Paid Online Surveys

Make Money with Google AdSense

Building a website and making money via online advertising is not just for kids anymore. Contextual or content-sensitive online advertising is on the rise. Last year Google says it shelled out $3.1 billion to Adsense publishers, up from $1.2 billion in 2004. Contextual means the ads have a relevance to the content of the website on which it appears, thereby increasing the chance of visitors clicking on those ads. When visitors click, the website’s owner gets paid.

There are four steps to get started.

Build a website. If you know how to send emails, navigate AOL or shop on eBay, then you’re likely capable of building your own website. Select a topic that you’re truly passionate about since you’ll be living and breathing it.

Google offers two free tools that have their advertising program built in — and — but you’re by no means limited to using their tools. Sites such as Yahoo Publisher, and Apple’s iWeb all have programs to allow users to build sites. If you already have a website, you’re ready to go.

Register for Google ads. The reality is most of us have no interest or expertise in going out and selling ads to appear on our websites. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snag even a sliver of the online advertising bucks.

Register your site with Google’s AdSense program (, which works with hundreds of thousands of websites and hundreds of thousands of online advertisers. Signing up is free, with no cost and no obligation. The system matches the advertiser’s target audience with the content of the relevant websites.

For example, I might create a website about everything there is to know and love about beagle dogs. When I register for Google’s AdSense, the ads appearing on my site will relate to that subject — ranging from dog food and breeders to pet accessories, insurance and maybe even dog Halloween costumes. You’re not going to find ads for computers or cars; all of the ads will be relevant to my overall content. And I will receive money — from pennies to dollars — every time someone clicks on those ads.

To host the ads, Google provides site owners with simple code to embed on various pages of their websites. The location of those ads is determined and controlled by you. Google’s system replaces ads daily, thereby maximizing your chances of capturing new clicks often.

Even though Google’s network is the largest of its kind, there are also other ad sites you can explore before deciding who to register with. Among them: Yahoo (, Edgeio ( Adbrite (, and Text Link Ads ( You can find others online.

Add new content regularly. Since you only make money if visitors to your site click on the ads, there are two things you can do to build an audience. One of those tasks is to add fresh unique content often. Depending on your financial goals, you might have to commit to working on your site every day by adding new content. The more pages of content you have, the more ads you can host, and the more potential you have to make money. A site with five pages won’t make nearly as much money as a site with 50 or 500 pages of relevant content.

A website about beagle dogs might feature well-researched content on breeding, training, and grooming. It may also include a section about what my puppy is up to, along with tips and tricks I’ve used to train him. I might post questions on my site soliciting advice from my readers to help me to get him to stop biting my kids. I might also compile a frequently-updated list of famous people who have owned beagles. The possibilities are endless for refreshing the content.

If you’re just looking to make a nominal amount of money, then you can add new content less frequently. Adding more content — and not just junk — but valuable stuff that someone who cares about your subject matter would enjoy reading, the more people you’ll ultimately be able to attract. And the more traffic you have, the more likely it is for some of those visitors to click on the ads.

Promote your website often. It’s not nearly as simple as build it and they will come. That’s true with any business or resource. To make money, you must have a solid product and you must hustle to let an audience know it exists.

Some companies spend big bucks promoting their websites, but there are many free things anyone can do, especially if you’re starting out with no budget.  Contact friends and family: Send smart, engaging emails asking them to visit your site and to refer it to their circle of friends. This helps to build a word-of-mouth following. Submit your site to all of the search engines so your content will be indexed. Focus on reciprocal links: I might ask beagle breeders and dog walkers to link to my website and I’ll provide links to their sites.  Develop a PR campaign: Pitch yourself as an expert to the local media and be sure your website is included if you’re quoted. Give speeches in your community on your topic of expertise and promote your site in the process.

In addition to numerous books and websites devoted to helping you monetize your website, Google has an extensive help center with step by step instructions ( as well as the AdSense blog and newsletter that offers lots of tips ( Google also holds regular webinars for its AdSense publishers. Google won’t do the work for you but a support team will respond to inquiries within 24 hours.

Click here to see a video about how to make money by advertising on your website.

Click here to see how one woman has turned her website into a major money maker with Google Adsense.

You must use caution when visiting these sites. Even though they contain a lot of legitimate information, they also lead to links to stuff that’s not legit. Be cautious about the sites and the ads you see and NEVER respond to check-cashing, wire transfer or Western Union related offers.

This Article brought to you bye the experts over at

Paid Online Surveys
We’ve compiled a list of some of the legitimate websites where you can offer your opinion in exchange for free products. Think of these surveys as a cool way to share your candid thoughts on any number of potential products and services — and then receive a fun reward for your time. Remember that marketers aren’t just interested in putting free goodies in your hands; they do so because they’re interested in your opinions.

