Online Focus Groups: 10 Consumer Research Companies that Pay Up to $100 an Hour for Your Opinion

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

I recently participated in a paid focus group in San Francisco. You know, the kind with the one-way mirror on the wall.

We talked about travel habits and preferences for an hour and half, and I got paid $150 for my time and opinions. Not bad!

(I also won an extra $50 in a raffle for showing up 10 minutes early, which definitely sweetened the deal.)

online focus group

The whole thing was pretty quick and painless, and actually kind of interesting, and it got me thinking that this could be a fun side hustle.

So down the rabbit hole I went, trying to find other consumer research companies that operate nationwide or even ones that conduct studies online.

And I should note before we get started that these aren’t the typical companies that pop up when you search for “online surveys.” Those companies, like Springboard America, Swagbucks, and InboxDollars, and are legit, but pay relatively little.

(Though sometimes they do have higher-paying online focus groups.)

The companies I was after here were the ones that pay bigger sums to make it more worth your time. I earned $100 an hour for my little focus group adventure, and I think you can too.


Respondent is a cool service that facilitates consumer research studies online and in-person — with an average payout of $140 an hour!

Once you create your account, you’ll be able to browse all the open studies you might qualify for. The research brief will tell you the types of people the company is looking to connect with, along with your time commitment and pay rate.

If it looks like a fit, answer the brief screener questionnaire to throw your hat in the ring. I just finished one pre-survey and it gave me a match score of 91%, so I imagine if the company can’t find anyone better-qualified, I’ll get a call.

Respondent will also show you which studies are “over subscribed,” meaning they have more willing participants than they need, so you know not to waste your time applying for those.

The company takes a 5% processing fee, but the rest of the funds you earn will hit your PayPal account within 8-10 days of your study. (I did a $200 in-person focus group through Respondent and netted $190–not bad for a couple hours!)

Read our full review here.


Fieldwork was the company that hosted the focus group I participated in, which was moderated by a market research professional. They have locations throughout the US:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles (Orange County)
  • Minneapolis
  • New York (Fort Lee)
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

Compensation starts at $75 for participating in focus groups, and the sessions usually last between 1-2 hours. The drawback was I got paid in Visa gift cards instead of cash, so I went to the grocery store and bought Amazon gift cards with them instead.

Focus Pointe Global operates under the well-branded domain name and offers nationwide paid research opportunities.

The studies pay between $75 and $200 and are scheduled over the phone or webcam so you can take the calls from anywhere at times that are convenient to you.

When I signed up, I answered several of the screener surveys and didn’t end up qualifying for anything yet, but found the site relatively straightforward and easy to use. The studies I saw were related to beer, pets, and banking.

User Interviews

User Interviews facilitates in-person and online consumer conversations about products, websites, and services. The pay rates vary by company and length, but ranged from $25 for 3o minutes and went as high as $200 for an hour, but the average seems to be around $50 an hour.

For example, I took a screener survey for a chat about millennial financial decisions, which would have paid a $75 Amazon gift card for a 1-hour conversation.

American Consumer Opinion

ACOP is another market research company that insists on using their own “virtual currency” point system. Each point is worth $0.01 (basically nothing), but you can earn $0.05 to $0.50 for completing short screener surveys and up to $50 worth of points for longer market research surveys.

There’s a $10 minimum to cash out and you can deposit your earnings directly into PayPal. To give users an added incentive to complete the almost no-pay screener surveys, American Consumer Opinion will add your name to a monthly $50 drawing.

Inspired Opinions

Inspired Opinions is the consumer-facing side of the Schlesinger market research company. When you register, you’ll be invited to join studies online, over the phone or in-person at one of 16 offices around the country.

The annoying thing about Inspired Opinions is they’ve created a point system to reward participants instead of cash. 100 points is worth $1, and you can redeem points for gift cards once you’ve accumulated 1000 points ($10 worth).

I attempted to create an account to see how much various surveys paid, but when my confirmation email finally came through, the back-end of the site had no studies available.

Survey Squad

Survey Squad is a unique aggregator of paid focus group and survey opportunities. (The parent company Focus Forward helps provide participants to other research companies.)

