While making a living by taking online surveys is generally considered to be impossible, it can be a way to make some extra spending money in spare time otherwise spent aimlessly surfing the web.
Sites offering payment for surveys may either offer money or, more often, discounts or points which can be accumulated to get products or services cheaper or for free.
A major problem is that survey research has been latched onto by unscrupulous advertisers, who have made it difficult to differentiate legitimate survey sites from get-rich-quick schemes and disguised ads.
According to Spencer Mitchell, survey panels often pay from $1 to $10 for completed surveys, with most coming in under $5 when directly valued as cash.
Sites vary widely as to number and types of surveys offered. Paid surveys can take anywhere from several minutes to over an hour to complete.
Some Ways to Avoid Survey Research Scams
Any survey site which requires any sort of paid sign-up should be avoided.
Other red flags include sites which guarantee a certain amount of hours or big money for taking online surveys.
While survey research can be a legitimate way for businesses (and even occasionally the government) to get information from the public, it’s not a 9-to-5 job and by its nature can never pay great amounts of money to any single participant.
In fact legitimate survey research sometimes doesn’t offer money directly at all, but rather product samples or even small donations to charity on behalf of a participant.
How can one tell legitimate survey research sites from scams and companies using surveys simply as a disguise for ads or subscription services?
Ask yourself if a particular site seems interested in your input, or if it seems to be selling something, especially a single product or service.
Does the site seem to be gathering more personal information than necessary, perhaps for sale to third parties?
Perhaps most importantly, is the site trying to get you to pay, perhaps with promises or suggestions that you’ll earn much more back?
Remember that rewards such as money should always flow toward, not away from, a survey or market research participant.
Sites such as ScamBusters, or simply running a web search for the name of the survey site together with terms such as “scam” can also help.
Another great tool includes survey user review sites. Industry organizations and standards bodies can be an additional useful way to positively identify survey sites that are on the up-and-up.
Possibilities include the American Assocation for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (http://www.casro.org), the Council of Marketing and Opinion Research (http://www.cmor.org) and world market research organization ESOMAR (http://www.esomar.org).
Some Survey Sites for Money
This list is not complete, and no guarantees are made as to the legitimacy of any site.
Remember to never pay money for any survey opportunity (and be wary of any site that asks for your email address with promises to send you lists of valuable surveys, as it’s probably a scam).
Some of the sites listed let users select surveys for themselves, while others feature a decent volume of surveys but actively match users with organization surveys based on demographic data.
Others offer users only a few paid surveys per year.
Acop.com (American Consumer Opinion)
This site is free to join, and periodically sends its members surveys.
Surveys are on the short side, with each survey taking around ten minutes to complete.
The main drawback to this site is the low volume of surveys, as it only suggests that it will send each member several surveys per year.
Features paid surveys and free sign-up.
Members who complete a full profile get access to more survey opportunities.
Survey invitations are sent by email, and completed surveys are paid in points which can be redeemed as cash.
Members may occasionally “screen out” of surveys (fail to qualify) but the site still promises to reward members in such cases.
Features some paid surveys, as well as sweepstakes entries for other completed surveys.
Free sign-up. While this site offers rewards mostly in the form of points which can be exchanged for products on sites cush as Amazon and iTunes, it also offers cash sweepstakes entries.
Free sign-up. Claims to have rewarded its participants with over $15 million dollars in 2012, with reward options including Paypal and Amazon gift cards.
Features a sweepstakes program called Sweepland, where completed surveys earn entries in prize drawings, with some instant-win possibilities including cash.
The site only commits to giving members “some” opportunities to earn cash directly, with the focus seeming to be sweepstakes entries.
A leading site. Opinion Outpost offers both a point-reward system where rewards can be redeemed for cash via PayPal, but also prize drawings for certain surveys.
It also offers the interesting option to trade in points in exchange for charitable donations.
After a member signs up, the site matches the member with client companies.
After completing each survey successfully, credits a member’s account.
No guarantees are made as to how many surveys will be offered to each participant, with matching occuring based on demographic data.
Completing optional “portrait surveys” can enhance a user’s opportunities to participate in paid surveys, by enabling better matching to the requested demographics of particular surveys.
In addition to taking surveys, SurveySavvy users can also choose to participate in market research by using the software tool SavvyConnect, which monitors users as they surf the web.
The software simultaneously and unobtrusively transmits market research data in the background.
While this may seem intrusive, the software offers a private-browsing feature which lets users disable background transmissions when desired.
Free to join. Surveys are select-able by the user, with some offering instant PayPal payments and others cash prize drawing entries offering up to $10,000.
It offers a wide variety of surveys on consumer products and services.
Points can also be redeemed at retailers including Amazon, Foot Locker, and Barnes & Noble. Besides ordinary surveys, it features “Spot Challenges” for chances to win more rewards.
If you are interested in further info on online surveys for money, watch Susan explain how she makes over $300 per month doing just that: