21 Paid Survey Mistakes That Obliterate Your Earnings & Productivity
by Admin Joe
Published – 10th Dec 2016
Updated – 11th Jan 2018
Paid surveys are an excellent way of earning money online. They are accessible to people from all walks of life. Even a silly man like me can take surveys and prosper from them.
I’ve learnt a lot about taking surveys during my time. This has mainly been through experience and also a decent helping of trial and error … and then some more error.
In my opinion, the pay for taking surveys isn’t as amazing as it should be. It’s all the more important that you should avoid making any errors where you can. Making mistakes can:
- reduce your survey based income exponentially
- slash your productivity
- deplete your overall enjoyment in giving your opinions
I have picked up a few tips and seen things worth avoiding in my time doing this. By the same token, here are a few nuggets of survey advice that you may find useful.
1. Receiving a low survey workload
If you only sign up to one or two paid survey panels then you will only get a small amount of survey invitations.
If you definitely want to make money on a certain day then you will have to take what is available at the time. Sometimes this has to be the case even if it isn’t that enticing. Lots of people (including myself) make this mistake when they begin taking surveys.
You may struggle to find enough survey work at first. For this reason, the best approach starting off is to sign up to as many different paid survey sites as you can possibly find. I certainly wish I had done this earlier.
This is a wise decision in terms of having lots of options to choose from. It can be time-consuming but it’s worth it further down the line. You will then have a bunch of survey opportunities coming your way.
2. Missing out on the highest paying surveys
You should get your priorities in order by registering with the highest paying survey websites first. I’m sure you want to know exactly which ones these are.
You can find out by checking reviews and user testimonials for different paid survey panels. I always do this whenever I sign up to any new survey panel no matter what.
Once you start receiving survey invites by email, you should then pick out the highest paying surveys. In like manner, get those ones done first and foremost before all the participant places are taken up.
It’s good to have lots of paid survey offers coming at you. This is because it means you can be far more selective when it comes to choosing which ones to complete. It’s beneficial for you as you can pick the best ones and ignore the others if you are running low on time.
3. Slow response time to surveys
Surveys close fast so it is really important that you respond quickly to invites. I always try to be on my toes the instant I know about a new paid survey. It’s kind of like trying to grab the last cupcake in the bakery. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Also, try to complete surveys themselves as quickly as you can. On the other hand, you can’t be too slow crossing the finishing line. If this happens then other participants will beat you to it. You might get screened out halfway through if some else finishes the survey before you.
I’ve made the mistake of going through paid surveys a little too leisurely. I would advise against doing this. As a matter of fact, the survey will close once they have enough people. Strive to be the ‘Usain Bolt‘ of taking surveys in order to avoid this possibility.
4. Being late to view survey email invitations
Check your email inbox on a regular basis. Maybe see if you can set up an alert system. This will make you aware instantly when a paid survey invitation comes through.
This might be an audible sound that plays when you’re in the middle of doing something else. If you want to do this then you should be able calibrate this service. You should be able to do this within the settings of your email provider.
Failing this there should be certain software out there for this very purpose. You might not even have to pay anything for it either.
Honesty is vital when it comes to market research. I always do my best to tell the truth when answering survey questions. These organisations depend on you being truthful with them. This is so their marketing data can be:
- high quality
You should stick to the truth. Don’t fabricate or overemphasize anything when you give your opinions. If you do they may find out and then penalize you for it.
You shouldn’t try to exaggerate or make false statements in order to avoid screen outs. I can see why people might want to do this to make more money. However, it is unfair and betrays trust with the panel.
If you decide to tell even the smallest lie then it will skew the results of the surveys. The data will be no use to anyone after that. Can you imagine if everybody lied during surveys? All survey results would be severely flawed on a collective level.
You also need to be honest when answering the originally profiler questions. The panel needs to know exactly which types of paid surveys are suitable to send or not to send to you.
