There are dozens of Web sites -- some that cater only to Australians, others only to Americans, etc. -- that offer variations on the same idea: rewarding consumers for filling out online surveys.
Here's how most of these sites work:
- Register at the Web site and supply basic contact and login information
- Receive an e-mail with a link to a page where you supply more detailed demographic information: address, sex, race, marital status, education level, employment info, etc.
- Then you receive periodic e-mails with links to surveys that are matched to your demographic information. Some sites allow you to specify how many surveys you want to receive in a week
- Each survey takes an average of 10-20 minutes to complete
- You receive a reward based on how long it takes to complete the survey. At e-Rewards, an hour-long survey can pay $29 and a 20-minute survey $6
- If it turns out you don't qualify for the survey (you don't have a pet, and the survey is for dog-owners), you might get a partial reward
- Cash in your points for discounts and coupons on products and services [information from source: Epinions.com].
Different Web sites have different reward systems. Some send you an actual check for real money. Others allow you to accrue pretend money or points that can be cashed in for rewards. Then there's the sweepstakes system, in which each person who submits a survey is eligible for a daily or weekly grand prize.
Some Web sites, like e-Rewards, are pure survey sites, while a Web site like MyPoints allows you to earn points by shopping online at affiliated businesses like iTunes and Target.com, using your MyPoints credit card, playing online games and taking surveys.
The benefits of all of these sites are modest. Despite what some of them advertise, you can't "Work from home!" by taking surveys and expect to earn any significant income. You can, however, add some extra free miles to your frequent-flier account or get a couple free rentals from Blockbuster without investing much time or effort [source: Epinions.com].
On the next page, we'll talk about survey sites that are geared at the kid market.