How To Make Money With Paid Online Surveys and Avoid Internet Scams
Published 5/19/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
Updated Review List Of The Top Make Money Online Paid Survey Offers Below
Ever since college, I've continuously exposed myself to a wide array of get rich quick schemes and online money making gimmicks. The majority of my hobby-esque efforts have primarily been for entertainment and informational purposes. While many of the online offers that I pursued and researched back then such ultimately turned out to be fraudulent scams or fruitless endeavors (acai berry scams for example), a handful of them have proved to be reliable and consistent money making methods over the years. One of the ways I used to make some extra money on the side and still work from home was by getting paid to fill out online surveys. Back when I was a college student, online surveys were an easy way to generate a few dollars here and there for extra cash and gift card rewards. Today, I still get paid to take online surveys but I've learned to manage them more efficiently and learned to fill them out substantially quicker than I used to. Nowadays, a 30 minute online paid survey usually only takes me a matter of 5 minutes to scan and rapidly click through.
While I work full time now, I still enjoy the little bits of part time income I generate with these free online paid surveys. These survey money making offers are best suited for certain work at home types such as: stay at home moms, college students looking for extra spending cash, or working professionals like myself looking to kill some time and make money doing it. I complete most of my occasional paid online surveys quickly at work between lunch breaks or I knock out a few qualifying offers on my laptop when I'm lounging around at home like a couch potato, watching a football game or during television commercials. Most of the time I redeem the survey completion reward points for either cash or I exchange them for gift cards to frequently visited places like Starbucks or Amazon.com. While taking surveys isn't exactly the most productive way to spend my time, I liken the practice to the same way that some people might choose to spend their spare time playing video games or enjoying a TV show. None of these habits are particularly productive in the business or financial sense, and they are all performed for purely entertainment purposes. But rather than sitting there passively watching television shows or playing computer games, I prefer to spend my bored time by engaging in hobby type activities that generate a little side income.
What Are Paid Online Surveys, And Why Are The Marketing Research Companies Willing To Pay Consumers Money To Fill Out Survey Questionnaires?
The business aspect of surveys has always been around, but the Internet has revolutionized the way they are now being conducted. It used to be that surveys had to be performed in person through a live focus group exchange or had to be transmitted through the postal service using snail mail means. However, the Internet has changed all that and improved upon the speed and the way market research may now be performed and compiled. While many of the big companies and retailers in the world still perform their own in-house research into the consumption and usage habits of consumers to build and brand their products and services, oftentimes, these companies must solicit the aggregate views of larger sample sizes to better hone their research results and improve upon their brand's appeal to whatever population demographic they are trying to target. This usually requires that they outsource some research work to third party market research companies that are better equipped to handle mass survey research projects. This is where you and I come in - as ordinary consumers and potential opt-in survey participants.
As ordinary members of the population, we all have different likes and dislikes when it comes to certain products, brands, companies, and services. The online survey companies are out to inquire and gather all this public opinion information to better assess the views and preferences of the American and world population when it comes to such consumerism matters. The product development and service promotion choices and strategies of these billionaire dollar mega corporations depend on the views and whims of their target customers - you and I. Because of this need for public opinion information, market research firms are willing to pay consumers like us a reasonable amount of money to answer some of their market research related questions on a regular basis. It's not a job interview and it's most certainly not something anyone has to worry about getting trapped into participating. Even after registering and agreeing to be a willing online survey panel participant, you are always free to back out. You can always subsequently ignore the paid survey offers you receive for whatever reason. If you refuse to later take part, the company will just turn to another voluntary opt-in participant in the target sample. Of course, you also won't get paid for any online surveys you don't adequately complete.
What Type Of Payment Incentives Do Free Paid Survey Sites Offer, and Is It Possible To Get Rich Filling Out These Internet Surveys?
Usually the paid survey research sites pay you after each completed survey offer. Some firms will issue you a check or PayPal cash deposit for the qualified amount immediately, while others will offer you survey reward points that can be accrued in your accessible online account and later redeemed for cash rewards, gift card prizes, or free merchandise. The gift card and product rewards can be anything from popular Amazon gift cards to various electronic gadgets. Obviously the bigger the merchandise, the more survey points you'll need to redeem. When a survey offer is proposed to you, sometimes the offer will expressly indicate the proposed payment amount, say $5.00 upon completion, while other times it may indicate that completion will only result in an entry into some prize drawing in the future. Personally, my advice is to avoid all paid survey links that want to reward you with useless sweepstakes drawings. The chances of winning one of those prizes are slim and you are much better off focusing on surveys that reward you with cold hard cash or redeemable reward points upon completion.
