Can You REALLY Make Money with Paid Online Surveys?

I list paid surveys as a work-at-home job for those who don’t want to become an online merchant or affiliate marketer, and have been asked many times whether or not it’s possible to really make money with paid online surveys.

My answer – From the little bit that I tried, you can probably make some money, but just like any other opportunity, you’ll have to really work at it to make any significant earnings. But I’m not an expert in that realm, so I found someone who is…

And so, here’s the answer from the ‘opinion expert’, Deborah Casey who has been getting paid for her opinions for the last 30 years and then discovered the first paid online surveys database in 2001.

How Deborah Casey Gets Paid for Her Opinions

Here is an interview with Deborah Casey, paid online survey expert.

Deborah Casey of Portland, Oregon has been getting paid for her opinions for close to 30 years. We caught up with her and she agreed to an exclusive interview in which she really provides some great insights and advice for those just getting started.


Patrick: Even after learning they can get paid for their opinions, many people are still skeptical. Let’s get this out of the way right now – how long have you been doing this and do people really get paid for their opinions?

Deborah: Paid opinion surveys, focus groups, and mystery shopping jobs have been a legitimate and very viable income source for many, many years. In fact, it has been the best-kept secret for additional income for housewives and stay-at-home moms since as early as the 1940s. That, however, was BEFORE I was born.

I remember my mother and aunts participating in half-day focus groups when I was a young child in the 1950s. And the money is just as real now as it was then.

But I became personally acquainted with the concept of getting paid for MY opinion about 30 years ago, in the very early 1970s (how time flies).

Patrick: Ok, maybe you could give us a little background on yourself. How did you first learn that you could get paid for your opinions? How did you get started? And what was it like when you got started?

Deborah: When I personally got involved in the early 70s, a couple of my good friends were being paid quite well as Mystery Shoppers and occasional survey takers. They convinced me to give it a try. My friends, both young mothers, were having a heck of a lot of fun AND contributing financially to their family’s income. At that age and time in MY life, I was after the “FUN” factor and the opportunity to contribute and make a difference in the world. For me, the money was secondary.

Of course, back then, and even up to about 8-10 years ago, the “Information Super Highway” was NOT the multi-lane speedway it is today. And it certainly was NOT the resource for the common people like it is now. It was very difficult, if not impossible, to find market research companies. Instead, they found you via promotional mailings, ads in newspapers, etc. That really limited the income potential.

Now, I’ll fast forward to about 4 years ago. My life had been thrown a fairly huge curve ball by then – I’d become disabled about 4 years earlier. I could not work any type of regular job outside of the home. I had used up my savings and needed to figure out some way to extend my teensy disability income to survive. Money was now a PRIMARY issue.

I remembered my earlier experiences with paid surveys and polls, so I re-connected with the 6 or 8 market research companies I had been involved with in the past. They were all still around – all but one. And they were now accessible online, for the most part. And I also started searching for more.

And search I did!

I searched for more than that ENTIRE YEAR, online and off, to come up with a total of 53 market research companies. And even though most of them had an Internet presence (a website) the actual surveys were sent via postal mail and required written responses and return postage about 70% of the time – More time consuming, less convenient than today’s methods. But hey, my opinion and those 53 companies brought me an extra few hundred dollars per month and that really made a difference in my life.

But I was NOT content to stop there. Keeping track of the 53 companies was a job, and they would become inactive without notice or change their participation requirements from one project to the next. So I kept my eye out constantly for more companies and more paid-for-opinion dollars.

About a year later (2001) I discovered the first paid surveys online database. They had about 78 market research companies in total, 35% requiring registration application by mail. But to me it was as though I had hit the “Mother Load”. Now I could focus all my attention on getting registered and taking surveys. By the time I’d registered with the 78 companies in that first databases, other survey databases started slowly appearing on the web. By the end of that year, there were a handful of these database sites – each with less than 150 market research companies – And I happily joined them all.

