Online surveys are not the only way you can make money with market research. There is another way that companies will pay you for your opinion: paid focus groups.
Focus groups are more elusive than paid online surveys, but can be much more lucrative. Focus groups are similar to surveys in that their purpose is to gather information about how a select demographic responds to a product, an advertising campaign, or even ideas and policies.
They differ from surveys in that for the most part, focus groups are conducted in person, usually at the market research firms' offices. Also, as the name implies, they are usually done in a group setting.
How focus groups work
The company conducting the focus group will schedule a date for the focus group to meet. The participants will meet at that time and discuss their experiences with the subject they're asked to evaluate. An employee from the company will moderate the meeting and will ask questions of the participants. Once the meeting is adjourned, each member gets paid for his or her time. The meeting can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours and because a bigger time commitment is necessary, the pay for participating is somewhat higher than for online surveys. It averages about $100 per meeting.
Locating focus groups
Finding focus groups is much harder than finding paid surveys. For the most part, focus groups aren't advertised as much as paid surveys, if at all. When they are advertised, the ads won't be online, either - offline advertising sources like newspapers, magazines, and local bulletin boards are more likely places for focus group ads.
While focus groups can be conducted online or by phone, they are mostly done in person, reports Arizona.edu. This can present a problem for people who don't live in the larger metropolitan areas because most focus groups are conducted in those locations. Hubs of focus group activities can be found in the cities of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas and Philadelphia. Because it's rare to find legitimate paid focus group opportunities online, you should only join those panels that you've discovered through a trusted source. A better way to find focus groups is to peruse the classified section of your local newspaper or visit the bulletin board at a college campus near you.
Joining focus group panels
The first step is to find a number of market research companies in your area that conduct focus groups and apply to all of them. Each company will have a website and instructions for applying. It is crucial that you fill your application out as completely as possible as the application process is used as part of a screening tool to determine if you fit the market research company's current needs.
If your application passes the first screening, you'll likely be asked to submit to a telephone interview. During the interview, a market research employee will ask you questions about your habits, your hobbies, where you like to eat, what brands you use, among other things. This interview is part of the second screening and will determine whether you can join the pool of focus group participants and which groups in which you're best qualified to participate.
Making money with focus groups
Just like with paid surveys, it's important to join more than one market research company. Group participation is determined by demographics and by interest levels. Joining a number of companies gives you more opportunities to match each company's criteria for participants. Unlike online surveys, focus groups are mostly conducted offline at a particular place and at a particular time, making them less flexible than surveys.
Because of this, Survey Spencer recommends getting to the focus group location early or on time. If you need to make arrangements for a babysitter, you should do that well beforehand. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the location, allowing time for parking and finding the place. If you miss too many meetings or are continually late, you risk being dropped from the panel, or at least not being chosen as often as other members.
Paid focus group scams are even more prevalent than paid survey scams. It's important to realize that since most legitimate focus groups won't be advertised online, any advertising that you do see on the Internet is highly suspect. Approach these opportunities with a high level of caution.
If any website advertising such an opportunity asks for payment of any kind in exchange for joining or participating in focus groups, it's most definitely a scam site since legitimate market research firms will never demand payment for focus group participation. Finding legitimate paid focus group opportunities is not easy and requires more offline footwork. However, once you find a set of companies with offices located in your area that host focus groups, you've found a great source of extra income that can be much better than online surveys.
Here is a list of focus group panels to give you a head start in your search:
If you're looking for a way to make more money from market research then you may find that digging for legitimate focus groups is worthwhile.
Article contributed by Jason Madison, a survey panelist and focus group veteran. He's one half of the team that runs the site Top10BestPaidSurveys.com. There he chronicles his experience filling out surveys for money and taking paid focus groups.
I'm Louida from Atlanta, Georgia and I'm a mother of two daughters, blogger, and full time working mom at a Business Consulting Firm.
I love helping others learn how to start working from home on the internet free to supplement their current income.
I also blog at Productreviewmom.com
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