Online survey companies dominate the ‘work from home’ niche these days, but is there anything beyond the stock images and enticing slogans? This article required careful consideration because it wouldn’t be fair to write a scathing review of an entire industry without proper research to back it up. Everybody seems to have an opinion about online surveys, and it’s difficult to say who is correct. Some people insist they’re legitimate, while others claim there isn’t one company offering real money-making opportunities.
We looked into this carefully and discovered some surprising things about the so-called ‘paid-survey’ industry. So, can you actually make money taking online surveys? In short, yes—but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. But are paid surveys worth it? It all depends on how much you value your time, so we’ll give you a better idea of what it’s really like to try earning money with online surveys.
How Surveys Make Money
How do online surveys make money, and how do they pay people to take them? While it seems like a silly question to ask, it’s vital to understanding why online surveys can be profitable. It’s all about market research—companies frequently hold focus groups and conduct surveys to gauge consumer opinions and predict trends. Surveys are a small part of a massive industry that dictates what we see in stores and on billboards.
According to HowStuffWorks, market research companies generally charge between $2,500 and $5,000 for a 200-person survey, typically conducted by email. In exchange for answering the survey, companies often provide participants with rewards (such as coupons) or a small monetary prize. In reality, very little of that 2.5 to 5k price tag ever finds its way back to consumers. Next, we’ll expose the reality of online surveys and why you probably won’t be able to make a living taking them.
Why it’s Difficult to Make Real Money Taking Surveys
Now here’s the real question—are online surveys worth it? It all depends on a few factors, including how much you value your time. Online surveys range in length from a few multiple choice questions to over a hundred, so it can take a long time to finish them up (especially if you answer honestly).
The pay rate per survey varies widely between legitimate companies, but Survey Police reports an average rate of $0.50-$5.00 per survey. That’s not a lot of money. In some cases, survey companies don’t have a straightforward payment process. Many companies tally your earnings in the form of ‘points’ which often need to reach some arbitrary number (like 100) before being cashed out—and that’s if you’re lucky. Survey scam companies are notorious for deceptive (but not always illegal) advertising, paying out only rewards with ‘$xx.xx value’ instead of actual cash.
If you do the research and find a legitimate survey company, you will be able to make some money on the side. For some people, this is a great way to spend downtime at the office or earn a little bar money. And if that’s what you’re looking for, fantastic.
For many people, however, the prospect of making a living taking surveys just never pans out. Some people have done it, but it’s a lot less lucrative than many companies would have you believe. The vast majority of people who take online surveys don’t make thousands of dollars per month doing it, though (to be fair) it’s not entirely impossible—just very unlikely.
How to Separate Scams from Legitimate Companies
Before we conclude, it’s worth noting that there are many legitimate survey sites that offer some (usually meager) compensation for taking surveys. Keep in mind, we’re not trashing legitimate online survey sites—they pay what they deem your survey time is worth, which usually happens to be very little. It’s very likely the easiest way to make money online so it can be a good work-from-home experiment for many people.
That’s not to say you can’t make a living from a computer—quite the contrary, as there are many real careers you can build and work from home. With that in mind, there are a number of reputable companies that offer online surveys.
Here’s a short list of three paid online survey sites that have a good online reputation on forums and other publications.
- Harris Poll
SurveySavvy is a reputable survey website that exchanges cash for taking surveys. Unlike many other sites, this company offers real money for your time, and you can get your paycheck at any time.
SwagBucks is a relatively well-known online survey company that offers non-cash rewards for your time. Survey points can be redeemed in the form of gift cards and shopping points.
Harris Poll is one of the highest-regarded survey sites out there. This company offers points for surveys, along with other perks not found on other sites. Like SwagBucks, Harris Poll points can be redeemed on gift cards and similar items, but there’s no cash compensation.
If you expect a full-time income and a comfortable lifestyle only from taking surveys, you’ll be disappointed. Taking online surveys is usually only worth it if you’re realistic about your expectations.
You can earn money, rewards points, and/or gift cards for taking online surveys. For many people, that’s good enough to do a study here and there.
Although many online surveys are scams, there are a few legitimate survey sites that offer compensation in the form of cash or reward points.
SurveySavvy, SwagBucks, and Harris Poll are three legitimate, reputable online survey sites.
Let’s face it—was any of this information really that much of a shock? Get-rich-quick schemes have been around for centuries, and many illegitimate survey companies make ridiculous promises to steal your time and personal information. However, if you find legitimate companies and take a down-to-earth approach, you might just make a buck or win some free movie tickets.