Being able to join a focus group online or take an online survey in return for some extra cash always feels good. Before when I was looking for a job when I got out of school, my mom told me there were focus groups in the city I could join for $100 a pop.
I went once and it was nice. I mean I got the $100. But it took up my whole day just to take part in the focus group. The session itself lasted on average, I would say, for about an hour and a half for the ones I did. I had to walk to the train station, take the train to the city which took about an hour, then walk or take a subway to the location, wait for it to start, join the group discussion of the focus group, wrap up it up and take the train back home for an hour. I'm exhausted just reading that over! It took so much longer just to travel than actually participate.
And even when you get to the focus group, a moderator leads the discussion making it even longer. Sometimes at least from my experiences, each participant would respond to the questions verbally, sharing their opinions with the other people in the group. It felt like it took forever to just essentially take a verbal survey even if I was getting a nice $100 to really do nothing.
What I wanted to do was find something I could do online instead for the same amount of effort without all the traveling. And lo and behold I found surveys online! They were a while ago, so I don't even remember the names of the focus groups and surveys, but I'm willing to bet they aren't around anymore. They weren't big name survey companies you hear about these days.
I didn't get a huge amount of money. It was like $50-$100 a week or every two weeks depending on how often I did them, but whatever, I just graduated college and was not as motivated as I am now to make extra money to save and invest it.
The difference between focus groups and surveys:
Focus groups are more interactive. They give more in-depth, higher quality insights into a question or topic and a whole range of information is collected from it. Like I mentioned above, moderators are there to lead the groups to stimulate conversation without exactly hinting at what exactly they want to hear. The moderator works with a guide that has an outlined plan to discuss. Sessions usually last from 90 minutes to two hours, although like I mentioned, I'd say on average they were 90 minutes.
Surveys are different in that they're less personal and usually more cost-effective. They provide more data that's quantifiable that can be more easily analyzed compared to focus groups. You don't have to go to a physical location to have a group conversation, you can just take a survey on your computer, which is why I personally prefer these more. It's nice because you can rifle through surveys on your own if you block out time and have enough lined up without having to listen to a whole discussion.
Tips for when you're doing these focus groups and surveys:
- Find as many as you can and sign up for all of them
- The focus groups don't take that long to do and the survey companies might send just a few surveys each month
- The more you sign up for, the better your chances are to earn more money
- Make sure they aren't scams
- A lot of stuff out there is fake
- Don't give out any private information you don't think is usually asked or relative to what they would need to know
- Do a quick search online to see if they are rip-offs
- If it seems like a get rich quick scheme, telling you that you can quit your day job and only do these surveys or focus groups, then I'd stay away from them
- The more you sign up for legitimate focus groups and surveys, some scam websites may be able to take your info from these sites and try to trick you into thinking you signed up for their fake sites; keep an eye out for them and make sure you don't click any hyperlinks within the emails
- Don't lie on surveys!
- You never know if it could hurt you because you don't know what they're looking for, and the real you may actually be what they want and gets you the money
- Save yourself the trouble and just be yourself when answering the questions; no need to psych out and exhaust yourself, it's supposed to be fun
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Here is a list of reputable focus groups/online surveys I found:
- You can go to focus groups at physical locations if your heart desires, take online studies or phone interviews based on the answers you give them when filling out their questionnaire
- They have a list of cities on the homepage where the physical locations are
- A place in New York City offers $300 for a group if you fit their need, that's not too shabby
- They also offer online surveys, home-based interviews, shop along and mystery shopping
- Even if you did one a week for $100 each, that's $5,200 in one year, almost the maximum limit for a Roth IRA
- That $5,200 invested for 40 years with a 7% rate of performance turns into $77,867!
- Keep up the work and invest the $5,200 each year for 40 years and it turns into $1,188,637!
- This site also pays for your thoughts; you can sign up for local physical locations or take online surveys
- On their site, they state you could be paid $50, $100, $150 or more just to share your opinions
- Making $150 a week adds up to $7,800 a year
- That adds up to $116,801 without reinvesting the $7,800 each year over 40 years
- If you do reinvest each year for 40 years that turns into $1,782,955 with an average 7% rate
- This market research firm runs consumer and healthcare research studies
- The pay ranges from $50-$250
- Let's say you did the bare minimum and made $50 a week
- That turns into $2,600, not bad at all!
- Following the same rules as above, without reinvesting that turns into $29,934
- If you do reinvest, that turns into $594,319 over 40 years, without even reinvesting dividends
- Sign up and have companies listen to your insights through recorded video either by your smart phone, tablet, iPad, etc. It's a pretty cool concept if you ask me, it's new to me
- The site pays you $50 for every study you complete
- The seats are not guaranteed, so once you're accepted, do them as quickly as you can
- Apparently, you answer 3-7 questions and you get paid $10-$50, so maybe the site is a little misleading when it only mentions $50 in pay
- Either way, it doesn't sound like it takes a lot of your time
- If you tried to aim to get $200 a week with this, the most surveys you would take is 20
- While that does sound like a lot, if you're still looking for a job out of school or are currently in between jobs, you may have the time to do it
- And then you'll probably get more efficient with it and figure out how to make the most of your time with it and complete them faster
- Going by the same formula as before, this turns into $155,735 from one year's worth of savings having it all invested in an S&P 500 index fund and $2,377,274 if you stuck with this or did something else for the same amount of earnings – again, this isn't to say you will stick with this for 40 years, it's just to show you the importance of saving early and how the power of compound interest can grow your nest egg for retirement
- Right off the bat, I'm sold: Do you buy clothes, listen to the radio, use a bank?? Umm, ya duh no more questions, where do I sign up?
- But in all seriousness, this is a legit focus group website that will be well worth your time
- The fieldwork office closest to you uses a computer program that matches your information to the research studies needed to be filled up
- They've been around for 30 years and have locations in 11 cities
- If you aren't near any of their physical locations, you can register for their national database
- Instead, you'll be eligible for phone and online studies
- I would just do these anyways, it saves you a ton of time
- You could probably easily do one a week if you don't have to drive to the physical location
- And $75 for each survey isn't half bad; if you really want to push yourself and build up to two surveys a week, you've got yourself a solid $150
- Same as the 20|20 Panel surveys!
- So just as a refresher, here are the money stats if you're diligent and take my advice and only invest the extra cash in an S&P 500 index fund: $116,801 without reinvesting the $7,800 each year and $1,782,955 if you do with the average 7% rate
- Cool beans!
So these are the few sites I came across, I hope they're of interest to you. If not, let me know why and tell me how else I can help. I personally have not tried these specific ones, but they do seem legitimate and to take online surveys without leaving your seat doesn't seem like such a bad deal, especially if you're just sitting on the couch watching tv. So let me know what you think! And make sure you don't spend any of the extra cash and invest it!
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