and when. Currently, to drum up interest in the site, Datacoup will be the one purchasing your data.
- An Account page: to explain the specific information taken and why it is valuable.
Unfortunately, Datacoup currently only accepts data from those with US bank accounts, which is slightly annoying for everyone else.
But for the lucky Americans, you get to make around $10 a month through PayPal for doing literally nothing once you’ve signed up. Pretty good deal, huh?
DataWallet is quite similar to Datacoup, with the added advantage of being able to fine-tune the settings for the exact pieces of data you want to share. For example, you might want to leave out your social media posts, so no one knows exactly how much time you waste watching videos of people falling over.
Your data will be:
- Stripped of anything that could personally identify you such as name, email address, and phone number.
- Lumped together with everyone else’s data.
- Turned into an analytics report to be sold to whoever wants it.
You will be given full transparency over what is happening with your data, as well as the reassurance of anonymity and extensive security measures.
Your data increases in value along with the number of accounts you connect.
The app’s maker Engel says that the typical amount of money you can make selling your personal data is around $10 or £5 per report, although it has been known to zoom all the way up to $50!
These payouts are to be expected around every 2 months, but as more users join the app Engel predicts that both the frequency and value of payments may start to increase.
However, something important to bear in mind is that DataWallet only accepts 1,000 new participants per month, so it’s a good idea to sign up as soon as possible to get a head start on the waiting list.
For those queue-jumpers among us, the way to be accepted quicker is if you either recommend the app to a few other users or if you get a lot of invites yourself.
Panel App is slightly different to the other two, tracking your location rather than your online accounts. It jumbles up all your information with everyone else’s in your area, again removing anything personally identifiable, and sells the reports to different third parties.
Since the information is not available at the individual level, it is usually used to help researchers develop an understanding about our different population trends.
- Download it onto your phone,
- Enable WiFi and GPS,
- Sign in with some demographic information e.g. your age,
And it will just buzz along quietly in the background.
This works with a points system, which allows you to win in two different ways:
- Guaranteed Rewards, where you exchange your points for an Amazon gift card that will be emailed to your account after the following Monday.
- Sweepstakes –you have the option of winning Amazon gift cards up to a value of $25. Fewer points are needed than for Guaranteed Rewards, and the more entries you redeem the greater your chances of winning. These prizes will be received within two weeks.
So how do you earn points?
- As soon as your account is verified, you start earning points for every day it is left running in the background.
- Surveys might be sent to you occasionally, depending on where you are or have been.
- The best method is probably referring friends, as you will get a 10% boost of all the points they earn, as well as 5% of all the points earned by your friends’ referrals.
Got all that? As you can see, once you start inviting others in, the money can start becoming a little more substantial.
And just remember – you’re getting all this for doing more or less absolutely nothing.