The big money lies in their curation of actual consumer research studies, which may be specific to particular locations or conducted over the phone or Internet, and not their cheap online user surveys.

The “real” consumer studies are the ones that pay $50-250 in cash, check, or Visa gift cards, not Survey Squad points.


Mindswarms is a unique video consumer research platform that will pay you $50 via PayPal to answer 7 questions about a product or service. These studies normally take around 10 minutes and can be recorded via your webcam or smartphone.

When I tried to create an account, it asked me to make a profile video talking about one of my passions, but the “record” button didn’t work, so hopefully you have better luck.


SurveyFeeds isn’t a market research company itself, but instead a promising “feed” of paid survey opportunities around the country and online.

I found their Facebook page updated more frequently than their website, so it might be worthwhile to check there and see what you might qualify for.

The studies I saw ranged from $75 to $300.

Plaza Research

Plaza has research facilities in 14 cities across the country and does some phone-based and online studies as well.

You can earn $50-200 for a 2-hour session discussing new products from major manufacturers. Plaza Research targets consumers, parents, kids/teens, students, physicians and business professionals.

Probe Market Research

Consumers, medical professionals, and high-level executives are in demand for Probe’s market research panels. Focus groups pay between $50 and $400, and you may even may able to participate online or over the phone.

Major manufacturers and brands enlist Probe and its partners to conduct online surveys, mystery shopping gigs, mock juries, product trials, and more.


WatchLab has an obnoxiously inadequate website, but they claim to facilitate all sorts of focus groups, usability tests, interviews, mock juries, and more.

The pay varies depending on the research, and may be in the form of gift cards or cash. I saw ranges from $100 to $175 for an hour or two focus group. WatchLab have locations in San Francisco and Chicago, as well as online options.

For in-person focus groups you are paid on the spot, online may take 4-6 weeks.

Other Options

The companies listed above certainly aren’t the only research companies around, and for this side hustle, it might make sense to join as many firms as you’re comfortable with. That way, you’re presented with all the opportunities available, not just the projects managed by one company.

Here are a few more to consider:

  • – An aggregator service that lists focus groups from around the country. When I checked the compensation for these ranged from $75 to $350.
  • Prize Rebel – Earn $10-12 an hour doing surveys or completing other tasks. Just avoid the low-paying ones.
  • 20/20 Research – Funky looking website, but says you can earn $50-300 for participating in focus groups online or in-person in Nashville, Charlotte, or Miami.
  • UserTesting – Earn $10 for completing 20 minute online user tests of websites, apps, shopping portals, and more.
  • Tell Us Your Opinion – Mainly operating in Tulsa but may have online/phone opportunities as well.
  • IndyFocus – Indianapolis-based focus group opportunities, that seem to focus on the healthcare industry.
  • Adler Weiner Research – In-person studies in Chicagoland and Southern California.
  • Advanced Focus – Hosts market research panels and focus groups in New York City.
  • Consumer Opinion Services – Paid research studies in Seattle, Portland, and Las Vegas.
  • Engage Studies – Earn as much as $100 per focus group through this research company with a dated-looking site and intake form.
  • Nichols Research – Get paid to participate in in-person focus groups, primarily in Northern California.
  • Concepts Testing – The social accounts for this company are pretty dormant so I’m not sure if they’re still in operation, but they promise $20-1000 for product evaluations.

In doing all this research, a new side hustle came to me: web design and social media for these companies.

I ran into dozens of severely-outdated sites with copyright dates in the footer going back to 2010 in some cases. Their Twitter accounts where ghost towns and the blogs (if they had one) hadn’t been updated in years.

They might have a hard time making sales if their online presence makes it look like they’re no longer in business!

Your Turn

I wouldn’t look at focus groups or online surveys as a mortgage killer, but if you can land one or two a month, it would definitely help build your side hustle snowball.

Have you had any success in landing paid focus group studies? What do you think of this little supplemental side hustle?

Let me know in the comments below!

