I'll never forget my first focus group.
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I was in college and searching on Craigslist for side gigs and opportunities to earn extra money. I came across an ad for a local focus group and decided to fill out the survey to apply.
After a few days, I received a response that I was chosen to attend the focus group.
I attended the focus group in the evening and was joined by several other women. We all talked, ate refreshments that were provided by the company, and after our hour-long conversation, we each walked out of the building with $100.
It was that simple.
What Are Consumer Focus Groups?
Focus groups are initiated by companies in need of market research for their products. It's important to never underestimate the value of your opinion. As a consumer and member of society, marketers and brands are often dying to hear what you have to say about their products and how they can improve them.
Sending out surveys only goes so far. This is why it's common for companies to pay individuals for their time to sit down and discuss. This includes things like product packaging, first impressions of the brand, the effectiveness of the advertising, and so on.
A panel study is another form of market research that measures a consumer's attitudes and opinions about something specific over time. If you take part in a panel study, you may need to provide your feedback several times instead of just during one sitting.
Why You Might Want to Consider Signing Up
Simply put, focus groups and panel studies are often easy money. You basically get paid for sharing your honest opinion. That's it.
You may have to meet with a group of people to discuss your opinions or you could just meet with the company alone.
Most focus groups pay well over minimum wage for your time and they usually don't last several hours so it's quick and reasonable money.
Getting started is simple and you can either search for opportunities in your area like I did or you can sign up with a panel study company so you can receive regular email notifications when an opportunity is available that might interest you.
Top Panel Study and Focus Group Sites
There are several market research companies that allow consumers to connect with focus groups and panel studies that are relevant to them so they can earn extra cash. Here are just a few of the best options to consider.
20/20 Panel is a company that has been in business since 1986 and provides one-on-one interview opportunities or online sessions that pay out $50, $100, or $150. The focus groups and panel studies you'll find through this company can require a few hours of your time or may require you to be available over the course of a few days.
This company helps participants find focus groups that involve testing new products, tasting new snacks and beverages, watching new TV shows, taking online surveys, and more. Once you sign up, you'll receive invitations to apply for upcoming studies.
The compensation per completed focus group varies from $75-$150. You'll be able to cash out via check, gift card, pre-paid Visa card, or cash.
This research company was established in 1960 and offers in-person focus group opportunities for consumers and professionals in the Chicagoland and Los Angeles area. Focus group participants earn around $100-$200 per 1-2 hour sessions.
Fieldwork conducts focus groups in major cities across the U.S. and pays participants $50-$100.
Don't want to leave home? MindSwarms (read full review) is a third-party company that allows you to share your opinions for focus group/panel study research. You can do this via video on your computer's webcam, tablet, or smartphone.
If you'd rather just search for focus groups on your own, you can use this website to locate opportunities that are in your area and appeal to you. This site also offers paid online surveys for you to take and you can earn $5 for simply signing up.
What To Keep In Mind
While it's a great and flexible way to earn extra income, there are a few things to keep in mind when you join focus groups and panel studies.
- Application – You have to apply to opportunities when they are made available and you may not always get approved. When you apply for a focus group or panel study, you'll most likely need to answer a few prescreening questions. This can help save your time along with the company's time. For example, you don't want to be stuck with a focus group for two hours asking questions about a specific type of car when you aren't familiar with and don't even own a car.
- Relevancy – The focus groups you participate in need to be relevant to you. You want to make sure that your opinions and feedback will be truly valuable to the company. It's okay that you won't qualify for every opportunity because there are plenty out there.
- Competition – Also, competition may be a little stiff. It would be wise to sign up with as many research companies as you see fit. Turn on notifications so you'll be aware of when new opportunities come up. Also, actively search for groups and studies that are taking place in your area.
- Responsiveness – If you are pre-selected, be sure to respond quickly. Remember to answer the prescreening questions before the open slots fill up.
A Great Side Gig
All in all, doing panel studies and focus groups can be a great side gig. Keep in mind it is not a full-time job due to the inconsistency of available opportunities. As long as you remain alert and sign up with a few market research companies, it should be easy to earn a few hundred each month from focus groups and panel studies.
Have you ever tried a focus group or panel study or know how well they paid?
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