Tony’s Take on: The Perfect Survey Site
What should you look for in an
Online Survey or a MicroTasking Site?
When I first started doing “online surveys” to make a little bit of money, I didn’t know much of anything — about anything, so I had pretty low expectations. Actually, I had no expectations — I didn’t know enough to have expectations.
After doing this for over two years, thus having learned “in the school of hard knocks” as it were, there are certain things which I look for in a “good” survey site. And things which you should look for too.
Ahhhhh, Grasshoppah, you seek and you shall receive the wisdom of Master Yoda, ahem “Mastah Tony.” Yessssss, Grasshoppah, Master Tony will reveal all…
— and you folks in the back can stop sniggering like, uhmmm now! 😉 And yes, I know I was mixing up my movies. I can do that… it is called creative license.. grin
Show me the CASH!
Let’s face it. I’m doing online surveys for the money. Not for fun. Not to “improve products.” Not to further academic research. Not to better mankind.
I live on a very small monthly pension plus whatever I can scrape together through half-a-dozen different means, including taking online surveys.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not cheating. I am not trying to scam the system. I am not just randomly clicking answers.
I actually do read the questions. I try to do a “good job” by answering honestly. But when all is said and done, I would not be answering all those surveys IF I wasn’t PAID for my time!
So, like any other “job” that is “just a job” — I’m in it for the money.
I am not asking for much — only that the survey companies pay me; pay me quickly; pay me fairly; and pay me without requiring me to jump through hoops.
Just give me the CASH!!!! And give it to me NOW!
You Are Selling a Valuable Commodity
Something that survey companies tend to forget is that our opinions are valuable. Our TIME is valuable.
Without us, they would go out of business. Unfortunately, most of them consider us disposable interchangeable cogs in a machine, essentially slave labor, and pay us far below minimum wage for our opinions and our time!
All drama aside, which is tough for me folks, here’s the deal:
When you take surveys, you are considered an independent contractor. Which means that you are basically “self-employed” and you agree to provide a service/product for a contracted price. And that sucks. Why? I hear the teeming masses ask….
Because there are hundreds of thousands of other “contractors” out there willing, ready, and able to sell their opinions if you don’t get there first! So it is a buyer’s market. The survey companies, the buyers, in other words, KNOW that it is a buyer’s market which is why they pay you disgustingly low amounts for your time and your opinion.
However, if you are like me, meaning that you actually NEED that small but steady stream of pennies, nickles and the occasional dollar in order to make ends meet, buy your prescriptions, buy food, and keep your cell phone and Internet connection from being cut off, (like me in other words) then you’re kinda stuck between a bill collector and a survey company.
Ugh. Mr. Rock, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Hard Place. I believe you may have met before?
But there is absolutely no reason you can’t avoid the worst of the worst and at least TRY to find the companies that pay out a reasonable amount.
Bottom line: you are selling a product: your time and your opinions. It is in your best interest to get the best price for your product. And it is in the best interest of the survey companies to find and keep good respondents.
If you are in the US…
When you take a survey or do work on a micro-tasking site, you are an independent self-employed contractor. You are required by law to report the money you earn as income to the IRS and pay taxes on it. I use Quicken to keep track of my “income” and my “expenses” such as they are and I report the income.
(Note to Mac users — The new 2015 Mac version of Quicken sucks big time — I bought it and returned it for a refund within 24 hours, replacing it with the Windows version. I’m not crazy about the Quicken Windows version either but it IS way better than the Mac version and it gets the job done I stayed with Quicken because I’ve been using Quicken for over 10 years and have a huge amount of data stored in the program; migrating to a different program would be a nightmare. Until the current version, I’ve been very happy with the product. I’m hoping that they will issue some patches to fix the couple of bugs that I’ve noticed. FYI, I run Windows on my Mac “under Mac” using Parallels and it works fine. Parallels is awesome and the Mac OS keeps Windows from being well, uhmmm “windows” LOL)
To my knowledge, only Amazon has a formal mechanism whereby they will report income above a certain amount to the IRS. I’ve never crossed that earnings threshold, but I still report my meager earnings as income to the IRS. In other words, if you don’t report the income, the chances of the IRS ever finding out are tiny, but… hey, why take the risk?
I’ve seen chatter online that equates taking surveys to winning a church raffle or money from selling things on Craigslist or selling your books at Half Price Books or having a garage sale; the argument being that there is no need to report that stuff as income because it is part of the hidden cash economy and there is no paper trail, no records.
Well, uhmm folks, I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure those things are indeed income. And if you ever get audited, I’m pretty sure that the IRS will count it as income. You do what you want, but I report all that income.
