Is it really possible to make money with online surveys?
I got the chance to interview Jeff Cooper, who blogs at Have Your Dollars Make Sense, all about his side hustle with online surveys and micro tasks.
There’s a lot of debate on whether you can really make money with surveys, but as you’ll see from today’s side hustle interview, it really is possible to legitimately make extra money with surveys and online tasking sites.
There are lots of personal finance bloggers out there pushing survey apps (because it makes them a commission when you sign up). But there are very few success stories.
That’s why I was so interested to interview Jeff. He has used online surveys to make over $10,000 in the last 6 years! That’s pretty impressive.
To learn more about how Jeff found a way to turn surveys into a profitable side hustle, keep reading!
Tell us a little about your side hustle.
I do online surveys and micro tasks to make extra cash in my down time.
What made you want to start taking online surveys?
Mostly to have some extra cash to use toward investing, or to save up for a bigger purchase to offset the cost a bit.
Do you do this full time or do you have a day job?
I have a day job. Lucky for me there isn’t much juggling, everything is online so I can pop on during my lunch break or even a little more on a slow day.
How and when did you get started?
I probably started about six years ago.
I had a job with a lot of down time and wanted a way to better utilize my time. I was basically looking for easy ways to make money online, and there are a ton of survey sites and a few viable micro-task sites. They are easily found doing some simple google searches. The good ones are mentioned far more than others.
Wealthy Nickel Note: For those unfamiliar, micro-task sites are those that pay you to do small, simple tasks that usually take seconds or a few minutes to complete. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is one example.
How much money have you made with online survey sites, and what can someone expect to make?
I don’t have exact numbers but over the course of the past six years, it’s easily over $10,000.
But I would say that is not typical. Again, I had a job with a decent amount of down time where I could spend an hour or two a day doing these while at work. Then maybe I would do another hour or two during the weekends.
It’s not just about the amount of hours you put in with these, but being able to get to the good survey/tasks first which means there is a timing aspect involved too.
I’d say for most people you can still expect to make at least $50 a month combined.
What are the costs involved to get started?
No costs except your time, just sign up!
Tell me about the day to day activities involved in taking surveys for money?
In the past, I could typically be logged into the sites all day, and occasionally check to see if any good surveys or tasks were available.
If not, I would continue with my work and check again later. If something good was available, I could complete it normally in a few minutes then go back to what I was doing.
In the pandemic world, it’s the same as before. But, in my normal life now, it’s more about logging in when I have some downtime on the weekdays after dinner or during the weekends.
What do you think made you successful where others have failed?
I think I’ve been more successful at it because of luck to be honest. Having a 9-5 job that I could check in on these sites was a huge boost for me. The best surveys/tasks can go quickly. Now, many of the sites have mobile apps, making it easier for everyone to be able to check more often.
I also didn’t limit myself to one site. I signed up for a few. If there was nothing on one site, I could move on to the next until I found something worth my time.
There are also hidden gems you need to look out for. Glancing over each item available you could easily miss out on some big money makers. I definitely found some very good tasks that didn’t look like it at first.
You also have to look at the big picture. Some of these tasks are five cents each, which doesn’t seem worth it. That is until you realize they only take a few seconds to do. So that five cents becomes more like a fifty cents a minute.
Still doesn’t seem like much, but if you can do that for 10 minutes, you’ve got $5. Do that for ten days out of the month and now you’ve got $50. It can all add up very quickly. While others might have passed over these small paying tasks, I took the time to do A LOT of them, adding up to big earnings.
Wealthy Nickel Note: As Jeff notes, signing up for multiple sites and having the patience to wait for the right surveys that pay well is important. In my experience, signing up for 3 or 4 sites to begin with gives you multiple options without being overwhelming.
Some of my recommendations for beginners would be:
- Survey Junkie
- Swagbucks ($5 sign-up bonus)
- Inbox Dollars ($5 sign-up bonus)
- MyPoints ($5 sign-up bonus)
What was your favorite survey or micro-task find?
There have been a few absolute goldmines I’ve come across. Most are in the micro-task category.
