My Top Ten “Make Money Online” sites

The back story…

Screen Bean Watching his 401k run out of moneyI live on a pension.  A very small pension.  A pension I get for 20+ years of service working in city governments as a Public Librarian.  I had to “retire early” during the Great Recession because after loosing my job, I went through all my savings, my 401k, my 429 plan and pretty much sold everything I had of any value.  After those accounts went down to zero, retiring early was the only option left to have money coming in on a regular basis.

So, I get a little over $800 a month from the Texas Municipal Retirement System.  And while that amount keeps me from standing on a street corner holding a cardboard sign, it isn’t really enough to cover all my monthly expenses.  So, I pick up the odd temp job here and there, and I do online surveys to pull in a few extra dollars.

Doing online surveys will not buy you a Yacht nor will it provide Instant Gratification

fat-cat-in-da-moneyBut if you do it regularly, it will make you enough to pay the occasional monthly bill or buy a pizza or two each month.  And for me it makes the difference between making ends meet and not making ends meet.  Full disclosure, given the amount of time it takes, it doesn’t add up to minimum wage.

But for me, it has meant the difference many times between having money for food at the end of the month or not having money for food.  Between being able to pay that $10 copay for my prescription or not having the $10 to buy the meds.

So… if you have a few minutes to spare, and there’s nothing else you want to do at that moment, then you can turn that “down time” into real money.

This is the “quick & dirty” Top Ten List

I’ve started reviewing these sites and other products that I use.  However those reviews are just getting started.  Typing is hard work ya know!  LOL

So, this morning when a friend emailed me (Hi David!  Woo Hoo!) I started typing out the list in an email and thought “Hey, Tony, why are you sending this to just David?  I mean David is cool and an awesome dude and a really nice guy and a World Champion Dancer and all that, but hey, this would make a good blog post and LOTS of people including David would get to see your top then and then you could do the longer reviews later”

Ok, maybe I didn’t actually think those exact words, but you get the idea.  😉

Most of these sites pay either with Gift Cards or through PayPal

rewards-amazonrewards-paypalYou can decide for yourself, but for me…  just give me the cash!  PayPal is my preferred way of getting paid.

My second choice is an Amazon Gift Card because Amazon has so many different products including daily “household” things; coffee, stevia, coffeemate, soap, shampoo and toothpaste, Doan’s back pain reliever, Alieve, are just a few of the things I’ve bought with gift cards earned by taking surveys.

There are lots of other options, every site is different.  You choose what makes sense for you.

How I created my Top Ten

survey dudeI’ve been doing surveys and MicroTasks online for a little over two years now.  Because I’m a US Citizen living in the United States, this counts as income, which means it has to be reported to the IRS each year when I file my income tax return.  Basically the IRS considers this to be “self-employment” aka “you are an independent contractor.”

Which means that I have a record in Quicken, the software I use to keep track of my money, which tells me how much I’ve made and from which site.

And since I’m doing this for money, and not for fun, or to improve mankind, or improve products, or to sway political discourse, or to let HBO know that I think their programs rock, well, the money bit is a HUGE part of the ranking.

HOWEVER, money is NOT the only factor.  For lack of a better word, I’ll call it “the online experience.”  This subjective measure basically takes into consideration how “painless” dealing with the site is: the easier a site makes it, the better a site treats me, the lower the payout threshold, and a host of other factors, which all boil down to “how easy and low stress and enjoyable the experience” of using the site.  The lower the “pain” the higher their ranking.  Read my first “full review” because I talk about what I think makes a “great survey site”  Tony’s Take on: Mintvine

FYI: there are hundreds of sites out there.  This “Top Ten List” is my personal favorites balancing a lot of factors.  In my experience, most sites stink.  These sites are among the best which is why all of them are 3.5 stars or above.

Disclaimer: everyone’s situation is different and not all of my readers are US citizens or living in the US.  Nothing I say should be construed as legal advice. It is your responsibility to know which laws apply to you and to follow them. 

