There are two types of marketing research sites: Those that offer frequent opportunities but lousy earnings, and those where you’ll have to dig to land a job, but the pay rate is significant. Dscout is a legit side hustle that falls distinctly into the latter category.
Here’s an app that pays panelists well, so well in fact, that it’s become one of our top earners. It’s brilliantly designed, payments are handled swiftly and automatically, and the research projects (dscout calls these Missions) are on the interesting side.
But landing work takes some effort, especially if you’re a newbie to the site. The screening process is vigorous, rejections are plentiful, and if you do land a Mission, the completion requirements are a bit more intensive than what you may be used to.
Still, with a little polish and advice from folks who have gone through the process (that’s us), you can vastly increase your chances of success and easily earn upwards of $30 per hour on the dscout app in your spare time.
Is dscout legit? A look at our earnings
For every 10 marketing research sites, you’re lucky to find one gem. Dscout is that rare find.
We spent a total of 10 hours 45 minutes on the dscout app, and in that time earned an impressive $363, for an average hourly rate of $33.77.
When we began, we had very little knowledge of how the app worked, which means that anyone willing to put in the time has the potential to earn what we did, and possibly more. Our earnings were split among 13 Missions. Nine of those were Express Missions, which are mini surveys or journals that can usually be completed in 5-10 minutes, but only pay a few bucks.
The other four were Diary Missions, which are multi-part (and often multi-day) research projects, that can take anywhere from about 30 minutes to a few hours total to complete. The benefit of these longer Missions is that they pay exceptionally well, ranging from about $25 – $200, with an average hovering around $75.
The fine print
Sounds great right? Well, there are a couple of major caveats that we need to point out.
The first is that dscout won’t replace a full-time job. Our time on the site was spread out across two months and change. This was by design, as there simply aren’t enough new Diary Missions to justify tons of time looking for work.
Instead, we found it optimal to dedicate about 30 minutes twice a week applying to Diary Missions, and a few minutes here and there checking out new Express Missions (which populate more frequently). Spending any more time on the dscout app would have probably forced us to apply for suboptimal positions, damaging our hourly rate.
The other consideration is that the hourly rate is inconsistent. During our first month, we only earned $24 an hour. Early in our second month, we landed a slew of gigs, bumping our hourly up close to $39. Some of that increase was due to us adapting better practices, some of it was pure luck.
Everything we have earned to date on dscout has been paid out. Dscout is legit, with payments handled automatically through PayPal.
The Final Verdict
Dscout is a high-paying and legit side hustle that pays users to complete diary-based and live research studies.
Getting accepted for missions can be a bit of a crapshoot, but users can increase their odds by submitting honest and enthusiastic screeners. Missions may last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. Besides some basic smartphone knowledge and an ability to articulate opinions, there is no skill required.
The dscout app is aesthetically pleasing and well-designed, with payments handled swiftly and automatically through PayPal.
Earning Potential: $30+ per hour
Skill Level Required: Gumshoe (1.5/5.0)
- Diary and live missions pay up to $200
- Good source of supplemental income ($30+ p/h)
- Automatic withdrawals
- PayPal payments
- Better than average notification system
- Qualifying for a mission can be arduous
- Must be comfortable speaking on camera
- Missions are typically multi-day
- No desktop application
- Favors U.S. residents
What are dscout Missions?
The work on dscout is divided up into three different Mission types: Express, Diary, and Live.
The common purpose among them is to provide companies with valuable insight and feedback, which will help them shape and improve their products and services. Think of it like a focus group, except instead of sitting around a room with a bunch of strangers, you’ll be providing feedback digitally and individually.
Dscout Express Missions
Express missions most closely resemble online surveys. More often than not, you’ll either provide your thoughts about a prototype or answer questions about your experiences with a service.
Missions on dscout tend to be a bit intensive, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to upload a short (30-60 seconds) selfie-style video, snap pictures, or type out written responses. If you’re lucky, you’ll only be asked to answer multiple-choice questions, but that’s the exception and not the rule.
From the detective’s desk: Express Missions fill up fast, so be ready to go if you receive a notification about a new one that interests you.
The upshot of Express Missions is that they only take about 5-10 minutes to complete, and payment is usually sent immediately. The downside is that you won’t earn much from them. In our experience, most only pay $2-5. Still, not a bad use of your time.
Express Missions pop up throughout the day. Some days there won’t be any (particularly on weekends), and other days there might be 10 or more.
Dscout Diary Missions
Diary Missions are the bread and butter of the dscout app, and one of the best ways to earn.
They’re also the most intensive Mission type, often requiring multiple entries over a series of days. There are two types of Diary Missions: Ones where the next part unlocks after you complete a step, and ones where new parts unlock only after a predetermined amount of time has passed.
The first type can sometimes be banged out in a day, but they’re less common. Whereas the second type is conducted over a period of 3,7,10, or even 21 days.