Stock photo by Akhenaton Images via Shutterstock

88 thoughts on “Online Focus Groups: 10 Consumer Research Companies that Pay Up to $100 an Hour for Your Opinion”

  1. Nice job, Nick!
    I have only ever been able to score low paying “mystery shopper” gigs. I get a free meal and $15 or $20 for my trouble. It usually takes about an hour, so am making $15 – $20 per hour.
    I have repeatedly mystery shopped a “Roy Rogers” restaurant that is on the NYS thruway. Almost every time I have had to travel to or from my daughter’s college campus I have been able to get a free meal, $10 or $15, and a portion of my tolls paid. I wouldn’t make the effort except that I am already driving by and there is a good chance that I would need a bathroom break anyway. Everybody wins. :>)
    I will be checking on a couple of the sites you provided to see if there is anything I qualify for.

  2. Nick, this list is AWESOME! I’ve been using User Interviews for about a month and a half and it seems like I hardly ever get selected for any of the surveys. In fact, I’ve only been selected for 1 so far (which literally took 10 minutes and I got a $30 Amazon gift card) and the second one I got approved for, by the time I got around to actually confirming my spot that evening, it was already fully booked up! I’m wondering with all the different options available if it would be feasible to make some decent side money – assuming the time commitment doesn’t get overwhelming. I’m gonna dig into this a little I think and see what I can come up with.

    • Hey Kyle, I hope you found some good “side jobs.”
      You mentioned that you used user interviews and only got 1 job. I’m so surprised by that. I have been using them for a few months and I have made a good bit of money. I had a 20 minute telephone survey and was paid $150! I had another that was in person. They came to my apt (they originally said to see my wardrobe in closet, but never did) they interviewed me on camera for about 10-15 minutes and then we went to a clothing store! They asked me if I liked the store, clothes, etc. In all I was with them about an hour. I got $350! I could have made another $100 for doing “homework,” but I was too busy. That’s just 2 of jobs I had from them.
      Anyway, I just wanted you to know, bcuz you should keep trying with them. I plan on hitting all these new ones, thanks to Nick! Good Luck!

  3. Another Great post, Nick! This is a great resource. I will definitely share this with few folks that may benefit. I did sign up with some of them using your link. thanks again for sharing this resource.

  4. Nice list! also let me add that I have a friend who keeps getting phone calls from UNC Chapel Hill Who is doing a long-term study with repeated phone surveys for the LGBT community. not sure how to get in touch with them but I’m sure people can Google and do a little research to find out and possibly get into it. A guy I know has gotten at least three survey phone calls from them in the last six months and each time he has made $30 or $40 for a 15 minute phone call.

    • My fieldwork study was similar; I’m not sure how they got my number, and I had to do some Googling to find out if they were legit. Then I figured worst case at least I’d get a blog post out of it!

  5. It’s funny you bring this topic up. I LITERALLY started signing up for focus groups last Monday (going on two weeks) and I’ve already made $650. Most have came from respondent. I also signed up for the Reddit r/paidstudy group as well as the cool work FB which posts multiple studies a day. I’m loving it so far!

  6. Hi Nick, I’ve been using ACOP for a few years now it does take a long time to gather up money. I usually wait till I get up around $50 or so to cash in. The problem I find is it takes two to three months for it to show up in my Pay Pal account, very slow turn around.

  7. Hi Nick,

    (I’m only writing here to make sure you see my email — don’t mean for this to be posted) lol

    First off, I want to say thank you for creating your podcast — I’ve been listening for almost two years now.

    I am a life coaching who offers 1:1 training, online programs, and products to help people discover their passion. I haven’t been around too long and was looking to grow an audience.

    For this reason, I was interested in knowing your fees for briefly introducing my services on your podcast and possibly a mention in your blog?

    Please let me know if there is any other information you would need from me.


  8. I never took time to join a focus group, but may look into it in the near future. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Bene reading a few blogs about Pinterest marketing goldmine and decided to step my game up over there and start increasing my content output. So far so good.

    I’ve been working hard on Pinterest descriptions. Just in May or Juneish, I started using my speech recognition program Dragon by Nuance to write natural content in the Pinterest description section with no prior experience just off of acting on thoughts of what to do to improve SEO and traffic. From then until now, even though Pinterest is a no follow site, I’ve significantly improved my SEO, increased traffic, and now have a growing line graph going upward bound on I’m extremely humbled by this alongside having my affiliate marketing revenues growing also.

