Disclaimer: this is an account of my own personal experience with several paid online survey sites. I have no doubt that experiences vary widely. It all depends on your personal situation and country of residence.
After a couple of weeks as a stay at home Straggler / housewife, I started feeling a bit guilty for not contributing to the household income while still accruing the usual everyday expenses. Having access to not much besides the internet, I figured I might be able to find some paid online gigs, at least in the short term.
Researching online work opportunities left me wishing more than ever that I was a web developer, computer programmer or something equally technical and complicated. There just doesn’t seem to be much online work for anyone that’s not a tech genius.
I was left with very few options, and the most attractive of the bunch was signing up to paid online surveys. I confess, I am one of those strange people that actually enjoys filling out the odd survey and even writing online reviews so I figured this was right down my alley. the only thing left to do was sign up and give it a try.
What is an online survey?
Online surveys are basically market research tools, but the fact that they are online makes them more efficient and convenient for both the consumers and the companies issuing them. Every time you complete an online survey, you are helping a company refine their products or market offerings by sharing your opinions, thoughts and preferences.
In the case of paid online surveys, the consumer completing the survey receives a small reward for their efforts. Some survey sites award points that can be cashed in for gift cards while others pay directly in cash, usually through Paypal. Some offer both, so you can choose which option you prefer.
Sounds awesome! How do I sign up?
Signing up usually involves registering your details and completing a profile. A typical profile will include information on your gender, family status, household income, profession and depending on the site, even your interests and hobbies. Beware, the questions can get quite personal!
Once you’ve completed the registration, you usually start receiving survey offers almost immediately. Each survey typically takes between 5 and 20 minutes to fill out and pays anywhere between a few cents to a few dollars each time.
If you think this sounds too good to be true, you might be right. However, after reading a multitude of reviews and posts from fellow bloggers, I was convinced that it was worth a shot.
What are the options for Online Surveys?
There are loads of online survey sites, but beware – not all of them are legit. It’s a good idea to do your research to make sure the ones you’re signing up for are legit. I found this article helpful for avoiding scams.
The prevailing advice, is that if you are serious about making money you should sign up to as many different survey sites as possible. This should guarantee that you are never without a survey offer.
My experience with Online Survey sites, a two-week all-in experiment
After running through a list of 20 possibilities, I selected 9 survey sites that sounded like they could work for me. I was successful in signing up to five of them, but i’m still waiting to receive a confirmation email from one.
Basically after about 5 hours of solid online research, completing registration forms and the like, I was signed up and ready to go with four online survey sites. In order to boost my chances of getting selected for surveys I diligently clicked on every single offer I received for two weeks (and a bit) straight. Read on to find out what happened.
Who I signed up with…
Vindale Research pays in cash, either via cheque or Paypal. The survey payments varied, but most offered between 20c and $2 and required a time commitment of about 15 – 20 minutes each. The payments offered did not appear to be time dependent.
Vindale had the easiest registration process but were also by far the spammiest site of the bunch. From the moment I signed up I started received survey ‘opportunities’ often several times a day, direct to my inbox. Unfortunately, the bulk of these opportunities led to nothing.
Maybe I have slow reflexes, but I seemed to miss out on every single offer. Either the ‘quota’ was already full, or I simply didn’t qualify. in the case that I didn’t qualify, I would be redirected to another opportunity, for which I also never seemed to qualify. This usually went on for a few clicks until I was finally informed that there were no more opportunities available.
Vindale also encourages you to sign up for additional survey panels. I wasn’t feeling overly motivated to sign up to yet another online survey site, but now I wonder if it may have improved my chances of getting more opportunities.
The most money I earned on Vindale was by doing the basic introduction and tutorial, which scored me a total of $2. Unfortunately, you need a minimum $10 before you can redeem for a voucher or cash payments.
Vindale Research earnings overview
Total time commitment: approximately 5 – 10 minutes per dayTotal earnings: $2.65
Survey Junkie offers rewards through a points system, which you can later redeem for cash (paid via Paypal) or e-gift cards.
This was one of my favourite sites and one I was most excited about, yet I didn’t receive a single survey offer. Nevertheless, I still managed to earn 165 points (or approximately $1.65) for just completing my (very extensive) profile. Unfortunately, you need at least 1000 points before you can redeem for anything.
