Being paid to do something you do in your everyday life sounds like a dream job.
What if you could be paid to eat food? Well, that is a real opportunity that can earn you decent cash.
Check any social media platform and foodies are wildly popular and are earning money.
There are even full-time taste testers jobs however, most are part-time and freelance.
How Taste Testers Jobs Work
There are two levels of paid eating: one requires a degree and the other is freelance. This article will focus on freelance food tasting jobs. Also, the money you earn can depend on your demographic.
Some demographics are targeted for testing more often than others. Proximity to large urban areas also increases your chances of paid eating opportunities.
Why are people paid to eat? Food manufacturers and restaurants depend on valid market research to have successful products and services, like any other business. Food testing by the general public is just one way that they can have genuine feedback targeted to specific demographics.
That information is then used to tweak their food product before the final market sale or help restaurants improve customer service.
Once you sign up to participate, you are usually called for testing or shopping jobs based on how your demographic (age, gender, etc.) fits the product being tested. The trick to being hired is to make sure you are agreeable to try whatever product or food service is being tested.
So, just saying yes if they ask about flavors or types of food increases your chances of being offered to get paid to eat.
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1. Freelance Food Taste Testers
Probably the most common paid eating jobs are food testers who work for sensory (taste, touch, smell, look, etc.) marketing companies.
Generally, the process is you sign up with an agency that does product testing for large food manufacturers. Contract Tessting Inc is one of the biggest in the industry.
Living close to large urban areas increases the opportunity for these types of freelance tasting gigs. Once the company has your demographics on file they call you as needed.
When you are called, you are usually asked a few extra questions such as food preferences, maybe allergies, etc. The key to being selected is to say, yes, that you are willing to try any type of food product being tested. When selected you are given a date, time, and location for the taste test.
Tasting sessions can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Most agencies pay up to $15 per hour for your time. You are not paid for your feedback or review of items.
Most agencies do limit the number of sessions in which a person can participate per week. In addition to keeping the agency’s budget in check, limitations also ensure more well-rounded results for the food being tested. However, if you are able and are chosen to participate regularly, you can add a significant amount of extra cash to your monthly income by just working a few hours a month.
2. Become a Food Reviewer
This category of taste testers jobs requires writing and photography skills as well as some patience to build your credibility as a reviewer. This job is probably not going to replace your day job very quickly, if at all. However, if you eat out a lot or enjoy trying any new food product that appears on your market shelf, this may be the perfect part-time side job for you.
How do you start? Check with local newspaper editors (most cities of over 100,000 people have a local scene review) that might be interested in food reviews of local restaurants or hotel eateries. Have ready some sample reviews that include menu taste tests, service reviews, and a rating. Be creative with your rating system. Uniqueness counts.
A degree in writing or journalism will likely help you get in the door with this type of tasting job and the reviews are usually freelance. But hey, extra cash is extra cash, right? Be prepared to approach many publications and receive rejections, but no pain equals no gain. So, polish off those writing skills, update your resume, and type up some sample reviews.
3. Direct Food Testing for Food Manufacturers or Universities
This type of freelance food tasting requires being near large urban areas that have several food production plants or universities that do food research.
Much like the agency food taste testers jobs, these require you to sign up and be available on an as-needed basis. Again, feedback from specific demographics is usually targeted for the different foodstuffs or research being conducted.
Testers for direct tasting jobs are paid for their time, as with the agencies, and honest feedback is needed. The key to being selected, again, is being open to trying new items. Saying yes to trying unusual or unknown products is key to being hired and rehired as a taste tester.
If you are not near any major food manufacturers reach out to the health research facilities at your local university or search online job boards like Indeed or Monster.
Most research testing is done on-site, so being near a testing location is a big plus. You might be pleasantly surprised at the number of food testing jobs nearby that could bring you some extra cash.
4. Get Paid To Eat as a Secret Shopper
Secret shopping has been around for decades. In essence, a person is reimbursed by a company, in this case, a restaurant or foodservice, for eating (shopping) at the eatery and sharing their feedback with management.
The company uses this information to improve services and products.
As with food tasting directly for food manufacturers, you would be expected to provide honest, truthful input about the food served, the service quality, and the atmosphere of the establishment.
While you are not, in most cases, earning cash above what the meal costs you, sometimes you can earn free hotel stays if you are hired to eat in hotel restaurants. So, since you might eat out regularly anyway, this is a way to have something you enjoy doing, for free.
5. Eat Out and Earn Money Back
A passive way to eat out and earn an income is through money-back apps. This is as simple as downloading a cash-back aka passive income apps (or two) on your mobile device. Again, while you are not necessarily earning extra cash, you are receiving free meals that you would normally pay for anyway.
Along with free meals, many of these rebate apps offer cash-back and discount options on other everyday products you normally buy as you are shopping. Some of the apps process your rebates as you are shopping or dining while some require you to scan receipts afterward.