6. Falling for paid survey scams
Unfortunately when it comes to paid surveys, there are many scams out there. Scammers know that online money-making schemes like survey taking are popular. This is why they choose to prey on people who take an interest.
There are lots of great paid survey websites out there. Although, you have to be extra cautious because of the bad ones that also exist.
It’s possible to get conned out of your:
- personal information
It’s almost impossible to get even one of those four things back.
7. Jumping into paid surveys without proof
In addition, it is advisable to check reviews and testimonials for particular survey sites. Do this before you take the leap to sign up.
I’ve never fallen for any of these paid survey scams. I think a big reason for that is because I do my homework beforehand. Don’t just jump into the deep end without thinking about it first. Do your best to find out what other members think about the survey panel you want to register with.
The main thing to focus on is whether or not participants are able to withdraw their earnings. Also see if there is evidence out there to prove it. I try to search for PayPal screenshots in order to reassure me before registering.
8. Ignoring survey quality control
Some people like to cheat the system. For this reason, a lot of paid survey companies perform quality control tests within their questionnaires.
Under these circumstances, they will check that you are paying attention. You shouldn’t be rushing willy-nilly through survey questions either. These tests act as speed bumps too stop you going to fast without any thought. I always keep this in mind. They want you to take the survey seriously and proceed diligently.
Always be careful and clinical in your answers or else you may find yourself getting screened out. Survey panels need to know if you are being attentive. They will then know if they are more likely to be getting honest and accurate data.
These tests also do a decent job of preventing people from lying too. If a participant lies on a quality control question then they will need to remember it. This is in case that particular lie crops up again later on in the survey.
You need to be consistent with your opinions. Things get a lot trickier for you when you’re taking the survey if you aren’t.
Sometimes the panel will check for quality in their review after the survey is complete. If they find any deficiencies in your answers than they will usually invalidate the survey. They will also remove the specific reward from your points balance.
Avoid the low paying survey panels. Your time is valuable and you mustn't squander it for peanuts. Click To Tweet
9. Leaving money in your survey account for too long
You should follow my example. Always try to request your payout as soon as you have reached the payment threshold. It is not a good idea to just leave cash sitting in your survey account.
On the contrary, some paid survey websites can close down or go out of business. This will leave you with nothing.
I’m guessing that you will want to get your hands on your hard-earned money as soon as possible anyway. You should be able to cash out as soon as all your rewards have cleared over the payment threshold.
Unlucky survey participants sometimes even forget that they have earnings left in their accounts. They will just abandon their money altogether if it ever slips their minds.
Some paid survey websites will send out earnings on an automated basis. You don’t need to worry about doing it manually in this instance. I know this because I subscribe to a couple of survey panels that work that way. This takes all the work out of it so ignore me on this point if this applies to you.
10. Neglecting paid survey panels for a long time
On the other hand, It is the policy of certain survey panels to wipe out an account balance completely. This is only if there is a long period of inactivity which will leave you with nothing. This can be a nasty shock as I’m sure you might agree. Different paid survey panels have different rules so do your research.
Clearly this is the last thing you want as you will have wasted so much time and money. There is also the danger of the survey site getting hacked if the website security isn’t up to scratch.
11. Giving Incorrect payment Information
Trying to withdraw your survey earnings is the worst possible place for you to stumble. Make sure to double and triple check your personal details before submitting them. I like to take my time and get things right when cashing out.
All of your details needs to be exactly precise. This includes:
- account number
- sort code
- account name
- email address
People mostly slip up on bank transfers so maybe you should use PayPal just to be safe. If you get even one letter or number wrong then it will all be for nothing.
This isn’t so much of an issue if you request vouchers, gift cards or anything else like that. Although, it is if you want a cash payment.
Ultimately, giving incorrect information could result in an error. The paid survey website might send your hard-earned money into the wrong account, or to somebody else.
Imagine working really hard only for the fruits of you labors to go to some other chump. If this happens, you will only have yourself to blame so think before you take action.