By doing this, I was able to add another 343 survey companies to my original list of 53. Some of the market research companies were strictly online entities. Yet others still did a fair amount of contact and survey completing by postal mail. So it was necessary to keep track of everything (contact info, account ID, email addresses, etc) in order to keep things straight.

All in all, it took over two years of research, searching, and completing market research company registration processes and “teaser” surveys to really get the ball rolling. But my patience, determination, and perseverance paid off.

Patrick: Wow, that sounds like a lot of work! With more and more market research companies operating strictly online, I’ve noticed that it’s easier than ever for the average person to get started and be successful. What do you think?

Deborah: Easier than ever is an UNDERSTATEMENT, Patrick.

It’s infinitely easier to get started with paid surveys today. The new genre of paid survey databases are HUGE compared to those first few that hit the Internet. In addition, the better ones (such as Survey Scout) have so many helpful tools and time savers for their members. The really good databases have a whole crew of people working to add more survey companies to the list and keep the current companies updated.

99% of all MRCs are now totally Internet based – which makes participating in paid survey opportunities so much easier, faster, and even MORE fun – no paper trails, no mailing back and forth. You don’t have to be a computer expert or NERD any more to find the income opportunities and complete the surveys. If you can point and click, receive email, and bookmark websites, you’re in. Being able to follow simple directions is helpful too!

Patrick: One of the first things people always want to know is just how much can they make for giving their opinions. Based on your experience, how much would you say a person could make with part-time effort? What about full-time?

Deborah: A part time effort can easily yield an additional $300-500 per month. With focus and commitment, $1500-2500 is reasonable to expect – And even more depending on the number of market research companies actively registered with and how much time is devoted to it.

Anyone with the ability to stick with it for at least a year WILL surpass these figures. When I participated full time (about 3-5 hours per day) my personal best month was $4600 and my average, $2600.

Patrick: Obviously the more money a person wants to make, the more they need to treat this like a real “job”. For those looking to take this as far as possible, what would be your top three tips or suggestions?

Deborah: Here are my TOP THREE suggestions for your members:

  • 1. Set up a DEDICATED EMAIL account, preferably NOT a free one, and use it for your survey opportunities. But that alone is NOT enough. You MUST CHECK IT at least TWICE A DAY. Also, you should turn OFF your Spam blocker for this email account. Spam blockers will keep GOOD email from reaching you and they’ll do it invisibly so you’ll never know it. Don’t risk losing even ONE survey income invitation.The market research companies will stop sending you income opportunities if you are slow to respond, never respond, or their notifications are returned as undeliverable.

    You MUST keep your email inbox clean and able to receive email AT ALL TIMES. And having a separate email account also helps you to stay well organized, keeping your “get-paid-to” opportunities separated from your other email.

  • 2. REGISTER REGISTER REGISTER with every market research company you possibly can … even if they do NOT offer cash rewards at the time of registration. They most likely WILL at one time or another for future projects.The MORE market research companies you register with, the MORE survey invitations you will get and the MORE MONEY you WILL earn – and it builds future opportunities AND momentum. And check back with your survey database at least weekly for newly added market research companies and REGISTER WITH THEM as soon as you discover them.
  • 3. Call upon ALL of your life experiences when adding information about yourself when registering with the market research companies – your demographics, your level of consumerism … Every single job you’ve had, if you once owned a home or rented an apartment, products and services that at one time you regularly purchased but not longer do, foods, medications, automobiles you’ve owned, recent classes or schooling or student status, other countries in which you have lived … all these things and MORE count too.ELABORATE on your experiences. The market research companies figure you have an opinion about anything and everything you have EVER experienced or done. Providing a most complete and detailed portrait of your experiences gives the market research companies a MUCH LONGER LIST of topics to ask your opinions of.

    Many people fail to understand this and so don’t offer much information in this area when registering. Then they wonder why they don’t get many surveys. So I hope this helps your members to grasp the importance of ELABORATING the details.

    Don’t lie. Don’t say you smoke if you don’t. If you’re female, don’t represent yourself as male in order to get a $10 survey about after shave. Just be HONEST and use good, COMMON SENSE.

