This post may leave a sour taste in your mouth, and if it does, I am genuinely sorry. (I am clearly not an affiliate for any survey company.) While I generally prefer to post positive articles about motivating people to succeed, I just can’t stand to let another person feel defeated and disappointed by a lack of success due to a system that wasn’t designed to let you win. However, in my truer spirit, I will help you set some realistic goals after my rant. I will tell you how to make these sites work for you!
I have had financial problems for years now. I am an elementary school teacher. While our passion is what drives us, it’s no secret that it’s not the market to get into if you’re looking to make a profitable income. That is to say, my paychecks each month help me to basically tread water where my bills are concerned. I’m not ashamed of this, I adore my job, but I’m just being honest about my situation.
With that being said, the idea of a side hustle or a passive income is incredibly appealing. My bills get paid on time every month, but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for many other things I’d like to have money for.
I, like so many others, am so inspired by travel. I want to see the world and experience other cultures and even write about it, but I can’t justify booking a plane ticket and an Airbnb when it would cost an entire months work to pay for it all. So I became determined to find some side income to use solely for the things I WANT and keep using my primary income on the things I need (like a roof over my head, groceries, gas, health insurance, you know, the boring stuff).
One of the first places I turned was the survey sites.
If you type in “surveys” in the search bar on Pinterest, you will get literally THOUSANDS of pins promising you hundreds of dollars from surveys each month. You’ve seen them, they look like this:
(That last one especially frustrated me because as soon as I clicked on it, I was redirected to a different graphic that said “Make $500/month Online!” Which is it??)
I was hooked. I even made a “travel inspiration” board of all the places I’d go when these surveys paid for my husband and I to go spend the weekend somewhere together. I was hooked. And i was duped. I took my first survey probably over five years ago and to date, I’ve probably made $30. Now I obviously haven’t been taking surveys consistently for five years and only made $30 but the point is that I was so defeated by the false advertising that I just kept giving up. Below you’ll find the reasons I found the process so hard and afterwards I’ll attempt to put a positive spin on it all.
[I’m gonna stop and say something: if you HAVE succeeded with this and HAVE made more than pennies in a month doing this — PLEASE SHARE YOUR WISDOM. Because, I have to say, so far, these articles on how to succeed with surveys are not honest, they’re not realistic, and they’re not gratifying. So, if you’ve had success yourself, like I said, or you’ve finally found the article with the REAL guide to making money this way, PLEASE TELL US.]
1. The time vs. money commitment is too much to gamble with
I worked hard at it for a solid hour and made $0.50. That means in an eight hour day, I would make $4. Which technically does add up to $120/month but that means you’re sucking the life and soul from your body for eight entire hours to make a measly $4/day.
Please, for your sanity, don’t do that to yourself. That $120 for the month is 160 hours of work. You guys, this is simple math, don’t do it.
These pins and articles lure you in by telling you that these survey sites can replace your day job and you can work 8 hour days sitting on the couch taking surveys instead. But are you really willing to gamble and quit your current day job and MAYBE make a livable wage?
2. You don’t “qualify” for any of the surveys
How many have you taken that kick you back to the start and say “sorry, this survey is all full!” Or “you didn’t meet the qualifications for this survey” AFTER you’ve wasted ten minutes getting to that point. Some sites are nice enough to give you a pity $0.05 for trying…gee, thanks. Do you know how long it would take for you to make any money that way? Even if you only spend 5 minutes before being disqualified, you would need to spend an entire hour to make $1. Imagine spending 100 hours to make your $100 goal. Do you know what you could do with 100 hours??
3. There aren’t enough surveys available that you DO qualify for
I have downloaded three different survey apps that have made me a total of $6 this month. Now this is partly my fault because I can’t stand the disappointment of working so hard for so little but also because half the time I open the app, I get a message telling me there are “no surveys available at this time”
4. You have to spend money to make money
A lot of the survey apps will pay you to review products you’ve already purchased or encourage you to buy them in order to review them and get paid. Don’t fall for this either. Don’t spend $5 on some new snack food you might not even like just to get paid $0.50 for the review. It’s not “paying you” if you’re down $4.50
5. You spend more time deleting spammy emails than you do taking surveys
I don’t even want to begin to imagine how many emails I was receiving each day and week from “offers’ to take surveys and try products and get free stuff. And I can’t imagine the hours I wasted taking the clickbait and then getting re-routed to somewhere where I was being asked to spend money.
