Making money from easy online surveys for money may be every person’s dream. But the reality is much less rosy.
Marketers may be hungry for the public’s opinion, but plenty of people are willing to share information for free—or, if not free, for a mere pittance.
With companies like Facebook and Google collecting hundreds of millions of people’s preferences and habits, is making money from paid surveys even a possibility?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
The online survey marketplace isn’t the cash bonanza it was 10 years ago, but serious survey takers can still make money from it. If you’re considering jumping into the survey market, keep reading to find out everything you need to know to get started.
- Plenty of sites make big promises, but far fewer follow through on them. When considering paid survey opportunities, here a few useful tips you should follow:
- Look for names you recognize. Amazon.com, for example, often offers paid surveys through its Mechanical Turk platform, and many universities and well known corporations advertise online for paid surveys and focus groups
- For online surveys for money companies, read the fine print. In other words, look for a page on their website that explains all of their policies and procedures. If you can’t easily find a page, then steer clear. If you can find the company’s payment procedures, then ensure that they pay in cash through a reliable service like PayPal on a regular basis.
- Make sure companies don’t have ridiculously high thresholds before they pay out your earnings.
- For companies with high thresholds, it’s possible you may become fed up with them and quit before you ever see a dime, Spencer of Survey Spencer reports that this is a problem with many online surveys for money panels.
- Rely on the work your peers have already done to find real opportunities. Websites like WAHM.com have a wealth of information about which work at home gigs are legitimate and which are scams.
Once you find a legitimate paid survey opportunity, you’re ready to move onto the next stage.
Focus on building your reputation
The most reliable survey companies know that many survey takers rapidly lose interest and leave, so they aren’t usually willing to invest money in people who they know they can’t depend on. But those few survey takers who consistently respond to and complete surveys are definitely valuable assets that they want to keep.
If you’re dedicated to the idea of making money online through surveys, then it’s important to find one or two survey companies you like and stick with them. As you build your reputation, the companies will grow more likely to send you choice survey opportunities with higher payouts.
You should also complete every survey that you start. Accepting a survey assignment and then not finishing it is a sure way to lose out on future plum assignments.
Provide as much information as possible
The world of paid online surveys is definitely not for anyone who places an extremely high value on their personal privacy. While most surveys guarantee anonymity, they still want to collect as much personal information as possible—so you better be comfortable sharing it.
The highest paying surveys are often the ones with very specific requirements—for example, smokers age 35 to 49 without health insurance. The more information you provide, especially about seemingly “undesirable” traits like smoking or suffering from clinical depression, the more likely you will be to qualify for in depth surveys and focus groups that offer the best compensation.
Marketers are also always on the lookout for focus group members who aren’t afraid to express their opinions.
If you manage to join a moderated online discussion (or any other form of focus group) take every opportunity to share your opinions, and try to give the kind of feedback researchers seem to be looking for.
Don’t limit yourself to online surveys
It may be tempting to sit at home and only complete surveys from the comfort of your computer chair, but that’s not the fastest way to make money. Especially if you live in a city with a major university, in-person surveys and study groups are often the highest paying. Large corporations (like Coca Cola, McDonalds, and other food producers) are more likely to use live focus group participants than they are online ones. (It’s difficult to taste a product over the Internet!)
The absolutely highest paying survey opportunities tend to be part of medical studies in which you trial a new medication or therapy technique and answer ongoing survey questions about their effect and your reactions. Such studies often last a month or more and can pay as much as several thousand dollars.
Invite your friends
The people who make the most money from online survey taking opportunities don’t actually do so from taking surveys. Rather, the real money lies in getting friends to take surveys for you. Many survey companies have affiliate or multi-level marketing programs that reward you every time a friend signs up and finishes a survey.
Some of these affiliate programs are free—in other words, you’re not really selling anything accept an opportunity to make a few bucks. But some of them actually require your friends (and you) to pay a small registration fee. Many of these sites aren’t scams per se, but they offer little of real value. Often, the only thing you’re selling is the opportunity for your friends to sell the opportunity you just sold them.
Stick with it
Making money through online surveys takes time and effort—just like any other job. It’s definitely possible to supplement your income by taking surveys both online and offline, but we don’t recommend you quit your day job.
This article was written by Jackson Lemos, a freelance writer and paid survey panelist.