But that’s me. I leave you to wrestle with your own inner demons.
Good Sites Have a Low Payout Threshold
Most survey sites will not “pay” you until your “balance” reaches a certain amount. If your balance never reaches that point, you never get paid. The survey company just keeps all the money. Some sites have a payout threshold as high as $50. I mean COME ON! Sheesh! and horse patootie!
In my humble opinion all sites should have a payout threshold of 1 cent. GASP Yes, you heard me right. One single solitary penny.
Do I hear sniggers from the teeming masses? Do my loyal readers think that a ONE cent pay out threshold SOUNDS WEIRD? Not to me! If I’ve made the money, then I should get the blasted money! Even if it is only a penny!
Low thresholds are ideal. I do realize that a penny isn’t a realistic expectation. I also firmly believe that a $1.00 is realistic. But I also recognize that there are costs involved in processing payments so I’m willing to live with a $3 or $5 threshold. Pinecone Research has a $3 threshold.
However, there are quite a few reputable sites however which have a $10 or $15 threshold. I don’t like the higher threshold but, because they do well in other categories, I’m willing to tolerate sites with $10 or $15 thresholds. Two good sites with $10 thresholds are:
- MintVine (Read my MintVine Review / Skip the review and join MintVine now)
- Opinion Outpost (Read my Opinion OutPost Review / Skip the review and join Opinion OutPost now)
Although there are a couple of exceptions, generally speaking, any threshold above $15, just isn’t worth it. In my opinion and experience, high threshold sites are possibly a scam. They set a threshold they know that most of their respondents will never reach so they never pay you and they get to keep all the money. Which is just plain mean.
Bottom line: lower thresholds are what you want to look for in a good site.
Good Sites Have Fast Processing of Payout Requests
Have I mentioned that I’m in this for the money? I have, oh, good then.
In this day and age there is ZERO reason for a survey company to take longer than 48 hours to send you your money once you make the payout request. NONE! I don’t own a survey company, but I am a small business person. If I can process payments within 48 hours then there is no reason why they can’t!
Fortunately there are survey companies which do fast processing. Qmee is instant. Within literally seconds of you saying “send me the money, they have sent you the money. MintVine takes up to 48 hours to process your request.
PineCone Research takes less than 24 hours. OpinionOutPost takes about 5 minutes to process an Amazon Gift Card request and about 10 minutes to process a PayPal request. MTurk takes from 30 seconds to 5 minutes to process the request for payment.
If these companies can do it then the rest of the survey and micro-tasking industry can do it.
Bottom line: avoid companies that take 4-8 weeks, or longer, to process your payment request. Stick with the quick ones:
- Qmee (Read my Qmee Review here / Skip the review and join Qmee now)
- MintVine (Read my MintVine Review / Skip the review and join MintVine now)
- Opinion Outpost (Read my Opinion OutPost Review / Skip the review and join Opinion OutPost now)
- MTurk (Read my MTurk Review / Jump straight to MTurk)
- Pinecone Research (Read my Pinecone Review / Jump straight to Pinecone)
Good Sites do NOT charge Processing Fees!
Some survey site companies (SHAME ON THEM!) pass along the cost of transferring the money from them to you. In other words you pay for the transfer, not them.
Which is crap. Good survey and micro-tasking sites do not charge you. It is part of THEIR cost of doing business. They should take that out of their profits, not yours.
Making the respondents pay is just mean; especially since we are getting paid such a small amount anyway!
The good news is that most of the sites I’ve encountered do not charge you a fee. I only use one site that charges me a transfer fee; I stick with them because everything else about the site is pretty good. HOWEVER, if anything else on that site moves to the “con” side of the equation, then BAM, I’m dumping them and moving on.
Bottom line: stick with the companies that do not charge a transfer fee.
Good Sites Have Good Customer Service
Sometimes things go wrong. And you need to talk to someone at the site about the problem. In my opinion, one company stands head and shoulders above the rest: MintVine. They do it right.
I have some pet peeves about customer service. Hey I was a Librarian for over 20 years and I was a good one. I know how to give good…
…your mind just went into the gutter didn’t it? he he he…
… CUSTOMER SERVICE! I don’t know what YOU were thinking of but you should be ashamed. grin
But I digress… …I do that a lot ya know… LOL
Here is what I want from a company, especially Internet based companies like survey and micro-tasking sites:
#1. MOST IMPORTANT is that they do not use “boiler plate” responses to my questions. In other words don’t just cut and past a “standard response” — I want the support/tech guys to actually use their fingers to type out a real message to me, based on what I typed to them.
