Finding paid focus groups near you or online can be a great way to make some extra cash.
I mean, who doesn’t like talking about what they think!
Well, doing paid market research by participating in focus groups is an easy way to make money doing just that.
While some do pay more than others, there are plenty of paid focus groups that are legitimate, including in terms of just how much you can earn by doing this.
This is why, to save you figuring out how you can find focus groups, this article has found the best ones that really pay.
And you can choose to join a discussion on basically any topic you can think of. Whether you want to talk about what you bought at the supermarket last week or your opinion on the current state of politics in your area, there are definitely going to be options for you to make money discussing this.
What is a focus group?
A focus group is a small group of people who provide their opinions as a source of information on market research or political analysis. The aim is to use this information to determine the position of the general population on these same issues.
Focus groups can be conducted either online or in-person, but generally aim to have a diverse set of people participating. This is so that the company doing the research can have as wide a range of opinions represented in their findings as possible.
What is an example of a focus group?
An example of a focus group is one that’s held prior to the launch of a new product. In doing this, the company developing the product is able to gauge the general public’s opinion on issues relating to the product, including any marketing campaigns surrounding this.
The people participating in a focus group like this won’t only be asked about the new product itself. They may also be asked about any competitors, such as their opinion on these competitors, whether they’ve used any competing products and what made them choose to use that specific competing product (or not, as the case may be).
Focus group participants may also be asked for their opinions on advertisements, either for the product in question or other similar ones.
By doing this, it helps a company to shape both the product and the marketing around it to suit their target audience before the actual launch.
How do focus groups work in-person?
Focus groups that are held in person are undertaken by having you and the other participants come to a venue to discuss a particular topic.
You’ll often do this as part of a group in the same room, meaning you’re able to discuss your opinions with the other participants to hear what they have to say and vice versa.
Usually, there’ll be a moderator in the room guiding the discussion and taking notes. Their job isn’t to encourage you to have a certain opinion. Instead, they simply want to hear your thoughts on each of the different questions they want the discussion to cover.
Not all in-person focus groups take place over just one session. However, if you’re asked to come a few times, you’ll also be paid for each session you attend.
How do online focus groups work?
Online focus groups work in a similar way to in-person focus groups, except that you join via an online platform. You’ll often be asked to do this with your webcam turned on, meaning that everyone can see you and discuss the various questions essentially the same way as they would in-person.
Expect to receive a link to access the discussion in the days before the focus group session. This may be using more generic software, like Skype, but some paid market research companies do have their own applications they ask you to use.
You’re also likely to be recorded if you join any online focus groups, although this is also similar to what happens during in-person focus groups as well.
Online focus groups are becoming more popular these days for doing paid market research, as it’s much cheaper and logistically easier than trying to get everyone into one room. It also allows for a more diverse range of opinions, as people can join from literally anywhere in the world. This clearly compares to in-person focus groups, which have to generally be limited to those who are within driving distance of the venue.
What are the best paid focus groups online?
There are a ton of sites setting out options for you to do paid focus groups online, with all of them being free to sign up for.
In most cases, this is usually the only way to see the available focus group opportunities, so it’s a good idea to sign up for as many as you can to give yourself the best chance possible to qualify for a focus group and to make some extra money.
1. Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie is mainly focused on offering surveys for you to complete, which take just a couple of minutes each and will pay you a few dollars per survey.
However, they also offer focus groups online, as well as sometimes conducting them in-person or even by phone. They pay up to $150 for these sessions, which will usually require you to go through a few pre-qualification questions to allow you to be selected.
These generally only appear on the site once a month, so it’s a good idea to select the option to be notified of these by email as soon as they’re available so you don’t forget to check the site and miss one.
The best part here is that signing up for Survey Junkie is completely free, allowing you to keep an eye on what’s available at absolutely no cost to you.
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Respondent is well known for offering a massive range of paid focus groups online, as well as having some of the highest payment for these.
In fact, you can earn up to $250 just for a one-hour focus group. You can also be based anywhere in the world to do this.
To apply to join a Respondent focus group, you simply need to create an account and set up your profile.
From there, you’ll immediately have access to all of the different focus groups that are currently available to you. This is much better than some of the other companies, which only reach out to you by email if they think you’re a fit so it can be hard to know exactly how many are on offer.
