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Your Opinion Odyssey: How to Find Focus Groups that Pay You Money
To find focus groups is one way of earning extra cash. You need no training, experience or initial investment. The experience is generally a fun and enjoyable way to spend an hour or two. And your discussion can affect the design and development of a new product.
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
Craigslist is the most obvious choice to find focus groups that pay you money, since its postings are free and city-specific. Your first step is to select your city to display the categories for your location. Click ETC under Jobs to display a list of groups. However, be careful, since Craigslist is also fertile ground for scammers and charlatans. Ask the following questions when evaluating potential opportunities.
- How often does the ad for the focus group appear? Companies usually start gathering participants for a focus group only a few days to a week before the group meets. Ads that appear longer than a week are suspect.
- How detailed are the requirements? Depending on the product being tested, focus groups usually specify such eligibility requirements gender, age and qualifications such as jobs or product use. Listings that asks for “everybody and anybody” are probably scams.
- What information are they requesting? Researches may ask you to email or phone them to supply your name, phone number, zip code, age, gender, race and answer a few questions. Or they may direct you to a web page where you can fill out a form. In the latter case, the sponsoring company is clearly identified. (You can Google that company name for more information.) Researchers will never ask you for credit card information, up-front payments or Social Security numbers.
Having said all this, I’ve only ever found one or two focus groups on Craigslist that I’ve participated in.
How to Find Focus Groups on a Website
You can also find focus groups n network websites such as FindFocusGroups.com, which lists several legitimate opportunities and allow you to search for them by city or state. Large cities such as Los Angeles and New York may have several postings every few days. Before you click on the focus group title, which also lists compensation, check the date of the posting. If it’s older than a week, it’s most likely no longer valid. Clicking displays one of three pages.
- One gives specifics on what the focus group is about and asks you to either email your details, or phone for more information.
- Another asks you to fill out an eligibility survey.
- A third asks you to join the website, which is free, to access the eligibility survey.
I have found a few focus groups to join through this site.
How to Have Focus Groups Find You
If you’d rather have research companies contact you to participate in focus groups, you can sign up directly with each research company. To find research companies in your area, Google “focus groups” and your city name. You can find a list of marketing research firms and focus groups facilities at Greenbook.
You may need to contact the companyp of your choice by phone to find out more information. But generally, you fill out a form or answer some questions to be put into the company’s participant database. When the company can find focus groups for which you qualify, they contact you to see if you are eligible. The more firms you sign up with, the more focus groups you can join. Most of my focus group participation has come from research companies.
Sample Focus Group Discussion
After you fill out a focus group form, the research company may contact you by phone based on your eligibility and whether they have enough representatives of your population group. They’ll then ask you more questions such as when you last participated in a focus group. Most companies prefer participants who have not joined a focus group in the last six months. Though sometimes this only applies to participation in groups given by the calling company. If the person calling you determines that you qualify, you’ll be given details on where to go and what time to get there. She will also send you email to confirm your participation.
Always arrive 15 minutes or so before your scheduled time to fill out any required paperwork. You’ll need to bring picture ID in most cases, and sign in with the receptionist so they know you’re there. You are then taken into a meeting room to begin your discussion.
After your focus group discussion is finished, you need to check out with the receptionist to receive compensation in cash. The going rate is about $45 per hour for general consumers. Rates go up if you meet specific qualifications such as owning a certain product or being plumber. The highest rates are reserved for decision makers of large corporations or medical profesisonals. These can run up to $100 an hour or beyond.
Don’t expect to make a living from this. You may be contacted once every few weeks at most, though it’s usually once every few months.