    • That’s awsome but I imagine you must be tech savy? I have been signing up for practically everyone listed here. I have only did one I was chosen in person for a taste test on bread for a $200 gift card. Which I was highly disappointed when I found out not cash. You can’t pay bills with them. It took me to get there 2 1/2 hrs but bus so I wasn’t sure if I worked with them again and they been sending trials only worth 30 bucks -$50 for boing two to three times for same trial during the week. Not worth it

  9. Nick, I’ve been doing these for several years. I probably average about $1,000 per year doing these. This a great comprehensive list!

  10. I tried Mindswarms. I had no trouble creating a profile video (though it really does not flatter me, nor had I trouble applying for studies. However, I have been on there for over a month, and I have been rejected for every. Single. Study. Besides that, they do not ever bother telling me, or giving me helpful suggestions. Their FAQ section is so useless as to be counterproductive. And I suspect that my mind and my interests are not average enough to make Mindswarms (or online studies/surveys in general) worth my while.

    Here is a good rule of thumb: if you prefer the musical works of Vasily Kalinnikov (or just know who Vasily Kalinnikov was) over “Lady” Gaga, do not bother with surveys. Only the most average individuals with the most average minds can succeed with this rubbish. Or so my experiences would indicate.

    • Actually, the opposite is true. just regular surveys do kind of suck. However, the focus groups and interviews and so forth, all the ones that I’ve actually gotten into have been because I’m weird or different. That’s why so many people get declined. They look for people who don’t conform, mostly because they’re looking for new and innovative ideas. Why would you research the monotonous and mundane?

      • because that’s what makes up the mindless robots that have money(credit cards) to throw away on more shit they don’t need. And they wanna know how the average drone spends that paycheck, so they can get as much of it as they can. That’s why

  11. Thanks so much for the information. I signed up on Respondent today and have a 71% match on 1 survey. We’ll see how it goes.

  12. I just tried to sign up with Respondent, and probably I’m the only one in the world with this problem of not having any social media sites. They want to verify your work on LinkedIn or your FB profile. I don’t have a FB account nor do I have a LinkedIn account. I know, I must be living in a cave, but the work I do does not allow me to use social media. What to do? I guess Respondent is out. Bummer.

    • This is pretty much the same for me too, Shari. Even if I had an account on social media I would only have my family and close friends on it. I wouldn’t want to give some site access.
      I also ran into one (can’t remember the name) where they wanted you to upload a video of yourself in order to get the surveys. I am also not comfortable with that.
      I’ve signed up with all that was listed above. We’ll see how it goes.
      Good luck to you!

  13. Thank you so much for this list! I am currently unemployed and looking for anyway to make money while I have been applying and interviewing for positions!

  14. Since I haven’t seen it noted in the comments or main blog anywhere I just wanted to put it out there that technically if you make over $600 with any single company like this they are supposed to issue a 1099 for your payouts. Normally if you accumulate that much over a year they may not bother BUT I was lucky enough to get into a study that paid $875 which immediately put me over that threshold. So then they issued a 1099 for all my earnings from them in that year. That hurt at tax time. This year I’m going to spread it out over as many companies as I can to hopefull get a lot but no single one over $600. And if you are lucky enough to get into a single high paying study, keep the tax implication in mind.

    • Hi Gary,
      I hope you read this email contact. I need make extra income. I am a caregiver for senior but the money I earn is not enough.

      Is there a way you can reply back to me so that we can talk a a few mins that you can tell me via phone how you do the paid phone survey? I am really bad at the online survey…

  15. Thanks Nick, this list is AWESOME! I’ve been doing surveys and focus groups for about a year. I’ve had some great paying, easy jobs. I’ve also spent, what felt like like forever, time trying to qualify for them to no avail. However, from my experience, I can definitely say not to give up! Surveys are time consuming with little pay, for the most part. Focus groups, interviews, etc., is where the money is! I have been looking for more sites and you just gave me a bunch! I am gonna try them all! Keep the info coming! Thanks again!

