Are Paid Online Surveys Worth It?

by on October 11, 2011

About ten years ago, we signed up for about a dozen paid online survey sites.  Over the years a few have come and gone, and there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of “paid survey sites” that offer nothing other than affiliated links to the same dozen or so legitimate survey sites.

So, if you’ve thought about joining some of these sites in the hopes of making money by filling out surveys, here is what we’ve learned from our experiences over the years.  You’ll be surprised at the best way to make money from these online survey sites.

  1. There are very few legitimate survey sites.  We’ve found less than ten truly legitimate sites that offer unique surveys.  They include NFO MySurvey, NPD Research, Harris Poll, Survey Savvy, American Consumer Opinion Panel, Ispos, and Global Test Market
  2. There are thousands of worthless sites.  Almost any site with the name “survey” in it is usually not a legitimate site (with the exception of MySurvey and SurveySavvy).  These sites get you to join and then send you other sites and collect referral fees from the survey companies.  You’re better off just finding the legitimate companies (some listed above).
  3. Some sites try to make you pay them for free information.  This is a subset of the group mentioned above, but these companies actually charge you to join and then send you to the same sites that are available for free.  We haven’t paid for any of these sites but we’ve gotten plenty of feedback on how they work.  Our guess is that, because people believe that nothing is free, they instinctively feeling like paying for something gives that something more value.  Not only that, but the sites themselves falsely advertise the amount of money to be made.
  4. Of the legitimate sites, many only offer “points”.  Many sites offer points instead of dollars.  Some of the sites convert the points into either dollars or prizes, however, many of the sites give points that can only be used for sweepstakes entries (in ten years we’ve never won one).
  5. Surveys that pay more than a dollar are hard to find.  You won’t find too many surveys that pay more than a dollar, and when you do find them, you are often ineligible because of your demographics or profile, or they will have already reached capacity.
  6. How much can you really expect to make filling out online surveys.  If you sign up for all of the sites you can, and fill out every survey possible, we’re guessing that you would spend about 2-3 hours a day filling out surveys.  We’re also estimating that for that 10-15 hours of work, you’d probably make the equivalent of $5 to $15.
  7. The best way to make money is to get referrals.  Here’s the kicker, while sites pay you very little to fill out surveys, they pay pretty nicely if you refer your friends.  For example, MySurvey typically pays about 10 points (or 10 cents) to fill out an initial survey to see if you qualify.  However, until they discontinued their referral service last year, they were paying $1.50 for each referral.  Many of the other sites also pay for referrals, and sometimes they share the money made by the people you refer (ongoing revenue from referrals).  We’re not recommending that you create an email pyramid scheme with your friends and family, or that you start posting referral links on facebook, but there is probably more money to be made this way than by filling out surveys.

Our conclusion

If your really have free time and enjoy filling out surveys, then many of these sites are worth it.  If your time is valuable, or at least more valuable than the $1 or $2 per hour that you earn doing surveys, then they are not worth it.  If you’re like us, it’s hard to turn down something for free.  Every now and then we find a short survey that pays good and we complete it.  However, it seems pretty clear that the best way to make money with paid online survey sites is to get a lot of other people to sign up for them, and make money on their referrals.

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