Most of the surveys or tasks only let you take the survey once or perform the task just a few times. But there are a few that would only take a few minutes and would pay over a dollar each time with unlimited submissions.
My favorite doesn’t sound like fun, but it actually is. It’s a game where you are allegedly paired with another person – many say you are, but it’s easy to tell you aren’t – and you both see a group of dots that eventually move.
You needed to both pick the same dot by describing its size, color and movement. There were five rounds and you would only move on to the next round if both you and your partner picked the same dot. If you made it through all five rounds, you got a base pay of $1.20 and bonus of another $0.80.
With a good partner this would only take maybe two minutes and you could do it over and over again. It doesn’t sound exciting, but I’m pretty sure I made a few hundred dollars on it in only a few days.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to achieve success?
Believe it or not surveys and micro-tasks can be mentally draining. Many are very, very similar and after a while you do get tired of filling out what can feel like the same survey over and over again.
The same goes for some of the tasks. Super easy ones that require no thought are easy to do mindlessly. Some were higher paying, but took a bit of time and thought. Doing them over and over can get tedious.
Having music on certainly helps, but as always, setting a goal for myself would help far more. Maybe I wanted to earn a certain amount for the day or do a certain number of tasks. Breaking it up into smaller sprints when possible definitely helped me keep my focus.
What are your goals for the future as it relates to your side hustle?
In a non-pandemic world it was getting harder and harder to make any real money with the sites I was used to. You can log in sometimes to find ten good task, other times none.
So simply having the time to do them isn’t always enough, the timing has to be right too. With two small kids taking up more and more of my time, it was getting hard to find the time to even login.
(Wealthy Nickel Note: I feel you with the small kids! What used to be easy to do now requires a lot of planning and specifically carving out time.)
But, that doesn’t mean I have to stop making side money. I’m always on the lookout for apps that will pay you for all sorts of things that I can do for five, ten or fifteen minutes then put it away. Sure, I won’t be making the $100 a month I’m used to, but it will still be something.
So I guess my goal is to keep doing what I’m doing as long as I can and hopefully find new ways to keep the survey/task/app hustle going as best I can.
What are the pros and cons of taking online surveys?
As previously mentioned, it can be difficult to find the time to login to the sites and even when I do, there might not be anything good available. Sometimes there are actually too many good tasks to get to them all and I need to pick and choose based on how much time I have.
So the pros are that there is a lot of money to be made out there, the con is that there is a decent amount of it that you can’t control.
What advice do you have for someone looking to get started? Who would be an ideal fit?
Sign up for several sites and download multiple apps. You’d be amazed of what you can get paid for.
None will make you a ton of money, but it’s pretty easy to make $15-20 a month from most sites/apps. Have a few of those and you can hit $100 a month relatively easily, but you have to be willing to do a little work most times.
There is nothing out there that is 100% passive…but there are a lot of ways to make money five minutes at a time.
There is nothing out there that is 100% passive. You might need to take a picture of a receipt or review a product or whatever, but there are a lot of ways to make money five minutes at a time.
The ideal fit is for someone with a lot of downtime where they can check in on some of the sites and if nothing is available move on and come back later.
Wealthy Nickel Note: If you’re looking for some suggestions of site/apps to get started, I put together a pretty good list in my article 20 Ways to Make $20 Fast.
As I mentioned above, some of my recommendations for beginners would be:
Thank you for sharing with us Jeff! Anything else you want to talk about?
Before signing up for any site/app, do your research. A lot of sites claim to be super easy or passive, but few are.
Any side hustle you decide to get into is going to take work. If there was an 100% easy and passive way to make money out there, we’d all do it and be filthy rich. The word “hustle” is in there for a reason.
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Andrew Herrig is a finance expert and money nerd and the founder of Wealthy Nickel, where he writes about personal finance, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. As an avid real estate investor and owner of multiple businesses, he has a passion for helping others build wealth and shares his own family’s journey on his blog.
Andrew holds a Masters of Science in Economics from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. He has worked as a financial analyst and accountant in many aspects of the financial world.
Andrew’s expert financial advice has been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Fox News, GOBankingRates, MSN, and more.