6. You’re not getting paid to “do what you already do”
Ok, that was a little harsh, in some cases, I guess you technically are, but these sites are built to encourage you to do and spend more than what you would normally in order to achieve a reward. It makes you feel like a puppy doing a trick over and over again for a crumb from a treat.
Do you “normally” sit on the couch or at your desk for six hours answering demographic questions? I know I don’t.
7. The rewards do not match the effort
I’ll use Swagbucks as an example since I seem to see it advertised the most often. (Keep in mind SB is short for Swagbucks, aka points to earn towards rewards)
When you sign up, the bonus for verifying your email (so they can spam you with multiple emails a day) is 4 SB.
If you take the daily poll, you get 1 SB each day.
Then when you take a survey, the typical payout I’ve seen is 5 minutes for 5 SB.
That’s 1 SB per minute.
Now let me give you some perspective on how to spend said Swagbucks. This site does actually offer PayPal payment (whaaaat) but it will cost you 2500 SB for a $25 PayPal Credit.
So at 1 SB/min that’s 2500 minutes of your time to attain the $25 payout. That’s over 40 hours of work for $25. That is like coming home after working five 8-hour days in a row and someone saying here you go, here’s your $25 paycheck!
8. The rewards aren’t all that rewarding
I’ve seen plenty of other sites that offer coupons as rewards (saving money is not the same as making money) or offer gift cards as rewards — this one might be nice if it was a Kroger gift card or a Walmart gift card so that you could at least spend it on the things you need each month, but more often than not, the gift card is to Starbucks or a retail clothing store which isn’t going to help you pay your bills.
9. It’s. So. Boring
Even if you do have 8 hours a day to commit to making less than $20, the work is so mundane it makes watching paint dry sound appealing.
And you’re answering the same ten questions over and over again. The beginning of the survey will always start with qualifiers like age, sex, ethnicity, household income and so on. Again, please don’t sell yourself short. You are worth more than this soul sucking boredom.
OK OK – are you depressed yet? I am sorry. I know a lot of you were really hoping for a win here. I know many of you were drawn in by the idea of $500/month for sitting on the couch or making money on your phone on the subway. I will give you a little light! Here are a couple ways you CAN succeed with survey taking:
1. Set Realistic Goals
I am sorry to tell you that realism by nature is sometimes like settlement. A realistic goal may not be as flashy as you’d hoped but reaching it CAN be just as rewarding.
After hours of survey sadness, I’ll tell you what my goal was: a $5 Starbucks gift card. Yep. That’s it.
If you remember from the beginning of this post, I started taking surveys in order to pay for the things I want and not the things I need. And I don’t need Starbucks, but i really really like it — but at $5 a pop, that adds up to a lot over the course of a month.
So I made myself a deal, I would only go to Starbucks when I had a gift card. I looked for survey sites that specifically offered this reward and only spent about 20 minutes a day and I successfully spent about six weeks in a row getting a $5 gift card and treating myself every Sunday to a delicious Vanilla Latte (or White Chocolate Mocha, or Gingerbread Latte, or Coffee Frappuccino).
It was a simple reward for a lot of work but for sitting on the couch watching tv, I convinced myself it was worth it.
2. Surprise yourself
Don’t try to calculate out how many hours and how many surveys it will take you to snag that $25 credit (which I know is hard since I calculated it all out for you ).
Try taking a couple surveys a day whenever you have a spare five minutes and just let yourself be surprised when you reach the reward.
Better yet, don’t even look at your “point balance” or your “earnings” tab until you get a notification that you’ve got enough.
Don’t start this journey expecting more than what might be possible. I am begging you, don’t set out on January 1st and set a goal of $500/month from survey-taking torture, plan to pay some bills with the profit, and then be panicked and dejected when it doesn’t pan out.
I’ve only said it about a hundred times so far, but YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN THAT. Believe in yourself more than that.
Again, I know this post is out of the norm for my usual positive vibes, but I hope in the long run it does help you.
And this time, I especially mean it when i say, try to spread some happiness today.