If you are considering if focus groups as a gig are legit and maybe you should try them, you are not alone. Doubts can visit many people looking at this sort of occasional money-making, so we’ve decided to dismantle some myths (or confirm some rumors, if you prefer).
To begin with, focus groups are a reputable endeavor and they can bring you one-time payment, sometimes quite a substantial one. Yes, organizers pay money and yes, you do what the job description says – answer silly or not-so-silly questions online or have a heated debate with a stranger about the shade of pink to use for a new model of a water bottle. Yet everything has its pros and cons, and focus groups are not an exception. Let’s look at them critically and see what can push you to or deter you from diving into this new activity headlong.
Upsides of Focus Groups
They do provide a source of additional income. Established companies that run such groups value their reputation, so they pay what they promise. Definitely, some groups can bring you around $50 for a one-hour session (and why not get them). However, more profound and complex research may fill your wallet with up to $400 for a 2-3 hour session.
They are cool to take part in (if even for the fun of thinking carefully about something you took for granted). Events of this nature steer you out of your comfort zone. They let you exercise your brain and show you new ways to look at familiar things. After a couple of truly interesting groups, you will gain better analytical skills and will boost your creativity. No kidding.
They are a way to meet new people (if you attend them in person). The audience is usually diverse, but they are all people that have something in common – education, job skills, use of some product, etc. So you will have something shared to talk about with passion. Peanut butter ice-cream lovers, unite!
They have a noble goal and fulfill it – with your contribution. Smart scientists do not pay money for nothing. They will use your contribution to make conclusions and improve the product, or to come up with a service or app that did not exist before. So you can secretly see yourself as one of them, the people who change the world.
Downsides of Focus Groups
Payment may differ depending on the type of event and its topic. Unfortunately, not all focus groups offer $150 for an hour or two of your time. Some offer modest $20 or $30, but they usually are brief and can be completed online. If you have expertise in some field, expect the compensation to be higher than for general purpose groups.
Payment may be provided in form of gift cards, not cash. Yes, before applying, read the fine print: many organizers offer compensation in form of Amazon gift cards (or similar). If you need money only, look elsewhere.
The field features scammers, so you need to learn to screen the offers. Yes, bad people will try to exploit your desire to earn and offer lucrative groups that will require a ‘tiny entry fee’ (or use other schemes to cheat you out of money). To avoid this situation, first, learn to notice the warning signs, and second, search through the trusted sites listing the best paid focus groups. It will save you from lots of disappointment (and from losing your own hard-earned bucks).
You need to go through a basic screening yourself. To qualify for a really high-paying and interesting group, you need to own a particular skill or experience. Screening aims to find out if you really have this skill and if you can confirm it. So take the screening process seriously.
The opportunities appear randomly, so you cannot rely on them as a steady source of money. Unfortunately, this thrilling task is not a full-time job. Take it as a nice enriching experience you can get now and then. In particular, if you live in Greensboro and want to give it a try, browse through the best focus groups in Los Angeles and pick the focus group from the pool of carefully selected and rigorously verified.
It will make your exploration of this vast and captivating universe of marketing research totally safe and cool.