Paid surveys are where market research companies pay you to answer their questions. Big businesses need to understand the market, and you can profit by helping them.
Some personal finance bloggers, YouTubers, and forum users exaggerate how much money can be made by answering surveys online. Let’s explore the truth and whether completing surveys at home for extra money is worth it.
If you don’t have time to read this whole page; the key takeaway is that paid surveys don’t pay a high hourly rate (if you want to think of them as a second job). But they can bring in legitimate extra cash and there are steps you can take to increase your earnings.
On this page:
Can you answer paid surveys online for a full-time income?
No, answering surveys doesn’t pay enough money to provide you with a full-time income that you can live on in the U.S based on the Federal minimum wage.
Comparisons to making an hourly wage for doing surveys get made in the ‘make money online’ space. It makes no sense to think of it like that because survey websites don’t claim to be employing you or offering you a set wage. It’s a simple way to earn some extra rewards without needing any skills. That’s it. It’s something you do in your spare time for extra cash and a bit of fun and nothing more.
Decide yourself how much money to make (within reason!)
Earning money over the long term from surveys relies heavily on you having a good routine. Once you’ve built up the habit it can become second nature, like learning to drive! A healthy thing to do is set yourself a goal. It can be in whatever timeframe you want.
There are 365 days in a year. Just earning a couple of bucks a day extra will add up nicely to a few extra Christmas presents or a weekend away. Here are some example ideas of how you could think of it in different timeframes. Some people do better focusing on things little-by-little, others perform best when focused on the broader picture.
- $14 a week
- $60 per month
- $730 per year (exactly $2 per day)
The average hourly earnings rate from surveys is low
If you do insist on calculating the hourly earnings rates from the surveys you do you’ll find it’s a low number. That’s because each survey pays a low amount and it takes time to complete them, meaning the hourly earnings are low.
Factors that affect your profitability as a survey taker
Here’s a list of 7 key factors that will affect how much money you make and whether it feels worthwhile to you.
The survey websites you use
The websites that allow you to complete surveys in return for cash have different designs, different rules, and use different survey providers. This means earnings across platforms aren’t equal. Different people will have different experiences. Over time you want to build up a collection of survey websites that work best for you and pay you good money. They may not necessarily be the highest paying but maybe they have the surveys you like the most and are the most reliable.
The types of surveys you do
Some people include focus groups in the same category as paid surveys. You do have to do the same thing in both – answer questions. But with focus groups it’s face-to-face (or over Zoom) whereas with surveys you’re just filling out a form from the comfort of your own home on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The pay difference between online surveys and focus groups is considerable. Focus groups pay significantly higher. Focus groups used to normally only be available to people in big cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. But the significant increase in the number of virtual communication tools (such as Zoom and Google Meet) has opened up the opportunity to more people.
How many hours you put in
The more hours you spend attempting surveys, the more profit you will make. Simple!
The payout methods you choose
Some survey websites use a points system, such as Swagbucks. When you reach the minimum payout threshold you will have different options of how to get your money. Common methods include PayPal and gift cards. The option you choose can impact your earnings. And here’s a real example on Swagbucks, it’s in GBP but you get the idea.
As you can see, if you earned exactly the same amount of SB over the years but were to choose Amazon every time you withdraw your earnings then you’d make about 7.6% more money compared to if you opted for PayPal.
Where you’re located will influence your approach to surveys. It’s relative to the area of the country you live in. For example, it’s significantly cheaper to live in Mississippi compared to Hawaii (source).
What that means is what one person looks at and thinks, ‘that’s not worthwhile,’ another looks at and thinks it is worthwhile.
Once you’ve done a few months worth of survey-taking you’ll be able to decide for yourself if it’s worth doing long-term.
Each survey has different requirements. Your demographics will have an impact on how many surveys you successfully qualify for. Take the comparison of these two people:
- Person 1 has children, a full-time job, loads of hobbies, buys many different product types, goes on holiday all the time, has lots of cars and bikes, reads book, gambles, exercises, and subscribes to different digital services.
- Person 2 has no children, no job, only one hobby, hardly spends and money, never travels, never reads, hardly ever exercises, doesn’t enjoy gambling and doesn’t subscribe to anything.
Which person do you think is likely to qualify for more surveys? Of course, it’s person 1. They will qualify for surveys to do with cars and bikes, books, gambling, exercising, and more that person 2 wouldn’t.
