The Truth About Paid Online Surveys

You don’t have to wander far in the ‘make money online’ websites around the globe before you will stumble upon an article about Paid Online Surveys. Paid online surveys offer you a chance to generate income from the comfort of your own home, in your own time, by simply giving your opinion. The appeal is definately there.

Are Paid Online Surveys Real or Scams?

The answer to this question is interesting. The answer is yes, they’re real. But also that many are scams. But don’t worry, I’ll teach you all you need to know about avoiding scam websites, and also about what you can come to expect from legitimate survey websites.

Types of Survey Scams

There are two key types of survey scam websites:

The Conman

The type of survey website I call the ‘conman’ are the types that literally steal your money. Conman sites will typically charge between $29 and $99 dollars for access to lucrative paid surveys. Promises will be often be made that the joining fee will be reimbursed through a couple of a highly paid ‘guaranteed’ surveys upon joining, and that the fee is simply to “weed out those who don’t have their heart in it“.

Conman survey websites will gladly take your money and offer you practically nothing in return, including the promised $30 surveys that were apparantly “guaranteed”. The vendor will not respond to any questions and will not provide refunds.

The Rip-off Merchant

The Rip-off Merchant is an altogether less harmful survey website, but will still leave you out of pocket. The Rip-off merchant has a large list of genuine paid survey companies, all of whom allow people to sign up for free. But knowing that many individuals will not spend enough time researching paid surveys, the Rip-off Merchant will sell you this list for a substantial amount.

Indeed, all information has intrinsic value, and there is nothing wrong with selling information that people require, (this is, fundementally the service that accountants and lawyers provide after all). However to be selling information on the internet that can be obtained for free is certainly cheeky, and takes advantage of the trusting attitude of less savvy web users. Rip-off Merchants will usually inflate expectations of what the average survey pays.

List of Legitimate Paid Survey Companies

Toluna – www.toluna.com

Toluna is a very large company that has recently aquired various other online survey companies, including Greenfield Online’s CIAO Surveys which it bought off Microsoft. A web traffic estimator calculates that Toluna is one of the top 4,000 most visited websites.

Plugged in People – www.pluggedinpeople.com

Plugged in People is a consumer opinion website based around electronics, and is currently welcoming US and UK registrants. While less surveys will be offered due to the limited focus, electronics surveys typically pay slightly more.

Lightspeed Panel – Lightspeedpanel.com

Lightspeed is another behemoth in the survey world. Available in many different countries, including UK, USA, Japan, China and even South Korea! Lightspeed also own MySurvey.

SpringBoard – www.springboarduk.com, www.springboardamerica.com

Springboard runs separate websites in individual countries, so if you’re not in the UK or USA, you will want to check online whether springboard offers surveys in your region.

What to Expect from Legitimate Survey Websites

Legitimate survey websites all seem to offer a similar experience, so what follows is what it’s like to actually be signed up with several of them.

1. The community. Many of the websites put a focus on the community before individual. You’ll find forums, web chat and other initiatives that help create a ‘hub’ of decision-altering consumers on the website. A notable example is CIAO which allows you rate each others reviews and add friends and leave comments.

2. The types of rewards. You’ll find that websites often give financial incentives in the form of credits, points, tokens or competition/lottery entries rather than cold hard cash. These points are often convertable into cash, but you’ll see your balance as a points balance. This is mainly because:

3. The surveys don’t pay that well. Many surveys offer less than £1 for a 15 minute commitment. 10p for a survey is actually not uncommon. If your balance was stated in pounds, this would remind you of how little you’re actually making.

4. The surveys that do pay well are too infrequent to generate a serious income. Survey marketers will only want responses from a specific demographic of person. Therefore as you fill in your profile, regardless of what information you provide about yourself, you are excluding yourself from the majority of surveys.

5. Some surveys require effort and still don’t pay. What can often happen is a survey begins with a set of introductory questions designed to see whether you’re their ideal type of survey candidate. If you don’t meet their criteria, then you may be asked to leave the survey after 3-5 minutes despite not being financially compensated for your time. Some survey websites give you competition entries in return for these rejections.

6. Filling surveys should therefore be seen as a hobby. The reason why survey companies create a community becomes clear: the financial incentive alone is not large enough to justify the amount of effort you need to put in to generate any income. You must enjoy being on the website and giving your views, while seeing the income as a complete bonus.

How Much Money Can You Really Make from Surveys?

Based on personal experience of two of the survey companies I recommend above, you could expect to make a maximimum of £70 per month by signing up to every survey site possible and completing all surveys that come your way that offer over 50p. In an emerging economy, this might contribute nicely towards household bills, but in the UK, this £70 would equate to about 1-2 hours spent per evening, and therefore my estimate represents a measely £1 per hour.

How to Tell Apart Legitimate Survey Companies From Scams

I have created a simple 5 point checklist that will ensure that the survey website you are viewing is not a scam.

1. Check for a membership fee. No membership fee means that scammers would have little to gain from producing this website, and it is very likely to be genuine.

2. Look for keywords such as ‘consumer’, ‘opinion’, ‘debate’ and other words that tie in with market research. Scam websites purely focus on the monetary rewards and generally speaking, don’t discuss the other benefits of taking surveys, such as the enjoyment some people get from having their opinions heard.

3. Does the website refer to earning ‘rewards’, ‘points’, ‘raffle entries’ or other non-cash rewards? If so then it’s likely to be genuine, as this is one way real companies compensate their users.

4. Does the website use a long sales page with a ‘buy’ button at the bottom? Possibly after showing you testimonials, videos and aggressively promotional text? If so, then it is likely this hardsell is for an overpriced scam website. Genuine websites usually offer an easy-to-find registration form, with little sales tactics needed.

5. Does the website play upon your aspirations of working from home, being your own boss or increasing your annual income? These claims are only made by unscrupulous websites. The real survey websites appreciate that they’re not going to create any millionaires through their service.

The Final Verdict

Paid surveys are an interesting way to share your opinion to win prizes or get small cash rewards. Surveys can often take longer than you’d imagine, with the average survey paying pennies, so if you’d like to join up with one of the genuine companies, do it because you enjoy filling in surveys and not because you need to pay the bills, as better online earning opportunities are elsewhere.

Simon OatesThe Truth About Paid Online Surveys