Taking surveys for money is an opportunity that continues to grow in popularity due to its variety of benefits. The flexibility to set your own work schedule and choose how little or how much you want to make is an appealing aspect that’s not possible while working for someone else. However, if you’re going to be successful at taking online surveys for money, you’ll want to know how the industry works and some common mistakes to avoid. 

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to get paid to take surveys, including choosing the best site, how to get paid, your tax obligations, and more. Plus, we’ll look at a few other simple online business ideas you can incorporate with taking paid surveys to maximize your earnings. 

What Are Paid Surveys, and How Do They Work?

The world of online marketing is vast—most people don’t realize how involved the field truly is. Online surveys play a pivotal role when it comes to corporate decision-making. Market researchers collect data from large companies and organizations that will help stakeholders make choices about all sorts of things—from which new products to introduce to the marketplace to which ad is most effective. 

However, retrieving this data is laborious and no easy task. Surveys help fill the void. By offering consumers some type of incentive (usually cash, gift cards, or sweepstakes entries), market researchers get the information they need to keep their clients happy. It’s a win/win for everyone involved, and especially for those who want to do online surveys for cash.

Getting Started With Paid Surveys

Getting up and running taking paid surveys is incredibly easy, but the first thing you’ll need to do is find a reputable survey company. This can be harder than one might think since there are many bad players in the industry. There are a few things to keep in mind when looking to do surveys for legit money:

  1. Legit survey sites will never charge you a fee to join. In fact, with legitimate sites, it’s always the other way around.
  2. Trusted sites don’t promise unreasonable earnings. Survey sites offer their users moderate and reasonable compensation for taking surveys. You can’t make hundreds of dollars per survey, and any site advertising such earnings is fraudulent.
  3. Legit survey sites are well-reviewed. Branded Surveys, for example, is one of the oldest and most trusted survey sites online, and they have over 36,000 reviews on Trustpilot to back them up. 

How Do You Get Paid for Taking Online Surveys?Woman Carrying Tote Bags

Reputable sites always offer their users some time of compensation—usually points you can convert to cash, prizes, or contest entries. The best paid survey sites provide their users with various cashout options like Paypal, gift cards, donations to nonprofits, and more. 

One of the great things about choosing a site with a variety of payment options is that you can always switch it around when you want. For example, you might select a Paypal withdrawal the first time you cash out, then select an Amazon gift card (or a gift card from some other retailer) on subsequent cashouts. In some cases, you can withdraw money directly to your bank account or even have a check mailed to you. 

Can a Freelancing Survey Business Replace a Full-Time Income?

So, you’ve found a legit survey site, and you’re ready to start making some money. Can you turn it into a full-time career? Probably not. You will likely need to add other freelancing gigs to earn a decent income, but hey—diversification is what it’s all about in the new economy. Most freelancers have multiple income streams, so when one stream slows down, they can focus their attention on something else. 

Looking for some inspiration? We’ve created several blog posts on the subject of working from home—all of them packed full of great tips. Here are a few of the best gig ideas to get you started:

Sell Things on Etsy

If you have artistic talents or are good at crafts, you can easily set up your own virtual store on Etsy. If you have an idea for something you could make that you think people would want to buy, build up a small inventory to get started. Get your purchases shipped quickly, respond to customer questions promptly, and you can build up the kind of reputation that brings you the positive reviews that will drive your sales.

Become a Virtual Assistant

If you have experience working as a secretary or executive assistant, start your own virtual assistant business. Many of the things that companies and entrepreneurs will need from you can be done online, and they will save a lot of money by hiring you as a freelancer rather than hiring a permanent in-person assistant. 

Become a Tutor 

If you have a skill with math, literature, or any other academic subject that people often need help with, you can set yourself up as an online tutor. You could advertise your services on Craigslist or other local marketplaces, or you could join one of several platforms that connect tutors with students who need help. 

Setting Yourself up for Success With Taking Online Surveys for CashPhoto Of Man Using Laptop

If you want to give yourself the best chances of success at online surveys, there are a few ways to help things run smoothly. Have a look: 

Create a Schedule

One of the biggest obstacles to freelance work like paid surveys is not setting a schedule. While taking surveys gives you the freedom to work whenever you want, it’s still essential to follow some sort of schedule if you hope to stay productive. You can create a plan that works best for you, whether you feel more energetic working in the early morning hours or prefer to work in the evening. The time you work isn’t nearly as important as logging in each day and staying consistent. This will maximize your income and keep those dollars rolling in!

Set Boundaries

Most freelancers and people who take online surveys work from home, which means you don’t have to worry about driving back and forth to the office. But while working from home provides many benefits, but it can also be full of distractions. One way to reduce distractions is to set firm boundaries with friends and family members to ensure you can focus on your work. Creating a separate workspace away from everyone is a great way to help you stay productive. 

Don’t Forget About Breaks

An often overlooked way to keep yourself productive is to take small breaks throughout the day. Typically, it’s a good idea to take a short five to fifteen-minute break every hour while taking a more extended break after you’ve been working for a few hours. Going outside for a breath of fresh air or even playing a game on your phone can be an excellent way to give your brain a break. Unfortunately, not taking enough breaks will often lead to burnout and make it much more challenging for you to answer questionnaires enthusiastically.  

A Word About TaxesHeap of American money cash and vintage light box

As a survey taker or gig worker, you are responsible for paying your own taxes, and that means holding back some of your earnings in a savings account or some other safe place for Uncle Sam. This is not a task you want to ignore, since penalties and interest can add up quickly.

Once you pass $600 in earnings with a survey company, you will receive a W-9 form, and the survey site that sends you the document is also required to report how much you made to the IRS. So, if you make more than $600, you will need to report it on your taxes. 

Even if you don’t reach that $600 threshold, it’s a good idea to keep track of everything you earn, including prizes, gift certificates, or gift cards, as you are also taxed on the cash value of these items.

Depending on your financial circumstances, tax-filing status, and personal situation, you may not need to pay taxes on your survey income. However, it’s in your best interest to make sure you report these earnings to the IRS.

Make sure to keep a copy of any PayPal transactions, check stubs, and email correspondence about your earnings, too. It’s unlikely that you would face an audit, but you never know, and it’s always good to be prepared.

Closing Thoughts

Taking online surveys for money is an excellent opportunity to add when looking for multiple income streams. You don’t need to be experienced to get started, and you can start earning right away. Combine it with some other gigs, and you can have yourself a full-time career as a freelancer. To have the best chance for success as an entrepreneur, make sure you follow the best practices listed above to keep things running smoothly. Then, with a bit of planning and effort, you can turn your freelancing dreams into a reality.