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How Taking Surveys Lead Me to Blogging
I know that posts about survey taking as a side hustle are all over the internet. My special twist on this theme is that I started taking surveys for extra cash completely by accident and it eventually lead to starting this blog. Happy accident! The best thing about taking surveys is that the payouts are now my sole source of extra spending cash and I don’t have to dip into my paychecks to pay for my fun!
It all Started With Mom
It all started last September when I was trying to help my mother-in-law look for a work from home job that wasn’t a scam. I found a few helpful websites. My favorites are The Work At Home Woman and Real Ways to Earn Money Online. Both sites post job leads, scam warnings, side hustles, blogging and more. It was on both that blogging caught my attention. They have excellent how to articles about starting and maintaining a helpful and interesting blog.
Since Mom has a computer I settled on surveys since they looked the least risky and she wasn’t interested in a support desk type of part-time job. I decided that I wasn’t going to recommend anything I hadn’t tried myself . I compiled a list of survey websites that have multiple recommendations. Just for safety, I created an email address just for surveys and settled on a password to use across every site. My level of internet distrust is huge bordering on the psychotic sometimes.
The thing that Mom didn’t like about doing surveys was that they are often confusing. All the sites tend to flip through pages while looking for surveys that mesh with your profile. At times it will seem that you’re answering lead in questions over and over without ever getting dropped into a survey. It happens with all of them. The best way to increase your odds of qualifying is to completely and honestly fill out the profile questions for each site.
I have active accounts with 12 different survey sites. Some of them are just straight surveys with no other fluff to worry about. Some have a lot of other types of things to do to make money. All of them allow you to set up email notifications for survey opportunities so you won’t miss a thing.
Without Further Ado, My Top Five
These five are what I consider “safe”. They are mostly survey only sites and there aren’t any hidden pitfalls. They’re safe for all age levels. These sites also occasionally have in home product tests which are a lot of fun!
Ipsos pays out in points for each completed survey. They will also give you five points for any survey you don’t qualify for. The points are then used to buy gift cards or make donations to charitable organizations.
I run out of available surveys once every so often, but the drought never lasts more than a day and I have the other companies to fall back on. What really makes this my favorite is that i-Say gives you 5 points even if you wash out of the survey and you get a chance to guess the answer to a poll question for reward points that go to a monthly prize drawing.
Ipsos lets you cash out your account with as little as $5. They have a good mobile app and sometimes have surveys that can only be taken on a mobile device. Each survey on their homepage has clear symbols used to tell you what platform you can use.
The link to Ipsos is https://social.i-say.com/surveys
This site not only tells you what the survey is about, it links to three other survey sites which cuts down on the number of logins. The extra sites are Univox, Global Test Marketing, and LiveSample. These sites report results and payout back to Vindale so your money is all in one place.
Vindale gives cash rewards and not points which is another thing I appreciate. They also offer bonuses for answering poll questions, watching videos, referrals and answering a daily question.
This site is one you have have patience with as their redemption minimum is $50, which can seem like it’s taking a long time to hit. They payout in a check or to your PayPal account. Think of Vindale as a fun piggy bank!
Vindale does not have a mobile app that I can find.
The link to Vindale is https://www.vindale.com.
MySurvey is also a points based survey site. They have a breathtaking range of rewards including a huge array of gift cards, donations to charities, subscriptions to Pandora, magazines, and Paypal. The smallest payout amount is $10 for gift cards and less than that if you want to give your earnings to a charity. In addition to surveys, they have a quarterly sweepstakes drawing from the entries you receive if you wash out of a survey and a panel called MySurvey Connect which I haven’t explored.
MySurvey tends to have more product type surveys where you will be giving your opinions on packaging, pricing and new concepts. They do have a mobile app, but it doesn’t work well on my older phone.
The link to MySurvey is https://www.mysurvey.com/
Opinion Outpost is the only points based survey site whose points convert 1:1 to cash. The smallest cash out for gift cards is $10. The variety of their rewards aren’t as robust as some sites, but they will send your money to Paypal, or in Amazon gift cards, donations to the Red Cross, Alawar Games, iTunes and surprisingly, United Mileage Plus. They also have a quarterly sweepstakes for a $10,000 cash prize and give badges for achievements. It’s a very streamlined, user-friendly website.
I have never run out of survey opportunities on this site and they’re usually really interesting surveys to fill out. No mobile app.
The link to Opinion Outpost is https://www.opinionoutpost.com
iPoll is cute, fun to use and they also pay out in cash. You can answer poll questions and earn badges for your achievements. iPoll gives you a sweepstakes ticket with each survey whether you qualify or not. Payout choices are PayPal, Amazon Gift cards or iTunes. Minimum payout is $25. The surveys are plentiful. Their mobile app is my favorite and is my go to if I have downtime.
