The blog post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.
If you’re wanting to bring in extra money without a long term commitment, then you might want to look into participating in a consumer focus group. Focus groups are a great way to earn extra cash while sharing your opinion or knowledge on various topics. Essentially, you get paid to give your honest and focused feedback on consumer products or services that require some extra tweaking before heading to market. And the best part? You get paid, usually in cash, for just a couple hours of your time.
I’ve participated in three different consumer panels over the past few years, one about marinade labeling, another about a thermal cup design and a third about credit union branding. Each panel took approximately two hours of my evening, and I received between $100 – $150 for my valuable opinions. (And don’t tell anyone, but they were actually really fun.)
Let me paint a picture of what the experience is like. A group of 6-8 of us get seated around a conference table with a professional moderator to guide us through the research. There’s a two-way mirror along one wall, where marketing bigwigs hang on our every word. (Or more likely, a video camera.) Most of our feedback is verbal, although a small amount is written. There’s zero preparation required, so all you have to bring is your opinionated self.
Also, there are snacks. Gotta love free food!
How to make money through focus groups:
- Find a company with an outlet in your area. The company I’ve worked with has offices here in Portland, Oregon, as well as Las Vegas and Seattle. Larger markets such as Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta will offer more than my own mid-size city, but you can find marketing companies almost anywhere through websites such as FocusGroups.org, PaidFocusGroups.com and FocusGroup.com.
- Click through your area’s focus group website to fill out a profile, then browse through upcoming panels to see if you’re a good fit for any upcoming research. The key is to return to these websites every few weeks to check if any panels match your interests and demographics.
- Once placed into a focus group, make sure to show up on time and be ready to impart opinions on stuff you might normally not think that much about. Be truthful though, as they’re paying big bucks for your thoughtful feedback.
- Get paid. It really is this simple.
Here’s a random sample of some focus groups that are currently recruiting:
- This focus group is “looking for Portland Beer Drinkers! We want to know what you like and don’t like.”
- This Chicago focus group is scouting for “feedback of people ages 16-24 on the topic of new TV shows.”
- This San Diego focus group is “looking for male and female science teachers to participate in a new study about Science Teachers.”
- This New York City focus group is “looking for people, ages 40-64, for an upcoming paid focus group on financial products”
The opportunities are almost endless, and although most focus group require you to come in person, others are online. So really, there’s something for everyone!
Consumer opinion focus groups are a great way to bring in extra money without the commitment of a traditional job. Perfect for those who need to work from home or choose to limit their commitments. Market researchers need this consumer feedback before rolling out their products and services, so you’re helping to keep half-baked ideas from reaching the market. Plus, it’s a fun way to spend an evening adding money into your wallet instead of draining it.