One thing to make clear is that no one should expect to make a lot of money or get rich quickly by filling out online surveys. Remember, you're just taking online surveys - not performing expensive open heart surgery for someone. No one is going to retire from the income they earn or be able to make a full time living from taking online surveys. The survey money you get paid for is meant to be a part time supplement to your existing day job salary. However, if you're determined to make a lot of money from paid online surveys, it is theoretically possible to make $2,000 or even upwards of $3,000 a year if you register with multiple online survey sites and actively engage in all survey offers that are sent to you. If you are a member of a demographic that is actively targeted by survey companies, you may luck out with more paid survey chances - it all depends what demographic types businesses are interested in knowing more about during their Internet marketing research trials. However, you'll also have to be a pretty prolific and fast survey census taker to hit the money jackpot. For most people (99.9% of everyone else there), it's best not to see this as some career, but rather as a way to generate some stress free profits by working from home. Your online paid survey income may help pay for a few expensive family restaurant dinner outings or help subsidize the cost of gifts at Christmas time - but that's pretty much all you should really expect from doing them. You are better off trying to make money blogging as a part time blogger instead if you want a side gig that has a greater potential of becoming a full time job someday.
The payout amount that is offered differs among online survey sites and also differs depending on the difficulty and length of time it takes to complete an individual survey. The most lucrative online surveys can pay as much as $20-50 each, but these usually require a substantial amount of time and effort to complete - be prepared to spend upwards of 1-3 hours for these high payout offers. Oftentimes the highest pay out surveys will require the participant to appear at least once for a live online discussion format where the survey taker will be required to log into an online site and actually engage in a moderated Internet chat discussion with other panel members. Through these online discussion and chat formats, the survey researchers will usually probe and ask direct questions about the opinions and viewpoints of participants in regards to whatever consumer product or service they are researching for.
But in the vast majority of paid online survey cases, payouts will likely be less than a $1 for each completed survey. The lower payout offers usually only take a few minutes to complete but if you are able to fill them out quickly and efficiently, the monetary amounts do add up quickly. Keep in mind that many paid survey companies issue payment in the form of reward points. Your final cash payment or merchandise redemption value will depend on how many high value surveys you ultimately complete.
How Do I Participate and Get Paid Cash For Online Paid Surveys, and What Type Of Questions Do The Paid Survey Sites Ask?
To start receiving free survey opportunities, you'll need to register yourself with some of the more reputable paid online survey sites. While there are literally thousands of survey companies on the world wide web, I've listed the links of the ones I've had the best and most reliable experience with below. Remember to examine their individual terms and conditions before registering. Most of the survey site links will require that you submit your name, and basic contact info such as your address, phone number, and email information. Usually they will also request for additional demographic data such as your age, gender, and race. The site registration process will usually also go through a brief introductory questionnaire to figure out what you like, dislike, or have experience with in regards to all aspects of ordinary consumer life. This information is important because it helps the researchers build your survey profile, which is used to determine whether you qualify for particular survey offers or not. Your qualification for certain surveys will always depend on what the Internet marketing research company is looking for at that particular time.
The email address you provide during the application process is particularly important because your provided email address will be the survey sites' primary method of contacting you about paid survey offers. Be sure to provide an email address that you intend to check regularly and don't mind receiving extra mail messages on. While most of the legit online opt-in survey sites will never send you unsolicited spam or messages without your authorization, to make money with paid surveys, you'll inevitably need to agree to receive an influx of regular email offers. Particularly if you register with multiple survey companies, expect to receive more email traffic than you're used to receiving. Each survey notification email will usually provide a clickable link to the online survey questionnaire, embedded with tracking information to make sure you are ultimately paid for upon completion.
The type of paid survey questions asked will always depend on what the requesting company is looking for, but just about everything under the sun relating to commerce, business, and consumer spending habits will be fair game. You may be asked about your dining habits, culinary preferences, what type of soap you're using, whether you're looking to buy a new car, or whether you are currently suffering from any physical medical conditions that necessitate the use of certain prescription medications. I've noticed that one particularly high paying survey subject matter is the health related niche. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other health condition, you will likely be sought after by prescription drug companies looking to get your online survey opinion about various treatment solutions. The frequency and demand of your survey services will really depend on your age group, profession, hobbies, interests, and the particulars of your personal demographics. Usually the surveys are comprised of basic text based online questionnaires, but sometimes you may be asked to watch a new product commercial or a movie trailer, or you may be asked to look at a new restaurant menu plan or magazine print advertisement, and then later instructed to fill out a questionnaire about what you liked or didn't like. Most of the time it's just a matter of clicking a quick yes or no, or stating your opinion using a sliding scale.
