How to Earn Money Participating Online Paid Focus Groups

Like online surveys, paid focus groups is a great way to make extra money by expressing your opinion! Focus groups are conducted by market research companies and usually they pay participants a lot more compare to regular paid surveys.  In this article I will explain exactly how you can make money participating in focus groups.

What are focus groups?

Focus Groups is a marketing tool used by market research companies to conduct Qualitative Research (acquiring detailed data/feedback from a segment of population regarding new products and why that segment thinks or behaves in a certain way).  A paid focus groups can take from 30 minutes up to 6 months and pay also depends on the length and complexity of the projects.

Types of Paid Focus Groups

#1. Online/Internet Focus Groups – are conducted in a real time online “chat/meeting” room or a private online bulletin board. The real time chat discussion usually last 1- 2 hours. In an online bulletin board, a research project could last for days or up to several weeks. Each day, participants need to answer questions, finish assignments and join group discussions. Online Focus Groups pay from $30 up to $500.

The minimum I have earned from an online focus group is $30 for a 45 minutes interactive group interview (such as multiple times with GlobalTestMarket) about some advertising (very easy). The maximum earning is $450 (for Contracted Testing) which includes a one week online dissuasion plus two weeks new product testing – it’s lot of work but it’s interesting and totally worth it!

#2. In Person Focus Groups – This type of Focus Groups are held at a physical location, usually at the a market research facility. In person focus groups pay at least $50 and up to $300 (maybe even more.) and last from 30 minutes to 2 or 3 hours.  I have attended in-person focus group once. It was an interesting experience and I liked it. The only drawback is the travel time and gas cost involved because I have to drive to the focus group location.

#3. Telephone Interviews – Many market research/paid survey companies also offer paid telephone interviews. The researcher will call you and ask you questions about certain topics and want your opinions about it. The interview usually lasts 30 – 60 minutes and they pay quite well! I also have participated in telephone interview before such as once with SurveySavvy – the interview lasted about 45 minutes, but I don’t remember how much I was paid.

#4. In Home or Shop Along – Sometimes market research companies will come into your home and conduct the interview (about certain topics and projects) one-on-one. I also have had the opportunity that the researchers shop with you! Of course those kind of research projects are quit rare and special. I have never done this kind of projects before.

List of Online Focus Group Companies

Not all market research companies conduct online focus groups (possibly due to software environment requirements or other reasons), Following are the best market research companies not only conduct in person on-site focus groups, they host many online focus group and telephone interviews.

To get started with online paid focus groups, sign up with following market research companies so you will begin receiving invitations to focus groups and surveys.

20/20 Research – a Well-known and respected market research company. I have done online focus groups with them quite a few times. Very professional and pay on time. They also have in-person focus group and telephone interview.

Plaza Research – Plaza Research has multiple locations across the United States. Besides on-site local projects, they offer many nationwide online/web and telephone focus groups.

Fieldworks – Fieldworks have many online and telephone focus groups opportunities. They have multiple locations across US.

Chasen Research – I have received online focus groups invite before but haven’t got a chance to get in one yet. They mostly conduct in-person focus groups I think.

Contract Testing – They are a Canadian based market research company. I have done only one focus group recruited by them them and it was the highest paying one I ever done. Get paid cash ($450) by check.

Probe Market Research – I have received online focus groups email invites before, but not qualify yet.

List of Survey Companies that offer Focus Groups

Some Online Survey Panels – have many paid focus groups opportunities, mostly online focus groups. Personally I have participated in numerous online focus groups provided by or recruited through them, I even landed a local focus group study through them! Following are the ones you should sign up if you want to make money with online focus groups!

Please note this is not a complete list, because it’s only based on my personal limited knowledge and experience. It is very possible that some survey panels not listed below have focus group opportunities, therefore I highly suggest you sign up with the all the legit survey companies on my United State Paid Survey List.

Global Test Market – I have done many online focus groups (via InvokeSolution platform) for Global Test Market over the years. They usually pay from $30 – $50 for an online session which was very easy and last from 30 minutes to one hour.

SpringBoard America – I have heard that people get paid for focus groups and product testing that pay $50 – $100. They pay cash via check.

American Consumer Opinion – One of my favorite survey panels. I have received several high paying online focus groups study invites.They pay cash or gift cards. Open to 13+ years old.

Opinion Outpost – One of the best survey panels. They pay members cash through Paypal and amazon gift cards for taking part in online surveys, product tests and online focus groups.

SurveySavvy –  SurveySavvy is a highly reputable market research panel.  They offer member high paying online surveys, focus group and product testing opportunities. Personally I have done a few online focus groups and telephone interviews them.

