How to Earn Money Online
Introduction to Earning Money Online
Whether you are a college student looking to earn some extra money for books (or, lets be honest, pizza) or a stay at home mom hoping to earn some cash on the side, there are a number of ways you can make money working on your computer. This site will show only legitimate methods that have been used and verified personally by me: these sites will pay you for your work, and won't spam you with ridiculous ads or sell your personal information. A lot of the work is somewhat mind-numbing at times, but some of the surveys and tasks you'll be asked to do can be very interesting, and occasionally you'll be sent free products or offers in exchange for sharing your opinions.
The services I use to make money online fall into one of two categories:
Online Surveys: There are a ton of websites that offer free surveys, but many of these are, in actuality, spam generators that want you to fill in your personal information so they can send you offers for deals. However, there are three websites I've used consistently that do in fact pay you money to fill out surveys about consumer products, financial services, insurance, etc. They will send you the occasional email, but, for the most part, they do not spam you with offers for free credit. You won't make a ton of money from these sites but you will be able to make a few dollars a month using these (and more if you can convince your friends to sign up for surveys through affiliate programs).
Mindless Tasks: The two many services I use for this are Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and ChaCha. Mechanical Turk is the easier of the two to get started with, as anyone can sign up for account, it basically offers a way for anyone to post odd jobs such as categorizing photos, answering surveys, rewriting sentences, transcribing audio clips, etc. ChaCha is service that allows anybody with a cell phone to submit a question through text messages, which, as a guide, you then get paid 10-20 cents a pop to answer through their web based tool. It is a little bit more difficult than Mechanical Turk to sign up for, as you have to pass a qualification test, but you can make far more consistent money working through ChaCha than you can through Mechanical Turk.
Here are some guidelines on the three survey sites I've used successfully. Every single one of these does pay money out (typically via check or PayPal), don't expect to make a ton of money but you can make a few dollars a month if you consistently complete surveys with them.
MySurvey: MySurvey typically has surveys related to consumer products or insurance/financial services that can pay anywhere from 5 to 1000 points. Points are roughly equal to a cent, as once you reach a threshold of around 1000 points, you can start cashing out points for gift cards, products, or cash. As an example, once you reach 1150 points, you can turn in the points for a $10 check.
Benefits: MySurvey will email you for every new opportunity, there is a low cash out level (as little as $10), and the service consistently offers a few surveys a month. Also many surveys offer a little bit of credit even if you are screened out after the first few questions, so no matter what, you are at least earning something for your work.
Drawbacks: Some surveys take reasonably long for the amount of payment offered. The point system is somewhat annoying, as you don't earn money on a dollar to dollar basis. They also recently raised the cashout rates, it used to be 1000 points equaled a $10 check, now its 1150 points for a $10 check, and there is no guarantee they won't raise this threshold again in the future.
SurveySavvy: SurveySavvyis similar in nature to MySurvey. I probably get 2-3 emails a week from them, though the qualification rate is much lower than MySurvey. Payment is offered on a dollar for dollar basis, there are no points like MySurvey, so what you earn is what you get.
Advantages: Some surveys are very well paying (up to $10), all surveys are paid in dollars (no points), no minimum payout, you can cash out at anytime, emails updating you about surveys.
Drawbacks: Most surveys are worth more money than MySurvey, but the qualification rate is much lower, you'll end up starting a lot of surveys that you won't get paid for. A lot of the surveys are extremely specific, you have to be someone who has a specific role at your company, has a specific medical condition, or fits a particular profile in order to qualify.
Pinecone Research: Pinecone Research is the most consistently paying of the survey sites I use, they pay a flat $3 rate for every survey you do. Unfortunately, qualifying for them is a bit hard, there is usually no sign-up link on the web page, but every so often they send out calls for new invites through their current member page (Check back and I'll post this as soon as they send one out!).
Advantages: Relatively high and consistent pay for each survey, you know you are getting $3 if you complete them. Also, many of their surveys are about consumer products in the test phase, so they will end up sending you products for free before they are released to consumers. Among the things I've received are frozen pizzas (they shipped them to me with dry ice!), candy, dishwasher soap, and even a expensive bottle of cologne. They are also are the only Survey Site that will pay through PayPal and are typically much faster than MySurvey and SurveySavvy.
