We’ve all heard or seen articles about how people make BANK off of taking surveys online. Seems pretty simple, right? You make a free account, put in some basic information about yourself, and get to opinionating. There are some things about these sites, however, that many people don’t tell you about, and that’s why I’m here.
Before we get into all of this stuff, let me tell you a bit about the person behind the computer screen. My name is Eriel, and I have just finished my second year of college at the University of California Irvine (Zot! Zot! Zot!). College is expensive, and like many of my peers this summer, I’m looking for ways to make as much money as I can to: a) help myself and my parents pay off student loans, and b) make a little bit of extra cash to buy some things for myself for next year (food, mostly food).
As mentioned in our ‘About Us’ page, I am the aspiring actress of the family. My plans after college are to move to New York and try my hand at auditioning. Upon moving, many actors work 9-to-5’s to support the cost of living, but these hours can be used to either go on auditions, or take singing or dance classes to continue to refine our craft. Because I am still very much dependent on my parents (and unashamed to admit it), I decided to take this summer to find ways I could make money without having to spend 8 hours at a regular day job, which takes us back to the question everyone’s been thinking about since they started reading this long introduction…
Survey Sites: Are They Worth Your Time?
The sites that I’ve tried have proven to be very time consuming without much reward. So, in short, no. But here’s why:
- Many Sites are Point-Based, Which Means Little to Nothing to Your Bank Account.
- SwagBucks, VIP Voice, Opinion Outpost, MySurvey, just to name a few, are all point-based systems. After you complete a survey, you are awarded points that can be used to win prizes, enter sweepstakes, and sometimes earn cash rewards. BIG emphasis on the word ‘sometimes.’ When signing up for different sites, one of the main things to look for is whether or not it uses PayPal to administer cash rewards (for safety and security, you feel me?). While many of the sites I decided to try do this (I researched what other people had done, and found Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s blog to be a great starting point), I found that it takes a lot of points to transfer a fairly small amount of cash into your connected PayPal account.
- If sites do not administer cash rewards, you are likely taking 20+ minute surveys to be entered into a lottery for a chance to win prizes, such as $5 gift cards to Amazon, but none of these prizes are guaranteed. If the gift cards the site offers are for stores you shop at often, you won’t have an issue with point-based survey sites. These sites are great for earning prizes you can give as gifts to people, but not for those looking to earn anything comparable to a steady income.
- Earning Real Cash Takes a Long Time.
- As I mentioned before, many of the surveys offered on these websites will take 20 minutes, or longer, and a lot of the time, you are not earning much from them. For example, an average MySurvey survey is 20 minutes long, and once completed will earn you 50 points. It takes 2400 points to redeem $20 in cash via PayPal. This means that you will have to complete 48 surveys, or spend 16 hours online, just to earn $20. On average, you’d earn about $1.25 per hour. For the amount of time you are spending online, these numbers are incredibly low. These margins, unfortunately, are about the same across the board. Another issue I found is that you cannot cash out anything you have earned in your account until you have a certain amount of funds. For MySurvey, it’s $20, for InboxDollars, it’s $30, for SwagBucks, it’s $25, etc.
- So. Many. Emails.
- This is pretty self-explanatory. If you are planning on signing up for any of these sites, be sure to create a separate email account just for those emails. You can’t really unsubscribe because the emails they send you include surveys you qualify for, but these emails will definitely overwhelm your inbox. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- In Order to Earn Money, You Have to Spend Money.
- This was something I found very surprising. Many of these websites require you to spend money, or sign up for an additional service to win the big bucks. For example, InboxDollars offers an average of $0.25 per 10-minute survey. You typically cannot earn anything more than $1.50, but if you sign up for the different services offered, you can win up to $50. To win the $50, however, you have to make a large purchase with the company that provides the service.
- This is great if this company is one that you’ve always wanted to try and just never found an excuse to do so, or have the money to spend to make a big purchase like that, but if you’re a college student struggling to buy an $8 meal from Chick-Fil-A, spending that kind of money is not really an option. I signed up for Harris Poll Online in order to win a $1.00 bonus from InboxDollars, but found that Harris Poll Online is another point-based system and isn’t really any better than any of the other survey sites I already have a membership with.
So, there’s the bad, and unfortunately it more than outweighs the good. But this is all based on making money that would be comparable to working a real job, and that’s something that signing up for multiple survey sites can’t compare to. The one site that I do find at least kind of fun to use is InboxDollars. What’s pretty cool about InboxDollars is that it gives you more than one way to make money. You can watch videos, play games, spin the prize wheel, and complete certain activities (cost free) to earn cash rewards. While it may take a while to get to the $30 payout, at least with InboxDollars, it feels like I’m making progress.
I’m still on my quest to find ways I can make real money working from home. I’m determined to find a way, and excited to share with you my challenges, and my successes, even if it’s not all peaches and cream.
If you’ve found other ways to make money off of these survey sites, or others I haven’t found yet, be sure to leave a comment below!