If you are looking for ways to make extra money (and aren’t we all?) then here’s an idea to give a try: paid online surveys. If you are anything like me, you have strong opinions and you spout them off at just about any opportunity that comes along. That might explain why I am not invited to a lot of parties? Hmm, that makes me think. But I just can’t help but throwing my two cents in whenever the situation arises. Having said that, you can throw your two cents in and it can actually result in you getting some cash thrown right back at you!
Online opinion and survey sites have become a really popular way for some folks to cash in doing some pretty easy, mindless things in their spare time. The number of websites willing to pay you is growing every month. So, as Smash Mouth’s 1999 hit song says, “you’re an all star….get paid”.
Here’s the Warning Label
While there are a ton of sites out there to choose from, some are more reliable than others. You’ll want to make sure that they are really legit and you want to be sure you actually will get paid, so it’s good to check them out carefully before you jump right in the pool!
You Are Not Going to Get Rich But…
While a side gig is just that, side income won’t replace the steady cash flow of a regular job, but it can pad it a little bit. Paid online surveys are often mentioned as a way to earn extra dollars fast. But are paid surveys a legitimate way to make money? Or are they scams? The answer is that it depends on the survey company you are dealing with.
There are still marketing research firms that actually do pay consumers to take in-person surveys and to participate in focus groups. However, the internet has become a more efficient way for the money seeker and the companies who collect the data. So, many firms now conduct legitimate online paid surveys, virtual paid focus groups, and other types of paid online marketing research.
Then There’s the “Middlemen”
There are also many sites that are actually questionable “middleman” third-parties and they hype easy money for you to participate. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is” rings very true so be a little skeptical when you look around. There’s a lot of competition for your participation—which means great potential for exaggerations of earnings claims at the least, and at worst an outright scamola.
Avoid any sites that have had complaints documented against them. Look for and find companies that offer surveys directly on their website and avoid middlemen as if they were the plague.
Pay to Play?
The one rule to live by if you try surveys and opinion polls is: don’t ever pay to take a survey. There are sites that charge “membership fees” to get the “lists” of marketing research firms that you contact to be a part of the online paid world. That’s ridiculous since you can search online and find most of them totally on your own, so why pay?
There are even some sites that try to trick you into buying the same lists of their own membership sites under different names which they are using. Naturally, these sites have an incentive to exaggerate how much you’ll earn from online paid surveys. The truth is you have to carefully check and avoid the ones trying to scam you.
What You Can (and Can’t) Really Earn
If anybody is actually earning a living from online paid surveys, it’s probably only those middleman-site owners and not a participating consumer like you or me. Most surveys “pay” only small rewards in the form of goods, services, gift cards, coupons, or free samples. And of course, some cash.
Rewards or prizes at most of the sites range from $5-$200 in cash or goods. Some pay with points that are then redeemable for cash or gift cards and typically you must rack up a whole bunch of them to redeem for anything of significant value. Be wary of the sites that only offer sweepstakes entries for completing a survey that then will determine if you are eligible for other paid surveys. A few don’t pay much of anything, unless you recruit others, and that is a pyramid scheme. If it sounds a little deceiving, it is because there are many whose main goal is to get your opinions and make it very tough on you in the process. Getting you paid is not their priority.
But there are a few paid survey sites which do pay relatively well in cash. In the real world, the likelihood that you’ll often earn the higher of the hyped amounts is slim, but some money is better than no money as one who’s hurting may often say out loud! The online companies simply don’t pay you a whole lot.
You must keep in mind that you must fit some targeted demographics if you want to participate in these surveys. That limits your earnings right off the bat, because you can’t possibly fit into every demographic.
With all the talk about Facebook and its screw-up of personal data recently in the news, you may fear giving your opinions on the internet. Most paid survey sites effectively promise not to share personally identifiable information or not to share anything without your consent. It’s an industry standard by which legitimate marketing research firms are bound. But many survey sites don’t make any promises or do so only in a very limited or wishy-washy way. Make sure if you sign up that they offer a non-sharing of information about your “agreement”.
When joining a survey site, you might have allowed it or its “marketing partners” to solicit you. Your personally identifiable information is worth a small fortune to direct marketers, especially since the U.S. Federal Trade Commission limits unsolicited telemarketing calls and consumers can now sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry.
You should ask yourself if earning a few extra bucks, iffy sweepstakes entries, and other token rewards are worth the aggravation of dealing with potentially dozens of privacy invasions that offer nothing for your time. Before you sign up, review all of these tips for protecting your privacy online, so you don’t jeopardize yours for a little bit of extra money.
My wife Suzanne used to use paid online surveys to make a little extra. Sites she belonged to included Pinecone Research, MySurvey, and InboxDollars. She received payment in the form of cash or gift cards from all three sites, but she found the effort to qualify for enough surveys to make it worthwhile was difficult. Your mileage may vary.
Like anything else you deal with, you have to consider opinion surveys carefully before you plunge ahead. But truthfully, if you do your homework, have a computer or smartphone and some time on your hands, it can be an easy, simple way to earn some extra cash.
This way of making a little extra cash has worked for some and not for others. I think that if done with other ways to earn extra money as a side gig, it can be a nice way to help you solve money issues. Just be careful when you do it.
Have you ever tried opinion surveys to make some extra cash? Have you ever considered it? Are you afraid to try because of the chance of privacy invasion and/or scam issues? Is it worth a chance to help solve money problems by working when you want from your home?