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This can be as time consuming as surveys itself, but one survey site alone might yield a few dollars ever so often. So you want to find as many survey sites as possible so you can maximize your chances of being selected for a survey. Make sure you file welcome emails and bookmark sites you join. Make sure you take surveys they send. The more timely and professionally you handle surveys, more likely you will be asked to participate in future.
Where to Find Best Survey Sites
Do a web search or check Yahoo or DMOZ directories for surveys or paid surveys. Cull discussion forums about surveys to find out which surveys sites forum members use. Visit sites of leading consumer brands. Sometimes they will have their own market research department. Look to see if there is a link for a survey or participation panel. For instance HP has a link on their site to sign-up as a product tester. Check home page for a site map. It will list every link on web site. Freebie sites like Yes-Its-Free.com or FreeLuxuryCar.com have forums and web pages listing survey sites. Those are just two of dozens, perhaps hundreds of sites you'll find offering information and advice on taking surveys.
Take Survey Seriously and Early
Most surveys will be quick and painless, others, particularly those that pay, can take up to 20 minutes or more to complete online. Don't procrastinate or be sloppy with a survey, particularly with product samples. Be diligent about recording your experience with a product sample. When a survey arrives in your email, try to take it as soon as possible. If you are one of first to take it, then chances are you'll still qualify in your demographic group. The more specific your response to survey, more valuable data will be to party who paid for it. Descriptive and informative opinions will encourage survey companies to contact you more, when you fit their profile.
Tweak Your Profile
Check your profile now and then to update your responses and buying habits. If you were not planning to buy a car when you joined, but your are now, then check to see if you've indicated so on your profile. Most sites have a member's area for survey takers. Login regularly to see if any surveys are available to take, Sometimes a company will post an unannounced survey.
Make Sure Survey Company Delivers Goods
Most survey companies are reputable and generally will take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to deliver checks or awards. Keep track of surveys you complete, as well as, any points, prizes, or cash you earn. If site does not pay or is slow, check your emails or logon to your account. Look for a contact person and telephone number and politely inquire about status of your award or check. The Market Research Association (www.mra-net.org) is a professional organization for market researchers and has codes and standards for survey companies to follow. Their site has a consumer link to register complaints. You can also file a complaint with Better Business Bureau Online (www.bbbonline.org). But let's be real. If after numerous complaints, issue remains unresolved, your best recourse is to consult an attorney or file a suit in small claims court. Either option typically is not worth expense and trouble. Companies that don't pay won't be around long. There are too many good survey companies competing for marketers dollars for bad companies to last.
You probably won't make a living completing surveys, but you will earn a few dollars, get to try and keep some interesting products, and you may even be asked to take part in a well paying survey. Paid surveys are truly one of best ways to earn a few extra dollars from comfort of your home.
Ken Murphy is a technical consultant and an avid survey taker before there even was an Internet.