As with any other way of earning money, especially online, tips can help you make more money with paid surveys while avoiding scams and heartache.
I have been a panel member of many online surveys for money sites for a long time and during this time, I have picked up lots of little nifty tips and tricks that I think have helped me make the most of this opportunity.
I thought it would be a good idea to share these (not so much) insider secrets, to help those hoping to get paid to take surveys avoid scam, maximize their earning potential, while minimizing time they spend in front of the computer.
But first, if you like visualization, here is an infographic I made that takes everything I am about to share and shrinks it down to 15 great tips that will help you avoid scam and make more money as a survey taker.
Introduction to Online Surveys
- I’d like to start by stating that there are many legitimate sites such as Global Test Market and My Survey offering paid surveys. Personally, I am part of many such panels.
- There are no survey secrets!
- Online surveys are part of larger market research companies. They are seasoned organizations and are very good at what they do.
- Surveys are conducted to help companies and manufacturers improve their products and services or develop new ones by gathering feedback from consumers (i.e, survey takers). Learn more about what market research is by reading this guide by Ohio State University.
- There are some panels that entertain membership applications even from 13-year olds.
- You can take surveys anytime and anyplace. Thanks to the advent of mobile technology, you can even take surveys on the go. All you need is time and access to the web.
- You can be part of market research only if you provide certain personal information. You can ensure the security of this information by signing-up with only trusted websites.
- Most of the companies conducting market research do not like their surveys being answered by a professional. As such, never let it slip that you answer surveys from a number of sites and companies. There are also instances when the same survey might crop up at different survey sites. Personally, I find it quite funny when companies give different payouts to the same survey. Although you can get bored answering the same survey repeatedly, there’s a good chance that you’ll get faster at doing it from the 2nd or 3rd attempt onwards.
Scams: Spotting and Avoiding Them
- If there’s information available without charge on the web, don’t go about paying survey directories for the same. This is because many scams operate on this tactic.
- A site being promoted heavily doesn’t automatically make it a legitimate site.
- Legit survey websites are completely free to register. Therefore, never pay any site just to gain membership.
- A genuine paid survey site will never promote another survey site.
- No legitimate site will ask for details of your social security number.
- Genuine panels also don’t sell products to you.
- Legitimate survey websites don’t require you to submit details of your credit card or bank account number.
- A real survey site will never send you any mails apart from newsletters and surveys.
- AMA, Castro and BBB are some of the logos that you can use to identify legitimate online panels. Here is a list of Market Research Associations (Seeing their logos on a site is a good sign!)
- A genuine survey site has stuff like privacy policies, FAQs etc. listed on its first page that are easily accessible.
- A legit online research firm will never promise or exaggerate anything.
- If you have a bad feeling about a site, before you waste too much time with them, try to get in touch with them. Usually scam sites lack a good customer service.
- Never forget that if it sounds too good be true, it most probably is!
Creating & Setting up Your Accounts
- Creating and setting up your accounts will help in smoothening the entire procedure whereby you qualify for surveys, complete them and get paid accordingly.
- Whenever you register with a site, a confirmation email containing a link will be sent to the ID provided by you. You must click on this link as otherwise, the account won’t be activated.
- Once the joining formalities are complete, go over to the profile section and fill-in the details that have been asked. Doing so ensures that only surveys relevant to your interest are sent to you.
- After completing these profiles and their questions, ensure your correct contact and address information is recorded by the site. This will help you get your checks.
- Focus on getting organized. It’s an easy process and you’ll find my tutorial quite helpful in the process.
- You must first decide on a username and password. Having a common username and password for all your survey sites makes it easier to remember.
- Create a new email account either with Yahoomail or Gmail; also both are free.
- Head over to Mozilla.com and download the free Firefox web browser.
- Download Roboform, which helps you fill-up forms automatically. It’s shareware although upgraded versions come for a price (you can consider this later once you are established in the surveys scene).
- Use your information to setup the Roboform software.
- On the Firefox browser’s toolbar, create a new folder and name it what you want. The folder can be created by left-clicking on the tool bar followed by selecting the ‘New Folder’ option.
- Whenever you open a site you’ve joined, click on the tab while dragging it to the folder you created before dropping it. This will give you a single-click access to that website.
- Next up, you must decide how many survey sites you’ll be joining. For beginners, I’d suggest joining around 10 sites. This will help you gain close to 30 survey invites every week.
- Make sure to add the sender of your survey invitations as a contact. This is to avoid survey invites getting junked as spam.
- Some sites have started paying through PayPal, which is the fastest among all payment methods. If you’d like to be paid the same way, setup your PayPal account.
