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

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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.)

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 InboxDollars, CashCrate, and Swagbucks, 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

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 $1 + 2.9% processing fee, but the rest of the funds you earn will hit your PayPal account within 8-10 days of your study.

Fieldwork

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.

FocusGroup.com

Focus Pointe Global operates under the well-branded FocusGroup.com 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.

Ipsos i-Say

Ipsos is one of the nation’s largest research firms, and i-Say is their consumer survey platform. While most surveys pay only $0.45-1.50 for a few minutes of your time, you’ll occasionally find higher end surveys that pay up to $95.

You can cash out for gift cards or transfer your earnings to PayPal.

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

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

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

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:

  • FindFocusGroups.com – An aggregator service that lists focus groups from around the country. When I checked the compensation for these ranged from $75 to $350.
  • 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.
  • 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!

44 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 ideas.com 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.

    Truly,
    Crystal

    http://www.crystal-mendoza.com

  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 Alexa.com. 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
    http://www.morpace.com
    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
    http://www.shifrin-hayworth.com/
    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 (focusroundtable.com). 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.

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