Online Surveys: Participating in Online Surveys to Get Money Fast
Today, more people than ever before are choosing, either from choice or necessity, to work from home. The reasons why are as numerous as the people themselves. Some are women who wish to stay at home with their children, but who would like to supplement their husband’s incomes without having to put their young children in daycare. Others are physically challenged, and find it difficult to get about, but are more than agile mentally, and able to do work using a laptop. Still others must be home to care for disabled parents or spouses. These people share a wealth of life experiences that render them valuable to marketing agencies who wish to mine their thoughts and opinions in order to better promote all manner of various products and services – everything from fresh roasted coffee to term life insurance. When people at home discover how easy it is to make money by participating in online surveys, and when the marketing companies discover them as a fresh source of opinion, it is a match made, if not in heaven, certainly in cyberspace!
What is the Point of Online Surveys, Anyway?
Marketing is the broad umbrella underneath which online surveys fall. A corporation produces a good or service (often in response to consumer demand or survey). It’s price must be determined as well as the best way to distribute the product to reach its end goal, the targeted consumer. Much of this process, as well as the means by which a product is developed and/or implemented, has to do with the manner in which it is marketed to the public. The data gathered from a qualified population about such products and services helps companies make decisions that influence what they produce and how they promote it in the future. Most large companies either have a business arm dedicated to market research, or else they employ a market research firm to conduct their necessary research. In addition to corporations with products to sell, business, political parties, lobbyists and others attempting to understand and/or influence public opinion also frequently engage the services of research companies, who in turn organize a survey panel to uncover the information their client desires. In many if not most instances, you may never know (although you might suspect) the identity of the actual client who paid you for your opinion.
How Much Money Can You Make?
This, of course, is what, every online survey taker wants to know, and the short answer is that it varies. A few years ago, when not as many people were seeking ways to make a living on the Internet, research marketing companies were willing to pay more people greater sums of money than they are today now that there is a wider pool of applicants from which to draw. Today, while there may be exceptions, the average survey taker makes between a few dollars and a few hundred dollars per month depending upon the type and number of surveys they complete. Many surveys do pay rather well, but the problem is in having a steady supply of such surveys lined up to take when you need the money. It generally does not work out that way. Some days, weeks and even months will be richer than others.
What are the Perks of Survey Taking?
Some of the best perks associated with online surveys are the same as with any work from home job: the freedom. You can set your own schedule. You can get up and take surveys at three in the morning if that’s what you enjoy doing, and you can nap during the day. You can dress as you please and no one will ever know if you work all day long wearing your fuzzy pink slippers and your yoga pants leftover from college. Other perks include knowing you’re helping to influence future product development, and learning about new products often even before they hit the market. Sometimes you even get to try new products before the general public does! Commonly sampled products include toiletries such as hair products and moisturizers, cosmetics such as lipstick, foundation and mascara, and snack foods.
Beware of Scams!
There are any number of legitimate market research companies such as Vindale Research, Panda Research and many more. New companies emerge each month, so it is important to have a way to tell the legitimate entities from fraudulent ones that are set up to scam and/or spam people. Unfortunately, the best way is not by looking at their website, for a good looking website is easy to come by and has fooled many a person. Following are some of the ways that a legitimate market research or focus group differs from those seeking to prey upon you.
- They pay you, not the other way around. Legitimate companies provide pay for services (opinions and reviews) rendered, and won’t ask you for money. If you’re asked to pay a registration fee to “join,” beware, it’s a scam and not a legitimate company. The exception to this would be certain companies which might ask you to pay to take advantage of an offer that another company (the one being evaluated) is promoting. The survey company in this case will refund the cost of joining back to you as a portion of your pay. Make sure you’re not calculating this refund, which is technically your own money, as money truly earned.