Never pay a fee or provide credit card information when registering for these sites. No legitimate site will require you to pay any kind of “registration” fee in order to give them your opinion. Registering with these sites should always be free.

ZoomPanel Earn between 50 and 100 points every time you complete a survey; once you reach 1,000, you can begin redeeming points for great rewards that range from books and DVDs to stuff in cooking, gardening and electronics. (Featured by Tory Johnson on Good Morning America.)

Other sites where you can register to complete surveys and earn points to redeem for reward prizes.

Harris Interactive
NPD Group

Word of Mouth Marketing

These word-of-mouth marketing sites allow you to register free. By completing a profile you’re eligible to participate in campaigns where you’ll receive free products, product samples, and coupons to try a wide variety of consumer products ranging from food, beauty and cleaning supplies to kids toys and games and gardening tools. It doesn’t get much cooler than receiving free stuff and using your voice to help shape the marketing and purchasing patterns of major products launches from the biggest brands around.

Another word of caution: Do not reply to unsolicited emails or pop-up ads from companies promising to send you money or prizes. The legitimate opportunities such as the ones on this page will never contact you without your permission, nor will they ever charge you to participate in their programs. Legitimate companies won’t even ask you to pay for the shipping of products or rewards; no cost to you means absolutely no cost to you. Ignore emails that make big promises; responding to those is simply an invitation for more spam.

Complete a profile when you register as a member and you’ll be considered for participation in dozens of opportunities each year.

House Party
This specialized word-of-mouth marketing company delivers brand-centric experiences to consumers through in-home parties. Each House Party event consists of 1,000 or more parties, all held on the same day throughout the country, in the homes of consumers who meet a detailed profile, and who are passionate brand advocates. Register online to be considered as a party host, where you’ll invite your friends and family to participate in programs ranging from candy and snack foods to toys, cars or TV shows.

Complete a profile to join this women’s research and marketing group. Share opinions online and offline and be considered for participation in dozens of diverse opportunities each year.

Other legitimate sites to explore:


Paid Focus Groups: Some of these sites above also offer paid offline focus groups. A small select group of people are invited to appear in person to interact with marketers to offer their opinion on products and services. Participants might also be asked to weigh in on proposed advertising campaigns. Typically focus group participants are paid between $30 and $100 for their time; sessions range from one to three hours. You can also find local focus groups in your area by searching “focus groups” listings on

Affiliate Programs: If you have a website or a popular blog or social network profile, you can make money by simply promoting and recommending products that you like to your visitors. For example, if you love a particular book, you can link to that title on or and earn a referral fee of cash or store credit if someone clicks and makes a purchase through your link. (See and for details on how to set up a free account with their affiliate programs. There’s no cost or obligation to register and participate.) Just about every site that sells a product or service online now offers similar affiliate programs where you’ll be paid for your successful referrals.

Leads and resources from viewers and visitors:

On the Wal-Mart website, you can opt to receive free samples of various products. (Be cautious about registering for free trials of services and subscriptions, especially if you don’t read the fine print. Many times by “trying” a new service, such as a cell phone plan, you’ll be renewed automatically unless you cancel.)

One woman gave us another tip: JuicyJuice sent her a free sippy cup and Kraft Foods provided free coupons in exchange for completing a short online survey.

A visitor sent a message warning about accepting “free” magazine trials in retail stores. When you check out and the cashier asks if you’d like to try two free issues of your favorite magazines, there’s a very good chance your credit card will be automatically charged for the full year subscription — after those two freebies — and it’s difficult to cancel. You wind up having to fight the charges with your credit card company, which is never a pleasant task.

You must use caution when visiting these sites. Even though they contain a lot of legitimate information, they also lead to links to stuff that’s not legit. Be cautious about the sites and the ads you see and NEVER respond to check-cashing, wire transfer or Western Union related offers.

*NOTE: If you know of other legitimate sites that you think we should consider adding to this list, please send an email to Tory Johnson. She’ll research your suggestions.

Mystery Shopping & Merchandising

Many people have heard of mystery shopping, but not all of us understand exactly what it’s all about.

Mystery shopping is focused on monitoring and improving quality and service to ensure consistency with brand standards using anonymous resources. About 85% of this work is done in person; a growing trend involves home-based mystery shoppers who conduct their work by calling (as opposed to visiting) catalog companies, call centers, and others, which account for 15% of the industry.

With mystery shopping, an individual walks into a retail store, restaurant, grocery store, convenience store or gas station to monitor and measure specific behaviors. Among them: associate greetings, the length of the wait to be served, the availability of merchandise, the knowledge of the sales team, and so on.

