Get paid for your opinions
You won't get rich, but you can bring in a little (or a lot) of extra cash this way.
You're not going to get rich, or even earn a living wage, by taking online surveys. But you can bring in a little (or a lot) of extra cash and/or free gift cards. You might also get the chance to test new products.
I qualify for at least a dozen surveys a week even though I'm not in a hot demographic, such as "new mom" or "person who uses a lot of convenience food." I never know what's going to pop up, though: Recently I was paid to cook tacos and talk about doughnuts.
A grocery survey culminated in an offer to fix a specific recipe with specific ingredients. It had been ages since I made tacos, and I received $25 for expenses and my time. I had to make dinner anyway. Why not get paid to do so? (Post continues after video.)
The second survey, on snack foods, segued into an invite for a three-day online focus group. I was paid $60 to put in up to one hour a day for three days. It was fun.
The downside? I've had doughnuts on my mind ever since.
How to choose a site
If you've got a Wi-Fi signal, you can fill out surveys just about anywhere. I've interviewed people who do them while taking the train, waiting for the rinse cycle at the Laundromat, keeping an eye on their children in the yard or vegging out on the couch.
All sites are not created equal. Some pay in points that take forever to add up to rewards, or pay in sweepstakes entries. (Really.) Others are actually affiliate marketers who ask you to subscribe to magazines or book clubs and then take a "survey" rating the experience.
In a post called "Top 5 survey sites: The best survey sites on the Web," About.com frugal blogger Erin M. Huffstetler recommends sites she uses herself. These include Harris Polls, which she calls "the Cadillac of survey sites," and ZoomPanel, which has "a great collection of rewards to choose from."
Survey-savvy folks I've talked with recommend Pinecone Research, Toluna, Synovate and SurveyHead.
I've had decent success with Clear Voice Surveys and Valued Opinions. I also like Swagbucks, which offers multiple daily surveys.
Occasionally I'm sent products to try, such as shampoo, breakfast cereal or a new kind of mop. If I had kids at home, I'd probably qualify for more. That mop arrived at just the right time, though, since I can no longer find refills for my old one.
A few caveats
Don't join too many sites at once, lest you get overwhelmed. Keep these tips in mind, too:
- Never pay for this. Companies are supposed to pay you. "Membership fee" equals "scam."
- Start a separate email address. You'll get lots of invites.
- Don't give out personal information. Email address, yes; bank info, no.
- Be choosy. Start with a couple of the above-named companies or look for opportunities at sites such as SurveyPolice, GetPaidSurveys.com or Volition.com.
- Start a PayPal account. Some companies require it.
Surveys aren't a good fit for everyone. But if you're home a lot, unemployed on the midnight shift or given to vegging out, it can be a good way to bring in a few (or more than a few) extra dollars. You might also get a new mop.
More on MSN Money:
If you ever get a survey from J.D. Powers and associates, like when you buy a new car....don't do it. Once they get their foot in the door, they will hound you relentlessly. And, don't forget, it's them who will make all the money off the consumer surveys.
You can write them back demanding a fee (100 dollars/hr) for your expertise! (Before you act).
Yah, I have done surveys too. It's really cool when the companies pay out. However, be warned!!!
About 6 months ago, I did a rather long and involved survey for SurveySavvy that involved searching the internet, calling stores for a camera that I was to pretend to buy, and then answering a lot of questions. After filling in the questions, Survey Savvy never paid out the promised $25. I contacted them to investigate, some guy named Dallas wrote me back and told me that because I had duplicated four of my answers in a row my whole survey was rejected.
Fool me once! That's it!
Feel free to comment about how stupid I am, because I really was on this one.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
The popular online program lets you earn Amazon cards, PayPal cash and other rewards.
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