Thursday, 14 June 2018

How To Make Money Online By Answering Surveys

This is NOT a sponsored post!

Who would like to hear about an easy way to earn a little extra cash online that I personally swear by? If you would, then keep reading; this post is for you.

What is this easy way to make money, I hear you ask? Well, if the title of this post hasn't given it away, it's through crowd-sourcing- or participating in surveys online.

Yes, you really can get paid for participating in surveys and sharing your opinions online. The urban legend is true. I've been earning money this way for about eighteen months now, and enjoying all the benefits, so I thought it was about time I told you how it works so you can start earning, too.

Today, I'm going to talk you through online surveys; the websites I use, what answering a survey involves, how much you could earn, and everything else you need to know to start earning. It's going to be a long one as there's a lot of information to cover, but I hope it answers any questions you may have about crowd-sourcing, and that you find it helpful if you decide to give it a try.

This isn't a sponsored post, by the way, and it isn't a scam; I just wanted to give you guys a heads up on a fun and legitimate way to earn some extra money because I know most of us wonder how we can make money on the Internet, and it seems selfish to keep what I know to myself when I can help you guys out. I've been meaning to write this post for over a year, so it's long over due.

I personally began participating in online surveys about a year and a half ago, in a desperate attempt to earn some cash during a difficult period when I didn't have a single penny to my name or any source of income. Due to my ill health, I wasn't able to solve the problem by simply getting a job, so my situation was dire. That's when I started looking in to other ways to make money, and found the world of paid online surveys. My younger sister had been participating in surveys online for years and earning a respectable amount from them, so I knew I had to give it a try... and I've been doing so well, I haven't looked back.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't earned a fortune through crowd-sourcing, but last year, I earned enough to help me get by and afford generous presents for my family and friends for birthdays, Christmas, Easter and other special occasions. I was able to buy groceries from time to time, purchase those bare essentials, spoil my dog with toys and treats, and even treat myself to all sorts of lovely things when everything else was taken care of. The money I earned helped to take some financial pressure off my shoulders, allowed me to contribute to the household, and even keep a little dignity knowing I wasn't fully reliant on my parents to survive. I couldn't afford everything I needed and I certainly didn't have money coming out of my ears, but it was a real life saver.

Participating in online surveys could be a great help to you, too. It could provide you with a little income if you're unemployed or too ill to work and are struggling financially, or help supplement your income if you're working, which could make a world of difference if you're on a low wage. Even if you're comfortable financially, you could answer surveys to donate to charity, pay for Christmas presents, like I do, or treat yourself to things on your wish list without dipping in to your wages. Whatever your circumstances, having a little extra money to play with is always great, right?

If you'd like to start earning some, let me tell you everything you need to know! I'm going to start with some helpful information, and then I'll talk you through five survey websites I use and recommend.

What Are Online Surveys?

So, first thing's first: what are surveys? The majority of surveys on crowd-sourcing websites are from brands doing market research on their existing or potential new products or services. Every company wants to provide products or services which will sell successfully and make them a profit, so they gather opinions from real people to find out what we think of their products or services, where they can improve, what is unlikely to sell, and what people want and need.

Gaining this information from people online seems to be a popular and efficient way for companies to do this these days, so many now provide surveys on crowd-sourcing sites as part of their market research.

What Does Answering An Online Survey Involve?

Answering a survey is usually very easy; there isn't a lot of skill involved. All you have to do is answer some demographic questions, read the information in front of you, answer questions, provide your opinion, and perhaps watch a short video, play a game, or listen to an audio clip,

Occasionally, you might also be sent a product to review, and follow up surveys to complete after you've trialed the product. I've been sent beer and food to trial, and last Autumn, I was even sent two Jo Malone body cremes to review through a Swagbucks survey! They were in sample pots and not the fancy packaging, but getting to trial some Jo Malone products in exchange for answering a couple of paid short surveys was a pretty sweet deal!

What Are Demographic Questions?

