Last Updated on April 4, 2021 by Kelly L. This post may contain affiliate links. Regardless, I only recommend sites I've researched and/or used and trust.
What is a Focus Group?
If you're not familiar with what a focus group is, it's all about opinions. And we all know that everyone has an opinion. Just like online surveys that you can earn cash and rewards with, paid focus groups are similar. Typically they used by marketing firms to gather feedback on something particular. This could be a new product that they'd like initial feedback on before it launches or even a new movie/TV show.
The feedback they get is invaluable to these companies and they are willing to pay people for their time and honest opinions.
More In-Depth Than Simple Surveys
Surveys are super casual “focus groups” in my opinion. That's not always enough or the type of feedback that marketing companies want or their research needs in order to run with a product or invest more money in its creation. SEEING a person's reaction to eating something and having them describe it face to face can be far more insightful than someone behind a computer answering questions about a picture of the food.
Surveys usually have much larger participation allotments as well. Focus groups tend to be much smaller and they usually want to screen their participants prior to letting them join. I realize that there is awesome opportunity to make money with online survey companies like Pinecone Research (they'll pay you $3 per survey!) and Branded Surveys — but they aren't typically going to pay what a focus group would pay. You'd have to invest a lot more time. That's not to say you'd shouldn't pick up extra cash doing online surveys, on the contrary. It's one of my biggest money makers. You can read all about Ways to Make Money ($600 a Year!) Online EASILY and discover how I make $50 a month for my end of the year holiday shopping.
Online Focus Groups vs In-Person Focus Groups
Though participating in an online focus group is much more convenient, the opportunity for online focus groups is going to be much smaller. Simply for the reason, I stated above. The in-person responses and reactions are much more valuable. Of course, that's not to say there aren't online focus groups available. There just going to be harder to get into and fewer to find.
How to Find Focus Groups Near You
The first thing I want to mention is Facebook. That's actually what compelled me to write this post. I was actually looking for focus groups near me and asked friends on Facebook. They said – you can sometimes find them right here! Many market research companies have Facebook pages. Or Facebook groups that let you know about focus groups like, this one. Doing a quick search on Facebook brought up MANY groups – just type “focus groups” in the search space at the top and then select “Groups”.
I've also got a list below of companies that offer legitimate focus group opportunities.
Screeners are Important
Focus group opportunities usually mean filling out screeners. These screeners aren't super intense, but they are questionnaires that help the company recruit exactly what they are looking for. An example of why they do this? Say they want to do a focus group on diapers. They'd probably like have the group consist of those that need/use diapers. Maybe the product is a cookie for diabetics. Seems likely, they'd want to know what diabetics think.
Filling out as many screeners as you can with your legit information is going to give you the most chances at opportunities. Even if you only land ONE focus group – it might pay $300 for 3 days of participation. Not bad at all.
Just set a reasonable goal for filling out so many screeners per week – and stick to it.
Beware of Focus Group Scams
Scams are everywhere today and this includes focus groups. The main issue I want to bring your attention to is participation fees or registration fees. A legitimate focus group will never ask you to pay to participate. If you see something like this… report it. Save yourself from the scam and help others avoid it as well.
List of Focus Groups
Apex Focus Group
– They offer focus groups and surveys. But also clinical trials too.
– Foodie-friendly. They appear to taste-test focused and open to a large demographic. They've got an online portal you can use to sign up. (I think this portal is being updated right now.)
– They offer surveys, interviews and usability studies. They offer payment in checks, coupons and gift cards.
– They cover many areas, including government, big brands, and institutions. According to their site, “Compensation amounts vary, generally ranging from $50 to $200 per hour. A two-hour focus group typically offers a $100 incentive.” You can fill out their screener here.
– Their focus is on technology, websites and software. This includes website usability and phone apps. According to their site, “Incentives are between $50-$150 dollars per study depending on the scope of the study.” You can fill out their screener here.
Adler Weiner Research
– Locations in Chicago, Los Angeles and Orange County. Healthcare and retail focus groups.
American Consumer Opinion Panel
– Over 7 million active members and they've paid out over 30 million to participants. The average survey will take 10 minutes or so to complete, and the questions are usually easy to answer.
Panel members can expect to receive a “screener” (a short survey) every month or so.
– Participate in focus group discussions, telephone interviews, in-home interviews, and online surveys. Join their database in order to be eligible.
I realize that product testing isn't exactly a focus group situation in most cases — but I get a lot of emails asking if I know about any product testing opportunities. You can check out my post, Be a Product Tester from Home for Free – Large List of Opps for options and ideas. You'll find a good selection there and I try to keep it current, as well as add new product testing opportunities when I find them.
Surveys That I Personally Use to Make Cash
Surveys have been part of my online income since… forever. I try to bring in $50-$100 a month just doing surveys online. Sometimes I make more, a lot more! If you're dedicated and keep up with it – you can certainly earn extra cash doing them. You're never going to make a full-time income (at least I've never met anyone that does), but it's nice to have an extra cash flow for emergencies or just to put into savings. See my post, How I Make $325 or More a Month Doing Online Surveys to find out how I cash in and you can do the same.
I'm not great at mystery shopping, but I know a few people personally that are able to really rake in some serious cash and rewards doing mystery shopping. They are dedicated and spend 20 hours a week at least doing them — but if you don't mind get out and about and doing some shopping, test driving cars or having some lunch… this is for you. See my post, Big Mystery Shopping Companies List – Get Started Today for many, many companies that need mystery shoppers.
A Few Apps to Earn Cash
Lastly – I wanna mention just a few apps that can help you earn a little cash while you're out about doing focus groups, mystery shopping or whatever you might be doing. The ones I mention are easy to use, free and I've actually used them myself and earned some cash. The first is Mobee. These are little in-store shops or check-ins. I've done them many times at stores like Lowes, Walmart and CVS.
Another one is FieldAgent. Very similar to Mobee. You're basically using your phone to do mystery shops. To me… if I'm going to one of these stores anyway — why would I not want to make cash? Or if the store is close to where I am already going, I feel like it's worth it.
Finally, I want to mention, Job Spotter (from Indeed.com). They will actually reward your “wallet's” balance for every approved submission and you can redeem that balance for gift cards.
Are Paid Focus Groups for You?
Obviously, only you can answer that question. And there will be more opportunities for those that live in bigger cities than those of us that live in smaller ones or rural areas. But that doesn't mean you should rule it out. There are opportunities for online paid focus groups. But honestly, I think the in-person ones are going to pay more. I think they really want to see a person's reactions or gauge their feedback one on one.
If you don't mind being in groups with strangers or sharing your opinion in person — then you should definitely cash in. Keep tabs of who you've filled out screeners for and keep updating your list. It could mean a few extra hundred dollars a year. Remember when you were a few hundred short on something? Or there was something you wanted that you just didn't have the money for? This might be a nice little side hustle with lots of flexibility.