Disadvantages: Surveys can be very infrequent (sometimes as few as 1-2 a month) and take a minimum of 10-15 minutes. Also, if you do not complete every offer they send you, they will sometimes reduce the number of surveys you are offered. Finally, the sign-up process is not as simple as MySurvey and SurveySavvy, you have to be invited by a current member during an invite period (but again, check back and I'll post a link as soon as they are looking for more members!)
Freelance/Guided Search Sites
The two sites that generate the majority of the income I make online are Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and ChaCha. These two sites will pay you consistently and easily, and offer the best way to generate income while working from home. You certainly will not get rich using them, but I've made over $400 this year on Mechanical Turk, and have made over $1200 on ChaCha since I started a couple of years ago (keep in mind that both these required hours of effort, you won't make this in a few minutes).
Mechanical Turk: Hosted by Amazon.com, Mechanical Turk is a service that allows "requesters" to post tasks that can be completed by "workers" who sign up for the site. To make money, you have to sign up for a worker account, which will give you access to literally tens of thousands of tasks (known as "hits") offered on the site. These can literally range from everything to filling out academic surveys to categorizing search engine results to testing online java games. Most of the tasks are low paying, but some of the better ones will offer a dollar or two for only a few minutes of work. For more information to earning money on Mechanical Turk, check out my Mechanical Turk Guide offering tips on how to maximize your experience.
Advantages: Easy sign-up, work as much or as little as you like, wide variety of tasks, instant payment to a bank account through Amazon Payments (or use your earnings to buy things on Amazon).
Disadvantages: Some of the offers are scams, these are usually easy to avoid if you use common sense (if someone is offering you $30 to fill in your personal information online, you probably aren't going to get paid and are going to get a ton of offers for herbal supplements). My guide has in-depth information on how to avoid scams and maximize earning potential. Also a lot of the offers are truly mind-numbing, be prepared for some hits which offer you a penny to categorize Amazon Listings and similar things of that ilk.
ChaCha: ChaCha (sign up here!) is a web-based search service that allows anyone in the country to text any question to 242242 (ChaCha). As a guide, you will be answering these questions through their web-based interface. Basically, you sign on to ChaCha's "Guide Console," which sends you question after question which you have to answer one at a time. Each question has to be answered according to the sites Guidelines and must be supported with a link to a web page, so it does take at least 20-30 seconds (and sometimes as long as a few minutes) to answer a question. Payment ranges from 10-20 cents per question depending on the category of the question, and questions can be on topics ranging from sports to politics to driving directions to conversational questions. You also can receive bonuses for answering a certain amount of questions in a time period, etc.
Advantages: Consistent Income, once you qualify and get going you can expect to make close to minimum wage with ChaCha. There are almost always questions to be answered, so you can guide for as little or as long as you like. Work any hours you want. Payment is either through a pre-loaded debit card or directly to your checking account. Some of the questions can even be rewarding, you can happy someone who is lost find directions, etc. Company also has been rock solid so far, so you will get paid once you reach the qualification threshold.
Disadvantages: You have to pass through a qualification exam to sign up to be a guide. The exam and process is not difficult but does take some time and effort. The questions can be frustrating, you will get inappropriate questions at times (imagine giving teenage boys the ability to ask any question through text message) or questions that are unanswerable (who is Polly Stevens from Kenosha, WI). You also have to reach $150 before you can get paid.
I hope this Hub helps everyone looking to make some money online, feel free to post questions/tips/feedback in the comments section and I'd be happy to respond! Also feel free to share any other sites that are legitimate, once I've had a chance to check them out and verify that they actually do pay money and don't spam you, I'd be glad to add them to this Hub.
More Suggestions for Making Money Online
- Mechanical Turk Guide
My guide to making money on Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk
- Preparing for a Layoff
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- Are Online Survey Jobs A Scam?
A great hub on the dangers of online survey sites. All of the ones featured in this hub have been used by me with no problems for many years, do not spam, and have paid as advertised.
- Unusual Ways To Make Money Online
Hubber wanderh's excellent guide to some rather, well, alternative ways to earn money online.
- How to Make Money In Your Spare Time with Amazon Mechanical Turk
Another great Hub on using Mechanical Turk