Either way, in addition to free meals, you might bring in some passive cash that you were missing out on. Most device app stores have access to download rebate sites and most of the apps work on either iOS or Android systems.
6. Earn Income to Eat while Vlogging and Blogging
Cooking and eating while filming yourself has become a very popular enterprise that can be quite lucrative if you can monetize your effort. There are many popular cooking YouTube Channels and you can start your own.
Some of them earn over $10,000 per month. However, they invest around $3,000 per month on the food they cook and consume, but they are still making a healthy profit. What skills are necessary for running a successful YouTube channel?
It helps if you can easily live stream the experience for your viewers. Also, being able to converse in an engaging manner while cooking and chomping on food is a plus.
Lastly, understanding how to monetize social media platforms would enable you to make extra income from an activity you enjoy. This is a highly competitive venue, but one that can pay handsomely for the right person.
To potentially add more revenue to your YouTube endeavor you might want to consider running a companion food blog. Blogs, like streaming platforms, can be monetized through advertisers.
While it can become lucrative, it does take a while to establish yourself in the food vlog-blog-o-sphere. Initially, the blog-vlog is a labor of love.
Some skills necessary for a successful blog include being able to take beautiful food photos and write engaging content. However, if you are disciplined, patient, and determined, the vlog-blog combination could pay off in the long term.
Related: How to Start a Blog and Make it Profitable
7. Competitive Eating
Yes, that competitive eating, as in “how many hot dogs can you eat in an X amount of time.” Fair warning, competitive eating is not for the faint of heart or untrained.
The real prize money is won by people who actually spend significant time training their digestive systems to handle large amounts of food consumed in a short amount of time. In some circles, competition eating is considered a legitimate sport.
The perks to eating competitively are eating lots of food and, if you win, taking home good prize money. Some of the better-known contests offer prizes up to $10K. However, the competition is fierce with many of the same people winning, repeatedly, worldwide.
The downsides to this type of eating income are the time and investment needed to train and travel along with consuming inhuman amounts of food in one sitting.
If you think you have the stomach for this start by watching videos of the successful eating contestants and go from there.
The good news for anyone looking to make extra cash from eating is that there are jobs that exist to make that possible. From taste-testing for marketing firms to rebate apps to competition eating, the field of paid eating offers lots of options and variety.
Taste-testing for survey purposes at marketing agencies is probably the most common method of being paid to eat. Requiring few skills and little time, most sessions pay around $15 for your time and honest feedback.
Being close to a large urban market helps with the availability of jobs, but universities that conduct food research can also be a source of revenue if you live away from the city. Some major food manufacturers even conduct their own, in-house food tasting.
If you live near one or more of these producers find out if you can sign up as a tester. As with the marketing agencies you will be compensated for your time. Again, few skills are needed outside of a “yes” attitude and some time to eat.
Freelance food reviewing is another avenue for the person looking to eat and get paid. If you have a strong writing ability and like to try new food places or products, this might be worth your effort.
Start by reaching out to the editors of local newspapers and offering to review restaurants or food products. Have ready some samples of reviews and a resume. Generally, the news outlet reimburses expenses and pays a nominal fee for the article, if they run it.
Secret shoppers are hired in many retail industries and the restaurant business is no different. Secret shoppers are reimbursed for food and drinks and sometimes offered a nominal fee for their time. The restaurants are seeking honest feedback to help them improve their experience for the diner. The only skills needed are time, a good appetite, and an open mind.
One of the newest contenders in the paid-to-eat market is rebate or cash-back apps. By simply downloading an app or two to your mobile device, you spend money to eat and are reimbursed or offered steep discounts. A passive source of income, you can save substantial money on something you already love to do.
Another new, but very popular trend, is eating while live streaming on social media. Also known as the “mukbang” and originating in South Korea, some food vloggers earn significant cash. Combined with a companion traditional blog, if you know how to monetize your media platforms this can generate steady side income. However, this type of eating income requires patience and discipline along with some tech skills.
Lastly, we have competitive eating. If you have the capacity to down copious amounts of a particular food in a short period of time this might be worth considering. Fair warning, training time and expense are involved and the competition is intense.
So, can you earn money while pursuing your favorite pastime: eating? The short answer is, yes. However, you do need to be prepared to invest time and, most times, upfront costs for food.
The options are quite varied and range from passive (apps) to active (vlog) involvement. The extra income can be quite good once you establish your credibility and skills. Like any side gig, discipline and effort usually pay off in time.
If you love food and think you have the skills to pursue one of these paid eating jobs getting started is as easy as downloading an app or doing an internet search.
Peter is a serial entrepreneur and founder of DollarSanity blog who created and run a variety of businesses. You can learn more about him at the DollarSanity About me page.