Put Your Opinions to Work: the Best Online Focus Groups

Have you ever earned money by participating in an online focus group? The legit online focus groups – the best focus groups – can pay some pretty decent money for your time. And all you have to do is be willing to share some opinions.

Simply put, online focus groups are kind of like the “elite” version of online survey sites. Even the online focus groups take place “in person” in that you will be asked to participate in a phone or Zoom call. The researcher will ask you questions about the topic they are researching and you will give your honest opinions. 

The tough part is qualifying for the group. Each study will be looking for a very specific type of person so finding one that is perfect for you can take a while.

What is a Focus Group?

A focus group is a small group of people that market research companies pay for participating in a class in which product, service, and perspective opinions are gathered. Focus groups can be held in person at a research firm’s office location or online.

We’ll be focusing mostly on firms that offer online focus groups. But we will share what happens at in-person focus groups as well.

What Happens During a Focus Group Session?

Different things can happen depending on the type of focus group. For in-person focus groups, participants usually test out a product. The product might be a potential new food product like a snack or health and beauty product.

I’ve done in-person focus groups where I’ve tried out granola bars, skincare lines, and laundry detergent. It was fun to try potential new products and give opinions about whether the product was something I would buy in the store.

Online focus groups often center around people’s opinions. For instance, a political group might gather opinions about current events or what people want from their elected officials.

The market research firm will hold a Zoom-like meeting to get answers to a specific set of questions. A moderator who is responsible for asking questions and guiding the conversation will facilitate the meeting.

Bonus: Online focus groups are great gig jobs with little to no human contact.

How Much Time Does an Online Focus Group Take?

Online focus groups typically run anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Some studies are longer-term studies where you’ll meet more than once, but each session is still somewhat short.

For instance, you might meet once a week from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for three weeks.

What Experience Do I Need to Participate in an Online Focus Group?

You don't need any particular experience to participate in an online focus group. Each study will be looking for a specific type of person. For example, a focus group for a political candidate will be looking for those who are registered with their party. Or a company looking for feedback on their new type of baby food will be looking for new parents.

To find out whether you qualify for a study, you’ll get asked a series of questions. This type of pre-screening survey will help companies get the right people for each group. The pre-screening surveys usually don’t take very long; typically under five minutes.

Also, you’ll need a decent computer that has a solid internet connection, a microphone, and a camera as well.

How Much Money Can I Make with Online Focus Groups?

Once you’re approved for a study you’ll be told of the time commitment and the pay rate. Shorter studies that run 30 minutes or so often pay between $20 and $30 dollars.

Longer studies can pay $50, $100 or even $200. The skincare product study I participated in paid over $800, but it was a several week commitment where I had to use the product at home and make three visits to the research firm offices.

Research companies always let you know the time commitment and the pay rate upfront. That makes it easy for you to decide whether or not you want to take the time to participate in the study.

Top Online Focus Groups

We’re sharing the names of a few of the highest-rated online focus group companies and a little bit about each company.

Respondent.io

Respondent.io coordinates and facilitates one-on-one research interviews. This company seems to focus more on career professionals for their surveys.

They look for candidates in career fields such as software development, executive management, marketing, and business ownership.

The sign-up process is easy and you can get paid as much as $140 an hour for your time. However, since the researchers (i.e. the companies that hire Respondent.io) pay you and Respondent.io doesn’t, Respondent.io takes a 5% fee off of what you earn.

Proceeds from studies are paid via PayPal. And you can earn additional cash when you refer family and friends to the company. FYI, Respondent.io holds in-person studies as well.

Recruit and Field

Recruit and Field offers online focus group studies for a wide variety of participants. You can sign up if you’re a medical professional, a business professional or a consumer.

Luckily, the “consumer” category covers just about everyone. Recruit and Field has been in the market research business for over fifty years. They pay an average of $100-$275 per study.

Their website doesn’t disclose whether any fees are charged. Payment is typically made via PayPal, but they do have some gift card payment options too.

Recruit and Field also offers studies via phone and in-home product testing.

Fieldwork

Fieldwork also has a need for research participants that range from medical professionals to all types of consumers. Although this company does primarily focus on in-person groups (they have 11 offices in the U.S.) they also do online interviews and phone interviews.

The one or two hour groups usually pay around $75. Payment is typically made via Visa gift card. However, sometimes they’ll pay via check.

Fieldwork does in-home product testing as well. Note that if you live close to a Fieldwork office, they’ll probably want you to do the in-person focus groups.

However, if you don’t live near a Fieldwork office, they’ll let you sign up for the online groups or phone interviews. If you do live near an office but can’t come in for some reason, ask if you can sign up for online groups anyway.

User Interviews

User Interviews holds a variety of studies for all types of consumer groups. They have online groups, but also one-on-one interviews and longer studies that span the course of several days.

Pay ranges from $75 to a few hundred dollars, depending on the type and length of study you take part in. Many of the available studies with this company center around consumer products.

Note that with User Interviews, sometimes User Interviews pays you directly, and sometimes you are paid by the company that needs the information you provide. For that reason, the type and method of payment can vary.

Other Popular Companies that Hold Online Focus Groups

Here are some other companies you can look into that let you participate in online focus groups or online surveys. It’s important to know that many of these companies focus more on surveys than on focus groups.

If you like the idea of having an influence on the products and services companies are producing, and you like the thought of making money by working from home, consider participating in online focus groups.

Doing so can be a great way to earn some extra money right from your computer.

Summary

Online focus groups can be a fun way to earn some extra cash. And unlike with surveys, you can earn more than a few bucks as focus groups tend to pay quite well. However, it can be difficult to get selected since they are often looking for a very specific type of person. 

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Laurie Blank

About Laurie Blank

Laurie Blank is a blogger, freelance writer, and mother of four. She’s psyched about teaching others how to manage their money in a way that aligns with their values and has been quoted in Bankrate.

She's a licensed Realtor with Edina Realty in Minneapolis, Minnesota (also licensed in Wisconsin too) and has been freelance writing for over six years.

She shares powerful insights on her blog, Great Passive Income Ideas, that will show you how you can create passive income sources of your own.

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