Survey Record-Keeping – Why It’s Important and Some Helpful Tips

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When I first started out taking surveys a few years ago, I was only a member of a few survey panels and usually only took part in a few surveys a week. Keeping track of my earnings and how many surveys I was taking was not foremost on my mind. That changed when I started to get really involved in survey-taking and joined many more survey panels down the line. When you’re a member of so many survey panels, it’s hard to keep track of everything. Therefore, I started to keep track of my earnings and cash-outs in Microsoft Word documents set up on my computer, which went a long way in helping me organize and remember critical information.

Even if you’re only a member of one or two survey panels, however, I’ve found it’s important to keep records of your information. The type of information you want to keep track of for each survey panel includes:

  • Login information, including usernames and passwords, for each website
  • Point conversions for each survey panel (if they use a points system)
  • Higher-paying surveys (for myself, surveys worth $10 or more that I have invested a lot of time in) and dates taken
  • Focus groups and discussion panels you’ve participated in and the amount of money you’ve earned for participating in them, as well as dates completed
  • Survey panel cash-out amounts and dates
  • Product test and paper survey documentation
My system of survey record-keeping is not overly complicated, yet it has helped me keep track of information I could easily forget had I not written it down. Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years of survey-taking that can help get you started in survey record-keeping or improve your current record-keeping system:
    1. Choose where to keep track of your survey records and keep organized
You could use a notebook dedicated only to survey record-keeping and just write the information down in there. Or, you could use the computer using software such as Microsoft Word or Excel. Use the method that works best for you and that you’re the most comfortable with using.

Label the pages (or computer documents) accordingly to keep organized. Use different pages (or Word or Excel documents) for each section of record-keeping (for example, “Cash-outs”). If you’re using Word or Excel, keep the documents in one folder labeled something like “Survey Records.” Create a shortcut on your desktop for easy access.

    1. Keep your information safe
If you’re using a notebook for record-keeping, keep it in a safe place, such as near your desk, so you’re always able to find it. If you’re using your computer for record-keeping, make sure to back up that information onto a separate external hard drive, CD, or flash drive. Hard drive failures do happen from time to time, so backing up your information is the best way to keep it safe so you don’t lose it.
    1. Record your login information
Make a record of your login information for each survey panel, including usernames (or email addresses) and passwords. Other information can include account numbers and PIN codes (if applicable). I have different logins and passwords for different survey panels, so writing it down in a Word document helps me remember in case I forget something and can’t access a specific website.
    1. Record how points convert to cash for each survey panel that uses a points system
I find this to be very helpful because each survey panel uses a different method for payment (some use a points system, while others are more straightforward and award dollar or cent amounts). It can get confusing having to remember point conversions for each survey panel, so I just have a list made in Word for quick reference. That way, I know how much a point is worth and can manage my time better so I don’t spend a lot of time on surveys that award me very little for my time.
    1. Make note of higher-paying surveys
I usually write down surveys that pay $10 or more in a Word document so I know to expect payment. These can also include surveys that award VISA debit cards, gift cards, survey points, or PayPal cash for participating. The more a survey is worth, the more likely I am to keep a personal record of it.
    1. Record all focus groups and discussion panels you’ve taken part in
I make sure to write down all the focus groups and discussion panels I’ve participated in, including the topic of the discussion, amount I’m owed, date completed, and survey panel sponsoring it. After I receive payment, I cross it out. I also keep all the emails I’ve received that relate to the focus group or discussion board just in case I don’t get paid. I keep those emails in a folder labeled “Focus Groups” in my email program (Thunderbird).
    1. Keep track of ALL cash-outs
Again, you could write the information down in a notebook or in a computer document. For myself, I use a Word document and write everything out in a bulleted list. Be sure to write out the name of the survey company, how much you cashed out, and the date of the cash-out. This is very important so you know you’re expecting a payment. When you receive a payment from a specific survey panel, cross it out on the list so you know you’ve received it and don’t have to worry about it anymore. I highlight the ones that are taking a long time to receive payment. If it takes a lot longer than stated on the website, I will email customer service and inquire about it.

I also keep confirmation emails of cash-outs just in case I don’t receive payment. Not all companies send a cash-out confirmation email, but most do. I keep them in a folder in my email program called “Cash-Outs.”

    1. Take screenshots of cash-outs for extra protection
You don’t necessarily have to do this because most survey panels list on your account information when you made a cash-out or email you a cash-out confirmation letter, but sometimes I do it just to be safe. If something goes wrong, you have the proof of your cash-out and can send customer service your screenshot. It’s helped me out in a couple of occasions.
    1. Remember that most survey panels keep records of most (if not all) of the surveys you’ve taken
You can almost always access this information by logging into the survey panel website and checking your account information. Some survey panels are more detailed than others in the information they provide.

For example, Valued Opinions lists all the surveys you’ve taken under “Participation History” when you log in to your account. It lists the surveys by topic, number, date taken, and status. SurveyHead also lists all the surveys you’ve taken and qualified for under the “Rewards” section. Each survey panel website is different in what and how much they list, but knowing that you can check your survey history on most of the websites is incredibly helpful in knowing how much you’re making and what you’re still owed.

    1. Take note of surveys that are pending confirmation
I usually check pending surveys in the account information section of specific survey panel websites so I know which surveys haven’t been credited yet that I’ve taken. If a specific survey is taking a long time to credit or doesn’t get credited for some reason (which can and does happen from time to time), I can email customer service about it. Usually there is a survey number or title listed for quick reference.
    1. Keep a separate folder or binder for product test papers and mailed surveys
For product test documentation (papers and/or surveys sent with product tests) and mailed surveys, I use a labeled folder to keep track of the papers on my desk so I don’t lose or misplace them.
    1. You don’t have to record EVERY survey you’ve ever taken
This will just cause you to be overwhelmed. It is pretty tedious and something I know I don’t have the time to do (as do most people), mainly because I take so many surveys each day. Besides, all the surveys you’ve taken are almost always listed on the specific survey panel’s website that you took the survey from, along with its payment confirmation status. What’s most important is to write down the important, high-paying ones (including focus groups and discussion panels) and keep track of cash-outs.

Of course, everyone does things differently. How do you keep track of all your survey information? If you have any record-keeping tips to add, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment and share any you’ve found helpful in your situation.

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Comments (5)

  • Ann November 05, 2013 Reply
    Thanks so much this was very helpful!!
  • JOSEPH O.MOSI March 22, 2013 Reply
    I am new in the field with no experience but highly appreciate your survey record keeping tips.I have bookmarked it for my future use.Thank you
  • LapisLee April 10, 2012 Reply
    It's free and it remembers everything for you. One click and all of the information is filled in.
  • Stephanie April 10, 2012 Reply
    Thanks, Lee!

    Yeah, I've heard RoboForm is very convenient to have. Doesn't it cost money, though? I remember looking into it at one time. How do you like it? Does it remember all the demographic information for each survey so you don't have to retype the same information (like age, sex, etc.) over and over again? I might look into it again sometime if it will really save me time.

  • Lee New April 04, 2012 Reply
    Great advice Stephanie! In spite of how methodical and accurate my records are, I just use an Excel spreadsheet to record my top 20 surveys Total Earned, Cash Out Point, Payment method (Amazon, PayPal, VISA or check), Date Joined, Monthly Average Earned, Last Cash Out Date, Last Cash Out Amount, Next To Last Cash Out Date Amount and so on.

    Once I have written my Top Five Surveys article for the month I can erase all but the most recent cash outs. Also, I use RoboForm to remember all of my passwords, because I have at least a thousand for every website I have registered online.