Sign up with PayPal

rewards-paypalMost of these sites pay through PayPal.  I’ve used them almost since they started and I can say that they are reliable and safe.

An account with PayPal is free.  And if you are a teeny tiny business person like me (who occasionally picks up a dance gig then you can invoice people via PayPal and your customer can pay however they want – with their bank account or with a credit card and your customer does NOT have to have a PayPal account.  Bonus!)

The Top Two (for which I’ve already done full reviews)

1. Qmee

5 stars from TxCowboyDancerThis is an Internet Browser add on / plug-in.  Basically whenever you search Google, Amazon, etc it will show you a few, very few ads.  You click on one or two of them and you get paid a few pennies.  Read my full review: Tony’s Take on Qmee   Or

Follow this link to Sign up with Qmee

2. MintVine

4.5 stars from TxCowboyDancerSurvey site.  Absolutely the best on out of all that I use.  Read my full review: Tony’s Take on: Mintvine  and my follow up review: Tony’s Take on: MintVine – an update   Or

Follow this link to Sign up with MintVine

Numbers 3-10 (for which full reviews will be coming)

3. Pinecone Research

4.5 stars from TxCowboyDancerYou have to be invited to join; either by other members, or must find a join link posted on a website.

I emailed them to get a link for referrals and they said that they are not accepting “general” referrals at this time so sorry, no referrals from little ole me.  😦

Not to be discouraged, I poked around and I did find a link to join up by doing a web search.  However, you need to be in some very specific demographic groups — check it out if you’re interested to see if you are in one of those groups.

Pros: once you fill out your profile, you get a small but steady stream of surveys.  There are two types: Profile updates/pre-screeners which gets you put in the queue for paid surveys and actual paying surveys and it gets you an entry into a monthly sweeps drawing where you could, if you win, pick up some cash..  The pre-screeners come about once every 3 weeks.   The paid surveys fit no pattern that I can discern, BUT, if they send you a survey then you WILL complete it (100% completion rate!) and they pay $3 per completion.  And you get your money within 48 hours of completion.

4. Paid View Point

4.5 stars from TxCowboyDancerSurvey site. Pros: Surveys are short, usually under 3 minutes.  If a survey is posted on your dashboard, you can complete it.  Get that? 100% completion rate. They have this unique thing called a “TraitScore” basically it is their way of making sure you answer honestly.  The higher your traitscore, the more surveys you get and the better paying each survey.  Cons: They have a high payout threshold of $15.  😦 Which means, it will take you quite a while to get your first payout.  The good news is that your second payout comes in a fraction of the time because you’ve established yourself as a reliable respondent.  Still, I wish the payout threshold was lower.

However, the “experience” factor on this site is WAY EASY.  Which is why I like it so much.  Sure, you only make a little bit each time you do a survey, and the payout threshold is higher than I like, BUT that is more than balanced by the “No pain, quick, easy” factor.  Definitely one to use for folks doing this in the spare 5 minutes in between meetings or when the boss isn’t looking.

Follow this link to sign up with PaidViewPoint

5. ePoll

4 stars from TxCowboyDancerSurvey site. Pros: if you get a survey notification, you’ll probably complete and get paid.  Low Payout threshold of only $5.  Which is cool.   “Easy Experience” factor is high: easy and painless to use.

Only Con: surveys are few and far between.  Pay per survey is not as high as I would like but better than most.

On a personal note: most sites have some sort of “sweepstakes” where every time you “do not qualify” for a survey they give you an entry into a monthly or quarterly or daily drawing of some kind.  I actually won one of the monthly drawings from this site!  Woot! I got $20.  (doing a happy dance while I type which is quite the logistical leap — da kid’s got talent!)

6. eSearch

4 stars from TxCowboyDancerSurvey site. Pros: if you get a survey notification you have a high chance of completing it and getting paid.  Ease of use is awesome; just click on the link in the email.  The pay per survey is respectable, higher than most sites out there.  They pay when they say they are going to pay.  Their customer service/support is friendly and efficient.  Cons: surveys do not come as often as I would like.  No tracking of completed surveys on their site.  You have to save the survey invitation email and “remind yourself” to follow up on payment if it does not show up as schedule, which frankly does not happen very often.  When it does their customer support folks are nice and they fix it right away.  But it is up to you to do the “tracking” about which surveys you complete.