It’s very difficult to reverse the process if you mess it up the first time. I’ve been through this so I know how much of a pain it is.
It’s important that you swiftly get in touch with the survey panel if you make a mistake. This is so that they can cancel the order before it goes too far through the system and it’s too late.
You may be unsure about whether you have sent the wrong payment information. It may just be a case of being patient and waiting. It’s not unusual for paid survey panels to have lengthy withdrawal periods.
12. Forgetting to log completed surveys
Keep a record of the surveys you take and information about said paid survey. To put it another way, this includes:
- reference numbers
- survey panel
- reward amount
- survey topic
Here are the steps that you should be taking:
- Complete a survey
- Record the information about the survey
- Check your records later on to see which surveys have been paid up
- Chase up panels for payment on any unpaid surveys
You don’t need to keep these records forever. The main purpose of this is to keep track of paid and unpaid work. It’s more of a short-term task. You will be checking your own records against the survey panels records to see if they match. Hopefully they will.
It’s useful to get your hands on an A5 week to view diary. This is so you can log all of your paid surveys on a daily basis. It’s exactly what I do as it keeps me organised and prepared.
If you want to go the extra mile you can take screen shots to prove you’ve completed a survey. With these you can then show them to the panel if you ever need to back up a missed payment claim.
If you record all your survey earnings then it means you can analyse your information. You can also set goals for yourself which you can base on past performance. The data will also help you estimate where your earnings are projected to be. This will be prevalent in the upcoming weeks and months.
13. Throwing out survey earnings details before tax day
Another reason why it’s important to keep survey records is for tax reasons. You will need them at hand when filling in and sending off your annual tax return.
You can log individual paid survey rewards if you want. On the contrary, it may be easier to record the large withdrawals that go straight into your bank account.
These bigger transactions take into account all the surveys that you’ve taken up until the payment threshold in one lump sum. This is easier and less time-consuming. It also means you don’t have to add up or calculate lots of individual sums.
14. Failing to report paid survey errors
This is rare but sometimes you may complete a survey but you could encounter an internal error. This may well be completely out of your control. Notably, the paid survey may not register as complete on their end. In addition, the panel may not know to pay you for that particular survey.
If this happens then you need to get in contact with them and let them know about the problem. It might be a larger problem that goes beyond just yourself. Hopefully, they can rectify it and nobody else will have to suffer the same issue either.
15. Paying to take surveys
This goes back to my point about scam artists. A common scam is for dodgy survey websites to ask you for:
- sign up fee
- membership fee
- administration fee
It could be any of the above or whatever other BS word they want to use to con you out of your money.
This also applies to any ongoing monthly fees too. If a scammer sees that they can take money from you once, it’s very likely that they will try to do it again.
Most paid survey companies are free to join. If a site ever asks you for money then you should avoid them like the plague. 99% of the time it’s always a scam. Why would you pay money and what would they need it for? You should always be suspicious even if they are asking for just a small amount of money.
Any money that you build up on a scam website from their “surveys” will be in jeopardy. It’s very unlikely that you will ever be able to withdraw it. The payment threshold will be impossibly high to the point where it seems unattainable. It’s all false hope that they like to dangle in front of you.
16. Letting coupons expire
You may earn gift vouchers or coupons from paid surveys. If so, it’s a good idea to use them as soon as you receive them.
Expiry dates can trip you up if you throw them in a drawer and forget about them like I do. They will be useless if left too long. You don’t want your time and hard work wasted over your own forgetfulness.
You may want to keep them in your wallet along with your cash and card. They will always be there whenever you reach to pay for something while in a store.
Digital online only e-codes also have expiry dates that you need to keep an eye on too.
Amazon gift cards are great, I get rewarded with them all the time from my various online activities. They have expiry dates along with everything else. However, they also have a long 10 year lifespan starting the day you apply them to your account.
