I’m not normally a big fan of TV. I find that it takes me away from other things I could/should be doing. However, I recognize that there are plenty of people out there who love TV. If you watch a lot of TV, it’s probably taking you away from other opportunities to earn more money. If that’s true, you can still make a little money from your TV watching. You probably won’t get rich, but you might make a little extra. (And, no, I’m not talking about jumping on some pyramid scheme advertised in a late night informercial.) Here are some money making ideas for your TV time.
Blog about your favorites: If you have favorite TV shows, movies, actors, documentaries, or directors, start a blog or website about your favorites. You can sell advertising space on your site/newsletter, or enroll in Google’s AdSense to monetize your site. Keep in mind that your site will do better if it is detailed, has uncommon information, is updated regularly, and has a “voice” that no other site has.
Become a critic: Becoming a TV critic isn’t that difficult. There are many sites that pay for reviews, or you can start your own. You can also get a job at a local newspaper. (Newspapers in small towns are easier to break into than national papers.) You can also write for magazines. Entertainment Weekly might be out of your grasp, but you have a better chance if you submit reviews to specialized magazines (e.g., you watch a nature documentary and then submit a review to your states’ wildlife magazine). You have to be willing to put in lots of unpaid time and generate some reviews that you can show potential employers. You also have to learn what makes a good review and learn how to properly submit your work. However, this can be one of the more lucrative ways to get paid for watching TV.
Learn about money: When you watch shows about investing, business, debt reduction, etc. you are learning things that will help you save and invest wisely. Shows like Clark Howard and Suze Orman answer questions from viewers. Who knows, your burning question might be answered. Watching CNBC or Bloomberg can be a good way to get a sense for how the stock market works, upcoming business trends, and any new legal or regulatory issues that might affect your money.
Become a Nielsen family: You can’t volunteer for this because Nielsen randomly selects people to join their panel. However, if you ever receive an envelope from them, you might want to join. They pay you to watch TV and record data about what you watched. This is how they come up with their “Nielsen Ratings” that you hear mentioned in the media.
Join RewardTV: RewardTV is a variant on the Get Paid to Site. In this case, you earn points by watching TV programs and then playing trivia games. Points can be “spent” on stuff or gift cards, or you can trade your points for entries into sweepstakes or use them in auctions.
Participate in focus groups: Sometimes advertisers will pay you to watch TV shows in which their ads will appear. They want your feedback about the quality of the ad, how it fits with the show, and whether it is motivating to you. Groups like this can be hard to find; I frequently find them through other survey sites that I participate in. You’ll get a screening survey and if you pass that, you’ll be asked to watch the show and complete a follow up survey later.
Watch for trends, ideas, and opportunities: Home shows can teach you how to make simple repairs or upgrades. Travel channels can show you budget travel ideas. Watching business shows might give you an idea of upcoming trends that will make good business ideas. Antique shows can give you ideas for profitable yard sale items. If you pay attention while watching TV, you might learn valuable money saving tips or get some ideas for your own ventures.
Do it better: Ever watch something and think, “I can do better than this crap?” Give it a try. Write a script for a new show or develop an idea for a new reality series. Educate yourself about how to submit these ideas to agents and Hollywood and see if you can launch your ideas. Watch TV to see what is already being done, what works, what fails, and why. Then do it better .
Look for freebies and contests: Sometimes when watching a show (particularly talk shows) the host will offer a limited time download of a song or eBook to promote a guest. You might also be able to get a free gift bag or other items if you are one of the first to register at the website. There are also contests and “play at home” opportunities that might net you some cash or other prizes.
Watching TV doesn’t have to be a complete waste of time. Look around and you might find some opportunities to turn your TV time into some extra money, or better money management, for yourself.