We’ve all seen the facebook ads.   

“Earn an extra $500 dollars by taking online surveys!”

It sounds too good to be true, but what’s the deal?

Truth be told, you can make extra money taking an online survey, but you need to have the right expectations.  To help get you going, here are 5 tips for taking surveys online, that will help you from wasting your time.  After that, if you’d like to learn more, check out Teach Me! Personal Finance’s Guide to Online Surveys.

Focus on a 2-3 at a time, then slowly sign up for more

Taking surveys can feel like a bit of a numbers game.  You won’t always qualify for the surveys you are offered, so it might feel like you should sign up for a bunch to increase your odds. Truth is, you’ll just end up getting overwhelmed with offers.  I’d recommend you start by signing up for two or three of the larger sites.  Once you are getting a feel for how much time it will take, you can always sign up for more.

Set up a separate email account 

You’re going to get a lot of emails.  Not all of it will be offers though.  Part of the way market research firms generate money is through selling your email address.  Because of that, I’d recommend you set up a Gmail account specifically for surveys so you can keep your main inbox spam-free.  

Establish a habit

Completing surveys takes time.  With each one taking 5-15minutes, you should make sure you are planning g accordingly.  One thing I’ve found helpful is to block out time in the morning specifically for surveys.  Maybe it’s while you are enjoying your coffee.  Or maybe you’re more a night owl, so you can do them while watching the Late Show.  Either way, you need to carve out sometime or it won’t get done.

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Be realistic

You are not going to get rich from doing.  You’re also not going to replace your income doing it.  What you can do though is earn some extra cash of gift cards during times you otherwise wouldn’t be.  Just make sure you keep your expectations in check or you’ll end up getting frustrated.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is

Not all the companies in this space are equal.  Some of them don’t have great track records of customer service, so I’d highly recommend doing your research with sites like TrustPilot or the BBB.  Much like with other companies you engage with online, be wary of what’s asked of you.  If you’re asked for a credit card, don’t provide it.  If they request too much personal information, like your SSN,  don’t provide it.  

Next Steps

If you’re ready to start earning a few extra bucks, go out and sign up for a few of the bigger name surveys, like Swagbucks or Pinecone Research.  These both get good feedback and user reviews, so you can trust you’re not getting scammed.  I’d highly recommend you also set up your new email account quickly so you can get off on the right foot.  

Good luck and make sure you are being smart about who you share your personal information with!