OMG! Communication! Between two people! Wow! What a concept!
#2. I want the support team to actually SOLVE the problem that I contact them about on the first try, OR they tell me honestly that they don’t have a clue what is going on BUT they are working on it and they’ll get back to me when it is solved. Wow! Honesty. What a refreshing change THAT would make! In other words, don’t try to BS me. Do not try to be a politician and give me a “non-answer answer!” Humans are designed to tell when other humans are lying or otherwise talking out their booty! We have built in BS detectors. Why companies forget this is beyond me! Arrrrgggghhhhh!
#3. I want the support/tech crew to send an immediate response which lets me know that my request has been received and placed in the queue; an automatic computer generated response is fine. THEN I want a real person to responds within 24-48 hours to my initial request for assistance. (or on Monday if I send in a request on a weekend)
#4. I want their response to me to be appropriate to my skill level.
I have almost 30 years of experience using computers. I have been using computers since the days when you still had to use paper cards to load a program. I have used the Internet since the days where you had to type in the actual numeric IP numbers to get to the computer you wanted to visit.
So I absolutely HATE it when I get a response that essentially treats me like an idiot! Something along the lines of
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. Us uber-macho computer geeks will help you. Now reach down very carefully and… turn the computer off – then turn the computer back on – There. Aren’t you glad you contacted us?”
Arrggghhhh!!!! Aaaaaaaaiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee! I wanna scream!
I am NOT A FRIGGING NOVICE! IF I CONTACT SUPPORT IT IS BECAUSE I’VE NOT BEEN ABLE TO SOLVE THE FRIGGING PROBLEM FOR MYSELF!!!!!!!!!!! I’VE ALREADY DONE ALL THE OBVIOUS STUFF!!!!
There, I feel better. 😉 Having said all that, I do realize that the person on the other end of the wire doesn’t know me and most of the people they deal with are novices.
So… …when appropriate, when I contact a tech support desk I include a screen shot of the problem.
I also tell them pertinent details about my operating system and my browser, etc etc etc. AND I tell them that I am not a novice user; I tell them I have 30 years of experience using computers and I list everything I’ve already tried.
Of course this only works if the support people actually READ all that information about the problem before they respond to me.
But most tech guys at most companies do not. Which is frustrating.
MintVine, to use the gold star example, however DOES read all that! Which is cool! And they fix the problem and they type a real response back to me. OMG! MintVine support “gets it right” (Yes, I know that I keep mentioning MintVine — that is because they are the best of the best)
Then, like icing on a cake, MintVine gives me money (cold hard cash!) “for the inconvenience.” OMG! WOW! And they ALWAYS apologize, even when it isn’t their fault!!!! OMG!!!!!
They have even given me credits when the problem was not their problem, but caused by another company to which they linked.
WOW! Now, THAT is customer service! I wish all companies would be as good!
Bottom line: don’t put up with bad customer service.
Good Sites Have Reasonably Short Screening Questions
All sites have screening questions.
For example, if a company is testing the market to see how a new eye shadow applicator would go over with the ladies and you’re a dude who does not wear eye shadow, well then there really is no point in having you take the survey.
So when you check “Male” as your gender, you are screened out. Although if I were an eye shadow company I would have three choices: Male, Female, and Drag Queens. — jus sayin!
That make sense right? And if it were just a few questions taking under a minute, then everything would be cool.
However, the thing that ticks me off is getting a screening process that asks you detailed questions for 10-15 minutes or MORE and THEN says “sorry you’ve screened out of this survey” or “you do not match our target audience”! Arrrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!
Bottom line: you want to find a company that routinely has short screeners — once you start the survey, the screening questions should be very short. Most under 1 minute, maybe two.
Good Sites Have Easy to Understand “Points to Cash” Conversion Ratio
What I want survey sites to do is keep track of my earnings as money. Dollars and cents. Or for my European friends, Euros. For my buddies in the UK, it is in pounds.
Simple, easy to understand, no doubts about how much your making:
“Complete this survey earn $1.50”
Unfortunately most sites hide how much you are making behind a complex points system. Which sucks because then you have to convert points to cash to figure out how much each “point is worth.”
Then there are some sites which pretty much do a straight forward 1 point = 1 cent. Which is cool.
Let’s use MintVine as an example. Sorry to keep mentioning MintVine, but they are my #1 favorite site, because they do so many things right and this section works better if I use a real example rather than talking in general terms.
MintVine, it is pretty simple system: 1,000 points = $10.00
Take note of the zeros! They match up. Ten Dollars = 1000 pennies. In other words 1 point = 1 cent.
