| Yes they exist, but it's not easy to get the surveys that pay big bucks like $50 and up. Most survey sites now award points for basic surveys and dollar or gift awards for more focused surveys. The best sites limit the number of participants and will regularly reject applicants who don't meet their current criteria. While it is unrealistic to expect to make a living taking surveys, there are some strategies you can use that will increase your chance of being selected to participate in a survey.|
Beware of survey scams. If a survey site wants money from you, just leave the site. Legitimate survey companies do not ask you for money. Also survey companies will not ask for personal information about your bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other highly sensitive information when you take a survey. The only legitimate reason for any survey company to request your Social Security number would be if it issues an IRS-1099 form, for tax purposes. A survey site will ask a lot of questions about you, your family and your buying patterns, so if you don't like to give out much personal information, don't sign-up for surveys.
Signing Up for Surveys
It takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes to sign up with a survey site. You will be asked a number of questions about your sex, age, living situation, buying patterns, race, income, and other questions to build a profile. When these surveys inquire about the types of products and services you use, make sure you look over the choices carefully. If you can only select a few, it might limit the number of surveys you will get to take. The same is true if too many people who fit your profile sign-up. Some survey sites give you a free form area and will usually ask you to describe something unique about yourself or your interests. Use these forms to showcase your writing skills and write about a hobby or some other activity. Many surveys will ask respondents to describe the things about a product or service that were appealing or unappealing. They may even ask for specific details of the participants impressions. The ability to write a coherent sentence could influence survey companies to use you, because of the quality of your input.
All surveys qualify potential participants. The first few questions of a survey are used to determine demographic factors. If your response does not fit their survey target audience, the survey usually terminates. Qualifying questions could be about whether or not you work for a certain company or industry or if you use a certain product or service. This is a hint of what the survey is about. For example, if a survey asks if you work for a chocolate maker, chances are the survey has something to do with chocolates. Read the questions and carefully consider the choices. If the survey asks if you are the primary purchaser of cereal and you respond no because your better half buys it, you'll be disqualified for those type of surveys. Be honest, but be alert to questions that could affect your qualifications to take the survey.
Disqualified? Don't Despair!
Some survey sites might reject you outright or you might not make it past the qualifier questions. If you are rejected when you try to sign-up, simply bookmark the site and try again in a week or two. You might get a different set of qualifier questions that could make you eligible for the survey. In many cases, these companies could be looking for a specific type of respondent. It could be that they are just looking for blonde 18-24 females. In many cases, it could be one day to several weeks before a survey company contacts you after registering. That's why it's important to register with a number of survey sites.
Sign Up With More than One Survey Company
Before you join any survey site, read over the FAQ and Terms, Check to see if the site pays cash, points, prizes, or a combination of the three. Look at their payout policies, pay particular attention to how they payout. Some sites may only payout after you've accumulated so many points or dollars and you will have to request the payout.
This can be as time consuming as the surveys itself, but one survey site alone might yield a few dollars ever so often. So you want to find as many survey sites as possible so you can maximize your chances of being selected for a survey. Make sure you file welcome emails and bookmark sites you join. Make sure you take the surveys they send. The more timely and professionally you handle surveys, the more likely you will be asked to participate in the future.
Where to Find the Best Survey Sites
Do a web search or check the Yahoo or DMOZ directories for surveys or paid surveys. Cull discussion forums about surveys to find out which surveys sites the forum members use. Visit the sites of leading consumer brands. Sometimes they will have their own market research department. Look to see if there is a link for a survey or participation panel. For instance HP has a link on their site to sign-up as a product tester. Check the home page for a site map. It will list every link on the web site. Freebie sites like Yes-Its-Free.com or FreeLuxuryCar.com have forums and web pages listing survey sites. Those are just two of the dozens, perhaps hundreds of sites you'll find offering information and advice on taking surveys.
Take the Survey Seriously and Early
Most surveys will be quick and painless, others, particularly those that pay, can take up to 20 minutes or more to complete online. Don't procrastinate or be sloppy with a survey, particularly with product samples. Be diligent about recording your experience with a product sample. When a survey arrives in your email, try to take it as soon as possible. If you are one of the first to take it, then chances are you'll still qualify in your demographic group. The more specific your response to the survey, the more valuable the data will be to the party who paid for it. Descriptive and informative opinions will encourage survey companies to contact you more, when you fit their profile.
Tweak Your Profile
Check your profile now and then to update your responses and buying habits. If you were not planning to buy a car when you joined, but your are now, then check to see if you've indicated so on your profile. Most sites have a member's area for survey takers. Login regularly to see if any surveys are available to take, Sometimes a company will post an unannounced survey.
Make Sure the Survey Company Delivers the Goods
Most survey companies are reputable and generally will take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to deliver checks or awards. Keep track of the surveys you complete, as well as, any points, prizes, or cash you earn. If the site does not pay or is slow, check your emails or logon to your account. Look for a contact person and telephone number and politely inquire about the status of your award or check. The Market Research Association (www.mra-net.org) is a professional organization for market researchers and has codes and standards for survey companies to follow. Their site has a consumer link to register complaints. You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau Online (www.bbbonline.org). But let's be real. If after numerous complaints, the issue remains unresolved, your best recourse is to consult an attorney or file a suit in small claims court. Either option typically is not worth the expense and trouble. Companies that don't pay won't be around long. There are too many good survey companies competing for marketers dollars for the bad companies to last.
You probably won't make a living completing surveys, but you will earn a few dollars, get to try and keep some interesting products, and you may even be asked to take part in a well paying survey. Paid surveys are truly one of the best ways to earn a few extra dollars from the comfort of your home.
About the Author
Ken Murphy is a technical consultant and an avid survey taker before there even was an Internet.
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