How to make money taking surveys

It’s possible to earn money just by giving your opinion for market research. But how does it work and how much can you earn? Our guide explains everything.

The breakdown

  • Taking surveys for market research companies can help you earn extra money (although not a large amount).
  • Be sure not to break the terms of use (by creating multiple accounts, for example) or your survey account could be cancelled.
  • There are many paid survey websites out there and you can register with more than one.
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    Author: Kevin McHugh, Head of Publishing at Banked.

    What are paid market research surveys?

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    Understanding what consumers think is a precious commodity. Knowing the opinion of the general population or a specific target group of people can help businesses ensure they offer the right products and services at the right time. That’s where market research companies come in.

    Market research companies help these businesses by surveying people on their behalf. And because they know people won’t just sit around answering questions for free, they incentivise them to participate by offering rewards — from cash to gift cards and cinema tickets.

    The size of these rewards usually correlates with the time it takes to complete the survey. A survey that takes just a couple of minutes might offer only 50 cents, while a longer survey might offer several dollars for completion.

    How much can I earn by taking surveys?

    Exactly how much you can earn can vary with a few factors, including:

    • how many surveys you take
    • how many market research platforms you are signed up to (the more platforms, the more surveys that will be available to you)
    • the length of the surveys (the longer the survey, the more money the survey will offer).

    Some users on Reddit and other online forums reported earning hundreds of dollars per month, but these people are generally in the minority and under $100 per month is a much more realistic amount for most people.

    In terms of money-making potential, taking surveys is a relatively modest side hustle and if you choose to get started, it’s better to view it as a way to make a little extra spending money by completing a simple task.

    What are the benefits of doing paid surveys?

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    Aside from the obvious benefit of making money, there are a few reasons why you might consider participating in paid market research.

    It’s easy

    One reason why many participate in paid market research is that it’s very simple. Once you’re signed to a market research website you can either browse available surveys or wait until they get sent to your inbox.

    Actually taking the survey is as simple as a few swipes of a finger or clicks on a mouse. You’re asked questions and you provide your opinion, typically in the form of a multiple-choice answer. You don’t have to go anywhere or put much thought into it, and you will be a little financially better off at the end of it.

    You can do it anywhere

    Wherever you have an internet connection and a mobile device or a computer, you can complete a survey.

    Some take them as they half-watch something on television, while others do it while they’re on the bus to work or on their lunch break. Whenever you have a few minutes, you have the ability to complete a survey and earn a little extra money.

    It may not be the most thrilling way to spend your free time, but it’s likely more productive than simply swiping through Facebook.

    You can make a (small) impact

    You never know what you might be asked in any particular survey and there is always the possibility that you will be quizzed about something you genuinely care about.

    Companies, political parties, and charities all use market research to shape what they do and your opinion could help play some small role in shaping the products, services, or policies of tomorrow.

    What to be aware of

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    If you decide that earning some extra money while taking surveys is the right choice for you there are a few things to bear in mind.

    Be sure to follow the survey platform’s terms of use

    One complaint held by some of those participating in paid online surveys is that their accounts had been cancelled for not following the survey platform’s terms of use.

    Some key reasons why users’ accounts may be considered to have in breach of the platform’s terms of use include:

    • Creating multiple accounts: In an attempt to take more surveys (and earn more money) some have been guilty of opening multiple accounts, using different details, within a single platform. Market research companies will ban users who do this as having multiple responses from the same person can skew their research.
    • Providing incorrect personal information: If a market research platform has reason to believe you have provided false information about yourself in some way, they will likely cancel your account. Again, this is because the information you provide is flawed, which (again) can skew their results.
    • Not completing surveys correctly: If you speed through surveys without paying much attention to your responses, there is a good chance the platform will know that you’re not providing correct information and will likely cancel your account as a result.

    If you do choose to participate in paid market research, the best approach is to be honest during the account creation process and in each survey that you complete.

    Beware of scams

    There are many legitimate platforms out there such as Ipsos iSay, Opinion World and Pure profile (check out our list of popular and reputable paid survey websites), but there are also some scam websites out there).

    Be wary of any websites that offer rewards that seem to be too good to be true. Do your research and check what other users have to say about them online.

    There are plenty of legit paid survey websites out there so there is no need to risk engaging with one that has a bad reputation.

    You will sometimes be ‘screened out’

    One of the most common frustrations some have expressed about survey platforms is being informed they are ineligible to participate in a survey after answering a few questions. This is called being ‘screened out’.

    Depending on the company running the survey and its needs, many surveys will be targeted at a particular demographic. That might be car lovers, those who have pets, or people who have been on holiday in the last 12 months. To ensure that these surveys only capture responses from those who meet the appropriate criteria, many will include screening questions at the start.

    While it might be frustrating, you will have to accept the fact that you will start a survey, only to be then screened out after just one or two questions.

    How to sign up for paid survey websites

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    The first step is to choose the website or websites you want to sign up with. The more paid survey websites you register with, the more you survey opportunities you will have. Check out our page on the best paid survey websites to help you make your choice.

    The sign-up process is standard across all websites and it goes as follows:

    1. Create an account: Click the option to sign up and provide some basic details such as your name, location and email address. At this stage you will also have to accept the website’s terms of use.
    2. Confirm your email address: The website will send you an email with a link that you will have to click in order to verify your email address.
    3. Build your profile: You will then have to provide a few more details that will help the platform understand you better and provide you with surveys that are more relevant to you. This should only take a few minutes.
    4. You’re ready to start taking surveys: You will either have the opportunity to find and take surveys there and then, or you will have survey invitations emailed to you when they become available.
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    Kevin McHugh

    Kevin is the founder and Head of Publishing at Banked. With years of experience working in personal finance, insurance, and related areas, Kevin created Banked to help Kiwis make better financial decisions.