Regardless, for all Diary Missions, users will be asked to complete a series of tasks. The tasks vary, but typically ask you to relay your experiences about a product or service. Here are some common examples:
- Use a different browser for a week
- Test out a prototype of a new app
- Train an AI
- Journal your fitness or cooking experiences
Diary Missions usually consist of an intro part, where the researcher gets to know you, followed by several similar entries where you speak on your day-to-day experiences, and then finally a wrap-up.
From the detective’s desk: If you’re camera-shy, dscout might not be the right app for you, as nearly all Diary Missions have a video component.
In addition to video, entries almost always have multiple-choice and written components. You may also be asked to take screenshots or snap pictures.
Most Diary Missions pay between $50 – $100; some pay more, and some a bit less. Sometimes, researchers will select users who have completed a Diary Mission for a follow-up, for even greater earnings.
Dscout Live Missions
Live Missions should be pretty familiar to anyone who has participated in a focus group. The only difference on dscout is that the interview is conducted one-on-one over the app.
Typically, the researcher will ask you some questions before showing you a product or service they’re working on. It’s your job to provide thoughtful, honest answers.
Live Missions typically take anywhere from 30-90 minutes to complete and pay about the same as Diary Missions.
The dscout screening process
So far, our review of dscout has been glowing. However, there is one major drawback, and that’s the screening process.
We’re sorry, but screening on dscout is a bit ridiculous. If you’re “lucky”, you’ll screen out after answering a few demographic questions. But there are times when you’ll answer 5-10 minutes of screening questions, upload a selfie-style video, and snap pictures of your home as part of the complete application process.
Worse yet, if you do manage to complete the screener, dscout will only notify you if you’ve been accepted for the Mission. If you’re expending that kind of effort, shouldn’t dscout let you know you didn’t qualify? Or shouldn’t there be a small consolation prize? Even $1 – $2 would be nice.
On a positive note, the aforementioned only applies to Diary and Live Missions. Express Mission screeners are much shorter and dscout will notify you immediately if you’ve been rejected. Trust us, we’ve been rejected plenty:
That being said, Express Mission acceptance rates are much higher. We landed about 40% of the Express Missions we applied for, but only 15% of our Diary Mission applications were accepted. We’re still batting a big fat zero on Live Missions.
The logic behind the intensive screening process is that if researchers are paying scouts $30-$40+ an hour, they darn well want the best, most serious, candidates. That’s fair, but the screening process doesn’t need to be so over-the-top. Find a balance.
Dscout preferred demographics
The Missions on dscout are diverse, but we won’t go so far to say that there’s something for everyone. Certain groups are going to fare better than others, and that’s just the harsh reality of any digital marketing researching app.
On dscout, the Missions tend to target:
- Frequent online shoppers, who make use of retail apps
- Insurance policyholders
- Tech-savvy workers
- Parents of younger children
- Personal investors
- Home cooks
- Fitness and wellness junkies
There are more categories, but these are some of the primary ones. Looking them over, there appears to be a bias toward families and people with significant income. So, dscout might not be right for kids just out of college with more debt to their name than assets.
Then again, there are enough fitness and wellness missions that anyone who tracks their health should find something. Keep hacking away.
From the detective’s desk: Dscout is a worldwide app, yet people from non-English speaking countries have noted that they don’t receive as many opportunities.
Signing up for dscout
In order to sign up for dscout, you should first download the app for either Android or iOS. Dscout is not fully compatible with desktops or laptops at this time, and while it sort of works on tablets, it’s clearly optimized for smartphones.
From the detective’s desk: Dscout is currently beta testing a Chrome desktop extension for its Diary Missions, signifying that it may be adding new platforms.
Registering from the app entails inputting your name, email, and password. You’ll then verify your account via SMS, after which you’ll have the option to fill out your profile. It only takes a few minutes and is well worth the effort, as it will allow dscout to match you with more relevant Missions.
Dscout also provides a couple of quick introductory tutorials, that will help familiarize you with the interface and the Mission types. It’s all refreshingly simple.
One point of frustration is that we weren’t able to apply for Express Missions out of the gate. Instead, we had to wait a few days to receive an invite for a special Express Mission tutorial, focused on best practices. Completing the two-step tutorial took about 20 minutes.
About four days after that, dscout finally approved us for Express Missions. We feel as though this process could have been expedited, but it’s a minor quibble.
Learning the dscout interface
There really isn’t much to the dscout interface, and by and large, that’s a good thing.
There are three main tabs: Explore, Missions, and Rewards.
All available Missions are displayed in the Explore tab. Select a Mission, and you’ll be able to read all the details pertaining to it, including:
- a description of the project
- what you’ll need to do as part of the screening process
- how long the screener will take
- the start date
- the number of openings
The Missions Tab shows which Missions you have been invited to, and which ones you’re currently on. Click into a Mission to see its parts, and to check if you’re eligible to complete a new entry. You can also view your old entries, and initiate a chat with the Mission Leader from this screen.
The final tab is the Rewards tab, where you’ll see which completed Missions you were paid for, the date they were completed, and how much you’ve earned to date.
