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Making Money With Paid Focus Groups Regardless Of Your Background

By Last update March 26, 2024
A man sitting at a computer participating in a focus group as a side hustle

Participating in focus groups has become an increasingly popular side hustle for many of us looking to make some extra money in our spare time. It’s a flexible way to earn cash by sharing our opinions on products, services, and various topics.

Whether we’re navigating through online opportunities or attending in-person sessions, the appeal of focus groups lies in their convenience and the potential to provide valuable market research feedback.

While some of us may be hesitant about sharing our thoughts with strangers, the money you can make is quite persuasive, with some focus groups offering a pretty great hourly rate for our time and input.

It’s a chance not just to pad our wallets, but also to influence the development and improvement of products and services we use every day.

The diversity of focus group topics and methods means that there’s something for everyone, even those who have backgrounds that make finding employment difficult.

Ranging from telephone interviews to product testing, focus groups provide various formats to suit our preferences and schedules. The key is finding the right opportunities making sure we’re not spending all our time searching for opportunities.

What Focus Groups Are

Focus groups are a research method used by companies to gather feedback on products, services, or ideas. Typically, they bring together a small group of people who fit a specific demographic profile to discuss and provide opinions on a particular topic.

Each participant has the chance to voice their thoughts while the session is moderated by a professional to ensure the conversation stays on track and each aspect of the discussion is covered.

Why focus groups are a great side hustle

Participating in focus groups can be both rewarding and enjoyable for us in several ways:

  • Great hourly pay – Many focus group opportunities pay $50 to $300 per session, depending on the focus and length of the session
  • Background checks are rare – Organizers rarely run background checks which allows those of us with criminal records, addiction issues, or other hurdles to participate
  • You get to influence the direction of products/services: Our opinions directly impact future products and services which can be a lot of fun
  • Flexible and no commitments – You can apply to as many or as few focus groups as you want and many are now completely virtual

The key to success

The real work when it comes to focus groups is finding good opportunities. The actual focus groups themselves are relatively easy and fun. Filling out hundreds of different focus group applications is the real grind.

You have to be willing to fill out a lot of applications knowing that you will only be approved for a small percentage of the groups. If you accept that it’s a numbers game this becomes a lot easier.

Before diving in, it’s important to understand how to find opportunities, qualify for them, and sign up effectively.

Finding Focus Group Opportunities

The most difficult and time-consuming part is going to be finding new opportunities. You have to stay vigilant and frequently check for new studies that match your interests and demographics.

There are a few group sources of focus group opportunities that you should try out and get more familiar with:

Focus group companies

Many companies only go through a professional focus group company when they want to conduct their research. There are a ton of them out there and they all have their positives and negatives.

I would recommend trying a bunch of them and see what works best for you and your situation. There are a handful of popular ones that you can start with including:

This is just a short list of the many companies out there that pay for focus group participants. You can find more with a quick Google search or using the other options below.

Focus group opportunity email lists

Googling “focus group companies” and signing up for all of the email lists is an effective way to get emailed directly with new opportunities. You often need to move quickly on good focus group opportunities so this is the best way to do that.

You should create a new email address that you only use for this so your main email address doesn’t get flooded. You should also get in the habit of bookmarking all the “new study” websites and visiting them regularly.

Facebook groups

There are quite a few Facebook groups devoted to helping people find paid focus group opportunities. Search on Facebook for “focus groups” or “paid focus group” and spend some time reading through the groups. Larger groups tend to have more opportunities but not always.

You do need to be careful here though and don’t just give out your information to anyone. There are a lot of scammers out there that promise paid work that don’t deliver. Make sure you are only signing up for opportunities that have a lot of credible people vouching for them.

Paid focus group subreddits

Reddit is another great source of opportunities as well as best practices. There are several communities dedicated making money taking with focus group that will include opportunities as well as tips and tricks to making the most money.

Like Facebook, be careful before signing up for anything and make sure you are vetting every opportunity properly.

Maximizing the money you make

If you want to make as much money as possible with focus groups you need to be a great focus group participant and become as efficient as possible in searching for and applying to opportunities. Here are a few tips on how to do these three:

Being a great participant

It’s crucial we are engaged participants. Before the session, we should thoroughly research the company and their products. During the focus group, actively listening and providing thoughtful feedback can distinguish us from others, often leading to invitations for future, higher-paying studies.

  • Do:
    • Prepare in advance.
    • Contribute meaningful insights.
  • Don’t:
    • Sit back passively.
    • Offer generic responses.

Efficiency tips

You want to look for ways that you can cut down on the time it takes you to find and apply for new opportunities. Here are a few tips that have worked well for others:

  • Put together a list of all the information that is commonly asked for so that you can easily copy and paste anything you need
  • Use the autofill function on your phone or computer for the most commonly asked-for information
  • Try to track what focus groups you apply for and the likelihood you are accepted or not. Try to identify the companies that consistently reject your application and stop spending time applying to those.

Making money from focus groups is often a numbers game and the more applications you send out the more opportunities you will find.

A few additional things to remember

When we explore the opportunity to make money through focus groups, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a positive experience.

Time Commitment

Participating in focus groups can be an appealing way to earn some extra cash, but it’s important to consider the time investment. Sessions can vary greatly, from quick half-hour discussions to more extensive multi-hour commitments.

You will probably spend more time filling out applications than you do in actual focus groups but that’s just how it works.

The projected income can range from approximately $50 to $300 per session, largely depending on the length and complexity of the study.

Privacy Concerns

Engaging in these groups requires sharing our opinions, and sometimes personal information, which raises privacy considerations.

It’s prudent to understand how our data will be used and to ensure we are comfortable with the privacy policies outlined by the company conducting the focus group.

Keep an eye out for scammers

There are a lot of fake and scamy paid focus group opportunities out there posted by people that want to get your personal information.

Make sure you are being very careful with what companies you give any information to, especially private information and banking information. You should never have to send any company money and if they ask you to run away fast!

Adam Sanders has worked as a reentry advisor, program leader, and teacher at San Quentin State prison in San Quentin California for several years. He co-founded San Quentin's financial literacy program and is passionate about helping former offenders successfully re-enter society and find personal and financial success. Adam also has nearly a decade of experience working in Marketing and Finance for large software companies and an MBA from Northwestern University.