Sunday, July 18, 2010

Survey Says!

UPDATED: Thanks to my sweet friend April, I found out that the original link I used for Lightspeed was the members link and didn't allow non-members to register anywhere! I'm so sorry for that! I have fixed the link and it should now take you directly to the registration site. (Thanks for letting me know, April....sorry I was driving you crazy with wrong info!!)

Every single time I have typed the word "survey" on this blog, I have spelled it "survery". I don't know why. My head knows that "survey" does not have that extra 'r'. Apparently my fingers do not. (Yep. I'm totally throwing my fingers under the bus.)

So I've been promising some information on surveys, and I am finally making good on that promise. I know that you've been losing sleep over it, so I apologize for the delay. There is a great likelihood that this blog post will put you to sleep, so that should make up for it.

I'm joking.

I hope.

So first, a little background. You know how companies are always throwing around terms like "market research"? One of the ways that they research the market is by surveying people online, getting their opinions on products, brands, commercials and even TV shows. Since these companies are generally busy producing said items, they rely on other, third party companies to actually round up the survey participants. These are the survey websites I will be telling you about today.

All of these survey websites are generally the same. There are slight variations, but the basic premise is this: You sign up to be a member of their survey "panel", give them some general information about yourself, and then they contact you when they have a survey they feel you would qualify to take. You qualify for a survey if you fit into the demographic they are looking for for said survey. If you are indeed, chosen for the survey and complete it, you will be reimbursed. Reimbursement varies and is generally based on the length of the survey or the narrowness of the demographic they are trying to meet.

Here is where the sites begin to differ from each other. Some of them reimburse in plain old dollars. You take a survey and a dollar amount is entered into your account (usually between 1-5 dollars). Some of them reimburse you for points. You then get to use your "points" to "purchase" prizes. The prizes are generally gift cards, but you can also choose to trade in your points for a deposit into your PayPal account.

When I first started signing up for survey sites, I was signing up for all of them. I very literally could have spent my entire day taking surveys and little else. There are dozens of these sites out there. I decided to narrow down the sites from which I would take surveys to just a handful. I chose the ones that I have found to have the most user-friendly interface and have offered me the most opportunites for surveys. These sites also have good reputations amongst other survey takers.

The sites I currently participate in are:

LightSpeed Survey (my personal favorite)
Valued Opinions
Opinion Outpost

A few things you should be aware of before diving into the world of online surveying:

#1) They take participation in the surveys very seriously. The companies need serious answers, not some jokers who are just going to fly through the survey clicking the same answer over and over without bothering to read the questions.

#2) Because of this, it takes awhile for your money to go from "pending" status to "available" status. They need to receive feedback from the company you've surveyed for, making sure that your answers are legit and you appear to have taken your time. If you are in a hurry for your money, taking surveys online is NOT for you. I want you to know up front that it takes awhile. This works for me. Just keeps me from spending it, anyway. If you are needing money to pay your power bill this month, find another way to earn money.

#3) You will need to give a lot of personal information. A lot of people are very uncomfortable with this, and I understand that. The ONLY companies who have my name are the survey sites themselves and only for reimbursement purposes. The surveys have NEVER asked my name. NO ONE has asked me for my SSN or anything delicate. They DO need to know what demographic you fit into, so they will ask you for your age, your household income, whether you own or rent, your ethnicity, etc. Different surveys ask different questions. I have not felt uncomfortable answering any of them. You may, and if survey sites are not for you, which is totally understandable.

I have had a lot of fun taking online surveys. I found out about a lot of fun new products coming to the marketplace (from companies like Nintendo Wii, Loreal, Pantene and Doritos). I have gotten to see TV shows before they are even on TV (and yes....I then get paid to tell them what I think of the TV show), and been able to give my opinions on new (often funny) commercials that are going to be hitting our televisions soon. I have found it fun to take a survey about a product and then see it on the shelves a few weeks later....I feel like I've got insider information.

I may have just given away what a super nerd I am. Oh, well. You were bound to find out sooner or later (if you hadn't already).

So now you've read the world's longest blog post. I feel like I should be reimburse you for that somehow. Maybe the information I've given to you today will help you earn a few extra bucks and we can call it even.


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