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15 Paid Online Focus Groups to Join and Earn Extra Cash

In one of my more risqué moments of earning side cash (and before the advent of paid online focus groups) while completing my graduate studies, I got to look at market campaign ads for K-Y Jelly.

A group of about 10 women, including me, sat in a small room and commented about which ad appealed to us the most and why.

While we wrote down our responses and discussed them amongst ourselves, we were monitored by observers sitting behind two-way mirrors.

At the end of an hour, we exited the room and collected our $60 checks at the front desk.

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I ended up making $120 because I participated in two such ad campaigns.

Later, I participated in a weekly online market research survey that was conducted for Domino’s Pizza.

Each week, I answered five multiple-choice questions about the company and its products. Each answered question earned me a dollar. At the end of the five-week study, I had amassed a tidy $25 that was paid to me via PayPal.

In both cases noted above, I participated in a consumer focus group.

What are consumer focus groups?

Companies that are about to launch a new or improved product typically gather consumer feedback about that product prior to launch.

This helps these companies tweak the product to fit different consumer needs and address relevant concerns. Consumer focus groups typically consist of 8 to 20 members of their target audience for the product in question.

These group members are asked questions by a moderator after reviewing the given product; their responses are recorded and analyzed via hidden third-party observers. For their efforts, focus group members are paid quite well, with some members earning as much as $100/hour.

Paid Online Focus Groups are the New Norm

Consumer focus groups used to operate strictly on-site in big cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta.

Focus group participants would have to go in person to designated locations and spend anywhere from half an hour to several hours.

Back then, most companies feared that online focus groups, where participants were unobserved, would dilute data quality.

Today, however, many (though not all) companies prefer the online consumer group format, feeling that it encourages a truer response because the participant is not being affected by the act of observation (also known as the observer effect). This is great news for folks who wish to work from home or who reside in rural locations.

How you can get involved in consumer focus groups

There are several well-known market research companies that regularly recruit focus group participants.

I’ve compiled a list of companies below that are actively looking for participants.

Sign up for as many as possible.

Invitations come infrequently, but by signing up with all of the companies below, you will maximize your chances of actually getting to be able to participate and get paid.

12 Paid Online Focus Groups to Join

In some cases, the companies operate both online and in-person focus groups.

Here is a list of companies that you could consider:

1. Swagbucks

Swagbucks allows ANYONE to take part in short, easy focus groups.

They also have daily surveys and poll their users and offer rewards for participating. Quick, easy, free. One of the best. Free $5.00 offer just for signing up.

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Don’t pass this one up.

2. Inbox Dollars

Inbox Dollars

As a Inbox Dollars participant, you will get to evaluate new and upcoming products from some of the world’s biggest brands.

You get paid cash via Paypal or check for sharing your opinions.

This one is a must join.

3. Toluna Influencers

Become a Toluna influencer

You have a voice and companies are paying top dollar to hear what you have to say.

Sign up, confirm your email, and start helping brands shape their products and you will get paid just for sharing your opinions.

4. 20/20 Panel

This company has been operating since 1986 and pays $50-$150 per focus session, which may be performed through in-person focus groups, one-on-one interviews or online sessions.

The studies can involve a few hours of your time and/or may also be spread out over the course of one to several days.

Prescreening (i.e., filling out a short qualification survey) is required if you wish to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming focus group or product test.

5. Adler Weiner Research

This marketing research company mainly offers in-person focus groups in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas, but they also allow individuals all over the US to participate in paid online focus groups.

The reported pay for 1- to 2-hour focus group participation ranges from $100-$200.

6. Focus Group by Schlesinger

This site pays $75-$150 for each successfully completed survey.

Participants must take an “eligibility screener” before being assigned to any online studies and must later pass four stages of screening.

7. mindswarms

This site has you answer in-home survey questions via a short video, using your computer with a webcam, or via the mindswarms Android or Apple Store app.

The pay can range from $10 to $50 per study/survey, and sometimes even greater than $50 depending on the survey.

8. Plaza Research

This company conducts in-person focus group discussions, telephone and in-home interviews, and online surveys.

The focus group sessions last roughly 1.5 hours and pay $100+.

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9. User Interviews

This company facilitates conversations about products, websites, and services both through in-person and online focus groups.

The pay rates vary depending on the company and the length of the session, but the average is around $50 per hour.

10. Respondent

Respondent is constantly on the lookout for all kinds of business professionals, such as software developers, marketers, business owners, and executives.

This is why the pay is higher than most of the other companies on this list, ranging from $150 per hour to $700 per hour.

11. PingPong

PingPong is a platform where app developers and website developers can connect with testers to help with their user experience (UX) research.

The pay ranges from €20 to €100 per hour, paid via PayPal or TransferWise.

12. American Consumer Opinion

American Consumer Opinion is a big survey company with over 7 million active members.

The pay isn’t normally that high; short surveys pay as low as $0.05. However, if you get selected for longer market research surveys, you can make as much as $50 per survey.