Before you can participate in most surveys, you will also be asked to answer some demographic questions to determine whether you're a suitable candidate. This is not to discriminate, but to make sure they are collecting opinions from a diverse range of people, or a specific type of person. This will usually involve stating your gender, age, race, home county or country, annual household income, the occupation of the highest income earner in your household, and so on, but they never ask for your full name or address, and the data collected will not be able to identify you.

You will not be suitable for every survey because many are marketed at a specific type of person- for example, a survey about feminine hygiene products would be aimed at pre-menopausal women, and surveys about cigarettes would be aimed at smokers. Sometimes you may find they've already collected enough results from someone like you (eg. a 32 year old white female from the South East- that's me, in case you're wondering), and you won't be able to participate in that particular survey. It will usually only take a minute to answer the demographic questions to find out if you're compatible with the survey, but occasionally you can get halfway in to a survey before it decides you're not the right candidate after all, and kicks you out, which is so frustrating when you've wasted fifteen minutes of you time answering questions for nothing, but don't let it defeat you; just move on to the next one and try again.

What Topics Are Commonly Covered?

It can vary from site to site, but surveys can cover a wide array of different topics. The most commonly featured topics I come across are food, grocery shopping, banking, insurance and utilities, movies, gaming, travel, health and beauty, politics, and phone, broadband, TV and mobile phone services, but they can be about almost anything.

I'll admit most of them are as boring as hell, but some of them can be fun, and once you get in to them and the rewards start adding up, you'll barely even register how boring they are because the process becomes oddly addictive.

How Long Does A Survey Take To Complete?

Surveys may take anywhere from a minute to a couple of hours or more to answer, with most around ten to twenty minutes long. On most sites, you'll see a time estimate for each survey before you click on them, so you can select the surveys you have time to complete, and choose to avoid the lengthier ones if you prefer.

I think the longest survey I've participated in was over two hours long, but I personally think it was worth the time and effort as it earned me a £15 Amazon voucher. (Although, sadly, surveys of that length and compensation rate are rare).

What Devices Are Compatible?

Most surveys are compatible with a variety of devices (I.E. laptop, desktop, tablet, and mobile phone), but not all surveys will be compatible with all devices. You'll find most are ideal for answering on desktop and laptops, but some won't be suited to tablets or phones because of the screen size or the need to use a real keyboard or install a program. Fortunately, the survey will tell you if your device is compatible before you begin.

How Much Will You Earn?

I'll be honest with you: you will not get rich by taking online surveys. As far as I'm aware, there's no way to earn big bucks, become a millionaire, or earn enough to live on from answering surveys. You won't even be earning anywhere close to minimum wage, so if you're hoping you can turn it in to your primary source of income, quit your job, and enjoy a life of leisure, forget it. If you're lucky and work hard at it, you can earn £10-20 a week per website (often in gift vouchers and not cash), so it's not enough to live on, but it's a great way to earn a little extra spending money to supplement your income. It could help you pay for birthday and Christmas presents, allow you to treat yourself to things on your wish list without dipping in to your wages, or even help you put food on the table if money is tight. I've used my earnings to pay for presents, groceries, pet supplies, essential beauty products, books, DVDs, and even treats like Real Techniques make up brushes, and a beautiful Winsor & Newton watercolour paint palette. 

Do I Have To Complete A Survey I Start?

No, you don't. You have the right to walk away from a survey at any stage without giving a reason why; all you have to do is exit the tab. However, if you walk away before completing the whole survey, you won't be compensated for your time.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Participate?

You have to be eighteen or over to join survey websites and start earning- although, the minimum age may vary from website to website, so make sure you check the small print.

Some Other Things You Should Know

♥ It's important to remember that all surveys you participate in are confidential, and you mustn't share any information you read, see, or hear in any survey with anybody else- in person or online- or you could face criminal charges. 

♥ Always provide thorough, constructive answers when asked to give a written opinion. If you give unhelpful one word answers or write down nonsense, you could get banned from future surveys.

♥ Make sure the information you give is consistent; if your answers contradict each other, or your demographic information doesn't match what you've provided in earlier surveys, they will pick up on it. The website or survey host may think you're providing false information or are choosing answers at random, and ban you from future surveys.

