Online surveys are a way to earn extra cash, points that can be redeemed toward
products and services, and even sweepstakes entries that can result in large
cash prizes. “Survey panels” are sites which often aggregate surveys
from a range of different organizations and offer or match them to member
users, often based on demographic data important to the organization. They
don’t tend to pay much, but can be a fun way to make a little extra cash while
watching TV or listening to music.
However, in recent years, the idea of profiting from online surveys has seemingly become tantamount to a get-rich-quick scam. Unscrupulous advertisers have been attempting
to squeeze money out of hapless users by getting them to pay for survey
opportunities which should be free, phishing for users’ contact information, or disguising ads as a legitimate survey. It’s been
estimated that for every legitimate online money-making opportunity, there are
60 scams. The prevalence of scams makes vetting a survey site important. In
addition, even legitimate sites can differ greatly in the number and quality of
survey opportunities they offer, how much they pay, and how rewards
are paid and redeemed.
Opinion Outpost: The Upside
The Opinion Outpost survey/market-research site is one of the most well-known on the web.
Whereas some sites offer only points redeemable for discounts on merchandise or
services, and others focus mainly on sweepstakes entries, Opinion Outpost is one
of the bigger, more reliable sites that offers cash payouts. Opinion Outpost is
operated by Survey Sampling International, which manages survey panels and
other market research tools in 27 countries.
Signing up is free and easy. Entering a user’s first name, last name and email will nearly
instantly generate an activation email from Opinion Outpost. After receiving
and clicking on the link in the email, the user is redirected to the Opinion
Outpost registration page. User details must next be entered including sex,
birth date, address, occupation, whether the user owns or rents, etc. While
such details may seem intrusive, nearly all of the survey sites need
this basic information to match users to appropriate surveys. After
registration is complete, a user’s profile can be updated at any time.
After initial signup and registration, a user has the option of taking additional
profile surveys, containing questions about the user which are not rewarded
with points. It is recommended to take any such additional surveys to increase
the number of surveys offered by the site.
Eventually a user will start receiving emails containing links to surveys matched to the
user. It is a good idea to respond to these as soon as possible to avoid the
chance of being disallowed from taking one (or even essentially taking one
without any reward) because the survey offer has already fulfilled its target
number of responses.
It’s especially important for anyone who intends to use the site to
earn occasional small income to remain active. After several months, if a user does not attempt
to qualify for any surveys, he or she may be removed from the system. When
a user account is terminated, any earned but unpaid points may be lost.
Users consistently tend to rate Opinion Outpost highly on factors including overall
experience, ease of registration, whether the site misled them or not during
signup, customer support, quality and receipt of incentives or rewards, the
quality or enjoyability of surveys, and whether they would recommend the site
to family and friends. That same aggregation of user feedback shows an average
of surveys received per month at 22, a decent number compared to rates at many
sites. Keep in mind that this number includes all those with depressed
opportunities due to failing to fill out the initial profile surveys, and those
who didn’t respond to all survey opportunities emailed to them. Realistic
expectations seem to be to make approximately $10/week when responding to most
opportunities in a timely fashion.
Negatives of the site reported by users include declining incentives. For instance, whereas
it used to be possible to earn 30 points for a survey that lasted 30 minutes,
with an earning potential of around $6/hour spent answering surveys, current
rates of return may be much lower. It’s unrealistic to expect to make a sizable income in
such a way (though one user reported making $30 to $40 per month to supplement
unemployment income). Also, in order to get paid via PayPal, users will have to
have a verified PayPal account, which seems to be the only way to get cash
payouts at the time of this writing. For users who prefer other online payment
gateways or simply haven’t been verified yet, this may be a hassle.
Another persistent area of user complaints relates to wasted time. It’s possible on
Opinion Outpost to spend time filling out pre-survey questions, only to find
out that the user doesn’t qualify for that survey. However, pre-surveys tend to
be short, and taking whole surveys without any reward is relatively rare. In
the absence of extensive up-front data collection sufficient to satisfy all
potential organization needs for matching suitable respondents, some sort of
pre-survey questioning is unavoidable. Other user complaints include technical
glitches preventing being paid for some surveys, causing the user to have to
battle customer support for a payout. Keep in mind, though, that most users
rate Opinion Outpost highly in terms of customer satisfaction, and that for
every negative customer report there are likely many positive, even glowing
Opinion Outpost Remains a Leading Paid Survey Site
Overall, despite some technical glitches and declining payouts, Opinion Outpost remains
one of the largest and most reliable survey sites around. As with all paid
survey sites, expectations must be realistic. With relatively abundant survey
opportunities and same-day payouts via PayPal, Opinion Outpost could be a
useful and fun way to earn a little extra spending money, or help with the