Many companies request “shops” of their own locations as well as those of their competitors. It enables them to understand how their services stack up against the competition—both generally and in specific areas. One hypothetical example: A mystery shopper assignment and analysis might measure the wait in line at Target vs. the wait in line at Wal-Mart. More specifically, an assignment might measure how much information the Target sales associate in electronics knew about a specific digital camera, compared to the sales associate at Wal-Mart for that very same camera.

Another option, one that is not covert, involves merchandising, in which you’re charged with helping major manufacturers and retailers present their product consistent with brand standards in a retail environment to generate sales. You could be asked to do anything from assembling displays, distributing coupons, sampling food, restocking shelves, or demonstrating products. The needs and the skill level vary; a company might post opportunities for someone to sample cheese in a grocery store and it might be looking for techies to demonstrate a new video camera during an in-store promotional event.

In both cases – mystery shopping and merchandising – you accept an assigned task and then you must prove that you completed it, which is typically done by completing and submitting an online survey about the experience. You might also be required to take photographs of your work. It’s all spelled out clearly in advance before you agree to the work.

According to Market Force Information, a nationwide leader in mystery shopping and merchandising among top brands, some of the requirements in the online questionnaire for a mystery shop may include:
◾Were you greeted properly?
◾Were all display items priced and in good condition?
◾Were accessories priced and well stocked (no empty peg hooks)?

Getting started and making money. Both mystery shopping and merchandising pay by the assignment. You work as an independent contractor, which means you work when you want, but work is never guaranteed.

Most mystery shopping assignments pay between $8 and $10. Merchandising is generally in the range of $13 to $18. Some assignments offer free meals and/or groceries either as a form of compensation or in addition to a small fee. More complex assignments pay more – up to $30 or so per assignment. If you’re being offered substantially more, that’s a red flag and you should question the legitimacy of the assignment.

There are hundreds of companies throughout the country that hire shoppers and merchandisers. Keep in mind: retailers don’t hire shoppers and merchandisers directly; all of this work is handled by a third-party vendor. Some hire for both; others handle one or the other. Every shopper who makes at least $100 a week is registered with several companies and they actively take on several assignments per week. Some women I spoke with make upwards of $500 a month because they’re diligent about working at it. (If you live in a remote area without access to ample stores and restaurants, your options are severely limited. Home-based “shops” might be best for you.)

Register with multiple companies because they all have different needs and they serve different clients. One woman told me she was frustrated because she only had access to fast food assignments, but she hates fast food. She finally realized she didn’t have to limit herself to just one company. Now she works with about a dozen and she services a range of industries.

Visit  and World Alliance for Retail Excellence and Standards. Both websites mantain lists of legitimate opportunities.

Beware of clicking through to sites that ultimately take you to ads that are not legitimate. There are absolutely NO legitimate wire transfer or check-cashing offers. STAY AWAY from anything that references either one.

It’s all in the details.  Most companies critique your online application for proper spelling, grammar and punctuation, especially since your proof-of-completion reports are submitted in writing to the client. Poor spelling will knock you out of the running.

Pay attention to distance. Don’t accept an assignment that pays $10 if you have to drive 20 miles each way to complete the task. The gas will eat up your fee.

Many assignments require you to monitor the exact time of specific tasks: How long did it take someone to greet you? How long did you wait on line for service? If you’re easily flustered and don’t like to multitask, this probably isn’t the right fit for you. You’ll find many people who’ve tried this type of work—and hated it. They complain it’s tedious and time-consuming—not worth the minimal money they were paid.

Two trade associations offer extensive information on their respective industries. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association and the World Alliance for Retail Excellence and Standards offer listings of legitimate companies, a code of ethics guiding their industry and tips for success.

Avoiding scams.  Many people are concerned about scams and rightly so. Scams are everywhere in this space, so arm yourself with knowledge before getting started. There are some specific tips to keep in mind:
◾Never ever pay to be a mystery shopper or merchandiser. No legitimate opportunity requires a fee. (The MSPA offers a certification process that is optional, not required, to get work.)
◾Never get involved in check-cashing schemes. Legitimate opportunities will never require you to cash any checks. If your assignment requires you to order a specific item in a restaurant, you’ll have to front the cash, but with a receipt you’ll be reimbursed.
◾Never respond to unsolicited requests by phone, email or mail to become a mystery shopper or merchandiser. Most likely a fee will be involved with promises to teach you the “secrets” of making big bucks with little effort. That “secret” is a lie: there’s no way to make lots of money with minimal effort in these industries.

This information was compiled by Women For Hire. You may link to this page, but copying is prohibited.