WWW FAQs: Can I get paid to take web surveys or read advertising emails?

2007-08-02: There are many companies that claim to pay you to take surveys or read advertising emails. And in reality, some companies actually will pay you to take surveys, though you will never get rich doing it.

Legitimate paid-survey companies are looking for demographic information. They want to find users who are a part of a certain market segment— single women between 20 and 30, for instance— and then figure out what those people want to buy.

Other companies, such as athletic shoe manufacturers, will then pay the survey company for that information and use it to design better products.

For the most part these companies pay you, in cash or merchandise, to answer surveys. A few will also give you points toward merchandise when you read advertising emails.

How can you tell whether an online survey company is legitimate? There are four main ways:

1. Check whether the survey is affiliated with one of the legitimate companies mentioned in this article.

2. Did they send you unsolicited junk mail out of the blue, promising to pay you to answer surveys? Then it's probably not legitimate.

3. Did they ask YOU to send THEM money to get started? Such sites make money because they take in setup fees and do not make payments to participants. Or they pay only when taken to court, which is not an option for most people. Or their payments never exceed what you originally paid to sign up. Do not pay setup fees.

4. Did they ask for your paypal password? No one else should ever have your PayPal password. They only need your PayPal email address to pay you. Don't give your checking account number out to a company you know nothing about, either! Receiving PayPal is safe. Receiving a check in the mail is also safe (the check might bounce, but only for the amount of the check).

A List Of Legitimate Online Survey Companies

According to my field researcher, The following online survey companies have paid her as promised and are considered legitimate as of this writing:

1. Pinecone Research is top of the line, paying roughly $5/survey. My field researcher has earned as much as $20 in an hour working with Pinecone. However, Pinecone is looking for people who are part of particular demographic groups.

"But how the heck do I join Pinecone?"

To join, you will need to locate a Pinecone Research advertising banner on another website. These banners appear on a variety of sites and may appear and disappear at any time, so I can't list them here.

This may be frustrating, but it marks Pinecone as a legitimate research company. If they allowed everyone to sign up at random, they would not know very much about the interests of their participants. Pinecone has provided "very prompt payment."

2. Global Test Market pays between 25 cents and $5 per survey, "typically $2.50." However, you must earn $50 before you will be paid. My field researcher has been paid in a reasonably prompt fashion after reaching $50 increments.

3. your2cents pays between $1 and $5 per survey. Surveys are "infrequent," but payment is prompt once you have earned it.

4. zoompanel does not pay cash. Instead, they give you points which you can trade in for gift cards and merchandise such as magazines, DVDs, headphones and kitchen equipment. It's a little bit like turning in skeeball tickets at an amusement park. My field researcher has had positive experiences with zoompanel.

5. mypoints awards you points for answering surveys and reading advertising emails. You can then turn in your points for gift certificates— "not very fast, but they do come."

6. testspin offers surveys and pays out in amazon.com gift certificates, up to $600 a year in $10 increments. My field researcher recently received her first certificate.

7. SurveySpot has surveys that offer cash awards, and also surveys that enter you in random-drawing contests to win prizes. Our researcher has been paid relatively quickly by this site. It is her impression that completing the unpaid surveys sometimes leads to the opportunity to complete paid surveys.

If a company is not mentioned here, that doesn't mean they are not legitimate. However you should read the fine print carefully and avoid signing up with any company that expects you to send money to them.

Thanks to researcher Jamie Y. for her contributions to this article!

There are other ways to make money on the Internet, even if you are not technically skilled. If you are knowledgeable about almost any topic, you can profit by creating a website about it. And that's not hard to do.

As a general rule, if you are an expert on something— anything at all— you can make money by creating your own website about it, and then offering advertising space on the site. That way, you retain ownership of what you have written, and can continue to profit from it for as long as you wish.

Set up a website, and start writing how-to articles about something you know about: cooking, knitting, repairing sports cars, base jumping, soccer skills for cats, anything you're good at! Then promote your site for free via Google and other search engines. And then start earning a profit with ads placed on your pages by Google Adsense and other brokers.

Your articles will add to the wealth of free information that's out there for others to learn from, and when they click on relevant advertising, you'll get paid... for real. And if your articles are good, your website should start covering its own bills and earning a profit within a few months.

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