MySoapBox  – I have received online focus groups (and product testings) invites from them, so far haven’t qualified yet. Open to 13+

Toluna I have done numerous online focus groups for Toluna (mostly via InvokeSolution platform) that usually pay around $30- $50 and last an hour. Those are very easy and enjoyable process to make good money online.  Payments are through check or gift cards.

Product Report Carda very good survey panels that offer many focus groups and product testing opportunities. (I have received online focus group invitations). New members receive $5 sign up bonus.

MySurvey/Lightseped – another reputable market research survey panels that offer members excellent online surveys, product tests and online focus groups. They pay members through cash (check/Paypal) or amazon/store gift cards! I have done many online focus groups/product test project for Lightspeed/MySurvey.

Ipsos i Say – I have done a few online focus groups (with product tests) for them. They pay cash or amazon gift cards. Minimum age requires 13.

Focus Pointe Global – They have many focus group (online/offerline/telephone interview) as well regular online survey opportunities.

Inspired Opinions (Schlesinger Associates) – I have received many online and telephone focus group (and online surveys) invitations from them.

Tip that may help you get more focus groups with online survey panels: a very short survey with very low reward (or no rewards or just sweepstakes entry) could be the screener for a focus group (or product test). 🙂  

I will add more survey panels that have focus groups to this list, please bookmark this page and check back often from time to time.

How Does Paid Focus Group Work?

Each market research project has different requirements and targets different people, therefore they can be very selective when choosing participants. So no need to get discouraged or frustrated if you are screened out for a study, it’s just part of the normal process.

To participate in a market research study, usually you will go through following steps:

Step #1: Screening – Pre Screening & Full Screening.
Pre Screening – the very first step is to complete a prescreen survey. If your answers match what the study needs, you will move on to the next step which is full screening. If you are a member of market research panel, normally you receive the study pre-screener invite  through email.

Please make sure be honest with your answers, since if you pass this first screener, you will be asked the same pre-questions again during the second full screening, and your answers to the two screeners have to be consistent otherwise you are likely to be disqualified for the study.

Full ScreeningIf you “pass” the pre-screener, the market research company will contact you by telephone. They will ask you all the questions you answered in the pre-screener, along with additional, more in-depth information. If your answers fit the project objectives, and the group you fall into isn’t full, and you are available when the research is taking place, you will move on to Invitation & Confirmation.

Step #2: Invitation and Confirmation
After you pass the full screening, you will be officially invited to be a part of the focus group. You will be sent an email confirmation that contains all of the details of the project. You will need reply to the email to confirm your intent to participate. A few days before the project, often you will be contacted by phone or email to confirm that you will be attending the focus group.

Step #3: Participation and Payment
You are expected to fully follow directions and actively participate in the project discussion. At the conclusion of the full project and your complete participation, you will receive payment. In-person projects are paid at the conclusion of the interview, telephone and online focus groups usually are paid within 2-6 weeks.

In Person Onsite Focus Groups – How to find them in your area

I personally have done in-person focus groups and I like the experience. It was fun to talk to other people face to face to listen and exchange opinions, thoughts and ideas. That’s why sometimes I try to get into the in-person focus groups as well.

List of Cities or Metropolitan Area that Focus Group Companies Located:
Market Research companies usually conduct in-person (on-site) paid focus groups in major metropolitan areas and at their market research facilities.  If you live in follow cities, you are more likely to find in person paid focus groups opportunities (I will update this list from time to time):

Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Bay Areas, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Charlotte NC, Denver, Fort Lauderdale FL, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St Paul, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Have you done an in-person focus group in your city not listed above? Please share your experience with us and thank you very much!

paid-focus-groups-online-moneyKeep in mind that those market research companies who conduct online focus groups also have off-line on site research facilities in major cities. For example, 20/20 research has facilities in Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN and Miami, FL.

How to Find Paid Focus Groups in Your City

First, find local focus group companies and join their database. You can do this by just searching online with keywords: your city name focus groups. You might be able to find quite a few focus groups companies in your city or town. Sign up to join their panel database for future studies.

Second, sometimes market research companies post focus groups opportunities on Craigslist – under your city, just type “focus group” in the search term and only search in “title”. Be careful of scams when you search Craigslist and don’t response to ads that have no company information.

Final Thoughts

Participating in paid focus groups is a fantastic way to make extra spending money! It is fun and worth your time to express your opinion on things you care about and at the same time earn extra good cash! Just like online surveys, technology has made it possible for consumers like us, to take part in focus group studies through cyber space. I just love online focus groups, it’s good pay and convenient!

Have you ever participated in focus groups (online, telephone or on site) and get paid? Please feel free to share your experience and I welcome your comments and questions!