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Do online surveys or online gigs pay more?

Online gigs can be the cornerstone of self-employment, but surveys are becoming increasingly important for company outreach programs. This article compares how the two online tasks pay.

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    Katie Corrigan was laid off from her recruiting job at an advertising firm last March (Jan. 2010). She will probably be rehired at her last job when the economy improves, but in the meantime, works part time as a self-employed interior designer
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Working from home seems like the ultimate dream for most people. You can make your own hours, be your own boss, and accept projects that you like. Fortunately, with the booming gig economy and increase in paid online surveys, your days working from home may be closer than you think. We’ve covered some of the main differences between accepting gigs and completing paid surveys, so you can begin finding the right fit for you.

What Is the Gig Economy?

With the gig economy, or freelance nation, a worker can take advantage of money-making gigs, which can add up to a notable income. Sites like Thumbtack have all types of paid gigs available and offer a simplified way to match employers with the right freelance worker for the job.

The gig economy is nothing new. In fact, as Thumbtack’s chief economist explained to a Congressional committee, about half of the service professionals on the site have been in business for themselves for about five years or more. This means that freelance workers have been in the business long before the gig economy became more popular, but now they are able to use the convenience of the Internet to find more work. Today, the GAO estimates that as many as 40% of the U.S. workforce may be considered contingent workers (or independent contractors).

Potential Gigs

While the high-tech industry is taking particular advantage of the gig economy, there are a range of available gigs in all different categories, so you are likely to find something you are qualified for. For instance, you can get involved with Uber or Lyft as a driver, rent your home out on Airbnb, and/or take gigs for painting or home repairs.

Studies have shown that 68% of freelancers are concerned about finding more clients or projects in the future. Fortunately, with the gig economy, you can take advantage of multiple gigs and make money for all your varied talents, using various reputable gig sites. Some of the most common available gigs include:

  • Secret shopping and personal shopping
  • Driving
  • Bookkeeping
  • Personal training
  • Moving and packing
  • Photography
  • Interior design services
  • Cleaning
  • Home repairs, improvements, and painting

Reputable Gig Sites

Taking advantage of the gig economy will allow you to set your own alternative work arrangements, so you can work whenever and however is most comfortable for you. You can create your own hours and work as often as you like. You will either receive a notification when there is a gig available that matches your skill set, or employers can contact you directly when they need your services.

Either way, it is an easy way to find work, by taking advantage of the recent advancements in technology. If you are looking for money-making gigs, some of the most reputable gig sites include:

  • Thumbtack
  • Taskrabbit
  • Angie’s List
  • HourlyNerd
  • Etsy or Craigslist: If you are able to create your own DIY art or crafts, you may consider selling them on Etsy, eBay, or Craigslist to make money off your creativity.

Average Gig Pay

On sites like Thumbtack, you can apply your professional skills to make an equivalent hourly wage to what you were making in-office. This means that you can expect to make a comparable salary, while enjoying the work-from-home lifestyle.

On the other hand, some gigs pay between $3-$10 for quick tasks, so it will vary depending on the gig and company. With some sites, you can also send a custom quote to interested parties, allowing you to set your own wage. For this reason, it is really difficult to set an average gig pay.

Keep in mind there are also fees involved with most gig sites, which will reduce your total take-home pay. Usually, you will pay a fee based on how much you make. Being self-employed can be expensive, no matter what route of work you choose. When you count your own insurance costs, higher utility bills, taxes, office supplies, and increased fees, it can really add up, so you need to determine what your priorities are and how much you really want to work from home.

Making Money With Surveys

Many large companies are willing to spend money to get their customers’ opinions. Part of their marketing budget is invested towards finding out what you think. This means you can compete online and mobile surveys, whenever and wherever you like, getting paid for your opinion. It may be hard to believe, but you can actually make a decent amount of money just taking online surveys, once you find the right site.

You can also take advantage of referrals by getting your friends involved. They will be able to make a little extra money taking online surveys, and you’ll make money off the referral. A number of reputable survey sites also offer money or points for other simple activities, such as reading emails, signing up for offers, playing online games, reviewing free products, and completing online searches.

How to Sign Up

To make a large amount of money, you’ll need to join several survey sites at once (which are free to join) and check them at least once daily. You should never have to pay to sign up or complete surveys. Sign up for all of the survey sites at once and you’ll quickly determine which ones are your favorites and which ones work for you. When you sign up, you will be asked a number of questions about your income, lifestyle, and demographics. The surveys you receive will be based on the information you provide, so you will receive surveys that are appropriately matched to you.

Once you sign up, it can take a couple of days for the system to start sending you survey invites, so be patient. You can usually set notifications, so that you are alerted by email when a new survey becomes available to you. You can even set up a separate email account, specifically set aside for survey and gig invite emails. You won’t get rich by completing surveys, but the work is easy and fun. Most survey sites and gig sites pay with PayPal, so if you don’t already have a free account set up, you might want to look into that.

Reputable Survey Sites

The risk with survey sites is finding the right one that will actually pay on time. If you find a survey site that you think may be legitimate, search on Better Business Bureau to see if the site is registered and if there are any complaints. Some of the most reputable survey sites include:

Average Survey Pay

Each survey site is different, so the average payout will vary. Sometimes, they’ll average around $30/hour, while other sites will only offer around $0.50 per survey. Some survey sites offer different payouts, depending on the length and complexity of the survey, while sites like Pinecone Research offer a flat payout for every survey.

Once you sign up for all of the survey sites and compare the average payout and available surveys, you’ll quickly determine which ones are worth your time. For reference, according to an ABC News report, the largest cash payment for one full-time survey member was $50.

Oftentimes, surveys will pay out in credits, which you can use for things like free gift cards. You might also receive free products or valuable perks for your review. This may be a nice addition to your salary and can help during gift-giving season, but it won’t pay the bills. In fact, most freelancers who take online surveys only average around $100/month with online surveys. Even experienced avid survey takers only earn up to $500/month on average. Once you sign up, find out how often they pay, what their payout options are, and what the minimum cashout is, so you know what to expect.

How Much Time Needs to Be Invested?

Each survey is of a different length of time, so some may take you only five minutes, while others will last up to 30 minutes. You can choose which survey to answer, so it is up to you how much time you want to invest. Gigs tend to take at least one to two hours, so they are usually a larger investment of time, but usually also have a larger payout. Gigs are also often completed outside of the home, while surveys are always completed from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. While taking surveys is a much easier way to make money, you will earn much more by completing gigs or tasks, which can be conveniently scheduled online.

Can You Do Both?

You’ll notice that during certain times of the day, survey sites are busier and it will be easier to find work. Otherwise, you can complete surveys and gigs whenever is convenient for you. Some survey sites, like iPoll, also offer mobile compatibility, so you can even complete surveys on your mobile phone, in between gigs.

With the right time management and level of dedication, you can absolutely make money with both online surveys and the gig economy. In fact, taking advantage of both the gig economy and paid surveys will get you one step closer to working full-time from home.

This article first appeared at Wise Bread.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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