Respondent does keep 5% of what you earn, although this is still very reasonable given how much they pay. For example, there’s currently an offer to do a 45-minute session to earn $100 online, of which I’d get $95 for less than an hour of work.
Sign up for Respondent here to see which paid focus groups are available to you.
3. Ipsos i-Say
Ipsos i-Say is one of the largest market research companies in the world, having been in this business for decades now. Not only does this mean they work with companies in all sorts of industries, but they also accept focus group participants from all over the world.
Their paid focus groups will generally let you earn up to around $100 for a one-hour session, however you can also download the i-Say app to do surveys through your phone. These will only pay up to about $1.50 per survey, although they’re much faster than the focus group sessions.
4. User Interviews
User Interviews is one of the most well-known companies offering paid focus groups and it helps that signing up is very simple.
Essentially, simply create your profile and the system will start automatically linking you up with any offers you qualify for.
And regarding how much you can earn, the starting range is around $75 for a half-hour session. From there, the amount you can earn can go way up depending on how much of your time is needed and how specialized the questions are.
In cases where you really need some background experience to participate, you can even up to $450 just for a one-hour focus group session.
5. Recruit and Field
Recruit and Field mainly does online paid focus groups, although there are occasionally options to do these in person.
And given how highly rated this company is online, you know they’re legitimate.
You’ll generally earn anywhere between $100 to $300 per study, with payment usually being made by PayPal although you can choose to get this paid through gift cards instead.
Recruit and Field does a lot of market research in professional and technical areas, meaning they are particularly on the lookout for focus group participants with specialized backgrounds, such as in the medical or legal fields. This means that if you’ve worked in these areas, Recruit and Field could be a good fit for you.
PingPong is one of the newer sites offering paid focus group opportunities, but this doesn’t make it any less legitimate. In fact, their clients include companies like Skyscanner, Nestle, Dropbox and McKinsey.
You can earn up to €100 per hour for their focus group sessions, which are also open to those in the US and other countries outside of Europe, despite their rates being in Euros.
There’s also the chance to get paid to test websites with PingPong, if you’d prefer that as a money making option.
7. Google Usability
Google Usability allows you to participate in market research directly through Google. These surveys specifically focus on you sharing your thoughts on Google products, which are mostly done online but there is the chance to do in-person studies from time to time.
You’ll earn around $75 per hour which, while not the top paying focus group on this list, does have the perk of knowing you’re directly shaping the products of one of the biggest companies in the world.
8. American Consumer Opinion
American Consumer Opinion has over six million users worldwide and is mainly focused on paying you to complete surveys. These don’t pay that much (up to around $0.50 per survey), but it does also have longer focus group surveys from time to time that pay up to about $50 each.
You’re not paid in straight up cash – instead, you earn points for each one you complete. These points can then be cashed out either through PayPal or by check.
9. 20|20 Panel
20|20 Panel pays between $50 to $150 for giving your ideas on its clients’ products and services. Having existed for more than 30 years, it’s considered as being one of the more established market research companies.
While they do have offices in several US cities, they mainly do online paid focus groups, meaning you can apply to participate from anywhere in the world.
10. Focus Pointe Global
Focus Pointe Global in the US (and its sister company in the UK, Inspired Opinions) mainly offers online focus groups, although there are also sometimes in-person options in one of their 16 offices throughout the US.
You’ll be paid anywhere between $50 to $250 for participating and it seems that they have a particular preference for anyone interested in discussing their thoughts on various medical issues.
This doesn’t only mean people with a professional medical background, as it can also include those who’ve suffered from an illness in the past and are willing to share their thoughts on various aspects relating to this.
It’s also worth mentioning that Focus Group by Schlesinger reviews, as this company is now more commonly known after it was bought out by Schlesinger, aren’t always amazing. That said, a lot of these seem to arise from some confusion by those who filled in their profiles and thought that this automatically qualified them to do paid market research.
Just be aware that that’s not the case for any company that runs paid focus groups – and the reviews of this company for people who did actually do some of their surveys are generally positive in terms of how much and when you’re paid.
Mindswarms takes full advantage of the fact that we all have phones with cameras by having participants answer market research questions by simply filming themselves then uploading their responses to the Mindswarms app.
