How I Turned Focus Groups Into A Legitimate Side Hustle

Tracy Scott
June 25, 2018

There are quite a few side hustle options to consider when you are debating how to make extra money — dog walking, babysitting, driving for an on-demand car service — and one to add to your list is professional focus grouper.

Now, you are probably asking yourself right about now, what exactly is a focus group?

GiGi DeVault of TheBalance.com defines it like this:

“A focus group is a gathering of deliberately selected people who participate in a planned discussion that is intended to elicit consumer perceptions about a particular topic or area of interest in an environment that is non-threatening and receptive.”

In other words, companies want an objective opinion about their products, services, or messaging, and so they solicit honest feedback. And they pay people for it.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

For the purpose of informing you on how to make the most money, I’m going to hone in on focus groups that you can do solo, or online or via telephone from the comfort of your own home.

Here, everything I’ve learned along the way from turning focus groups into a legitimate side hustle.

1. It’s a numbers game

People who make several hundreds of dollars a month doing paid focus groups are registered participants in at least 50 research company databases (on average). I belong to several private Facebook groups to chat about these things. A common thread I’ve found is many of the members in the groups (like myself) belong to numerous research company databases.

It might seem overwhelming at first, but for someone to earn hundreds of dollars every month with paid focus groups, it’s a must.

When you’re a registered participant, you’ll be the first to know when focus group opportunities become available.

More importantly, you’ll be the first to know about opportunities that match your profile. It does no good to know about opportunities you’re ineligible for, which is why it’s so important to register.

When you register to become a participant, you complete a basic profile. The profile questionnaire collects demographic information in addition to information relating to a variety of other topics in an effort to match you with appropriate studies.

These topics may include details about your household, the vehicles you own, your employment history, education level, your financial status and hobbies.

Based on the information you provide, research companies will email you study opportunities that are a likely profile match.

2. The money begins with the ‘screener’

A screener is a questionnaire that research companies use to make sure you’re a good fit for the study before confirming your participation. The screener will ask specific questions related to the study topic.

Sometimes you’ll complete a screener and be notified upon completion that you’re ineligible for the study. Other times, you’ll be directed to a generic page that says, “Thank you for completing this questionnaire.”

Oftentimes you don’t know until a day or two after you’ve completed the questionnaire whether you’re eligible for a particular study. Sometimes, you never receive a response.

That’s why it’s so important to complete as many screeners as possible. Once you complete the online screener, some research studies will follow up with a phone call. The phone call will ask similar questions to the online screener. Companies do this to make sure you’re answering the questions with consistency.

3. You have to be organized

When you belong to 50 plus focus group databases, you’ll need to be organized, believe me.

At a minimum, you’ll want to make a note of how each company chooses to communicate with its participants. Some companies will email you each time a potential opportunity matches your profile. Other companies want you to check their website for new opportunities. Then there are those companies that do a bit of both.

A simple Excel spreadsheet is really all it takes to stay on top of all the opportunities. Just make sure you note the name of the company, their web address and how they notify registered participants of upcoming studies.

4. You can’t be everywhere at all times

Who has time to check 50 plus websites every single day? No one. That’s why participants making hundreds of dollars a month also follow the social media accounts for every company they’ve registered with.

Many of the market research companies out there have both a Facebook and a Twitter presence. I suggest following both.

5. Network online with other focus group takers

High earners belong to private Facebook groups that contain other high earners. These groups share new studies with each other. Missed checking a research company’s participant dashboard today? Usually, someone has posted about it in the group. Want to add to your 50 plus list of companies to source studies from? This is the place to learn about new companies in addition to gaining some feedback on whether the new company is worth your time.

You can even start your own group of like-minded side hustlers. I recommend keeping the group private and monitoring activity to keep out spammers.

Tracy Scott is a writer at Earn It Save It where she loves finding new ways for people to earn and save money online. 

Feature Illustration: Laura Caseley For The Money Manual

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