Make Money by Taking Online Surveys

If you have a computer and like giving your opinion, you might want to try doing online surveys from home to make a little extra cash while trying new products. There are hundreds of companies that enlist research panels of average consumers to complete surveys online.

You can't expect to earn a full salary from taking online surveys, but it is possible to earn $50 to $100 a month in cash and free products if you take several short surveys, according to experienced online survey site members. The key is to sign up with several survey sites (which are all free to join) to increase your chances of being selected for the surveys.

When you join a survey site, you provide your personal and demographic information, which credible survey sites will not disclose to any other party. That information is used to select participants for surveys on specific products and services. When you are selected as a panel member, you will receive an e-mail inviting you to take a short screening survey to determine if you fit the profile for that particular survey. If you qualify, you will be asked to take a longer online survey in exchange for some sort of compensation.

Compensation varies by company and by survey. You may receive a few dollars, or be sent free products in exchange for trying them and providing feedback about them. Most surveys "pay" by entering participants into a sweepstakes.

I have taken about a dozen surveys myself with the two online survey sites I joined. I was paid for three of the surveys ($15, $6 and $1 each) and was entered into a sweepstakes for the other nine surveys (which I did not win). However, I found it easy and enjoyable to answer the questions.

Experienced survey site members like Christa Alewine of Georgia also enjoy getting all kinds of free products, from graham crackers to dog food. Her children look forward to getting products in the mail to test at home and have even participated in some surveys for children (with parental approval).

The largest cash survey payment Christa received was $50, and that survey took about 30 minutes to complete. Her usual cash payout is generally $1 to $3 for surveys that take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes. She estimates that she is paid cash for 10 percent of the surveys she completes and receives free products for many of them.

Christa began by earning money playing online games for 30 minutes a day and now earns more by spending that 30 minutes completing surveys. She gets to keep the products she tests, and enjoys getting a $20 Amazon gift card, gift cards to restaurants or a few dollars in her Paypal account.

Make Sure the Site Is Legit

Experienced online survey members recommend joining several survey sites (at least five to 10) if you want to take daily surveys. Register with an e-mail address that you check frequently so you can respond quickly and, of course, be honest and accurate in filling out the survey. Don't get discouraged if you are not selected as a survey participant after your first few screening surveys, as it may take you a while to see which survey companies' needs match your demographics.

It would be impossible to list all the legitimate online survey sites available, but you can find many by entering the term "paid survey sites" in a search engine. There are sites that will charge a $30 to $50 fee to provide a list of the 400-500 survey sites that promise unrealistic earnings, but you can find plenty of sites on your own without paying for a list. All the survey sites listed at in the Earn Free Money section are legitimate market research sites.

Be warned, though, there are also many sites that pose as survey sites to obtain marketing information from consumers. These sites will sell your information to advertisers, and you will get tons of unsolicited spam if you sign up with them. To avoid this, be sure you read any site's privacy policy before you enroll to make sure it is a legitimate survey site.

If a site were a marketing site posing as a survey site, it would disclose its practice of sharing member information with other parties in their privacy policy. If you can't find a privacy policy link prominently displayed on its site, skip that site and look for another one to join. Additionally, some sites will ask if they can share your information with other parties, and will already have the "yes" box checked. If you uncheck the box, you can avoid getting unsolicited e-mails.

A credible Web site's privacy policy will have a statement like this one: "We do not share personally identifiable information with other third-party organizations for their marketing or promotional uses without your consent except as part of a specific program or feature for which you will have the ability to opt out."