That is the kind of math I can handle.
Bottom line: Look for an easy to understand points to cash system. Better yet, look for one that keeps track of your “money” in uhmmm, well dollars and cents, or Euros for my European friends, or pounds for my UK friends.
Have I mentioned that I’m in this for the money? Oh, I have. Good.
Good Sites Will Pay You for your Time Even When You Don’t Complete a Survey
My “perfect survey site” would pay me “Five CENTS” every time I screen out of a survey. Why? Basically they are paying you for the time it took to take the screening questions. Which would be WAY cool.
Unfortunately only one site I know of actually does this. All together now: MintVine!
Many survey sites will give you a “Sweepstakes entry into a monthly drawing” for either a Visa Gift Card, or an Amazon Gift Card or cash. But in my humble opinion, that is a VERY two-bit VERY suck eggs kind of thing.
I mean come on! What are the odds that you’ll actually WIN? Almost Zero! In two years, taking thousands of screeners, I’ve won a single drawing for a whopping $20. oh. goodie.
Bottom line: Just give me the cash. Pay me for my time. I’d rather get paid 5 cents, or even 1 cent for every failed attempt at taking a survey rather than some worthless “sweepstakes entry.”
Good Sites Will Give You “Clues”
People wear many hats.
I, for example, am retired, in the sense that I get a monthly pension as a result of working as a public servant in city governments for over 20 years.
I am also an independent businessman who is the “sole proprietor” of several small businesses: I do graphic designs which gets sold on Zazzle (http://TxCowboyDancerDesigns.com) and I teach dance, just to name two of my “businesses.”
But technically I’m also “unemployed” because I do not go to a “job” which pays me to be there 20-40 hours a week and makes me fill out tax forms and takes out unemployment insurance and has a health plan and makes you wash your hands when you leave the bathroom and return to slinging food….
Uhmmmm… was that too much information? LOL
So… which one do I answer when presented with a survey question like this:
“Choose which of the following best describes your employment status:”
- Self-employed (part-time)
- Self-employed (full time)
- Employed full time
- Employed part time
- Small business owner
So I when I find a survey company that gives me a clue BEFORE I start the survey, then I’m a happy camper. Any hint about what kind of survey is a big help. Good sites use labels like “consumer survey” or “business survey” or “small business owner survey” which lets me know before starting a survey which hat I should wear that is most likely to get me through the screener questions.
I’m not lying on the survey. I’m just choosing which hat I am going to wear at that moment. Clues from the survey company helps me pick out the hat.
Good Sites Give Accurate Time Estimates
Many survey sites will tell you an “estimated” time to complete a survey.
And many sites LIE THROUGH THEIR FRIGGIN’ TEETH!
I absolutely hate clicking into a survey thinking it will take 10 minutes and it turns out to take 20 minutes!!!!!
In fairness, everyone reads at different speeds. So what will take one person 10 minutes might take another up to 10, 12 or even sometimes up to 15 minutes.
Eventually you’ll figure out your own ratio. So if you start to notice that a particular site seems to consistently under estimate the amount of time it takes, then dump them and move on. Your time is valuable. Sell it for as much as you can get.
My Top Ten Sites I Use
So, there you have it. Lots of ways to determine what makes a good survey site. Here is my current “Top Ten” sites I use to make money online.
- Pinecone Research
- Paid View Point
- Focus Group
- Opinion OutPost
See ya on the dance floor!
- 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…) from the sites I’ve mentioned in this post:
Just so everyone knows I’m honest, here is a list of all the sites listed on this post. 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.
- 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. They do not reduce your earnings. The 15% comes from them, out of their pocket, not yours.
- 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.”
- Pinecone Research — My referral credit is: nothing. I do not get a credit for referring people.
- 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.
- ePoll — My referral credit is: nothing. They have a referral link, but I do not get a credit for referring people.
- 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)
- Focus Group — My referral credit is: “For every friend, family member or colleague you refer through FocusGroup.com, 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.
- 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.
- MTurk — My referral credit is: nothing. They do not have a referral program.
- 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.
See ya on the dance floor!
Feel free to share your own stories or tips and tricks about making money on the Interwebz by using the comment form down below:
Posted on Thu, Jul 16, 2015, in Making Money Online and tagged home based business, humor, make money at home, make money at home doing surveys, make money online, making money doing surveys, micro-tasking, microtasking, mint vine, mintvine, product recommendation, product review, survey site review, survey sites, take surveys online, top ten, what makes a good survey site?. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.