- Legitimate companies have history. Every company is new at some point, but a lack of history is a hallmark of scam companies that are not much different from the old fashioned “flim-flam” scam – they pop up with a great sounding line, rake in everyone’s money and disappear. Then, later, they do the same thing all over again with a new website using another assumed name. When there is a web history of company reviews and real people affirming that they were paid, you can feel better about signing up.
- The invite was unsolicited. Legitimate companies have a presence on the web and might advertise in public places, but they will not spam your inbox. If the invitation to join a survey panel shows up, unsolicited, in your inbox (or worse, your spam folder), let that be a warning to you to immediately hit the delete key.
- If the payout sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Focus groups often pay a bit more than product survey takers, so if all other criteria of a legitimate group are present, it’s probably safe to proceed. But if a shady seeming company is promising you’ll make wildly exorbitant amounts of money – beware!
- They ask too many personal details. This one can be tricky, for many survey panels and focus groups seek to qualify their participants by asking them questions that help them know how best to utilize them. Questions about your age, educational background, work history, number of children and the like are to be expected, and are within reason. Asking for information such as your bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security number and passwords, are not.
- Objectionable fine print. It’s always a good idea to read the fine print on any type of business document when you’re about to engage in a relationship with that business. In this case, what you want to look for are phrases in the details of the contract to indicate that the survey company has your permission to sell your personal details to other marketing companies. This is not okay, and has nothing to do with legitimate opinion surveys. Read before you accede!
How the Process Works
Every company has slightly different policies and ways of doing business, but in general the scenario should follow along the lines of something like this.
- The interested party locates the survey company online and initiate the sign-up process with either an email or by clicking an interactive link on their website.
- If the survey company is hiring (some of the better ones go through hiring cycles and will “freeze” the process when they currently have enough participants), they will either connect you via their website or send you a link via email to a place where you can fill out a questionnaire to help them determine the types of surveys for which your demographics qualify. You can expect to answer questions about your age, sex, educational and income level, number of children, etc.
- When you’re properly signed up with the company you will then be notified either by signing into the website or via email (or both) of available surveys for which your information is a fit. You will usually be informed as to approximately how long the survey will take, how much money it pays, and given any particular instructions necessary should this be the type of survey that requires you to sign up for something and evaluate it prior to completing the survey.
- Survey companies vary in how they pay their participants. Some pay in points that can be accumulated and redeemed later for various products including gift cards for websites such as Amazon. Others will mail you a check. Still others will pay via PayPal, AlertPay or Payza. Some pay promptly after each survey while others may require your earnings to accrue to a particular amount such as $10.00 or $50.00 before issuing payment.
Many people who work online from home cobble together their income from a number of different sources, which sometimes may include a number of different survey companies. It is recommended to for survey participants to keep good records from the beginning, not only so that you’ll have the information you need come tax time, but also to help you keep track of money you’re owed. Have a place where you write down the details for each company, including such details as your user name, password, contact names and emails, their particular payment requirements and each individual survey you have undertaken for the company with the promised payment amount and whether or not you’ve been paid for that job. When working with a number of different companies, good records become invaluable not only in calculating expected income, but they also help you see which companies are easy to work with versus those with whom the effort expended is unrewarding.
Participating in online market research surveys is a marvelous way to relax, have a bit of fun and to feel good knowing that your influence is helping to influence the new products coming down the pipe in a positive way. It’s also a great way to make a decent supplemental income and to enjoy a few great perks. Taking online surveys alone is unlikely to earn an individual as much as he or she could make if they had a full or even part time job, not because they don’t pay enough but because the nature of surveys is such that they cannot be counted on to be there in a regular enough fashion to be scheduled like work for a normal job. Some people have found that by combining survey taking with other online money making opportunities that a full time income is possible. It takes a great deal of mental stamina, creativity as well as flexibility to move from venue to venue in such a manner, but it can be done. Of course the greatest perk to come from taking online surveys is undeniable – you’re able to make money fast, and you never have to get dressed up or even leave the comfort of your own home while doing so!