7. Focus Group

4 stars from TxCowboyDancerPros: VERY HIGH pay out.

Con: you almost never qualify for their groups.  Sigh.

BIGGEST CON: And once you “do not qualify” the button/link for the survey is still visible on their site; you’ve kinda got to “remember” which ones you’ve already completed.  If you click on the button it will tell you that you’ve already done it but in my humble view, it would make MORE sense just to make the button go away for the screeners which you’ve already done.  Other sites (like MintVine) do this. There is no technical reason why Focus Group can’t do it.  Hey FG… you listening???!!!!  I’d give them 4.5 stars if they fixed that single problem.

Having said that it IS WORTH IT to keep trying. The screening surveys are very VERY VERY short, less than 2 minutes each time on average and most under 60 seconds.  Did I mention how short they are?  Every screener you take gets you a sweepstakes entry for a monthly drawing (which I have sadly not yet won)  SIGH

The pay out if you qualify for an in-person group or a telephone interview, starts at $65 and goes up to $200 for studies they run.  They also pre-screen for medical trials (something which I’m personally skittish about, but hey it may work for you)  If you qualify for a medical trial then you can get hundreds of dollars more from the trial company.

Using myself as an example:  I’ve only qualified one time.  I went to the Focus Group Office here in Dallas which is in the pretty building with all the fountains at LBJ and the Tollway.  My dance friends will know it as the office building next to the hotel where The Annual ACDA Dance Championships event is held.

Turns out that I didn’t make the final “test / focus group” but they still paid me for coming out:  I got $95.  Not bad pay for 15 minutes at the office and 40 minute round trip.  So… I’ll keep trying to qualify and make some more money.

To sign up fill out this form and I’ll submit you to Focus Group
so you can get sent an email invitation to join their panel.

8. Opinion OutPost

4 stars from TxCowboyDancerPros: This is one of the sites where I’ve made the most money: second most in fact.  Their pay out threshold is $5, if you want an Amazon Gift Card, or $10 if you want cash via PayPal.

They have other “rewards” you can get but since I’m doing this for the money and to make ends meet those other rewards are not good choices for me.  They may be for you; you can decide.

Their customer support staff / service is good.  When you have a problem, they respond like human beings and not corporate drones.  The site is easy to use and your “activity log” is clear, easy to understand, and easy to find.

Cons: They do not post only the surveys which you have a high chance of completing — They post everything including the ones about which kitchen sink you prefer.  Which means that you have to go through a LOT of “do not qualify” screeners before you complete a survey.  They do give you a sweeps entry for each DNQ, but since the odds of actually winning that is pretty slim, the sweeps are essentially worthless.  I’d much prefer to be paid a penny or two instead of getting a “sweep”

Even with that Con though, they are better than most of the stinkers out there.

Follow this link to sign up with OpinionOutPost

9. MTurk

4 stars from TxCowboyDancerMTurk is owned and operated by; it is a “microtask” site.  Basically you get paid to do something.

The something might be to do a web search on Google and copy the URL of the first link on the search page.  Or you may be asked to pick which App Icon you like better from a list of five.  You may be asked to fill out a survey for a research at Harvard, or Yale or a PHd student at any number of universities.  You might be asked to describe in 10 words or less the object in a photo with a red box surrounding it.  I liked that one.  It paid .02 per “hit” and I am a very fast typist.  I racked up quite a bit of money in a very short time.

Pros: you can get a steady dependable stream of income that is directly deposited into your bank account.  It can be interesting; some of the “micro tasks” you are asked to do can be well, unique.  LOL

You get to pick and choose.  Don’t like a task?  Or think that the poster is not paying enough for your time? Then don’t do it.  Move on to the next one on the list.  This site is the one where I’ve made the most money.   It has a low payout threshold: $1 — so every time your balance goes over 1 dollar you can “get paid” — limit of one transfer / deposit per day.

