Who doesn’t love the idea of making money by taking surveys? I have seen so many people and sites promoting the idea that it honestly seems like a good idea.
Realistically though, online survey sites sound so much better than they actually are. While they can earn you money, it isn’t very much, and you end up spending a lot of time getting to that point. If you’re prepared to earn far less than the minimum wage for a lot of work, then maybe survey sites are for you.
Regardless, you want to know exactly what you are getting into before you even start.
What Do You Actually Do In A Survey Site?
There are a large number of different online survey sites out there. It honestly feels like many of these sites have been developed just to take advantage of the large amount of interest out there. Despite their differences, most of these sites come down to a few key approaches.
The concept is that you earn money by answering surveys, like the one below:
Answering surveys can be fun at first, but it gets tedious fast. There isn’t really any way to speed through the process, and if you try, the site may well flag your account, which can mean that you get nothing.
There are a few serious issues with this approach. One is that the number of surveys is limited. Many sites offer a page of surveys that refreshes irregularly, while others will email you new surveys. Long before I got into internet marketing I gave surveys a try and I always found that I was waiting to actually get surveys.
The second major issue is eligibility. You have to be eligible for a survey to be able to do it, and the criteria vary depending on the survey. Often you have to do a mini-survey just to find out whether you are eligible for a given survey, which can be time-consuming.
This approach further cuts down just how much you can earn doing surveys.
This is doubly frustrating for people who are low income or who are out of work, because these things make it much more difficult to qualify for surveys. The alternative of course is to try and guess what you think surveys are going to want and answer accordingly. However, this doesn’t always work and it is against the terms and conditions of the company.
Some survey sites (like SwagBucks) let you watch videos for money. Sometimes the videos are interesting, often they aren’t. The amount you earn per video is also ridiculously low, so you would have to watch hundreds if not thousands to get anywhere.
When it comes to watching videos, there are a few things to be aware of. Depending on the site, you often get credited for the first few minutes (so you can skip the rest). Additionally, the videos often can’t tell whether you are actually tabbed onto that page and they certainly can’t tell whether your sound is on.
Because of this, you can sometimes just put your computer on mute and click through videos while you are doing something else. Even then, it is a tedious and time-consuming process and certainly not a good way of making money.
Most survey sites will provide you with a significant amount of points (or money) for shopping at particular sites. For example, if you were going to sign up for a Netflix membership, you might choose to go through the link on a survey site to get bonus points – which can be worth the effort.
However, getting points from shopping is only a good thing if you were going to buy that thing anyway. If you weren’t, you end up spending money to make money – and you will almost always be spending much more than you make.
This makes it an incredibly ineffective approach for earning money. One of the worst things is that it is so easy to get sucked into this and end up spending much more money than you ever intended to.
There are a number of other ways that survey sites let you earn money, but the last one I’m going to touch on is minigames (see comments from Jozef on that page). Earning money by playing seems like a good idea but again, you aren’t earning much money.
With minigames it is especially important to read the terms and conditions to work out how you are actually earning points and what you have to do. For example, some sites will pay based on score, while others will look at the time you spend playing or how many games you play. Each of these would require a different approach.
Personally, I think that the minigames are a waste of time, unless you find a game that you actually enjoy playing for its own sake. Even then you probably won’t earn much money in the process.
Coins, Points, SwagBucks and More
Most survey sites have some form of currency system and sometimes they will have more than one. You earn money in whatever currency that site uses then convert that to money or use the points directly to buy things. This is actually a really clever approach, because users tend to forget how much the points are worth. So, something like this ends up sounding fantastic:
Even though the rewards for this particular site break down like this:
So, you would have to do roughly 10 surveys, each 20 minutes long to earn a $5 gift card. That’s more than three hours to earn $5, which is a seriously bad rate of return. Now, in fairness, surveys do vary in how long they take to complete and how much they offer, so you can find better ones, however, with the limited number of surveys available this can be tricky.
Needless to say, actually earning a living from this approach would be exceedingly difficult.
Time versus Money
Theoretically it is possible to earn money from online survey sites – I really don’t dispute that. If you pick the right site, the amount of income you earn might even be worth the effort. However, the biggest issue is time.
Most things that you do on these sites take time and take effort, and they also don’t pay a lot. So you end up earning very little for the time that you are putting into it.
Often you are operating far under the minimum wage, and there is always the risk that the site won’t pay out or that you won’t earn money from everything you do because of some small part of the terms and conditions.
I find my time is much better spent trying to earn passive income, rather than trading dollars for hours.
Watch Out For Scammers!
First of all, there are a lot of scammers out there and they will try to mislead you. Many of them will promote the idea of online surveys as a make money at home as a way to earn full time income. Others will charge you for lists of surveys or survey sites – ones that you can get for free elsewhere.
Another annoying thing is that many of the sites will have you watch videos or answer surveys on scam making money online sites – sites that try and convince people that they can make thousands of dollars a day by pressing a few buttons.
These types of products can leave you seriously out of pocket and rarely meet any of the claims they make. Personally, I don’t trust any site that promotes these types of scams. In fact, it says something about their ethics that sites like Panda Research are prepared to blatantly promote products that simply do not work.
However, one of the most concerning type of scammer in this field are the sites that look like a legitimate survey site. These sites often make it exceptionally difficult to actually get money out and have all sorts of conditions attached to whether you earn money from a given survey.
Personally, I don’t like online survey sites at all – particularly not as long-term money makers. But, if you are going to go with one, be very careful about the site you choose. There are a lot of poor quality sites out there like Fusion Cash, Cash Crate and Neobux, all of which make it almost impossible to actually earn anything.
At the end of the day, survey sites take a lot of time and they will never earn anything substantial in the way of money. They really are nothing more than something random to click through when you are bored and maybe eventually you will earn a little money.
If you’re trying to actually earn REAL money, you need to focus on something that is more sustainable in the long-term. How about starting a online business?.
This is nowhere near as difficult as it sounds, and it can actually be really fun. Having your own business gives you an incredible amount of freedom and in the online environment, one of the best approaches is developing your own website. Through a website you can make money from affiliate marketing, or even eventually by selling your own products. If you are going to spend hours online every day trying to make money, why not learn how the pros do it, and leave the survey sites to teenagers trying to supplement their allowance.
I learned how to make money this way through a fantastic training website that I recommend to everybody out there. You really can build your own business that will continue to grow over time and pay you thousands of dollars every month.