Thursday, January 8, 2009

Getting Started With Paid Surveys

I first discovered paying surveys a little over nine years ago. I was big into freebie forums... you would be amazed at the things you can get completely free online, if you don't already know! Anyway, I happened upon a post, stating that I could earn ten dollars for completing an online survey. I was skeptical, but figured it was worth a try. A couple weeks later, I received a ten dollar check in the mail... I was hooked! I started putting many hours, including many overnights, into researching this "paid survey" industry. I came across many scam sites, but also came across, literally, hundreds of real companies, that are willing to pay for your opinions on their services, products and ideas.

I have found that most legitimate companies don't contact you on a regular basis. You may receive a survey every month or two. There are a few companies that do send several surveys per week, but those are few and far between, and often pay less per survey. I found that the best way to keep money coming in on a regular basis is to join all of the survey companies that I could find, that offer cash or other incentives for each survey completed. That way, if one of your better companies is only sending out surveys every other month, you still have paid surveys coming in from the many other companies you have signed up with. The most time consuming part of the entire process is signing up for all the different companies, and filling out all the offered profile surveys, BUT, this is the most important part of the process as well. Once you are signed up and have your profiles completed, the easy part starts, getting the actual paid surveys, and getting the checks in the mail!

On finding paid surveys... my most important piece of advice for anyone wanting to get started is, and pay close attention to this... NEVER, EVER pay to sign up with a company, whether it be a survey company, a company offering telecommuting positions, someone offering a "list" of legitimate companies, etc. The companies that are legitimate and are going to pay you will NOT ask you to pay money. That would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, however, I have talked to so many people who have seen those ads that sound so appealing, and happily shelled over cash they didn't have, only to be disappointed because, either the company is not legitimate, or they could have found the exact same information elsewhere... for free. On the same note, so called "surveys" that require you to sign up for offers, giving your credit card information, etc., are NOT the legitimate companies that you want to work with. You have to realize, your opinions really are worth money. I think that is the hardest part for most people to accept, because it sounds too good to be true. But, if you think about it, all of the large brand name companies offer products that we buy. Why? Because they sell products we like, and we want. How do they know what consumers want? They ask! Yes, they are more than happy to pay you five bucks, or even two hundred sometimes, to see what advertisement would make you more likely to buy their product, or to see what flavors you would spend money on. Of course! They are going to make a lot more than that few bucks back, when we are all rushing to spend money on their products. I can't give out name brands or company names, as that would be against the terms of service that one must agree to, in order to participate in the market research studies, but I can tell you that I'm looking at a can of soda that I helped to design, by giving my opinions... and I got paid for those opinions.

Product testing... real or scam? The rules for product testing are pretty much identical to the rules given above, for finding real surveys. I do product testing for companies that I have a relationship with, usually the survey companies I have joined. Nobody is going to send you an email out of the blue, offering to pay you five hundred dollars and a laptop. The real product tests will come from companies you are signed up with, in order to give your opinions. They may offer you ten bucks to test some cookies, or they may offer you two hundred dollars for testing something more expensive. More often than not, they will pay somewhere in the range of ten to twenty dollars, but, if you stick with the companies and are reliable and truthful in your opinions, you will get the occasional big paying survey or product test. With product testing, you may, or may not get to keep the product, and you may or may not get paid. Generally, most of the product tests I do offer me the product to use for a specific time (and I get to keep the product), and when I give my honest, in depth opinions, they'll offer a small monetary compensation, again, usually in the ten to twenty dollar range. This is a great way to find new products that you will love, although you will find a few you don't like too! The best part, however, is you get to tell these companies, directly, what you do and don't like about the product. You can give your input on how you would improve the product. You have input on the products that are offered for sale!

Focus groups... If you enjoy giving your opinions, and don't mind speaking in front of other people or being in groups, focus groups are definitely the most profitable way to bring that cash rolling in. There are focus groups online, but you must go through a strict qualification process, and these don't come every day. Usually, the online focus groups will be offered by the same survey companies that offer the regular surveys. An online focus group is a scheduled event, with several people, usually in a chat room setting. It usually lasts for an hour or two, and pay ranges from twenty to over two hundred dollars. They are generally pretty fun and interesting, and it's an easy way to bring in more than a lot of people earn in several days, for a couple hours of chatting.
In person focus groups are similar to online focus groups, but, obviously, are in person. These can usually be found in large cities, and may be listed in your local newspaper, or somewhere like They are generally held at the Market Research company's physical location. You will meet, usually with a group of people, and give your opinions on whatever product or service the discussion is about. It is usually a pretty laid-back setting, with snacks provided, etc., and when you walk out, they present you with a nice check that you can take right down and deposit in your bank account! Focus groups usually pay really well. The lower end of the scale is usually around $50 or so, but many pay $200 or more, for a one to two hour discussion. Schedule a couple hours out of your weekend afternoon for a focus group, instead of that couple hours you would normally spend watching tv, and you will be nicely rewarded. Look in your local yellow pages, and call the market research firms in your area. Ask to be added in their database, and they will call you when they have a study available that needs people matching your demographics!

All in all, doing surveys and product testing can be a fun, profitable endeavor. You definitely won't get rich, but you will get to give your opinions to the companies we're giving our money to, and you will earn some extra cash for bills, fun or whatever. If you are willing to really put your time and effort into this on a regular basis, it is not unrealistic to plan on earning an extra four hundred dollars per month or more, and that is not including the free products, gift cards and other incentives you may receive.

Good luck and happy earning!

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