  16. I’m wondering if the earning need to be claimed on our taxes? Is there a record that we are being paid? Do these companies ask for any personal information? Thanks

  17. Great List and even better that you really gave your first hand experiences and opinions of each one. I was astonished at the amount of personal information some of these companies wanted. (lol) However, I did go through each one and sign up with just about all of them.(You never know which one will be most productive) After going back through them and completing tons of screen-er survey’s in each one, I have yet to be picked for anything. (Keeping on Strong though, they will come) :-) Thanks for the list and all the information.

    On another subject. Mystery Shopping gigs, if your still interested in more information on some legit companies, I’m your goto girl…. let me know and I will post a list for you with some of my first hand information.

  18. I second the request for Mystery Shopping intel. I have done it a few times (long time ago), but it never seemed to be worth the effort.

  19. Here are Metro Detroit Focus Groups and my reviews of them

    Morpace Inc.
    31700 Middlebelt Road
    Suite 200
    Farmington Hills, MI 48334
    Phone: (248) 737-5300
    Pays $80-$250 Focus Group Surveys (In Person). If they over fill the group which happened to me on one occassion then you get paid instantly without doing the survey. They pay by check or cash after the 1-2 hour in person survey. They offer surveys 1-2 times a year.

    Shifrin Hayworth
    26400 Lahser Rd #430,
    Southfield, MI 48033
    Phone: (248) 223-0020
    Pays $50-$300 Focus Group Surveys (In Person). They pay by check or cash in person after the 1-2 hour survey. They offer surveys about 1-2 times a year.

  20. This is a great list, Nick!

    I’d like to add Focus Roundtable ( They recruit people for paid focus groups and other market research studies online, in-person and over the phone.

  21. I recently learned that you can only participate in 1 survey every 6 months which is why after being asked if you’ve done one recently you get disqualified.

  22. So I have had really good luck with a lot of these companies you listed. I am a stay at home mom have been looking into all this and actively participating for about 6 weeks and made over 3000 dollars I have made 630 dollars on users interviews, 585 on respondents, 310 on user testing, 270 on validately usability studies , 250 on 20/20 panel, about 140 on intellizoom/ what users do Usability studies, 90 dollars on TrymyUI, and 50 on ping pong research. I have also made 375 dolars from focus point global. plus more companies that i got under 20 each from so there is money to be made here if you invest the time. I have done one on one studies with a web cam, phone interviews, product testing (shampoos, and even new cereal), online diary studies (usually about things you eat), and lots of usability studies. the key is knowing how to answer the screener questions. Thank you so much for your list I am going to check out the companies I have not uses yet

      • Can you give any advice on how to pass the screener questions do we can get in and do it and make money please

    • Hello NICK & CASONDRA I want to thank you both for an amazing list to add to the handful that I too have been actively participating in. I just recently learned of the focus study groups and I’ve been on 2 panels for seperate research groups. I absolutely love doing this.
      CASONDRA I know exactly what you mean by Knowing how to answer the screener questions. There’s times I make it and not, when I don’t I’m not sure what it is, so I would love to know what your key answers are=)

  23. Hey Nick, are you still looking for someone to tell you about how the mystery shopping works? I did it for a whole year. I found a great legit company that pays the next day. Let me know if you want the details. Thanks for your post here; a little extra money could really save our butts right now! :)

  24. Great Article :) I have done a couple of taste tests and focus group in the past. Never had I tried these so I must give it a whirl.

  25. I would love the info on mystery shopping, too, please! I did a one hour online web cam survey for Fieldwork Seattle today. It paid $125 by e-Visa. And it was pretty fun! :)

  26. Wow great post. After going through these Nick which ones did you find most worth your while? I also am from Canada so that seems to chip away at my in-person opportunities quite a bit.