♥ Never rush through a survey to try to finish it as quickly as possible; the survey host might assume you've not read the information properly, and may have just picked answers at random. You may find yourself disqualified from the survey, or even banned from the website for doing so.

♥ Make sure you read everything thoroughly; most surveys contain control questions to check that you're paying attention. You can get disqualified from the survey if you get the control questions wrong.

♥ If you get banned from one survey brand or website for any reason, you could get a black mark against your IP address and find yourself banned from other survey sites, too. If you want to keep earning, don't give them a reason to ban you!

♥ No survey should ask you for your bank details, so if one asks you to link to your bank account or provide your debit / credit card details, don't do it! It's 99.9% likely to be a scam. My sister accidentally did this once without thinking, and only realised her mistake after she'd hit send. Fortunately, she was able to phone the bank before anything bad happened, but who knows how much the scammers would've swindled if she hadn't come to her senses and had the bank secure her account. You should only ever need to link your payment info on your account so the website can pay you what you earn.

Five of the Best Survey Websites

So, now you know what you need to know, let me tell you about five great survey sites you can join for free to earn cash or gift cards from, that I personally use and regularly earn from.

Valued Opinions
Valued Opinions is one of my favourite survey websites because it's easy to use, uncomplicated, and the site I earn the most from. The surveys cover a wide variety of different subjects, but are usually dominated by surveys about broadband, landline, TV, and mobile phone providers, banking, finances, insurance, food, video games, and movies, which can take anything from two minutes to an hour to complete, and pay between £0.25 and £3. On average, the surveys are around ten to twenty minutes long, and pay between £0.50-£1.00. The payment is given as credit, and when it adds up, you can then spend it on gift vouchers for popular stores like Amazon, Argos, Boots, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, John Lewis, Love To Shop, M&S, Sainsburys, Topshop, charities, and more. The majority of the vouchers start at £10 plus a 50p fee for processing, and are usually emailed to you immediately after purchasing. Some are sent by post, which will obviously take much longer. I almost always go for Amazon gift cards because there's so much to choose from, and I can always find something I want or need  whether it's make up, books, DVDs, groceries, beauty products, homeware, or pet supplies for Rosie. When I'm on my game, I usually average a £15 voucher every 7-10 days. If you'd like to join, you can sign up here.

Swagbucks is a fun website to use to earn some extra cash because there are more ways to earn than just through answering surveys, including watching videos, playing games, using their search engine, shopping, challenges, signing up to advertiser's deals and more. You earn Swagbucks (SB) points for each task you complete, which varies from 1SB from watching a playlist of videos to 60-80SB (on average, although they can pay anywhere from 25 to 2000SB) for answering a survey, to hundreds of points for completing some challenges and signing up to featured offers from their advertisers. 170SB is worth £1, so unfortunately, they are poorly paid compared to other sites. Once your points add up, you can then use them to purchase rewards in the form of gift cards from big name brands like Amazon, Paypal, Debenhams, New Look, Starbucks, John Lewis, M&S, Argos, iTunes, Currys and Ticketmaster, as well as some popular American stores, and charities.  As with Valued Opinions, I usually go with the Amazon vouchers because there's so much choice. The gift cards can take up to ten working days to become available, but are usually processed in a couple of days. I'd say I earn around £15 a week from them on average by putting in an hour or two a day. Swagbucks is free to join, and I'd greatly appreciate it if you signed up via my referral link here, as I'll get SB points when you sign up, and 10% of your points matched for life. *Flutters eyelashes.*

