For companies to be successful, they have to tap into what consumers want. One way they do this is through opinions. This is the whole argument about earning money through opinion surveys.
Everything I said above is completely true, but its only part of the story.
You see, if you are looking at earning money through opinion surveys, you really have to consider how they work to start off with. Opinion surveys do provide companies with information about consumer thoughts and opinions, but they aren’t actually a very good tool.
For starters, it can get expensive to find out information about consumers this way. More importantly, the information that companies find out really isn’t accurate.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? When people fill out surveys, they often attempt to game the system, even just a little. For example, you might say you shop at more places than you actually do or say that you earn more money than you do. All of these things make surveys more unreliable for companies.
So, why do they bother at all?
Most companies don’t – and the amount that do is steadily decreasing. Instead, companies look for consumer opinions in other places, like social media. If opinion surveys aren’t that useful for companies, chances are, there really isn’t that much money in it.
The funny thing is that survey sites can exist and do well, even though opinion surveys isn’t really a profitable field. The reason is that they earn a little bit of profit from everything that their members do. This means that the site owners get richer, while most of their users simply waste time and often money.
Opinion Survey Companies in Practice
There are many differences between the sites, and some are better than others. However, there are also a lot of things that are the same across opinion survey sites. Some of these things are major red flags, and are the reason that opinion survey sites simply aren’t a good source of income – regardless of what site you go to.
To start off with, there are the surveys themselves.
Most opinion survey sites will give you a list of surveys, some easy and some difficult. You probably won’t qualify for all of them, and many will involve jumping through a lot of hoops and signing up for different programs – all of which takes additional time.
Additionally, survey sites often provide surveys at a slow rate, something that frustrates many users. This means that you couldn’t sit down and do surveys for five hours straight if you wanted to. Instead, you have to wait for surveys to be refreshed or to be emailed to you.
Survey sites also tend to have levels for cashing out, meaning that you have to accumulate a minimum number of points. Most of the time the cash out level is relatively low, like $5 for a gift card at Swag Bucks (less if you want to donate your ‘money’ to charity). However, I’ve seen more extreme examples, like CashTasks, which requires you to earn $1,000 before you can cash out (no, that's not a typo).
Games, Offers and Videos
Nowadays few opinion survey sites just offer surveys. I imagine this is because companies aren’t paying for surveys as often or as high as they used to.
Regardless of why sites do this, most diversify into other ways for people to earn money. A few of the most common are watching videos, completing offers and playing games.
Completing offers is a particularly tricky one, because this often involves hidden costs. There is normally a handful of simple offers on a website, like this one, which just involves clicking through a site:
Others are more complex, requiring you to give out your email address (and expose yourself to spam) and often needing you to create an account at a particular site.
However, offers that fall into these two types tend to be the minority. Instead, most of the offers that sites provide are things like these:
Offers like this cost and require you to sign up with a credit card. Sometimes you might just need to sign up for a trial, which is normally $1 or free, but you are rebilled after a month. Other times you actually have to buy a product or make a deposit.
These types of offers can get expensive fast.
You also have to be very careful that you don’t forget about a trial and end up getting billed extra.
Now, games and watching videos (see swagbucks review linked above) do probably seem like a safer and more interesting way of making money. However, they tend to pay very low and they can get dull fast. For example, Swagbucks offers a range of videos. Some of them are interesting, while others really aren’t.
Swagbucks does actually host a lot of videos, which is relatively unusual. However, their pay scheme is about what you see on other sites. In particular, for every ten videos you watch, you will earn 3 Swag Bucks.
To put that in context, 3 Swag Bucks is somewhere between $0.03 and $0.04. With Swagbucks you can get away with just watching the start of videos, but this isn’t true of most sites. Additionally, it is still a very time consuming approach. Even just watching the start of videos, you're earning less than ten cents for five minutes of work.
Playing games to earn money is no better, particularly as most sites require you to rank in their leaderboard before you get anything. This can be very frustrating and not at all effective.