  27. Hi Nick-I just found this post and thank you for “heads up”…
    I’m writing to share with you two top performers here in Seattle for in-person focus groups. In-Sight Space and Fieldwork / Seattle.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few gigs with each of these company’s who conduct only focus groups. Most of the time the pay is cash on the spot and the groups range from 45 minutes to 2 hours. These two company’s have frequent remarkably high-paying gigs. It’s fairly common to attend a 90 minute focus group that pays anywhere from 150.00 – 350.00. On occasion I’ve landed one of their mock jury groups, sometimes held at one of Seattle’s finest hotels and lasts close to 8 hours. These mock jury groups have paid me between 300.00 to 550.00 for the gig and always provide a catered breakfast and lunch.
    Again, thanks for sharing your information and I hope you’re able to use my information and experience to help others.

    Jason B.


  29. I have been doing surveys and stuff like this online Jeron to be found on the side house sold and there is someplace is it doing clinical trials you can make a lot of money but I just found that so I’m getting ready to start trying to see if I can get it to do it if you know use up any help would be greatly appreciated as I am a newly widowed from last July I’m only 44 I got laid off of work three days before I lost my husband in a vehicle accident and I have a seven-year-old son that I am still having to raise so I am needing to get all the help I can get needless to say we had started building our home in April 2018 which just got done of this January so I deafly have a lot of my plate has a widowed parent say any leads to anything that are legit and really panning out will be greatly appreciated

  30. I’m registered with two companies for focus group and mock jury participation. I’ve done both and found them enjoyable and worthwhile. Usually payment was cash. One time it was a VISA gift card. The mock juries required more hours than the focus groups. One was Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Saturday evening. My experience has been food and beverages were provided when the event was more than 3 hours.

    Participants were usually limited to one event in 6 months.

    I’ve seen a large dropoff in opportunities since I reached a certain age. Sigh.

    Very occasionally the local newspaper has a classified ad for focus group participants.

  31. Ok…I see several people are interested in Mystery Shopping so I thought I’d share a little info. I have done a lot of mystery shopping in the past and love it. Not amazing money but interesting and I enjoyed it.
    So…here are a few sites to start with…I hope this is OK…I see a few people said they would send information, but a lot of others requested info and I don’t know if they got what they needed. I hope this helps.
    this is the official website of the Mystery Shopping Professionals Association…it has a ton of good info and resources
    Work available always depends on the type of job you are interested in and where you are located so the best companies to work with will vary for different people.
    Here are some other resources that may help…
    and last but not least…
    Shadow Shopper…the first thing that pops up when you google Shadow Shopper will be scam alerts. I’m here to tell you it is not a scam. I have used them for years off and on. They do have a fee option, and to get anywhere, you probably will want to use it at least for a short time. But a lot of job boards charge a small fee. Basically it is where companies post work that they need to get done and shoppers go to find work. It’s a great way to see what is available in your area and skill set and interest and sign up with those companies offering that work. You can go out on your own and start just looking into shopping sites, but that sign up processing can be lengthy and if you pick one that doesn’t offer work in your area or jobs you want, you have wasted time and effort. Once you sign up with a few companies that you’ve found on Shadow Shopper, move on until you want to look for more. No need to keep your subscription if you have the work your want. Just my suggestion, but it has landed me several really good opportunities. One lasted years and was around made me around $2000/yr.
    Oh…and if you are wanting a list of companies…go here… it’s a tedious process to choose, but it’s an option…
    Good luck and enjoy :)

    • Hi Nick, I see that this post was originally posted in 2017. How accurate is the list now, in 2019? Also, did Cossandra ever give an answer on how to answer the screening questions? Thanks for taking the time to put this list together! Every little bit helps!

  32. Hi Nick:

    My name is Lee and I am trying to sign-up with as many market research companies for focus groups, online studies, one-on-one, taste testing, product testing, etc. One major problem is the World of Technology. Companies want me to download pictures, videos put apps on my phone (which is a basic Samsung Galaxy Core Prime, which has no more memory). I am 64 years old and know the basics on my desktop computer. When I first started doing market research, there were more focus groups, one-on-ones, on-line (oh, I did not mention some studies want webcams). Yes, I can purchase a webcam, as to how to install it??? I can learn how to put pictures online, or put on videos – companies obviously change with the time, as they need to!!! Can you give me a few pointers and perhaps some companies to make some additional money!
    Thank you in advance, Nick. This is a great website you have and appreciate how you are helping people make extra money. Yes, every little bit helps, in more ways than you know!!!


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