Prolific Academic
Prolific Academic is a little different to the average crowd-sourcing site, because its surveys are for academic studies and scientific research. The surveys are mostly from university students doing research for their studies, and by participating, you're not only helping somebody's education, but helping the advancement of human knowledge. Don't worry, you don't have to be a highly-learned academic to be able to participate; the surveys are generally suitable for any literate adult to understand easily. If I can answer them, you sure can! I find the surveys can be some of the most interesting to answer as they cover topics like immigration, politics, racism, daily life, health, and the environment, and they really get you thinking. The surveys generally take a couple of minutes to an hour to answer, but unlike other sites, you're up against the clock, and have to complete each survey within a certain amount of time. If you don't complete the survey within the time allowance, you won't get paid, but don't worry, they give you more than enough time to complete each one (usually about twice as much as you need). I find Prolific surveys generally pay anything from 10p-£5 each (sometimes more), and they're always very fairly priced. Some surveys also give you a chance to earn a bonus payment. It doesn't take long to reach the £5 threshold to cash out (in fact, I earned £18 in just two days this week!), which is paid by Paypal or Circle, although if you choose to cash out before your balance has reached £20, there will be a small processing fee to do so. I use Paypal, and after cashing out, the money is usually in my account within a few days. You can sign up to Prolific Academic here.

Pinecone Research
Pinecone Research is a great survey site I was introduced to late last Autumn by my little sister. Unlike most crowd-sourcing websites, Pinecone Research usually only have one survey available to participate in at a time, and often days and even weeks can pass between them. You'll need to keep an eye on your emails, as they email you with a link to each new survey when each one becomes available. You don't get any indication of what the survey is about or its duration before you click on the link and begin, so it's best to make sure you've got half an hour free before you start. Like Valued Opinions and Swagbucks, their surveys average 10-20 minutes in duration, and often focus on subjects like food and grocery shopping, health and beauty, TV, mobile, landline, and Internet providers, video games, banking, insurance, and utilities. Occasionally, they may also invite you to review products for them at the end of a survey, but it's nothing too exciting, just new or potential new products like food and drink, feminine hygiene products, or pet food. As surveys go, their surveys are well compensated, with 300 points (£3) paid for each completed survey. It may not sound like a lot, but compared to what most crowd-sourcing sites pay, it's very generous, and quickly adds up. As you earn, you can use your points to purchase pre-paid debit cards, prizes (including everything from beauty to books, and homeware to kids toys), and gift cards for brands like Amazon, Debenhams, John Lewis, M&S, and Starbucks. I always choose to purchase a pre-paid Mastercard, which you can use online just like a regular debit card anywhere that takes Mastercard (I usually use them on Amazon and combine them with Amazon gift cards I've earned at checkout), although the gift cards and prizes do sound appealing if you're willing to save up your points to afford them. You can sign up to Pinecone Research here.

Panelbase.Net is another crowd-sourcing site I've earned money from, but I don't frequent it as regularly as the previous four websites because I just haven't got enough hours in the day. It's been around a year since I last logged in to answer a survey, but that's not to say they aren't worth using. They email surveys  you might be compatible with as they become available, or you can find links to the available surveys on the website, although they ask you to refer to the emails in case there are special instructions. Like Swagbucks and Valued Opinions, the surveys feature a variety of subjects including electronics, travel, home, shopping, transport, television, food, and more, and can take between 5 minutes to 45 minutes to complete. They surveys pay between 40p and £5 (usually averaging around 80p to £1.60), and once you've earned £10, you can be paid through BACS, directly in to your bank account. Sign up to here.

Of course, there are lots of other crowd-sourcing websites out there, but I've only had experience with the five sites mentioned above, and couldn't tell you which other sites are legitimate. There's likely to be a few dodgy ones out there waiting to con you, so do your research before signing up to any other survey sites. The five I've featured are genuine crowd-sourcing sites I've personally used and regularly earn money or gift cards from, and I'd recommend starting with these. I'm sure at least one of them will be right for you, and you'll be on your way to making money  from them in no time!

I honestly couldn't recommend crowd-sourcing to you more! The money I've earned has made a real difference to my life, and it could do the same for you, too!

If there's anything else you'd like to know about participating in online surveys or using any of these websites, please feel free to ask me in the comments, or send me a message via email or Twitter, and I'll do my best to help you.

Will you be giving crowd-sourcing a try?

If you already participate in surveys, which crowd-sourcing websites would you recommend?

1 comment

  1. That's really nice of you to share these! I would like to do the one from uni students! Sounds very much my thing! Not sure if I would have much time to do it as I am a full time teacher but I like the idea of earning a bit of money!x


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