Can you make money completing online surveys?

At the beginning of December 2018, I’ve signed up to https://www.prolific.ac, to see if it’s possible to use online surveys as a reliable additional income source.

Prolific specialise in providing a platform for academic research, with typical surveys taking around 10 minutes, and an aim to pay around £8 per hour. Surveys are reserved on a first-come-first-served approach, meaning you need to have the survey's webpage open, or you'll miss out. Most of the time, there won’t be any surveys, with a handful of surveys appearing per day. I wasn’t continuously checking as I have my main job with Salesforce during the day, so I was very much checking Prolific during breaks and evenings. This would have reduced my potential to pick up all available surveys.

So, how much did I make? Over 1 month, I was successfully paid for completing 28 surveys, 2 surveys are pending payment, and 2 surveys failed to complete. Below are the successfully completed surveys that have paid out:

Reward Bonus Time
£1.00 £0.00 00:10:59
£0.42 £0.00 00:07:09
£0.95 £0.00 00:14:13
£0.20 £0.00 00:02:37
£0.42 £0.80 00:04:11
£0.60 £0.00 00:02:06
£0.13 £0.00 00:01:43
£0.52 £0.00 00:05:46
£1.20 £0.00 00:15:36
£2.00 £0.00 00:06:45
£0.40 £0.00 00:01:43
£0.20 £0.00 00:02:40
£2.10 £0.00 00:26:53
£1.50 £0.00 00:14:59
£1.30 £0.00 00:14:50
£0.70 £0.00 00:13:47
£1.25 £0.00 00:11:05
£1.09 £0.00 00:13:45
£1.00 £0.00 00:06:19
£0.37 £0.00 00:07:53
£1.20 £0.00 00:04:03
£1.10 £0.00 00:12:19
£1.00 £0.00 00:05:44
£0.75 £0.08 00:11:43
£0.50 £0.00 00:05:52
£0.61 £0.00 00:03:20
£0.20 £0.00 00:03:52
£2.10 £0.00 00:15:08

Together, over a month, this is a total of 4 hours and 7 minutes of work and paid a total income of £25.69, which works out to just over £6 per hour … not great. However, one thing that surprised me about this experiment was how engaging some of the surveys were. Although there were some pretty boring questions, there were some genuinely interesting questions, likely due to the academic nature of the surveys, but this was a small positive that I was not expecting.

Could I recommend this is a main income source? No, unfortunately from my brief time, I just cannot see how this would make a decent income. From what I can tell, surveys are a numbers game, the only way to make more money is to complete more surveys, which at £6 per hour is too little for the effort. Assuming you could complete surveys all day, a 10 hour day would only pay £60, with costs still to factor in.

Could I recommend this as an additional income source? Although it's only a small amount, Yes. However, you might need to consider any tax implications. Technically you should be paying tax on these earnings, which could decimate your potential for making any income, although the UK government have recently announced that you do not need to declare the first £1000 of non-employment income. Which means you’re unlikely to need to worry about this unless you have multiple non-employment income streams.

As a future experiment, I Might try running multiple survey sites in tandem, to see if better payouts are available.

About the Author

Phil Balchin is a full-time software developer at Heroku (a Salesforce company) and part-time photographer living in Guildford, Surrey, UK. Specialising in software development and photography, Phil also writes about graphic design, personal productivity, and travel.