The money is deposited directly into your checking account via Amazon with zero processing fee.  It takes the usual 3 days or so for the banks to do their thing and process the deposit and make the funds available to you.  And you’re dealing with Amazon, a company with very good customer service, support and a good reputation as a reliable honest company — a huge Pro in my book.

The “easy experience” factor is great.  Simple site to use.  Easy to understand.

Cons: many of the tasks only pay a penny: .01 cents.  Which is no where near minimum wage.  However, those tasks tend to take only 30 seconds or at most 60 seconds to complete.  Still it is depressing when you stop to think about what your time is being bought for.  But it is your choice.  You choose the task so if you think the compensation is too small, move on.

Con: after you complete a “hit” the hit remains on the list.  This is my BIGGEST issue with the site.  After I’ve done the hit, please make it go away, don’t make me scroll past it over and over every time I visit the site.  I can tell which hits I’ve done or decided NOT to do because my Internet browser makes any link I’ve clicked on a different color than those I have not clicked on yet.  Other sites can do this “make it go away thing” There is no reason why MTurk can’t.

FYI, this isn’t a con, not for me at least, but an FYI.  To get set up to do the tasks requires you to create an account on Amazon Payments.  You have to enter your bank account routing information and they do a small 3 or 4 cent “verification” deposit, which means it will take a few days after you start the signup process before you can start doing “hits.”  For most of us who now pay our bills online this is a fairly routine thing but for some people it might be an issue.

I make between $30 – $60 dollars a month.  And I spend about an hour a day on average doing “tasks”.  I don’t do it every day, but that’s how it works out.

TIP from the school of hard knocks.  When you sign up with Amazon Payments, sign up for a PERSONAL account NOT a business account.  The PERSONAL account is free and has the $1 payout threshold.  The BUSINESS account is for BUSINESSES with a high cash flow — NOT for teeny tiny operators like myself.  And getting converted from BUSINESS back to PERSONAL is a nightmare, I would not wish on my worst enemy.  Well maybe on Texas Governor Abbott.  He deserves agony.

Here’s the link to their page:

10. BuzzBack

Survey Site. 3.5 stars from TxCowboyDancer Pros: pay per survey is good.  If you get a survey you have a VERY good chance of successfully completing it and getting paid.  And the “online experience” on the site is good.

Cons: you don’t get very many surveys which means it takes you a LONG TIME to reach the payout threshold.  They have a high payout threshold of $15 and they charge you to get your money: most companies pay the PayPal transfer fee when they pay you.  This company takes that fee out of what you’ve earned.  Which I think is bogus.  And it takes them quite a while to process your payout request, which I also think is bogus. However on the “easy experience” scale this company is VERY high which is the biggest factor in why it ranks high.  That combined with the high completion rate and the per-survey pay rate of $1-$10 per survey,

Using myself as an example, my last pay out was $14.55 ($15 – the transaction fee of .45) To get that, I completed four surveys: ($1, $2, $2, and $10).   It took months for those four surveys to be sent to me but when I did get the email notification, then I was able to complete the survey.  The net amount of time I spent to earn that $14.03 was worthwhile and very painless.

Full Disclosure

  • These are my opinions…
  • Other than being a customer / consumer / user of the site being reviewed, I am not affiliated with any of these companies in any way.
    (Though if you happen to be with one of these companies and you want me to be your spokesperson, well, uhmm, give me a shout via my contact form and we’ll talk. – yeh, like THAT’s gonna ever happen!).
  • I have actually used and/or researched the products/sites I review.
  • Some of the sites have referral programs. Some don’t. For those that do give a credit for referrals, I’ll make note of that in the review (see below for full details)   —  But folks, the itty bitty teeny weenie, bit of “credit for referrals” they toss toward me if you sign up after clicking on a link, well it is pennies. Don’t get me wrong, right now, given my financial situation, if I see a penny on the pavement I’ll stop and pick it up. BUT the few cents I might get from a referral is NOT enough to make me give a good review to a bad site. Don’t get me wrong… I can be bought, but girlfriend, I can not be bought cheap!!! LOL — I have a MUCH higher price tag than a few pennies maybe earned via a referral. So there! 🙂 (And if I ever *am* bought out by a company, I’ll let ya know up front! LOL)

What I get (if anything…)

Just so everyone knows I’m honest, here is a list of all the sites listed on this page.  For each I’ve indicated if they have a referral program and AND the details of the referral credits (copied directly from their websites) which I will get ONLY IF you use the links I’ve put in this Top Ten List.