Beyond that, there’s a notification bell and a simple sidebar menu where you can access your profile info, the help section, and a few other goodies.
Dscout is a modern-looking, responsive and intuitive app that poses virtually no learning curve. Its quality is reflected in its App Store rating, where it has received a 4.5. Android users have had a slightly less favorable experience (4.1), citing a few technical issues, but mostly just complaining about not getting enough Missions.
We didn’t encounter any software issues on Android.
How does dscout pay?
Dscout withdrawals are handled exclusively through PayPal, and you must link your PayPal account to the app to get paid. Unfortunately, cash or check payments are forbidden, but at least you won’t be paid in Fandango gift cards. No offense to Fandango.
Withdrawals are handled automatically. This decision by dscout is sort of a double-edged sword. While it’s nice that you don’t have to do anything to ensure payment, seeing dozens of tiny withdrawals into your PayPal account can make tracking payments miserable.
Dscout does not send out 1099-MISC tax forms. Instead, it’s up to PayPal to send you a 1099-K tax form if you meet certain requirements. Learn more here.
In our experience, we were paid for Express Missions almost immediately. Diary Mission payments took somewhat longer.
Once we completed a Diary Mission, it took between 4-12 days to get paid, which isn’t too bad, but not great either. Unfortunately, researchers often give scouts more time to complete Missions than what is listed, which is why some payments take longer.
However, all payments were eventually made, and if there’s a problem, you can send direct messages to the Mission Leader and dscout through the app’s excellent internal chat system.
Dscout tips and tricks for success
If you want to maximize your chances of landing a gig on dscout, then check out the following tips and tricks:
- Read the Mission descriptions. Otherwise, you might end up applying for Missions that you have no chance of landing, and that’s just a waste of time. Choose Missions with topics that match your interests and experiences.
- # of openings > price. All dscout Diary and Live Missions pay decently, and longer ones generally compensate you for your time accordingly. So instead of focusing strictly on price when deciding which Missions to apply to, prioritize the number of openings. If there are six slots for a Mission about a popular topic like cooking, and the screener takes 10 minutes, maybe skip that one. And always preference Missions near the top of the page, since they’re newer and might have more openings.
- Set up notifications. The notifications system on dscout isn’t perfect, but it’s at least pretty good about letting you know when a new opportunity is available. That’s important, given how much competition there is. Smartphone notifications are more frequent than emails…in fact, they’re so frequent that you’ll probably want to turn them off during down hours. It can get annoying.
- Presentation, presentation, presentation. If you don’t put your best face forward, your screener will probably be ignored. That means combing your hair, wearing a clean, decent shirt, making sure your microphone volume is adequate, and ensuring the lighting isn’t too dark or bright. If you really want to impress, invest in a stand for your phone to hold it steady.
- Stay on point. The researcher is only interested in the answer to their question, nothing more. There’s no need for an introduction or any other miscellaneous chatter. Try to prepare an answer before you film, and if you think you’re going to forget the question, you can always turn on the prompt option while recording.
- Rinse and repeat, to a degree. You’re allowed to do multiple takes of your videos, but do try to nail them in one or two shots to save time. And use the whole time allotted!
- Authenticity matters. While showing a little enthusiasm is a good thing, don’t fake it. Remember, we’re only selecting topics that we’re already passionate about, so enthusiasm and authenticity should come somewhat naturally.
In reality, no matter how well you present yourself, you’re still likely to experience frequent rejections. Don’t take it personally, rejections are usually due to a demographic mismatch, and not because a researcher didn’t like your outfit.
The beauty of dscout is that the Missions pay so well that it really doesn’t matter if you only land 1 in 10. Just keep plugging away, and implement the best practices listed above to ensure that you get the Missions you’re qualified for.
What are Express Missions on dscout?
Express Missions are bite sized marketing research studies that take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete, and pay between $2-$5. Topics range from tech, to home improvement, fitness, and daily habits. Payment for completing an express mission on dscout is sent within minutes.
What are Diary Missions on dscout?
Diary Missions are either one-day or multi-day studies that require applicants to complete a rigorous 5-10 minute screening process. Once selected, users will have to complete a series of tasks, and each task takes anywhere from a few to about 20 minutes. The pay for completing a Diary Mission is substantially higher than for an express mission, ranging from $20-$200+.
How does dscout pay?
All payments are handled automatically through a linked PayPal account. Users are paid immediately upon completing an express mission, while diary mission payouts are at the discretion of the moderator, and usually trigger within a day or two of completing the assignment.
Dscout vs UserTesting
Usertesting and dscout are both marketing research sites that pay users to provide their opinions. Usertesting focuses more on testing websites and applications, whereas dscout asks users their opinion on a variety of topics, such as tech, health, and their daily routines. Of the two, dscout has a somewhat higher hourly rate, but the work is a bit more intensive.
Both sites require users to prescreen before completing a gig. The usertesting screening process is quicker, but acceptance rates are lower.