While not as frequent as email surveys, sometimes you may also be sent free household products and electronic merchandise in the mail for your review and opinion. I've been sent everything from shampoo bottles, to snack crackers, to razors, shaving cream, to iPod ear buds, to even a pack of experimental condoms for my use and review. The products are almost always new beta trial products not currently yet in the market place that some company is still working on perfecting or figuring out how to properly advertise. Most of them don't even have proper product labels on them yet, usually with only a serial number sticker affixed. Receiving product review surveys in the mail is probably my favorite paid survey opportunity. The best part is that you get to keep the products after you fill out and return the survey questionnaires that accompany them. Even if you get lazy and don't respond by filling out the accompanying product surveys, you still get to keep the free products sent to you. For me, there's always something terribly exciting about trying out a new retail product that no one has yet seen or used in the marketplace. It's nice to know that my survey opinion may actually make a difference in shaping how these brands and companies ultimately market and perfect their products.
My advice on improving your paid survey taking strategy is to say yes to everything and express interest for all subject matters - every product, every service - everything. If you are looking to game the survey system and maximize the amount of money you make from online paid surveys, your best bet is to qualify yourself for as many survey criteria as possible. By not expressing any dislike or lack of experience with anything, you greatly increase your survey qualification chances during the profile building process. Keep in mind that certain demographics (such as home owners) tend to get lots of extra survey opportunities that others don't qualify for. There are a lot of home owner type surveys regarding home improvement appliances that only those that represented themselves out to be owners of a house or condo will qualify for. (Hint-Hint. Wink-Wink)
How Do I Find The Legitimate Paid Online Survey Websites and Avoid Falling For An Online Survey Scam?
As I mentioned earlier, there are literally thousands of paid online survey sites and services out there. However, the vast majority tend to be scam and disreputable sites that either have questionable membership fee policies or simply don't have sufficient survey business in their pipeline to make registering with them worth your time as the consumer. The ones that are legitimate and trustworthy tend to be established market research firms that have been around for a long time, and have built up solid track records of providing reliable payouts to survey participants along with providing steady and guaranteed streams of paid survey work for registrants.
There are plenty of free paid survey links and services on the web. There is never a need to resort to paying anyone or any online company for the right to use their database list of survey offers. While certain disreputable sites will attempt to sucker you in by advertising that they offer the highest payouts for surveys and that access to their exclusive list will be worth the membership fee you pay upfront, the fact of the matter is that most of these lists are absolutely useless. There is no reason for you to pay the survey research company the right to take their online surveys. Remember, they are supposed to pay you to take their Internet surveys, not the other way around. Don't fall for any of these membership fee survey scams. If they ask for a membership charge or a registration fee upfront, run the other way.
As for those who are worried about getting their email accounts spammed to death, remember that reputable online paid survey companies do not spam or send unsolicited messages. Most will only send you survey notification email reminders upon your request. Should you ever find the influx of survey offers too overwhelming, as I have a few times before in the past, you can simply log onto your online survey account and unsubscribe temporarily, or even permanently.
To recap, remember, to fully maximize your paid survey opportunities and make money with paid surveys, you ought to register with as many reputable online survey companies as possible. You can always turn off email notifications or unsubscribe thereafter but by applying, you open yourself up to paid survey chances. To increase your survey qualification opportunities, you should express interest in everything and check your email routinely for daily and weekly survey offers. Upon receiving one, you should complete the paid online survey as soon as possible assuming you have the time to do so. Don't put off any high value survey offers for later because the highest paying surveys tend to expire quickly after a certain number of participants have been selected. Also, you should avoid all survey offers that only provide you a sweepstakes entry or prize drawing ticket for survey completion. Stick with only cash and reward point survey offers.
Reviews Of The Best Sites To Make Money Online With Paid Surveys, Based On My Experience (All Are Free To Join):
1) NFO My Survey - Of all the top paid online survey companies out there, the National Family Opinion MySurvey site is probably my favorite one. Their website is easily accessible and their survey payouts are pretty good. They've provided me a steady stream of paid survey opportunities regularly on a wide array of interesting topics for some time now. My Survey is one of the best and biggest online research companies on the Internet. The company uses a point system for survey completion rewards and issues payout when you've reached the point equivalent of $10. Points can be redeemed for a variety of options from cash to gift cards, and you can even earn extra points for referring friends. I've also received household cleaning supplies and various food products (e.g. experimental potato chips), from them before for product panel related reviews. The proven company is great at keeping its survey takers busy and earning paid survey income.