IF you go directly to the site by typing in a Google search or into your browser address bar, I will NOT get a credit, so as a favor, if you’ve found this information helpful, please use one the links.  I could use the credits, even as tiny as they are, but it is your choice to make.

  1. Qmee — My referral credit is: “For every friend that signs up to Qmee through your referral link, you receive $1.00 into your Qmee account on their first PayPal cashout.”
  2. MintVine — My referral credit is: “Members earn additional points from their friends activities. Earn 15% of all your friends future earnings on all surveys & offers. All it takes is a simple introduction. Head over to the MVP tab to obtain your unique link to share with your friends. Once your friends successfully register with MintVine, you will begin to earn points immediately from all of the surveys and offers that they complete. Also, you will also earn a 50 [point] bonus once they complete their first survey.”  Note from me 50 pts = 50 cents on MintVine and they do not take 15% from your earnings.  They give that to me out of their pocket, not yours.
  3. Pinecone Research — My referral credit is: nothing.   There is no way at the present time for me to give a referral. (6/25/2015)
  4. Paid View Point  – My referral credit is: ““Earn up to $25 for every new member you invite.  Every time they cash out, you’ll 20% of every biz surge reward they’ve accumulated.” Note from me:  They do not reduce your earnings.  That 20% up to $25 comes from them, out of their pocket, not yours.
  5. ePoll — My referral credit is: nothing.  I do not get a credit for referring people.
  6. eSearch — My referral credit is “0.50 each (US ONLY… we don’t pay for people outside the US)”  Note from Tony: this referral program is a special trial that will be re-evaluated on August 10, 2015)  So, it may go away and I might not get any referral credits after that date.  I’ll update this post as appropriate (updated 7/16/2015)
  7. Focus Group — My referral credit is: “For every friend, family member or colleague you refer through, you will receive one entry into our monthly Sweepstakes.  — Owwwwww, goodie!  A sweepstakes entry!  If I may borrow a line from the Hunger Games “May the odds be ever in your favor.”  Yeah, right!  I’m gonna be a winner!  *sigh*None the less, if you feel motivated, please use the form below so that I can get that awesome sweeps entry!  In all seriousness, and all kidding aside, on a different site, I actually did win $20 in a monthly drawing so it can happen and I appreciate you filling out the form and letting me submit you as a referral rather than just jumping to the websitean signing up on your own.

  8. Opinion OutPost — My referral credit is: “Introduce us to your friends and earn up to $5! Refer your friends to Opinion Outpost and earn $1 worth of points for each of the first 5 friends that sign up & complete a survey using your personalized link! IMPORTANT: You can earn a maximum of $5. ”  Note from Tony: I have zero referrals at this point. So anyone who uses the link to sign up and complete a survey will net me a $1.  Thank you in advance.  I’ll update this when/if I get any referral credits and I’ll update it if I ever hit that magical $5 ceiling.
  9. MTurk — My referral credit is: nothing. They do not have a referral program.
  10. BuzzBack  — My referral credit is: nothing.  They do not have a referral program.

I hope that this information has helped you folks — And sign up for updates from my blog so you can get the “full review” for each of these sites.

Buy Tony a cup of coffee or a Weight Watchers entree as a See ya on the dance floor!


About TxCowboyDancer

Professional Dance Instructor teaching Country, Ballroom, Swing, Latin and Line Dance. Eleven time Country Dance World Champion.

Posted on Thu, Jun 25, 2015, in Making Money Online and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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