This is much easier than having to attend an online focus group at a set time, as you can be as flexible as you want in terms of when you record and share your opinions.
It’s also very quick, as you’ll only ever have to answer up to seven questions in one go, allowing you to earn $50 for doing this.
What are the best paid focus groups near me?
When looking for paid market research near you, it can be helpful to stick to sites that incorporate a focus group finder function, like some of the following.
At the same time, as you’ll see, opportunities to join paid focus groups near you can also be found on some sites you’ve definitely already heard of.
12. Survey Feeds
Survey Feeds may not have the fanciest looking website on this list, but it has some incredible payouts for participating in a paid focus group.
These are offered both online and, in some cases, in-person, with the rates being among the highest you’ll see in this field. Standard rates are up to around $175 for a one-hour session but, as you can see below, they also have offers for you to earn $500 for a 60-minute in-person survey.
And you can even find the occasional one that will pay you $2,000 for a two-day market research workshop, as well as travel costs.
13. Find Focus Groups
Find Focus Groups has been around since 2006 and claims to have listed over 70,000 legitimate focus groups in the US.
They offer the chance to discuss your thoughts on all sorts of topics, including finance, travel, video games, food, sports and more.
You can search by city or state to find paid focus groups near you on their site. There are also options for those aged from 16 years old, for any teens looking to make money.
FocusGroups.org has focus group opportunities in more than 47 cities around the US, allowing you to earn up to $250 per group. In fact, they say that they’ve paid out over $16.5 million to participants.
You don’t even need to create a profile to see the paid focus groups near you, as you can simply click on your city on their homepage to see what each group will discuss and the payout.
15. Apex Focus Group
Apex Focus Group is essentially a search engine for different paid focus groups being offered around the US. While some of these are online, many of them let you find focus groups near you given that they all list any location requirements.
Almost all of them pay well in excess of $100, with several paying between $300 and $400 for your participation in what are mostly consumer-related questions.
Is Apex Focus Group legit?
While these amounts seem pretty incredible, you’ll find a number of Apex Focus Group reviews on Reddit that suggest that you may not ultimately end up getting that much money. That said, it seems that this could be the fault of the individual paid market research companies rather than Apex Focus Group itself.
Either way, as with any money making opportunity, make sure you’re 100% clear on what you’ll get out of it if you do sign up for one of these focus groups.
Fieldwork focuses on consumer-related questions, so if you’re interested in doing a paid focus group where you talk about the clothes you buy or the banks where you have accounts, this could be for you.
They have a list of cities in the US where they hold in-person focus groups. However, if you don’t live in one of these cities, you can also register to join their National Database for when they need focus group participants who aren’t located in a particular place.
From time to time, you can find paid focus groups on Craigslist. These are often with legitimate companies who aim to get a wider range of people by advertising on there although, as with all things Craigslist, make sure you check what’s involved before going somewhere in-person for this.
Facebook can be great for finding out about opportunities to join paid focus groups. For example, the Find Focus Groups page lists all of their recently added opportunities for which they need participants. By following these pages, you’ll increase your chances of seeing it and applying before anyone else.
How much do focus groups pay?
While rates will vary, most focus groups pay anywhere between $25 to $150 per session. The amount you’ll receive will depend on how long the session takes and the level of expertise required to participate.
If you attend an in-person focus group, you could also get some money to cover your transport costs and, if the session takes more than a few hours, even some money for food.
In some cases, if the session does require some specific expertise in a certain area, you can even earn up to $500 just for a one hour session, although this isn’t the norm.
Most companies that hold pay focus groups pay via check, bank transfer or as PayPal cash. In some cases, especially with online focus groups, you may get paid with a gift card for companies like Amazon, Visa or even PayPal which is, in effect, getting paid in cash.
In the case of a few sites, you’ll earn points instead of straight up cash. Those points can also be exchanged for gift cards.
Can you make a living doing focus groups?
Doing paid focus groups is great to earn some extra cash, but it’s going to be difficult to make a living doing this. This is because while some market research groups do pay well as an hourly rate, it’s generally not going to be enough to replace your main source of income.
This is why your goal in doing paid focus groups shouldn’t be to make a living. Instead, it’s a great way to make some extra cash in addition to your more consistent ways of making money.
Are $350 surveys real?