Manufacturer-based consumer focus groups

Major manufacturers often offer their own market panel opportunities via their corporate websites. Here are just a few manufacturers that you can work with to earn extra cash and receive free products:

13. Johnson & Johnson

This company offers consumers the opportunity to try new products, answer surveys, and participate in focus groups to try out upcoming Johnson & Johnson ideas.

14. Summer Infant

If you have a baby on the way or a newborn at home already, Summer Infant is paying new parents to participate in focus groups and try out some of their new products.

15. Engage

Engage has broken down their research groups into two categories: regular consumers and those in the healthcare industry.

Pay is determined by the company conducting the research, but Engage lists an average rate of anywhere from $50 to $250 to participate in a study.

Online Focus Group Pros and Cons

With online focus groups being more of the norm as opposed to in-person focus groups, you’re less likely to get stuck clearing your schedule for a day and traveling someplace only to find out that you’re not actually eligible for a particular study.

However, because focus groups pay rather well, competition for these opportunities can be stiff.

Thus, it’s best if you sign up with several market research companies and even follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

If you are notified of a focus group opportunity, don’t delay in applying for it as spaces often fill up quickly.

Focus group screenings can take up a significant portion of your time, from filling out your personal information online, to answering questions on the phone, to filling out additional paperwork before you are finally cleared for the study.

Disqualification can result from something as simple as not having the right type of smartphone, so make sure to read all of the requirements carefully before wasting your time.

The Bottom Line

Paid online focus groups aren’t going to replace your full-time income, but they can be an excellent way to make a few bucks in a day.

Companies do care what you think, and your opinions can help shape the future of some worldwide brands.

Plus, you get to see and use cool new products before they ever hit the shelves.

You may also want to look into getting paid to test products and joining online research studies if these side hustles suit you.

Which of these paid online focus groups are you most inclined to join? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

8 thoughts on “15 Paid Online Focus Groups to Join and Earn Extra Cash”

  1. Amazing article Halina,
    I have started many online jobs but due do scams I have to lose 8000 $. Then I have left all the online jobs. But when COVID start again starts work from home but this time I have started my own business Natural Stone tile.

    Reply
  2. I searched SQM and I don’t see where you can register as a panelist, and it seams that it’s only for Australia residents. Is there another one similar to this site that caters to USA?

    Reply
  3. Hello back Peter and thank you for your comment. To answer your questions, there may be some companies that limit how many FGs you do per semester or season. I worked with several companies, and while none of them gave me that requirement, it’s certainly within their rights to do so. My advice is to branch out and sign up with several different marketing firms, so that you always have work. Yes, you may get excluded from time to time based on past participation. Overall, I doubt you will ever replace your entire FT income by participating in FGs…I do them for spare cash, not for a FT 40 hr/week income. Thank you again for your comment.

    Reply
    • My intention is also to simply complement my income.. You say that the companies you worked with didn´t have this requirement but it´s very odd because I signed up with every company you list above and absolutely all of them sistematically ask if you have done any previous studies in last 3 to 6 months ..I can upload screenshots .
      How do you explain this ? Thanks

  4. Hi Halina,

    The other day i read ur article on focus groups and decided to try .. I have two simple question i would be really thankful if you could answer . I read on all focus groups sites and some actual focus groups applications that they screen out those who have done more then 1 FG per semester .. so i´m just wondering how can anybody make realistic extra money with just two FG a year ? I dont think it´s possible without lying .. and the question i´m aiming at is: If i ever do a focus group ( i havent yet even called for screening ) it would be impossible to lye to the same site staff right ? I guess that the only solution left is to lye at different FG web sites .. Or is there a way to make realistic money from this being honest about past participation ? ( i call realistic at least 1 focus study per month )

    Many thanks for your answer.

    Reply
  5. Great article Halina. I have never done any regular focus groups, but I really like online ones. They are a convenient way to make some cash and they are easy! You can do it from home and they do not mess with your work schedule. I have done few online focus groups, which I found through a company called SQM . I was actually looking for mystery shopping deals; I hadn’t realized that you can also earn money by doing online focus groups. You are right, competition for focus groups can be stiff and people who are interested should sign up with market research companies. It makes more sense to sign up for such companies that do more than focus groups, so you can know when there are other types of deals (e.g., mystery shopping) as well.

    The focus groups I have done took about an hour each. They asked several questions but it was more like a general group conversation, so I did not feel like I was in the spot or anything. All in all, it was over quickly, but I guess the companies that are doing it get some in-depth insight compared to surveys or other stuff.

    Reply
    • Hi Rob, Thank you so much for commenting and for mentioning SQM. I’ll definitely be looking into this online focus group. I also noticed, interestingly, that they warn folks about yet another money-wiring scam that has their name involved. I just happened to notice this warning because I wrote about a similar car wrap scam last year. Not that I’m calling SQM a scam- just noting that they’ve been targeted by another scam group.

      I occasionally mystery shop through HS Brands International and TrendSource; free subs and oil changes rock!
      Thanks again Rob.

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