I really like iPoll because of their simplicity. They tend to have shorter and more varied surveys.
The link to iPoll is https://www.ipoll.com/
The Dynamic Duo (surveys and more)
Inbox Dollars and Swagbucks are what I call my “plus more” sites and put the caution flag up about.
Both sites have what they call offers and you can earn a lot of points/dollars from them. An offer usually means you commit to trying something on a trial basis in exchange for dollars or points. However, most offers require that you to supply a credit card number and if you don’t remember to cancel the subscription, your card will be charged after the trial period is over. This is great if the offer is something long-term you want to sign up for, not so good if you’re only after the points or cash and forget to cancel. So if you’re diligent and can remember to cancel when the trial is over, go for it. If you’re like me and forget where your glasses are when they are on the top of your head, steer clear.
That said, as far as surveys are concerned I really like both these sites and have had really great luck qualifying.
Inbox was one of the very first sites I tried. It’s definitely not a good fit for Mom because a few “hinky” things on here besides the offers made my spidey senses tingle. Inbox Dollars will give you $.01 for reading emails they put in an “inbox” for you on their site. It does not hurt to confirm the emails themselves but there are a few eyebrow raisers in the content on the websites that the confirmation takes you to. Lifescript is one of them which on the face of it seems like a good thing. I mean, who doesn’t like free or discounted products? But there were too many red flags when I Googled Lifescript to make me happy.
Hinkiness aside their surveys are unusually varied and good and there are always tons available. Some of the payouts are above average. Like Vindale Research, Inbox D also has other survey companies you can get to through it; SaySo for Good, Opinions Direct, Survey – GSP, TapResearch and my hands down favorite, Peanut Labs. You can also earn by watching videos, what they call TV and answering poll questions. Inbox Dollars also has a Sweepstakes that allows you to choose where to put your entries.
Payout happens when you accumulate $30. The first time you take a payout they require you to take a paper check. After the first time, you’re eligible for eCards, prepaid Visa cards and I thought Paypal but I don’t see that option at this time. The other option is to take your reward in sweepstakes entries, but that just looks like a way to part you with your reward for no return on value.
The link to Inbox Dollars is www.inboxdollars.com
NOTE: I also had an account on Cash Crate. In the end I cancelled that one because there was something about it that I didn’t trust. It was also very difficult to qualify for enough surveys to do my first cash out. In fact, my email account started getting some annoying spam after starting on Cash Crate.
This is another one of my all time favorites. It has SO much more than just surveys! So much that you could stay on this one site all day. Again, be careful of the offers which fall in their “Discover” section. The inbox on this site highlights things (usually offers) that you can make more money on at the moment. Swagbucks has extras like games and they will hide phrases in their social media that you can get rewards for.
Your rewards in Swagbucks are … well … swagbucks or SBs. They have an a daily minimum that pays out extra SBs if you you can hit it (no penalty if you don’t), poll questions, store coupons to print and clip and you get extra SBs for each one redeemed, tasks you can do through Clickworker, and you can get points for browsing the internet through their browser. There is also video to watch for SBs (in fact you could put the video up on a second monitor and let it run with very little interaction and rack up points). There is also a plugin for your browser that will send you alerts throughout the day for Swagcodes which you go find and plug into the website for yet more Swagbucks.
The thing I use occasionally and love is their shopping portal. Swagbucks acts like a portal to many online shopping sites. If you go to the site through Swagbucks, there are rewards in the form of percentages or dollars off the item(s) you’re purchasing. They also award a certain amount of SBs for every dollar you spend at the linked store. I purchased my current laptop at Dell through Swagbucks and received A LOT of points on something I was going to buy anyway. Their browser plugin will also alert you to a Swagbucks deal on any shopping site you go to that they’re a partner with including Groupon, which I find very cool.
The link to Swagbucks is: http://www.swagbucks.com/
The Three Musketeers (steady and reliable)
These three are my solid rocks. Not my biggest favorites, they’re not sexy, they’re not exciting but they are always there for you. The surveys are not plentiful but they usually are very interesting, somewhat educational and usually pay well.
Product Report Card
As I’m writing this, I realize that I have not cashed this one out yet. I’ve been involved with it for six months. However I haven’t put a lot of work into it so I haven’t gotten anything out of it yet. Product report card allows you to register all your home devices and products. This will make you eligible for in home product testing. Sadly I have not done this yet. The surveys that do come to me and the products I did test put this site squarely on my list because the experiences have been stellar. PRC also has opportunities to take part in product communities, focus groups, in-depth phone interviews and more. I did an online chat about financial institutions that was fun.