Are you the type of person that waits over a frickin’ decade to buy something from Amazon? … nah, I didn’t think so. You don’t need to be too concerned about them running out for this very reason.
17. Choosing a gift voucher irrelevant to you
If you are going to choose to redeem any kind of gift card then here is my advice. Choose one for a store that you’re actually going to shop at.
I don’t mean to judge but do you really need a coupon for forever21 if you’re a hairy, middle-aged man? There’s no point having a voucher that’s not relevant to you. It will just be sitting in your wallet getting wrinkly and old. I think you probably get my point.
Think about your regular outgoing spend and focus on stuff that is always necessary to purchase. Common examples of this include food and grocery shopping for instance.
Another option at your disposal might be to let your friends and family have them. You can even exchange them for the cash amount. That’s if your loved ones are feeling generous and want to help you out.
This might seem a little cheap and mean at first but you could help each other out. There is a chance that the vouchers will be more useful to them rather than yourself.
You could also think about just giving them away as presents. This can be for Christmas, birthdays or any other special occasion. I like to give my family coupons that I’ve earned from surveys as gifts to their delight … or disappointment.
Maybe you’re like me in that you don’t like the idea of receiving gift cards and vouchers. This might be because of the expiration date issue.
If this is true then maybe think about only signing up to cash reward survey panels. On top of this, you can always just redeem the cash option if there is one available. This takes the stress out of having to remember expiry dates.
Paid survey invitations will usually tell you what the reward will be before you begin. You can ignore gift card rewarding surveys if it means that much to you and just accept the cash surveys.
18. Using just one email address for all paid surveys
It’s safe to assume that we internet users get lots of emails all the time in our everyday lives. On top of this we get emails that we never even wanted in the first place.
Receiving paid survey invitations will definitely add to this problem. You don’t want your inbox looking like a huge, out of control multi car pile up now do you?
It might be wise to sign up to survey panels with a new and separate email address. This is so that all your paid survey invitations arrive in one place. I certainly wish I knew this earlier.
Also, it will prevent any survey invites getting in the way. You don’t want them obscuring other important emails you might want to look at.
I got into the bad habit of receiving lots of survey website correspondence into just one email address. If you register with lots of survey panels then it will mean you will be getting a hell of a lot of emails.
This can push any other emails further back possibly causing you to miss them altogether. Your inbox will clog up faster than your toilet on Thanksgiving.
Some paid survey panels send out a lot of spam. It’s all the more reason to want to have another inbox at your disposal. You may even sign up to one email address per survey website if you want to be super prepared.
It should take you no more than 2 minutes to sign up for a new email address as it’s very easy and simple. You will thank yourself for doing this further down the line as it keeps everything organised and tidy.
It will mean there is a definite divide between work, play and everything else. This is ultimately what you want to aim for.
19. Being inactive for too long on a survey
You may want to pause for whatever the reason during a paid survey. If you do this for a long period of time then it may affect your progress.
You have to understand that survey panels want you to finish the survey from beginning to end. Preferably all in one sitting too. I get that the survey about bank interest rates is sending you to sleep. Although, you simply just have to get it over and done with.
They encourage people to do this by sometimes resetting the survey back to the start. They can even screen you out if you become inactive for even a short amount of time.
I completely understand how annoying and unfair this is. You have to understand that this is a reality for some survey participants to time out like this.
Some paid surveys are painfully boring and I can definitely understand if you become distracted. You may decide to stop and focus your attention on doing something else for a short while.
It is really important that you concentrate throughout the whole thing. You don’t want them to catch you out like this.
If you aren’t consistent then you will just be wasting your time and efforts. You will likely lose all your progress when the survey notices your inactivity. You will then have to go all the way back to square one, it’s a true productivity killer.
Sign up to as many different survey sites as you can find to prevent a drought in your workload. Click To Tweet
20. Receiving a poor hourly rate of pay
If you are going to take surveys for cash then wouldn’t you want to make the most money for your time? After all, you would logically accept the highest paying job that you are qualified to do in any other line of work. Why shouldn’t it be the same sort of thought process for paid surveys?
