Could Being a ChaCha Guide Mean a Decent Pay Day?
UPDATE: **Sadly, the option to be a ChaCha Guide is no more. Wikipedia: “On November 23, 2016, ChaCha discontinued the guide program due to having insufficient funds available. The owner moved to Hawaii and avoided paying employees the money they were due.”
Since 2006, ChaCha has been a site, similar to Yahoo Answers, that is a basic question and answer site. You have a question, you call (not too many do this) or text it to ChaCha and the guides at ChaCha will research the answer and text you back with it. ChaCha’s main focus is on mobile devices and this is where they differ from Yahoo Answers.
How do you make money being a ChaCha Guide?
With all those questions being asked, ChaCha needs people to answer them. The questions come in twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. ChaCha needs people to act as guides who can research the answers and respond back to the people who ask them. There are a few types of guides that exist with ChaCha:
1. Expediters: These people focus mainly on the quick one-word answer questions where all that is required is an easy Google search.
2. Generalists: These guides can basically answer any question on any given topic with very little difficulty.
3. Specialists: As you might surmise, these guides are knowledgeable in a certain area due to their education, job or background.
4. Transcribers: These people answer the phone calls and transfer them into text for the other guides to answer.
As you might expect, different guides means different pay since some require doing more work than others.
What kind of income can you expect to make?
Two ways of getting paid exist for being a ChaCha Guide — bonus money or pay as you go.
Pay as you go is just that—you answer some questions and then you will get paid. Payment is based on your guide level. This is determined by ChaCha. Usually, payment is two to three cents per question. For questions that require more work or for guides who are specialists, you can make ten to twenty cents per question, but these are rarely available.
Bonus money is another way of making money as a ChaCha Guide and is based on a monthly point system. For every search you complete, you will earn points. You may have to do several searches a day in order to get these points, however. How it works is that you, along with other guides, build up the value of the points by working more each month. The more points that your group gets, the higher the point value at the end of the month. Each month these are credited to you. One of the problems, though, is that they do not tell you what the value actually is for these points. But it does appear that the longer you and your group stay logged on for a certain period of time every day or you meet a certain monthly level, the points do increase. Guides have claimed to have made three dollars per hour just answering questions and then it went to four dollars an hour with the bonus points.
Most ChaCha guides have said that by combining the two methods of making money, four dollars an hour seems to be doable.
Are there any qualifications to be a ChaCha Guide?
ChaCha does not just take anyone to answer these questions. You must first pass a qualifying test or else your application is denied. And you better make sure you pass because they do not give you a second opportunity to take the test again.
Once you do pass and are accepted, you will be given some video tutorials as well as a guide that gives you some tricks for conducting fast Internet searches. They will also provide you with some websites for certain topics that you may have to research. Make sure your spelling and grammar are accurate—it is important to them.
On the equipment side, you need a computer with high-speed Internet and 512 MB-1 GB of RAM along with Firefox and Flash. For those of you with considerably newer computers, this will not be a problem since this is standard these days. If you do not have Firefox, it is very easy to download—and free. (See my post, Answering Questions for Money – Earn Extra Cash for even more ideas for making cash answering people's questions.)
What kind of hours can you expect to work?
How much you want to work is entirely up to you. ChaCha does not have a minimum requirement, so if you only want to work one hour a day, so be it. They are very upfront about working for them as a means of making a few extra bucks rather than as full-time work. Of course, if you want to work eight hours a day answering questions you are more than welcome to do so but do not expect the pay to be anywhere near a regular eight-hour workday.
How are guides paid?
If your account has $150 in it, ChaCha will make a direct deposit payment to you. This is much higher than most other work-at-home jobs. Hopefully, you will be able to make that amount frequently. Another option for payment is their debit card system where they can transfer money to your debit account so that you can use the money on the debit card to spend as you wish. PayPal has this debit card system which you can use if you have a PayPal account. The debit card option seems to be the most popular among ChaCha guides.
As good as this opportunity sounds, there are some things that work against them.
1. You are not considered an employee of ChaCha, but rather an independent contractor. Some people do not like this because that means they are responsible for keeping all the tax information together. The good news is that any decent accountant can help you out come tax time and will even tell you that you will be better off in the long run with write-offs as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee.
2. Trying to hit that $150 mark every month to get payment will be tougher than you think—especially if this is something you are only doing a few hours a week. You are going to have to answer a lot of questions before coming close to that minimum. For some, this is a deal breaker.
3. That one chance you have to pass their test leaves no room for error. You take the test, you fail it and that is it—no chance of a retake. In other cases, they may not need people at whatever level you qualify. They do send a message stating that you will receive notification if a spot opens up based on what you scored on the test, but most people have said that that has never happened.
4. The money you make answering questions is certainly nothing you can live on. Three to four dollars an hour is well below minimum wage so most people may not even bother wasting their time for such low pay. But you also have to remember that this is by no means a full-time job with a full-time salary. It is just another way to earn extra income from the comfort of your home.
5. One problem that perhaps ChaCha did not see coming was the inane and often inappropriate questions that teenagers ask. Many guides have complained that it is a waste of time to research and answer questions that are just for joking purposes.
ChaCha does have a rule that people asking questions need to be at least twelve years old, but everyone knows that kids do not always play by the rules when it comes to certain things.
There are also rules regarding the questions that can be asked, but they do not seem to always work. The guide should complain and the person should be deleted from the system, but that does not appear to happen. Your training materials offer suggestions on how to deal with some of these crazy questions.
At the end of the day, you will still get paid for answering them, but if you are sensitive or do not like to deal with the occasional raunchy kid, this may not be a good opportunity for you.
Is ChaCha a legitimate company?
ChaCha is very much a legitimate company to work for and a pretty good one. They are very forthcoming with what kind of money you can earn with them, there are no extra fees or costs to you and their concept is straightforward—answer questions and get paid. The only slight issue to consider is how much longer ChaCha can stay in business.
Let’s face it, most people these days have access to the Internet via laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, tablets and pads so why would anyone need to call a service to have a question answered that they can look up quickly themselves?
The company has only been around for five years but seems to be holding its own so maybe there is a long life for ChaCha. Maybe they are already preparing for something newer in terms of what people need which will offer you yet another work-at-home opportunity.