PRC counts rewards in dollars and allows you to cash out at $25. (hah! I am $.10 away from being able to cash out). Reward choices are prepaid Visa cards, Amazon gift cards, or a check.
After I fill in my product list, I’ll report back on this site.
The link to Product Report Card is http://www.productreportcard.com
Harris Poll Online
Harris Poll is rock solid and they have a very good reputation. I get four or five survey invitations via email a week and that one survey invitation can turn into two or three more surveys after you answer the initial one. This is great because it’s next to impossible to go to the Harris Poll website and find surveys to take. It seems to be email invitation mostly.
That said, they have an outstanding mix of rewards; magazine subscriptions, clothes, accessories, baby items, book, gift cards and the list goes on. Very high quality both in the surveys and the rewards. This is why I have stayed with Harris despite the difficulty getting and qualifying for surveys. The rewards are more than worth it. Harries pays in points called Hipoints. Cash out starts at 625 Hipoints. 625 Hipoints translates to $5 which is on the low end of the exchange rate. For every survey you’re offered whether you qualify or not, you get an entry into their sweepstakes. But still, I feel compelled to stick with it. Oh, and the site security is wonderful. Which is another big plus for me.
The link to Harris Poll Online is http://www.harrispollonline.com
Survey Monkey Contribute
Any payout you get from doing surveys on this site goes to a charitable organization of your choice. The surveys are for a really good cause and the upside to belonging to Survey Monkey Contribute is that it makes you a member of SurveyMonkey.com where you can create your own surveys. Very handy for a business or blogger to keep in touch with their followers and customers.
The link to Survey Monkey Contribute is https://contribute.surveymonkey.com/home
The Newbie and the Gold Standard
I feel like saying “TaDa!” when I talk about both these sites. They are Paid Viewpoint and Pinecone Research.
Paid Viewpoint is fairly new in the survey world. I don’t even know how I found it. It is sexy and mysterious. Your dashboard is minimalist with a black on black background. It taunts you by setting a Traitscore goal and sends you surveys designed to improve your score, give you cash or both. You never know when it’s going to acknowledge your presence with a survey waiting on that sexy dashboard, so you click the bookmarked URL all day hoping for … OH! There it is! In reality they will send you an email when there’s a new survey on the site, at least they did until a couple of months ago. So I check this site every couple hours during the day. Their surveys are usually no more than 15 minutes, way less than that most of the time.
All mystery aside, Paid Viewpoint does give you points for answering questions about who you are and what your preferences are. The higher your trait score the more surveys you get. The quality of the surveys go up as your trait score goes up. This is the site that scrupulous honesty pays off as every so often you will get a multiple choice question and one of the answers is what you initially answered on your profile surveys. This is also the only survey site that I have gotten a kudos letter from them because their client liked the thoroughness of my answers.
Cash out is to Paypal only.
Two thumbs up for the Newbie!
The link to Paid Viewpoint is https://paidviewpoint.com
Drumroll please! Pinecone is THE gold standard of all survey companies and is extremely difficult to get into. Pinecone consistently pays higher than any other survey company and the quality of their surveys is unmatched. I’ve tried for six months and finally succeeded because they added a new offering to their program that I qualified for. Pinecone pays for successful surveys and product demos with points. The points are 1:1 for cash. The first 300 points are sent to you in a check ($3.00), then all subsequent cash outs can go to Paypal or for gift cards or a number of other offerings. Pinecone Research is a top rated survey site.
The link to Pinecone Research is https://www.pineconeresearch.com
Surveys as a Side Hustle
So, doing surveys will not make you rich. It’s not a full-time job nor is it meant to be. It’s a little extra spending money on the side.
While you’re earning, you end up having a good time. I’ve gotten to see multiple products before they hit the shelves. In fact some of them I’m waiting for because I’ve loved the product or the concept. I’ve gotten to test products which is also fun, some of them have not hit the shelves either. Filling out surveys has also had a somewhat startling outcome for me. I’m actually discovering preferences and things about myself that I didn’t realize. Definite color and packaging biases, food preferences that I really never thought about.
It also keeps me off Farmville. <giant eyeroll>
Seriously, for the first three months I was doing surveys I was making $100 – $200 a month. Not bad for extra spending money and I wasn’t devoting a lot of time to them. It’s tapered off some since the beginning of the year when I started this blog, but I’m still cashing out $50 – $75 a month. Helpful for my budget.
So, Survey away! Who knows where it will lead you!
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