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The Truth About Paid Online Surveys

November 14, 2004
A Question and Answer Session
Copyright © 2004, Chris Ohlson

With thousands of people trying to find a way to make some extra 
money online everyday, paid online survey sites are popping up 
everywhere. With so many out there (some good, some – well, not 
so good) it’s hard to determine what to believe. In an attempt 
to clarify the ins and outs, and the myths and realities of paid 
online surveys, I’ve composed a series of questions and answers 
to help you sort everything out. We’ll start with the basics and 
then get into the nitty gritty.

Question:  Is this for real? Why would someone pay me to take 
online surveys?

Answer:    Yes, this is for real. There are literally hundreds 
of legitimate market research companies out there who offer 
incentives for your opinion. Companies have come to these firms 
to get public opinions on their products or services and are 
willing to pay them to find out what you think. They then pass 
some of that payment onto you.

Question:  What are the surveys about?

Answer:    Just about anything that you can think of. You may be 
asked to review a movie trailer for a new movie, what kind of 
peanut butter you like, what restaurants you frequent, you name 
it. From barbeque grills to medical questions to appliances to 
what you had for dinner last night. There are sites for specific 
age groups, professions, hobbies and interests. The surveys are 
generally very interesting and these companies are looking for 
your opinion on how to shape their products. 

Question:  How does it work?

Answer:    Each company works a bit differently, but here are 
the basics of online surveys. You will sign-up for a paid survey 
site. You will enter some basic demographic information (age, 
gender, etc…), and when they have a survey available in which 
they are looking for someone who fits your profile, they will 
send you an invitation to take a survey. The invitation will 
usually contain a link directly to the survey and the incentive 
they are offering for you to take the survey. Just click on the 
link and take the survey to qualify for the reward.

Question:  What kinds of incentives are offered?

Answer:    The incentives vary for each site, but generally the 
incentives take the following forms: cash, gift certificates 
(Amazon gift certificates being the most popular), merchandise 
(DVDs, small appliances, electronic gadgets, cookware, etc...), 
and charity donations. Each survey site will offer one or 
several of the above incentives for your participation in their 
surveys. Some will offer these straight out, for example “get 
paid $5.00 to take this survey”, some offer these in the form of 
a drawing and others have a point system in which accumulated 
points can be “cashed in” for the items above.

Question:  Will you get spammed by signing up for paid survey 

Answer:    No, but you do have to be careful. There are some 
sites out there that are simply advertising firms posing as 
paid online survey sites. Here’s my advise on how to tell the 
difference. First, if they offer you a chance at a fantastic 
prize for signing up, such as a car or a boat, I would be a bit 
weary and do some more research before you sign-up. Second, if 
the survey to sign-up for the site consists of a lot of 
questions as to whether or not you want more information on 
other products, walk away, you’re certain to get spammed. Just 
remember that a legitimate market research firm will not endorse 
a product or service, they are supposed to be unbiased. Third, 
read the privacy policy if you have any concerns. The majority 
of the sites out there are legitimate and will only email you if 
there is a survey available or if there is important information 
they need to notify you of.

Question:  Should you pay for a database of paid survey sites?

Answer:    No. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t pay a 
dime to take online surveys. First, with a little effort you’ll 
be able to find all of the sites yourself - free. There are a 
lot of free sites that have pretty good lists and also a few 
really good free sites out there that have comprehensive free 
paid survey directories with hundreds of listings. Secondly, 
market research firms are actually prohibited from charging 
people to participate in surveys and frown upon anyone who does.

Question:  Can I get rich just by taking online surveys?

Answer:    I’ve had so many people ask me if there are going to 
be able to retire by taking online surveys. Well, that’s just 
not going to happen. Where it is possible to make a decent 
amount of money by making referrals or by running a survey 
related website, you’re just not going to be making a full-time 
salary by simply taking surveys. There are a lot of sites out 
there advertising that you can make thousands of dollars per 
week or make $45 dollars and hour for taking online surveys 
(you can actually make $45 dollars an hour for a particular 
survey, but you won’t always make that much and it may only 
be a 10 minute survey). 

Question:  How much can I make?

Answer:    That’s really hard to say. It really depends on a 
number of factors. How many sites did you sign-up with? How 
often do you take the surveys you are invited to take? What is 
your demographic? Etc… But I won’t just leave you hanging at 
that. I would say, if you sign-up for a number of survey sites, 
take the majority of the surveys you are invited to and are not 
limited in life experience, you could make perhaps $1,000 to 
$2,000 a year in cash or something equivalent. Mostly you will 
get smaller payments ($1.00 to $10.00) for a survey but I’ve 
seen them pay as much as $200. Treat this as extra cash, not a 
career. You can easily make enough to take the family out for 
dinner, buy a few extras, get a few nice things for around the 
house or save it all for your Christmas shopping.

Question:  So, is it worth it?

Answer:    Yes, I think so. Whereas, it’s not going to make you 
filthy rich, it’s certainly an easy and fun way to make a few 
extra bucks. I find the surveys to be enjoyable to participate 
in and for the time spent, the compensation is pretty good.

That wraps up this question and answer session. Hopefully this 
article has shed some light on the world of paid online surveys. 
If you cut through the hype and know what to look for, online 
surveys can be an enjoyable way to make some extra money. You’ll 
get to see new products before they come out, give your opinion 
on how to make existing products better and get paid to do so. 
Not too bad for a few minutes of your time. 

Chris Ohlson is the owner of
Free Paid
The complete FREE paid survey guide and
paid online survey directory.

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