The possibility of doing $350 surveys is definitely real, although it’s good to keep in mind that this isn’t a standard rate.
Instead, it’s much more likely that you’ll earn anywhere between $25 and $150 for doing paid focus groups. Only in some very specialized cases can you earn much more than this, although these definitely can go up to and even exceed $350.
It’s also worth highlighting the fact that these great earning rates apply to paid focus groups, not the kind of surveys you’ll find in apps. While those surveys can be a very good way to make a few extra dollars, especially at times when you’d probably just be wasting time on your phone anyway, you’re more likely to make $3.50 from these rather than $350.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of focus groups as a way to make money?
When looking at the pros and cons of focus groups as a way to make money, the advantages include the following:
- It’s a quick way to make a good amount of money. It’s rare to find a side hustle that pays upwards of $150 per hour, but doing paid focus groups definitely meets that criteria.
- It’s fun to talk about your opinions. Most people like to talk about what they think, so the fact that you can actually get paid well for this is just icing on the cake.
- Your opinions can have an actual impact. By doing paid focus groups, these companies use this information to shape consumer and political action going forward. It can definitely be nice to know you have that kind of influence.
That said, there are some disadvantages in using focus groups as a way to make money that are worth considering. In particular:
- It’s not a steady way to make extra money. While the hourly rate of doing paid focus groups is amazing, it’s difficult to do this consistently. With paid market research companies often looking for a specific demographic, you’re not always going to qualify, meaning you can’t rely on this as an extra source of income.
- It can be hard to find paid focus groups that actually pay well. While there are plenty of options out there to earn good money doing this, there are also a lot of companies that try to undercharge. It can be tempting to accept any focus group opportunity in the hope of making some money, but make sure you know what your time is worth.
- The process of getting accepted into a focus group can be frustrating. Basically all of the sites advertising paid focus group opportunities require you to apply to participate – which you can only do if you meet some prerequisites. Even ticking off all the initial criteria doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be accepted, meaning it can get pretty frustrating when you want to make money in this way but don’t seem to be able to crack the code.
Are paid focus groups legitimate?
Paid focus groups are definitely a legitimate way to make money. There are dozens of major market research companies out there that rely on focus groups for shaping their customers’ activities, which means they pay very well for you to participate in these.
This doesn’t mean that all companies that run paid focus groups are legitimate, of course. Some do try to undercharge, which is why the list in this article focuses only on those that are known to be legitimate, including in how they treat participants.
Given that you can be paid upwards of $150 for only an hour of your time, this is clearly an hourly rate that you’re not going to get everywhere. In addition, by sticking to the market research companies on this list, you can be assured that they’re reliable and that you’ll actually get paid each time.
How do you find focus groups?
In terms of where you can find legit paid focus groups, some patience is needed. Because you’re generally only accepted into a focus group if you meet the target demographic, you will have to create a profile with each company for them to determine if you qualify.
This is why it’s a good idea to sign up for as many focus group companies as you can. By doing that, you’re making yourself available for as many focus groups as possible, in allowing these companies to check your personal characteristics and determine if you’re a fit.
Of course, you should also do your own research to make sure you’re comfortable sharing this information with each company. A simple Google search is usually a great start to see other people’s reviews on their own experiences doing paid focus groups with these companies. Checking these companies’ social media profiles can also really help.
Final thoughts: Are focus groups good for making money?
Doing paid focus groups is definitely a great way to make some extra money. The hourly rate is almost unmatched and there’s no question that it’s fun to talk about what you think with a captive audience.
That said, the biggest downside in treating paid focus groups as a side hustle is a lack of consistency in terms of your earnings. It’s almost impossible to guarantee that you’ll qualify for participating in one of these groups every week, for example as it’s so dependent on what paid market research is needed – and, in particular, from who.
No matter how great your experience has been in participating in paid focus groups previously, if you’re not in the demographic they’re looking for in a specific session, you’re not going to be able to participate in the next one. This can be pretty frustrating, especially if you’ve had success before doing paid focus groups and making serious money doing this.
This is why we recommend that while paid focus groups are great for making money, treat it just as one of your side hustles, not your main one. That way, you’ll be sure that you have as much money coming in as possible – and if you happen to qualify for a well-paying focus group at any point, then even better!
About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been featured on Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a six-figure investment portfolio. Find out more.