It seems like these days, a lot of my conversations with family and friends gravitate towards ways to generate more revenue. Still, there are some opportunities you’ve probably never considered. As a college student and young adult, I have found many unconventional jobs and new ways to earn extra money. One of the most profitable side businesses I found was participating in market research. I bet most people don’t know you can make money by joining focus groups.
If this is your first time hearing about it, here’s what you need to know about focus groups and how you can get paid for your opinions.
What exactly is a Focus Group?
For those of us who haven’t taken a marketing or advertising course, let’s start with a basic definition of what a focus group is. Basically, it’s a small group of people who are asked targeted questions by a moderator.
Market researchers use focus groups to gather information from the general population. Sometimes, they select attendees from a specific demographic group, while others are completely random. The facilitator, who usually represents a company or a specific interest, asks questions to gather qualitative data and gain insights into the company’s products, services, and potential marketing campaigns.
How do focus groups work?
Focus groups are a common data collection tool. They create an interactive environment with 4 to 10 participants and a moderator to facilitate discussion. Depending on the type of information they are looking for, they will ask the group a series of questions about the company, its products and services, and the attractiveness of the market. Instead of telling them what you think they want to hear, the moderators ask you to share your genuine thoughts and feelings about what they are testing.
In my experience, these interactions usually take place in a private conference room and last between 1 and 2 hours. However, a lively discussion can keep them going longer. Sometimes they take place in an open forum where company executives can interact with the group via the moderator. Other times, they simply observe or record sessions for later analysis.
Nowadays, there are also virtual alternatives to traditional focus groups. Online focus groups allow you to participate from the comfort of your home. While some still require a webcam for real-time interactions with a group of people, others offer one-on-one interviews or survey questions via email to keep you completely anonymous.
How do you make money by joining focus groups?
Believe it or not, many companies are willing to pay you for this information. It is invaluable to their marketing team as it helps them improve their strategy and make it more effective. Therefore, they actually encourage you to share your true thoughts and opinions. Focus groups provide honest feedback from the public and help companies better understand their customers and the people they are trying to appeal to.
Since your feedback is driving the entire study, the companies will happily compensate you for your contribution. Normally, you can expect to earn $ 30- $ 150 per focus group. However, how you make money by joining focus groups varies by company. The first focus groups I attended were paid in cash upon completion. Today, there are a lot more options and payment methods.
There are companies that will still issue you cash or checks once your focus group session is complete. Many will also offer digital payment options via PayPal, Venmo, or other cash apps. However, it is more common to receive prepaid gift cards for your time. In this case, you can usually choose between a prepaid credit card or gift cards for national and online retailers.
The most recent site I signed up for issued its rewards under a points system. For each survey, questionnaire and activity you carry out, you receive a certain number of points. Then, you can redeem your rewards once you have accumulated enough points. The value of the prize depends on how many points you accumulate.
Where do you find paid focus groups?
While there are survey sites where you can start earning points for rewards right away, those who pay money require you to go through a screening process. The questionnaires are quite simple. However, consumers and market researchers have to review all profiles and sometimes look for very specific interests. Unfortunately, you won’t qualify for every paid opportunity.
Your best chance of earning money by joining focus groups is to join as many companies as possible. You will maximize your exposure and the likelihood of being called back. However, you will need to be wary of scams and fake companies trying to steal your information. According to the latest data, these are among the most popular companies with the highest pay and the best rewards.
Focus Group online
- Drugged poll
- American consumer opinion
- Ipsos i-Say
- Opinion outpost
Focus Group in person
- 20/20 panel
- Brand Institute
- Find FocusGroups
- User Interviews
- Field work
- Mental swarms
Note that this is not meant to be a complete list. However, it will give you a few places to start looking for ways to make money from focus groups.
Things to consider
Before signing up for any paid focus groups, here are a few things you should consider.
- Make sure you are working with a legitimate company. Do your research on the company to make sure it’s a real job opportunity. You can start looking for them really.com or social media. What better way to get to know a company than by reading employee reviews or following them on social media?
- Choose how you want to be compensated. If you decide how you want to get paid, you can narrow your search and look for groups that offer your preferred payment method. Not only does it limit the number of possible employers, it also makes it easier to find a focus group.
- How much is your time worth? Before starting, you should know how much time you want to spend on focus groups. And you should also think about what you hope to get from them. Whether you’re just looking to make extra cash or have more ambitious savings goals, you don’t want to waste time pursuing unprofitable businesses.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad has strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. Although most of her time is devoted to working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food and new adventures.