Paid Focus Groups and Me
I’ve always been wary of paid online surveys, mystery shopping and the like. I’m not saying these programs aren’t legitimate — I’m sure some of them ARE, but I’m convinced most of them aren’t. So I wasn’t pleasantly surprised when I was able to take part in a paid focus group that not only was all it was cracked up to be but also paid really well ($50.00 for about 2 hours of work).
I have written about this topic before (check this link for “highest paying surveys“) but I’d never really pursued “paid focus groups”.
So when the opportunity to participate in a paid focus group fell in my lap — this one had to do with the banking/investment sector — I thought I’d try it out. Heck, at the very least it might give me something to write about!
But first a little background.
There are an awful lot of scams out there. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that the lion’s share of paid focus groups are recycling the same generic information (that really doesn’t lead anywhere) while at the same time having you pay for it (which you should NEVER do), or your efforts at registering do nothing more than add to someone’s mailing-list data bank.
Having said that, I will say there ARE some legitimate paid focus groups out there. In particular findfocusgroups is a good resource: they have clustered paid focus group ads from Craigslist.com, so you have a lot of potential opportunities right at your finger tips. And speaking of Craigslist.com, if you click on the “Events” link located in the “Gigs” category (bottom of the page, lower right) you find many one-shot gigs that include paid focus groups and the like.
This particular gig I discovered courtesy of a friend who got wind of it from another friends. Well — that’s what friends are for, right? I wish I had a magic wand that automatically provided the companies that offer legitimate paid focus groups. I haven’t found it yet. (well actually I HAVE – it’s called the internet and the Yellow Pages).
Another thing: I have read several articles that say the key to getting a paid focus group job is by telling the interviewer exactly what they want to hear.
I don’t necessarily agree with this. An article on nymag.com went as far as saying that the trick was to let the interviewer do the talking and allow them to lead you. For example if they ask you, “Do you like Wrangler Jeans?” You’ll want to say “YES.” Well, maybe, if you already like Wrangler jeans the paid focus group can’t use you. My own experience — such that it is — is to be honest or at least answer a question with a question. I lost out on a lucrative paid focus group that had to do with theaters. The interviewer asked me, “Do you enjoy going to theaters?” I said “YES” and before I knew I was on the curb. They were looking for people who didn’t like plays or musicals. So you gotta roll the dice. And hopefully you’ll come out a winner.
This particular paid focus group had to do with a new banking facility in upstate New York. There were only about 10 participants in this focus group – which is a typical number for this sort of thing. We were contacted in advance via e-mail and given log-in information for the company conducting the paid focus group – HarrisInteractive (which is different from the company that provided the participants). I logged in, introduced myself and after that it was just a matter of following the moderators instructions.
We viewed several television and print advertisements and wrote down on thoughts based on the moderators questions. Every now and then they would ask a specific question to one of the participants. It was quite interesting and enjoyable and the two hours went by in a heartbeat.
The survey ended and the check’s in the mail. End of story.
The moral of this story? The reality is that paid surveys, focus groups, secret shopping — whatever — is a hard job. No one is going to reimburse you for the time you spend tracking down leads and filling out on-line registration forms. You have to be extremely organized and observant if you don’t want to get ripped off.
The money IS out there. But I wouldn’t give up your day job.
Takeaways from this post on paid focus groups:
- Paid focus groups are a great way to make extra money.
- It’s a challenge finding legitimate paid focus groups.
- Paid focus groups usually pay a flat fee and not by the hour.
Did You Know?
You may have more luck searching for paid focus groups in your local area or state, rather than scouring the internet for generic big-name companies.
Resources to find paid focus group studies:
- Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll invite you when a new paid focus group study is up in your area.
- Harrispoll Online – Provides online focus group surveys. Click here to join Harrispoll Online.
- Yougov– Provides online focus groups mostly in the range of $20-$30. Click here to join Yougov
- Ipsos Interactive – Click here to join Ipsos and participate in focus group studies.