Your goals also matter. For example, if you have a target of earning an extra $1,000 per year, you could do that using surveys alone. Spread it out over the full year and if you earn $3 per day on average it would take 333 days. That leaves 32 spare days in the year.
Whereas someone trying to earn an extra $10,000 per year is going to have a serious battle to do it using only paid surveys!
Attitude counts too. Some people want free money. They don’t want to put any time or effort in. It’s a terrible attitude and unsurprisingly they’re the people that inevitably struggle. With a good attitude, you’ll earn more than others do.
Be wary of using reviews when judging which survey platforms will impact your earnings the most
Some articles in the blogosphere exaggerate how much you can earn from doing surveys. Sometimes people exaggerate to get extra affiliate income by encouraging you to sign-up. Try not to fall for the hype if you come across those types of blogs. Unfortunately, this means using survey reviews isn’t always reliable.
Always take reviews with a pinch of salt and accept nothing replaces your own experience. There are lots of reviews online (you’ll find some on MoneyCortex). And there are lists of real survey sites too, such as this list in order of payout threshold if you need somewhere to get started.
Research is a wise thing to do. But trying the sites yourself and seeing the cash drop into your own account is always the best thing.
When researching survey websites you need to first think about your personal needs and goals. Just because one person says in a review that a website is too low paying, you might not think so. Likewise the other way round. A blogger may say a survey site pays really well, but you think it’s not worthwhile or doesn’t suit you or you don’t trust it.
For this reason, it can be best to hunt out legitimate websites and join them all. All online paid survey websites are free to join. You don’t have to join them all at once. If you have a busy lifestyle why not commit yourself to sign up for one per week. Then use each one for a sustained period. You can’t try them out for a day or two because that never provides a fair reflection.
If you try one for a bit and don’t like it, get to the first cashout to bank a bit of money into your PayPal account. Then stop using it. Easy!
Completing surveys to get extra cash in the bank is legitimate
The pay may be low relative to other ways of making money but it’s still a legitimate method of making money. The knock-on benefits can be big. Here are some reasons it can be beneficial long-term to complete surveys online:
- Using the money to avoid getting into debt can avoid significant long-term debt interest costs.
- Using the money to buy little treats can improve your mental health.
- Using the cash to invest in high-risk high-reward stocks can result in some big profits.
For these reasons, as well as others, completing paid surveys online is a weapon in many people’s personal side-hustling efforts. And it’s supposed to be just that, a “side-hustle”. And that’s how to view surveys.
How to maximize the money you make by completing surveys
Adapting your survey habits into your existing lifestyle is what will achieve the highest long-term profits. It’s no good desperately trying to do them if you don’t have time. Approach them with a humble mindset accepting they’re lower-paying compared to other money-making methods and it’ll stand you in good stead. Surveys require zero skills to do, there are zero financial risks, and anyone can do them. For that reason, they’ll always be lower paying. But you can actually make real money from surveys.
Seven tips to get the most out of making money from surveys
Now you know the appropriate attitude and approach, you can shape things to suit you. Here are a few ideas to help you get in the habit of taking surveys:
- Try and pick surveys you enjoy on topics you like.
- Try and pick ones that are a suitable length. For example, if you’re feeling fidgety and restless do short surveys, don’t do a long 30-minute one that requires patience.
- Join lots of sites. It’ll mean more choice of surveys to complete.
- Have your bigger goal in mind. Perhaps you’re saving for a holiday. Keep that in focus.
- Always remember the “money drip method”. If you know you can make an extra $2 per day you’ll have an extra $730 in your pocket over the year!
- Form habits and fit surveys into your life, that way it becomes natural and easy. Remember how hard learning to drive was, and yet once you’ve passed and got used to driving, it’s super easy.
- Combine answering surveys using apps with doing other things such as watching TV.
And remember to never stress!
Hopefully, those free tips help you. Answering surveys is a good way to earn extra cash. But your time has value, you want to use it wisely. To do that you need to have the right approach. Find the best survey websites for you and get in the habit of logging in and participating in surveys regularly.
It’s always important to feel the rewards justify the time spent doing something. That’s why using your spare time is important. Sometimes getting paid can start to feel like a healthy addiction. Getting that psychological aspect right is critical. Expect to make the equivalent of the minimum wage or higher, and you’ll quickly give up! Get into sustainable routines and see the cash building up and over time it becomes easier.