2) Synovate - The Synovate Global Opinion Panel pays cash for completed surveys. The company sends out a reasonable number of regular paid surveys and survey payout is decent and comparable to that offered by other online research firms. Once in a while I get a few nice and long $10 surveys from Synovate. I've also received a few products from them for review before - mostly soap and shower products.
3) Survey Savvy - Survey Savvy is definitely one of my best paid survey sites and a pretty highly promoted program by most people due to its nice recurring direct and indirect referral program. Not only can you earn the usual payout for your own completed surveys, you can also earn $2.00 for every survey your direct referral takes and yet another $1.00 for every survey taken by their referrals. The trickle down referral system makes it one of the best paid survey choices to make money and get paid, particularly if you refer many of your friends and family members. Survey offer frequency is average but payout is quite good. Of course, coupled with the referral system, your Survey Savvy paid income will probably end up being quite lucrative.
4) Global Test Market - The Global Test Market company offers Market Points for competed surveys and sends out survey opportunities quite frequently for both American and international survey registrants. While the cash out level of the reward point equivalent of $50 is higher than that required by other paid survey providers, they make up for it by sending participants a lot of paid survey chances with respectable payouts. Even if you don't qualify for an offer that is sent to you, you still get to earn some points for merely looking at it. Most of their surveys are not too long, and are varied enough to not bore you to tears as you click away at the check boxes.
5) Ipsos I Say - Despite its semi-weird name, Ipsos is one of the major marketing research firms in the world. In my opinion, the best benefit and lure of this online survey company is the chance to receive product reviews as many of its regular text based online surveys tend to only offer prize drawing related payouts. Ipsos is a nice paid survey company to register with if you're interested in occasionally receiving freebies and test products to review.
6) Greenfield Online - Greenfield Online, which acquired Go-Zing, offers survey participants cash or an entry in their reward sweepstakes for completed survey offers. Survey registrants are advised to bypass all survey offers that provide only prize drawing entries and go only for those that provide actual cash money for survey qualification and completion. Greenfield Online keeps its participants very busy with plenty of paid survey opportunities, but keep in mind, participants may not always qualify for all survey offers depending on their demographic details.
7) American Consumer Opinion Panel - The American Consumer Opinion Panel, or ACOP as it's commonly called, is a paid survey favorite of mine due to the rapid speed at which the company issues out compensation checks for completed surveys. ACOP issues checks for completed surveys that range anywhere from $4 to $20 depending on the length, qualification requirements, and nature of the survey. Online focus group surveys almost always pay much more - between $25 and $50, but those types of offers are infrequent and more difficult to qualify for.
8) My Points - This company is not really a dedicated paid survey company but it does offer paid surveys as part of its reward earning program. MyPoints offers a wealth of ways to earn reward points for future prize and merchandise redemption. You can earn them by completing surveys (SurveyMail), reading e-mail advertisements (BonusMail), or signing up for online trial offers. I highly recommend avoiding the trial offer route unless you really are interested in the offers. You are better off sticking with Survey Mail and Bonus Mail opportunities to earn reward points. Survey Mail is just your usual get paid to fill out surveys option, while Bonus Mail is basically a way for you to get paid to read spam emails.
9) Lightspeed Consumer Panel - The Lightspeed consumer survey company rewards you with points for completed surveys and product reviews that can be later exchanged for cash, gift certificates and other prizes. Lightspeed is pretty active in sending out surveys and it's easy to rack up reward points quickly based on my recent experience with the company. The survey payouts are a bit lower than I would like but the lower pay rate is made up by the extra high frequency at which they send out potential offers. Most of their paid surveys are easy to fill out and for experienced survey takers, they're a piece of cake to rapidly complete. Just click like crazy.
10) Pinecone Research - The Pinecone Research survey company is noted for its extremely elusive and almost secretive nature. They are very selective in who they accept into their survey program. It's great if you're in because they provide you quality survey opportunities, but it's bad if you want in and can't find their membership application page. Pinecone program recruitment opportunities usually appear as advertisement banner links placed unpredictably on various relevant sites and blogs. Currently they do not recruit new members directly through their website. You can try visiting their main homepage, but good luck trying to find their sign up page - it's non existent. While an active Pinecone registration link may not always be available, I will update this particular sign up link with a working Pinecone referral link whenever possible. The Pinecone Research payout rate is a set $3 per completed survey. Paid survey chances are steady and the company is known for prompt payouts - via either PayPal or check, depending on your selected payment method.