Making Money Online with Surveys: Ask the Question and Be Happy!

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To Be or Not to Be... a Scam?!

In a previous article here on Hubpages I talked about surveys and the big 'No-No' about paying any kind of money for those packages of survey directories. There I made it clear that you should never pay for those lists, as you can simply do some research and get it for yourself...Free!!!

Now, after some research you may have been lucky enough to encounter some survey directories that seem pretty legitimate. Should you embark on the quest to find out for yourself if answering surveys is really the way to make money online? What are a few minutes a day, anyway, it should not be that much of a waste of time... and getting $1 or $5 a day, accumulates into a few nice extra bucks a month!

These are all things that you might be thinking about (and rightly so), especially if you have not yet felt the pain of being scammed over and over on the internet.

"Oh, okay than it is a scam!" - You now think. Well... yes, no... maybe so... Sure there are a few scams here and there, but probably the scam surrounding online surveys is the 'buy this list of survey directories' as I mentioned on my first hub on online surveys. Other than that, it really all depends on which directories you are using and their terms of payment, among other things.


Critical Thinking!

Survey platforms basically provide companies with the ability to reach a broader sample of people for their research purposes. Companies want to know what the main consumer is looking for, who buys what, for how much and what do we like or dislike in a product.

So far there is really nothing wrong with this. I mean, if you had your own company wouldn't you want to know what you are doing before spending big bucks?

However, when contemplating surveys as a source of income, you should really think and ask yourself some questions before you give your information and opinions away. Yes, you will have to provide personal (demographics) information and the overall point of surveys is to provide your opinion on something.

The lesson here is: Exercise your critical thinking! I should say this is actually lesson number one in the internet world (and real world!).

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Ask the Question...

Before doing anything there are a few questions that you should ask yourself:

1. Am I willing to provide big companies with the ability to manipulate my thinking when I go to the mall or grocery store?

As I said before, there is really nothing wrong with wanting to know what you are doing, when you are in charge of a company, you have the right to do your job to the best of your abilities and research is a very good way to do it. Nonetheless, your are still providing your opinions and personal information to a marketing research... for marketing purposes, if you get what I mean. They will use it to their advantage and put specific products out there, in a very specific package and position, to make it that much harder for people to think critically when they are doing their shopping.

So how do you feel about that, how does this sit with you? There are various positions in answering this, so this is more of a personal and ethical question.

2. What kind of additional information will I have to provide with my opinion?

Surveys are usually anonymous, but for demographic purposes they ask for marital status, income information, etc. You do have option to decline to answer certain questions but that is taking a risk towards being screened out of the survey, meaning... wasting five to ten minutes for nothing.

3. How much are they going to pay me per survey?

Often the people that sell you lists of survey platforms claim that you can get paid anything from $5 to $50 per survey (some go as far as $75). I have never been paid more than $4 for a 20 minute survey. Plus, coming from a research background I should say that it is simply not feasible to pay $50 for a 15 minute survey, I mean big companies do allot a big budget for marketing research (compared to academic research) but for $50 you should always expect more than 1 hour taking the survey.

4. How will they pay me? Is it direct money, points, other rewards?

The way this source of income is portrayed in the ads, you immediately assume you'll be paid in cash deposits, but this is often not the case.

Most survey directories will reward you with points that you can later redeem for money and/or prizes - kind of like a loyalty membership. Here is when critical thinking should kick in! Depending on the terms, it is sometimes pointless to waste your precious time when they give you very little points per survey and have a high minimum point limit to redeem for cash. Many don’t even offer cash options, only prizes and sweepstakes.

5. What is the minimum payout?

High payouts are often a scream for scam. Special awareness to point-systems. Getting paid only $1 for 10,000 points when they barely give you 10 points per survey, is just plain absurd.

6. How long are these surveys?

This is hard to know, each survey has its own length, some can be very quick and easy to answer, and others can be quite long and tedious. Rule of thumb, it always takes you 5 – 10min more than what they say it will.

Now the question should be "do I have the time for this? Or the patience?".

7. What is the time value? How much will I be paid for how much time?

For example are you willing to be paid $1 for 30 minute surveys? Some will not even give you money but points and sometimes not that many points either. Is it worth the time? This is something you should take into account. If you are always home, bored and have nothing to do, it might be better than wasting your time looking at the walls, but if you could use that half hour for more productive things it may just not be worth it. Make your own judgement.

8. How frequently will I receive my surveys?

This is a key question! If they pay you in money and all seems nice but then they only send you 1 or 3 surveys a month... you might want to reconsider. Especially because more often than not you are screened out of the survey because you don't fit their target market. If you do go for it, keep in mind it will take you quite a few months to get your first pay... and second... and so on..

This last fact about making money from surveys (that and the time-worth aspect) is probably what kills it all. You will always spend more time than expected, be screened out too often and be left feeling like you don't have enough of an income to show for it.


Do your Research.... and Be Happy!

Those are a few of the questions that experience has taught me to ask before I sign up for anything, especially survey directories and lists. But do not simply ask these questions and wonder around in your thoughts, just for the sake of relieving potential guilt or feelings of stupidity.

Everyone makes mistakes and dumb choices, but you have to really put time into finding real answers for these questions. Write them down for a few survey directories and then analyse them. Compare which offer the best rewards, have lowest payout, are most frequent and such.

Also keep in mind that some survey directories are legitimate and (arguably) worth it but others are just a waste of time (whether they are legitimate or not). Your job is to do your research and be realistic.

Last lesson of the day: Claims are not facts! So do your research and be happy!


© 2010 Veronica Almeida

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