All week I’m posting about fun and unique ways to earn extra cash! (For the other posts, click here.) Everything I’m posting are things I personally do to make money…I can assure you if I post a link to something, it’s a legit site.
Today I’m posting about one of my favorite ways to earn extra money: focus groups!
I use the term focus groups to cover product testing, one-on-one interviews, and usability studies.
Companies will pay you to try out their products and get feedback. It’s often technology, or maybe that’s just me because I live in a techie area.
Here are the companies I do focus groups through:
They are located in Bothell, WA…there’s no website for this, so email firstname.lastname@example.org and say you want to be added to the mailing list for usability studies. When they have a research opportunity coming up, they will email you a link to a survey. If you qualify for what they’re looking for, they will email you back to schedule appointment. Philips Sonicare pays in Amazon giftcards.
Fieldwork Seattle is a focus group company, meaning other companies hire them to set up usability studies, focus groups, etc. Use this link to be added to their mailing list; you’ll fill out some personal information and then anytime there’s a study you may qualify for, they’ll email you or call you! Fieldwork usually pays in Visa gift cards.
Focus Forward is also a focus group company. Use this link to be added to their mailing list. you’ll fill out some personal information and then anytime there’s a study you may qualify for, they’ll email you or call you! Focus Forward usually pays in cash.
Pacific Market Research
Pacific Market Research is also a focus group company. Use this link to be added to their mailing list. You’ll fill out some personal information and then anytime there’s a study you may qualify for, they’ll call you! Pacific Market Research usually pays in cash.
User Research International
User Research International is a focus group company that usually specializes in technology usability studies. For instance, they might be developing an app and they’d have you come in and use it and explain what you’re thinking as you’re doing it. They might ask you “how did you know that the upper right was where the menu was?” Use this link to sign up for their mailing list to be notified of opportunities. User Research International varies by company how you get paid, but it’s often by check or cash.
VG Market is another company that focuses on usability studies, with a specialization in video and computer games. Use this link to sign up for their mailing list to be notified of opportunities. As far as payment methods, I honestly can’t remember how they pay, it’s been a while since I’ve done one with them!
Television City is located inside MGM Grand in Vegas, between the CSI Experience and the pool. We NEVER miss a chance to go. The basic thing that everyone qualifies for is usually going in and watching a TV show that may be coming soon and giving your opinion on a computer screen. As “payment”, you’ll get an envelope of coupons to use in Vegas, so be sure to do it on your first or second day there.
But sometimes if you ask, you may qualify for a real study they’re doing, and they pay cash for those! Once Chris and I had to watch commercials for The Good Wife on loop for a half hour and a camera was tracking our eye movement. What the heck, but they paid us each $100 cash which I quickly turned into $50 which I quickly turned into a ticket to Phantom of the Opera! They are ALWAYS fun and usually you get to see new shows before they even come out on TV!
Once you go, you get the opportunity to be on their mailing list, which is fun to be on; every fall I participate in a TV survey series via email where I watch the new shows at night and take a survey in the morning. It’s not paid (I think you enter to win an iPad or something) but it takes 2 minutes and it’s fun (at least to me).
NBC Preview Center
Here’s another Vegas TV screening location, located in the back of the Bally’s casino on your way to the monorail. However, they are only “open” for six weeks a year, in April/May, and that’s it! Your best bet is to visit in person if you happen to be there during that time of year.
Same as above, this is a research firm that I have not personally done it but my cousin has, who I trust! There are 14 cities for Plaza Research: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tampa. Use this link to sign up for their mailing list.
A few tips:
Make a New Email Account!
You may want to create a separate email account for this work. None of the companies I’ve listed here will bombard you with tons of email, but my post for Wednesday lists some (amazing) companies that will. If I were you, I’d create a bonus email address on a free email site like Gmail.com and only use it for these side gigs!
Respond Right Away!
Many companies will shut off the call for responses once they get enough people. Or, they have only so many time slots available for the studies; the first responders usually get first pick of times!
Trust These Companies!
There are a lot of companies out there doing similar things, but these are the only ones I have used and know are legit. Any of these companies may ask you for your social security number if you reach a certain dollar amount earned for the year, and this is for tax purposes. It’s legit.
Honestly, the way I found most of these companies is through Craiglist. I have a few saved searches in my bookmarks: “Research” in Gigs, “Research” in Jobs, “Focus” in Gigs, and “Focus” in Jobs! I do a lot of gigs through University of Washington, too, and they are always via Craigslist. No mailing list for these, as it’s students doing them as a one-time thing.
Find a Friend!
For the most part, these focus groups happen during the day on weekdays, so they’re perfect for stay-at-home moms and shift workers, not so great for 9-to-5ers. And the problem for stay-at-home-moms is that you can’t bring your kids (That’s a given, right? Did I need to say that?) so often you’ll be paying a babysitter to go make money. It’s up to you if that’s worth it or not, depending on how far away it is and how much it’s paying. My best advice is to pair up with a friend who is also interested in doing focus groups. Then you can trade off watching each other’s kids for free as you each go to your appointments. Having a friend is also helpful in tipping each other off to “good ones”…I have several friends who we all email back and forth when there’s a high-paying fun focus group available!
That’s it for this post, but check back tomorrow, as I’ve got a new money-making scheme to post every day, and tomorrow’s is a super super fun one!