These are the main things that opinion survey sites offer in addition to surveys, but there are others. In general though, the story is the same wherever you go. Earning money through opinion survey sites takes a lot of time and effort and is rarely worth the bother.
Most opinion survey companies don’t directly tell you how much you will earn from a given survey or offer. Instead, you are given the rate in terms of the site’s currency, whatever that happens to be. Some sites will just have one form of currency, while others will have multiple, with different types applying to different types of offers.
This approach is manipulation pure and simple. It means that sites can give you numbers like this:
Giving a whole number like this makes it seem like the survey is worth doing. However, in this case, you need 450 Swag Bucks to get a $5 gift card. So, each Swag Buck is worth around $0.01. As such, the 61 Swag Buck survey is actually worth around $0.68 (rounded up). That’s not a lot of money for a survey that is supposed to take 25 minutes.
Now granted, every survey site will have some surveys that pay better than others. However, if you are seriously trying to earn money through surveys, you would probably find yourself doing the good and the bad offers.
Overall, it’s an incredibly manipulative approach – particularly as most people don’t bother doing the conversion as they go along. Instead, they see that they have some points in their account and think that they are getting somewhere.
Money versus Time
You can earn money from opinion survey sites. The real issue is that the money you earn isn’t worth the time you put in. For example, you might find yourself faced with a list like this:
Most of the surveys in the list will have some type of pre-survey where you find out whether you are actually eligible to do the survey itself. The pre-survey isn’t paid, so if you aren’t eligible, you just wasted time. Additionally, the survey is often expired, something that you don’t find out until you have completed the pre-survey.
Even once you get to the point of doing surveys, you find that they often take quite a bit of time – particularly if you actually think about the answers (like you are supposed to).
Finally, most survey sites have the additional problem where your work doesn’t always register in the system correctly. With no real system in place for tracking what you have done versus what you have been credited for, it’s very easy to be out time.
All-in-all, earning money through survey sites takes a lot of time. Earning $20 through one of these sites can easily involve six or seven hours of work, if not more. That’s without considering how long you spend waiting for more surveys.
This means that your pay rate is probably somewhere around $4 an hour, if not less. That’s a very low hourly rate, particularly when taking surveys gets tedious fast.
Even if you were really good at taking surveys and figured out all of the time saving tricks for these sites, you would probably still be earning under the minimum wage.
Additionally, your ability to earn money tends to slow down over time with these sites. For example, sites often refresh surveys and offers rarely and only once you have completed the ones available. Many sites also provide their easy and profitable offers and surveys first, to make the approach seem like a good idea.
However, once you get further in the site, you’ll find that most of the options are bad and it can take quite some time to earn anything. This is particularly true with offers – as there are often only a handful that don’t cost money and these rarely refresh.
Finding a Better Way
Even if you find a decent survey site, earning money through opinion surveys and other gimmicks is a slow process. It’s also a very ineffective approach. Earning money in this way makes you completely reliant on the company and if they change their terms and conditions at all, you might suddenly find it impossible to earn money.
Additionally, how much you earn is based on factors outside of your control. You have to hope you get enough surveys and hope that you happen to be eligible for the surveys you do have access to.
Overall, it’s a horrible model and opinion surveys simply do not pay well.
If you want to make money online, short-term or long-term, you really need to be looking at a different approach altogether. Ideally, your focus shouldn’t be on working for anyone else, but on developing your own business.
With your own business, you have control over how much you make and how you make it. Additionally, you have the potential to expand your money making over time, something you really can’t do with opinion survey sites.
Starting your own business sounds complicated, but in the internet age it really isn’t.
In fact, you can earn money entirely online without even needing a product of your own to sell. This means that you don’t have to worry about any type of physical product and you don’t have to jump through hoops to earn money.
The best way of doing this is the way that I do it, an approach that many others use too. This is a technique called affiliate marketing. Through affiliate marketing, you earn money by promoting the products of other companies.