At first, as a newbie you might be ecstatic about the money like I was. The fact that anyone would pay you even a very small amount of money to answers survey questions. You will soon learn that there is so much more you can earn.
The truth is market research companies are going to make lots of money. They will make more money than you from your own survey data whatever the case.
Like any business they will more than likely try to cut costs. They will squeeze the most work out of you for the least amount of money. This is to hike up their profits of course. Yay Capitalism!
You need to fight against this if you want to maximize your survey earnings. This can be done if you learn to be more picky.
There are more than enough survey sites out there that don’t pay you as much as others. Would you believe it, there are even companies that beg you to fill out questionnaires for zero compensation. The cheek of it!
You need to dig out the highest paying survey panels and stick with them. You can then take a leaf out of my book and drop the bad ones. These are the panels that don’t cut the mustard in terms of pay-per-hour.
Your time is valuable and you mustn’t squander it for peanuts. You could give yourself an instant pay rise with a little effort.
With experience, I then moved on to better earners like:
You will probably follow a similar path if you really get a taste for taking paid surveys.
Signing up to a large amount of survey panels gives you a broader frame of reference. You will learn which sites pay participants the most or least amount of money.
I can remember naively taking 10 minute surveys for 25p (DOH!). I now know I could have made £1 for the same amount of time. Don’t feel embarrassed by this if you’re in a similar situation. You will get a feel for how things work with time. We don’t all know everything right away when we start something new.
In summary you should:
- Research the best paid survey panels
- Sign up to all the ones that give out big rewards
- Unsubscribe to the survey sites that don’t pay as much as the others
21. Taking the same paid survey twice
Survey sites may send you the exact same survey twice in error. This can be by the same survey panel or a completely different one. Companies can’t always accurately keep track of which paid surveys they send individuals. This is especially true if you’re someone who subscribes to more than one survey site.
Lots of survey panels share paid surveys with other websites hosted via a third-party. There is a chance you might be taking the same questionnaires you’ve already done. These are usually surveys that aren’t exclusive to that particular panel.
If you do get the feeling that you’re taking the same survey again then you will want to consider stopping. You can go one step further by reporting this mistake directly to the survey panel. They can then learn from it and hopefully won’t do it again with anyone else.
If your survey panels find out you’ve taken identical surveys then they will only pay you the one time obviously. You might also get a warning not to do it again. If you ever notice an adjustment or deduction in your survey account balance then this may be one reason why.
This might seem like a sneaky way of making double money. On the other hand, two sets of identical survey results will be useless to any market research company. It’s also frowned upon so you might want to think twice before you act.
A lot of these stumbling blocks that I have pointed out here may seem like common sense to most. However, I want you to get the most out of this so that you can maximize your potential survey income.
We can now learn why we should make the most of a wide range of paid survey opportunities. We also know how we can get to them quickly before anyone else.
More importantly we know how to avoid tripping up while filling in surveys. Another vital thing to point out is how nailing a safe money withdrawal is a necessity above anything else.
You should try to memorize these mistakes. This way you probably won’t make any of them while earning money from surveys.
One idea might be to write down the survey mistakes that you are most guilty of on a post it note. Stick it on the side of your computer monitor or laptop.
You can even contribute some of your own mistakes not mentioned here. Tell yourself what you should be doing with other helpful paid survey tips and jot those down too.
We’ve already talked a little earlier about untrustworthy survey panels that scam people. I’ve written about getting yourself a decent hourly rate as well. If you’re on the look out for some good paid survey panels to join then check out my 9 Insanely High Paying Survey Sites That Pay More Than Some Jobs list.
Can you think of any survey mistakes that I might have missed? Have you ever come across any scams involving surveys? What’s the biggest error you’ve ever made while taking a survey? Please don’t forget to share this with your friends and comment below. Thanks for reading!