After a week or so of anticipation, I thought again that maybe there was something in my profile that wasn’t particularly sought after by marketing companies. I decided to fill my profile again, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. I’m still waiting for my first survey junkie experience.
Survey Junkie earnings overview
Total time commitment: 15 minutes to complete my profileTotal earnings: 165 points ($1.65)
Opinion World is the Australian version of ‘Pro Opinion’. They pay users through a points system that is later redeemable for gift cards at a range of Australian retailers, as well as Paypal and Amazon.com.
I was initially rejected by Opinion World for ‘violating terms and conditions’ but this problem was quickly rectified via email and after about a week I started receiving a steady stream of survey offers. However, much like Vindale Research, most of the survey opportunities were bogus. I was generally redirected to a page informing me that there were no surveys available at the moment.
Opinion World earnings overview
Total time commitment: 15 minutes to complete my profileTotal earnings: $0
User Testing was definitely my favourite of the four online survey sites, which may have something to do with the fact they offer the best payments per survey – up to $10.
User Testing pays people to test websites. The way it works is that you’re given a series of tasks to complete that require effectively navigating a particular website, for example you might be asked to ‘locate the site map’ or ‘find the opening hours’ for a certain business site. The catch is that you have to talk your way through the entire session during which your every word, and every move, is recorded. The idea is that you offer some insight as to what you’re thinking, seeing and experiencing while using the site.
To sign up, you have to complete a 15 minute ‘test’ which is recorded and evaluated, just like the real deal. If you are considered a good candidate, you get access to User Testing survey opportunities, many of which require you to complete a profile check or screening first.
The offers don’t come in as frequently with User Testing, perhaps a one to two times per week. So far, I also haven’t managed to qualify for any of them, but I’m not feeling put off. This is one Online survey site i’m considering sticking with, purely for the novelty of testing websites and talking out loud while doing it.
User Testing earnings overview
Total time commitment: 20 minutes for test and 2 minutes approximately 3 times per week for profile checks.Total earnings: $0
Total time commitment during 2 weeks: around 130 minutes (2 hours and 10 minutes), plus around 5 hours of research and registration.Total earnings: $4.30
I was very optimistic going into this experiment. Even without a payment, I’m usually more than happy to fill out a survey or write a review online. To actually get paid for it was a bonus.
Given the time commitment vs. earnings made during my two week experiment, my overall conclusion is that paid online surveys are simply not worth the effort. Of course if you have absolutely no other form of reliable income, and ample time to spare, it may be worth your while.
I can’t vouch for the experience of others, but after initially having trouble registering for the sites, I also seemed to have a less sought-after profile so was rarely selected for surveys. I’m not sure what it was about my profile, but I have a feeling the fact that I was operating through a VPN while living in Iran may have been to blame for at least some of the technical difficulties.
In my opinion, paid online surveys are likely to work best for:
- Persons with a fixed address. I was disqualified from a few surveys and may not have been accepted onto others potentially because I was using a VPN.
- People with a fixed and somewhat predictable household income
- People that are employed, and I’m not counting being a housewife or a home-maker as a profession.
- People who live a fairly stable lifestyle ie. work 9 to 5 and don’t move around too much besides the occasional holiday.
- People who are permanent residents of and working in North America. There are less opportunities for residents of either UK or Australia, but there are some. See here and here for Australian specific sites.
- People who don’t require a VPN to access sites online.
- People who have a lot of time on their hands and don’t mind answering the same questions over and over again for a nominal reward, and sometimes even no reward at all.
- To register for most survey sites you must be over 18 years old.
If i’ve thoroughly put you off trying online surveys, but you’re still looking for opportunities to work from home, these are some of the most useful sites and articles offering online work or suggestions:
- this post contains a list of sites where you can search for a remote job: https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/sites-to-find-work-from-home-jobs/?aff_id=76&aff_sub2=how-to-make-money-as-a-stay-at-home-mom
If you’re still working but looking for a way to make a bit of extra cash, I recommend you check out the Side Hustle school for ideas and inspiration. You won’t be disappointed!
Anyone else have a similar experience with paid online survey sites? Or did you actually make some decent cash? Please share!