Not too long ago, before I became a full time freelancer, I used to have this habit of hunting down online survey sites in the hope of signing up with many and making some real easy money filling out the survey forms. I was so desperate that I clocked many hours just to get to them. In my attempt to get enough surveys (or a decent pay), I even resorted to telling lies in order to boost my chance of qualification.

The result was mixed. Some survey panels paid promptly, and some refused to do so, and some insisted on long and tiring process before they were willing to send the money over. In the end, I decided that this is not for me. I could be better off and probably happier by sticking to freelancing.

But that said, I still participate in some surveys. I use my free time to get a few gift cards from these survey sites. I think this guy from surveysatrap sums it very good in his review of Vindale Research (which I think is a survey /offer site) when he says, “You can’t really make a living off paid surveys, but you can make some extra pocket money”.

Survey panels are always quick to claim that easy money is on offer as you fill out survey forms in the comfort of your home or sofa. But the trick is in the finer details (if it exists at all). The survey is not easy to qualify, the response needs quick turnaround, and perhaps most significantly, many survey panels do not offer monetary incentives. Not to mention there are lots of scams out there. In fact, the issue is so big that even Washington State’s Attorney general’s website has published a page warning people about survey scams along with a few others.

Don’t get the wrong picture. I had registrations with 2 survey sites and one of them actually paid me for my service. But the process to get the money into my PayPal account was definitely lengthy, not to mention painful. I am convinced that there are survey panels that are more credible than the two I chose to sign on, in term of payment turnaround. But I happened to have other commitments on my time as I tried out the viability of work with survey panels. My objective of writing this is not to pour cold water. But rather an honest revelation of what I went through so you can go into this with your eyes wide open.

First off, let us target those directory services that demand money from you before they point you to any good potential site to work with. Through my prior research on the web (and my personal experience), most are invariably scams. Come on, these are information that are readily at your fingertips if you bother to check the web, and they don’t cost you a cent.

Typical survey participants can make about $30-$300 a month, on the assumption that he or she signs up with a number of survey panels (could be up to 40). Let the truth be told, the $300 level is only appropriate for those seasoned survey takers with amazing user profiles that could pass off a huge number of qualification criteria easily.

The Internet is not short of self-proclaimed “effective” ways to make money from survey panels. I think the charges are decent, but how I look at this is that there are simply too many willing participants for a limited number of surveys available.

If you come across survey panels that demand upfront payment from new members, ignore them. Of course, it does not make sense to pay money to survey panels just so you can become a member, when there is no guarantee that you will get adequately paid after you complete the survey, or that they will find appropriate survey for you in the first place. Sometimes, this payment is masked as your investment into a product or service. Regardless, if a survey panel wants to make some money from me first before I get my just rewards, I would typically walk away.

Those in the legit side of the business would never require you to surrender your credit card information or try to trick you on some offers before any payment is due to you. Do take notice that even some of these legit survey panels are tied to some merchants pushing for their promotions or special offers, resulting in your e-mail being bombarded with multitude of marketing messages.