Patrick: Would it be safe to say that those who aren’t as successful as they would like probably aren’t doing those 3 things? Is there anything else that holds people back or limits their success with paid surveys?

Deborah: Lots of people really have a hard time with their email … checking their email consistently, using a reliable type of email, SPAM blockers turned on full blast.

Most people just don’t realize the extent to which they should elaborate their experiences.

And others have real trouble focusing on getting registered with all the market research companies in their database. But hey, this is the ONLY real “work” that’s associated with this opportunity. Which leads me to …

The ONE big common denominator, the “something else”, that holds people back or limits their success with paid surveys:

Commitment – Taking it seriously – ATTITUDE!!

The Internet is NOT the road to Instant Riches. It is NOT the lottery. This is business (just as it is in the offline world) and it requires WORK. The work’s not hard, does not require special equipment, no big investment of time or money … in fact, its really quite fun and easy.

But you MUST do the work just the same. You must get registered with all the market research companies available to you, AND STICK WITH IT if you plan to succeed and make a level of income that will truly make a difference in your life.

It’s up to each and every one of us, individually, to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives in achieving our successes. And this also includes making the necessary adjustments to nurture and promote success. Attitude is everything. Belief in yourself and tenacious commitment to reaching your goal (to succeed) is the KEY ingredient to achieving anything worthwhile in life. Paid surveys are no exception.

If your goal is to earn a full-time income for your opinion, then you MUST treat this as a JOB. You must set aside a certain number of hours each day, each week, to WORK your home business. Yes, HOME BUSINESS!

You MUST respond to your survey invitations in a timely manner. You must ask that your family or household respect your “work” schedule and support your efforts. You must utilize the tools and resources provided to you through your database membership to help power your success and give you an edge. You should commit to work this opportunity for at least a year to build in an amount of self-sustained momentum (You’ll love it when that happens).

Would you open a new brick and mortar business and then abandon it after just 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months? Certainly not. Creating a home-based Income with paid surveys is absolutely NO DIFFERENT. I have seen firsthand that all that separates those of us who have created a lucrative income from the Internet from those who have failed is just the simple Faith, Focus, and Patience to stick with it for one year. That’s it. That’s all – No rocket science involved!

Patrick: You’re absolutely right, I think you really nailed it. From what I can tell, the people who give up usually do so right before they would normally start to see some great results.

Anyway Deborah, I know you’re busy and have got to get going so I want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today. You mentioned a new website you’re working on … maybe you can tell us about it real quick so our readers can check it out?

Deborah: Yes, Patrick. I’m VERY excited about my new website, especially that it continues my mission of helping people. The “LuvHandle” previews online dating and personals sites by category, and offers dating tips and articles contributed by professionals in the field. It’s purpose is to provide singles a time and money-saving resource in choosing a dating or personals site that’s the best match for their needs. The LuvHandle is getting rave reviews, and I invite you and your readers to drop in for a peek.

Patrick: That sounds like a lot of fun, and I wish you the best of luck. I’m happily married but I’m sure it will be a great resource for the millions of singles out there. Thanks Deborah!


  1. Melanie says

    I’ve been making money from surveys since before the internet…

    I’ve sat on many panels and I’ve even been visited at home.
    I think the internet has just made it a bit easier, but I’m talking extra cash here, not full-time job money: average $500-$600, on good months $900-$1000…

    It really just depends on how many calls I get and how many surveys I take.

  2. Alex says

    You can not really, honestly make living just by doing surveys online. You can, however, definitely get some extra cash and win some prizes. I have been doing surveys for years and if you want to do it right, it takes time.

  3. Nell Taliercio says

    In my experience and in talking with others paid surveys are good for points, goodies, and a little bit of cash. And that’s about it.

    Maybe there are exceptions to the rule, but I’d rather find a paying job at home or start a business to make money than do something like paid surveys for a little bit of spending money.

    If that is all you’re looking for then by all means go for it :)

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