- Once you start getting emails from survey websites, make a separate folder for storing those email invitations. This helps you to quickly get to a survey without wasting too much time.
Participating in Online Surveys
- Although paid surveys can’t make you a million dollars, taking them regularly can easily earn you around $300-$600 each month.
- Almost all paid survey websites send you email invitations for surveys that are suited to the demographic information you provided during sign-up.
- Try finishing every survey sent your way.
- Most survey invites will carry information about the compensation offered by a survey and its duration.
- There are a few surveys that compensate you by way of free sweepstakes entries.
- Surveys offering sweepstake entries as compensation usually take less time to complete in addition to being easy.
- Some survey sites allow you to graduate to higher paying surveys after completing sweepstakes surveys.
- You have already bookmarked the survey sites you’ve joined in the folder you created for that. Now use this to access your survey sites daily with a single click. This tells the sites that your account is active.
- Most survey websites feature a member’s area that hosts different information related to your stats, profile and survey invitations. Hence, ensure you are familiar with its layout.
- A qualifying survey typically asks about your occupation and in case you use certain products, always remember to select ‘None of the above’ for occupation and select 3 products at the very least.
- Some questions like your postal address and yearly income are asked for classification purposes. As such, answer them truthfully.
- When it comes to questions asking for your opinions, be honest and natural. Right or wrong answers don’t exist here.
- Try to put in efforts when answering questions based on your opinions.
- Be careful when answering opinion questions as certain sites tend to put stuff like select #3 on a specific question for quality considerations.
- Market research companies make their bones by gathering and sorting information. As such, give them information that they could work with. For instance, I like that advertisement because of its photography style.
- A few sites might ask you about your previous experiences with a particular survey or topic. Make sure that you check the box that says you’ve never participated in any research about that topic.
Increasing Your Earning Potential
- Taking surveys won’t make you rich. That said, they are an excellent source of extra cash and they help you make more money than the average American does through part-time jobs.
- Keep yourself updated with the latest news. Market research companies usually work on the newest topics and trends around, so try to catch news every day.
- You will need to invest time for participating. I suggest reserving 1 hour daily for this purpose.
- A less popular survey site will likely pay you more per completed study. However, such sites also tend to send out a lesser number of survey invites; say around one per month.
- Never forget that more the sites you sign-up with and answer surveys for, more is the money you’ll earn.
- If possible, become part of specific industries or paid survey sites like opinion world business and business people. You can also join sites like Greenfield for Hispanics and the African American Voice. These are panels that pay a lot more than conventional ones.
- Try to be part of sites with quality. Your earnings will be higher with such sites compared to garbage ones.
- Once you finish taking a survey, make it a habit of attaching notes (that you’ve completed it) on the email invitations. Also note down the time when you did so.
- Sometimes, you’ll be asked by survey sites to be part of focus groups. Although these are held rarely, they do pay attractively (around $50-$200).
- You can also be asked by paid survey websites to take part in product testing. Personally, I’ve tested a number of different products including toothbrushes, socks, air fresheners and even candy. The pay with them is usually $10-$75.
- Survey sites deal with a large number clients and are always ready to accommodate more survey panelists. Towards this purpose, many also tend to pay you for referring your friends. However, in the greed to make money that way, desist from spamming your friends!
- Once you earn more than $600 with any single survey website, you can expect to receive a 1099 tax form for the income. Read Do I have to File a Tax Return? on IRS’ official site to learn more.
- Although most survey sites used to pay via checks and Gift Cards, more and more are resorting to PayPal payments.
- If you are about to go on a vacation or can’t take surveys for a few weeks due to some reason, make sure to let the site know about it, since a handful of sites do suspend your account for prolong inactivity. In this manner, your account will be saved from suspension due to inactivity.
- In case your luck shines and you do receive an invite for product testing, make sure to follow each and every guideline accurately. Doing so will get you even more such invites from a survey site.
- Once again, please understand that YOU WILL NOT GET RICH BY TAKING SURVEYS! Sorry, I had to yell this one. It just makes me sad to see so many people getting their hopes to high with this thing.
- That said, you can make a nice additional income (more than what some people may make in their part-time jobs) if you join a dozen or so good panels and really commit to taking surveys.
- Conducting Market Research – Ohio State University
- Market Research Associations – About.com
- How Focus Groups Work – HowStuffWorks.com
- Product Testing definition – IOWA State University
- Paid Survey FAQ – Survey Satrap
- Do I have to File a Tax Return? – IRS.gov
Did I miss anything? Do you have any paid survey tips and tricks missing from this list? Let me know through my Contact page and I will add it to the list along with your name.