Are Online Paid Surveys worth Your Time?

 Are surveys a scam?

I started doing online paid surveys in 2009.  My first few experiences with them weren’t so good.  I signed up for what I thought was a legit survey company through a portal.  One result was that I started to receive lots of spam in my e-mail inbox.  I also completed a few questionaires through legitimate websites, which proved to be a complete waste of time.  The questionaires reel people in with the prospect of earning a reward such as a “free” $300 gift card or an expensive electronic gadget in exchange for completing the questions.


Well, there is always a catch to these kinds of questionaires disguised as surveys.  Some of those questionaires were over fifteen pages long, asking a string of unrelated questions designed to siphon off as much marketing information as possible.  The questions were seemingly never ending, so I gave up and exited out of the questionaire.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page and read the fine print, you note that in order to get the “free” gift card, you need to purchase merchandise or provide a credit card number.  These situations give the industry a bad name and lead people to believe that all surveys are scam.  They aren’t. This experience dissuaded me from completing another survey until 2010.


I can’t remember what it was that inspired me to get back into completing surveys.  But, I did go into it the next time around after doing some research.  I checked out some WAHM type review forums to find out what panelists were saying about a market research company before signing up.  That’s how I was able to separate the scam sites, from the borderline shady portals, from totally legitimate survey sites.  The top tip that I can give to prospective panelists is to never pay for a membership or list of survey sites. The information on legit survey sites can be found for free on the internet.


How much money can you make from taking online surveys?

You will not become a big baller or shot caller by taking surveys.  I view them mostly as a way to make a little extra money, when I need a break or a diversion.  90 percent of the time, you won’t make more than a few dollars doing one a survey that takes between 10-30 minutes average to complete.  Depending upon the market research company that you work with, it is rare to stumble upon a survey opportunity that pays more than a few dollars per study.  On average, most panelists earn less than the U.S. minimum wage through survey taking.  So, when you see advertisements claiming that you can make $100 per hour taking surveys, don’t believe it.


Examined from the standpoints of time value and opportunity costs, taking surveys isn’t a good way to make money.  There certainly are many other ways to earn much more money in less time and even passively.  As a matter of common sense, I don’t spend hours out of my day working on them.


What are some of the cons of taking online surveys?


It is very frustrating to get 5 to 10 minutes into a survey, only to be screened out and disqualified.  A few survey websites will give panelists some sort of compensation or sweepstakes entries, even if the panelist does screen out.  MyView surveys and Global Test Market are known for this.


Some consumer research surveys are quite boring.  If you are the type of person who can sit in front of a computer for long periods, answering non-challenging questions, then that’s okay.  I know that I can get burned out and suffer headaches by sitting and taking surveys for too long.  They are more interesting and stimulating when there are pictures, sound or video incorporated into the study.


An obvious upside, is that they are easy to complete and don’t usually require any specialized knowledge and skills. The downside is that you are spending time on an activity which won’t help you to upgrade your personal skills, business acumen or career objectives.


Sometimes there are technical issues with surveys, which result in the panelist not receiving credit for completing the survey.  The best that can be done when this happens, is to contact the survey website’s tech support or customer support about the problem.  A reputable company will investigate and make sure that the panelist receives proper credit when due.


There are so many hours in the day and I won’t take the approach of signing up for as many survey companies as possible. I like to experiment with different companies, but I don’t plan on ever completing more than a few surveys in a day.  There are several market research companies that I have been a panelist with.  I am not currently active with all of these companies, but they are all reputable and my experience with them was mainly positive.  I have listed some below:


Global Test Market (GMI)


Opinion Outpost


Valued Opinions


Just as there are some disadvantages to taking surveys, there are also some advantages:


  • You get to voice your opinion and influence the types of commercial advertising products that companies make.
  • Paid surveys can lead to higher paying market research opportunities, focus group studies and clinical trials.
  • I have been invited to participate in a few high paid surveys and paid online bulletin boards.
  • I once got paid $30 to participate in an hour long market research study about health.
  • I have also won a contest for $300 with one well-known market research company.
  • I was invited to participate in several paid product testing opportunities.  The products were shipped to me for free and I got to keep the products that I tested. Some examples of products that I was paid to test were laundry detergents, beverages, and anti-aging skin products.
  • I got paid $5 for taking a single picture of a specific type of product that I use and submitting it to the market research company.
  • You can make extra money referring others to legit survey websites.


In the end, you will need to decide for yourself whether paid surveys are worth your time.  I know that they have been for me.

© Copyright 2014 Susan Broadbelt