Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Earn Extra Money by Participating In Focus Groups

I've heard of a lot of things people do for side income over the years, but I think one of the most efficient ones I've found is volunteering for the occasional focus group.

Some years back I was introduced to a guy who makes his living getting people together to fill focus groups for companies. I gave him my information (age, marital status, current job title etc...) and every once in a while when something opens up that I qualify for, he gives me a call to do a quick screening interview. If I qualify for the group, I'll sign up to go to someplace in manhattan, usually the headquarters of an advertising agency, and give my opinion on a particular product or service.

The average focus group lasts about an hour and a half, and the average pay is about $100-150. Every once in a while it is more than that, particularly when they are looking for people who fly frequently for business, or some other kinds of executives. Another bonus is that they usually provide some food- sandwiches, cookies and things like that.

I see this as a very efficient use of my time if I can do it after work. I can use it as a place to get dinner, and I earn about $100 an hour. Of course, I can't put in many hours doing this because I don't get that many calls and because they discourage you from signing up for focus groups too much.

The typical focus group is probably what you would expect. You sit in a room with a moderator and a group of people roughly your age. There is a big mirror or window, behind which stands one or two people and a video camera. The moderator asks a bunch of questions and you react to things, usually advertisements or new product concepts.

I won't talk about any focus groups in specific because they make you sign a waiver agreeing not to discuss what went on in the group, but in general the groups I have been to have been very interesting. I've seen new products before they were introduced, tasted a few new drinks before they were introduced, and given some feedback on some advertising campaigns that I have never seen since.

One word of advice I have is to be friendly with the person who fills the groups and above all, show them that you are reliable. The person filling the groups needs to know that I will be there when I say I will be there, and I have never missed a group or showed up late.

Another piece of advice is that you shouldn't lie. If it's a focus group for people in the market to buy an SLR digital camera and you don't know an SLR from a hole in the ground, you are going to be wasting everyone's time by going to the group and even the best BSer probably won't be able to last an hour without exposing themselves as someone who is only there for the money and the free food.

The best part of focus groups is that they are stress-free money. You have to give nothing but your opinion, so you can go in there relaxed and come out happy, carrying an envelope full of cash, which they always give you in big bills in an envelope on your way out.

Anyone have some other ideas for some high-paying side jobs?


SavingDiva said...

Where can you sign up for them? I don't really live in a big city, so I'm not sure I could find any.

MoneyMan said...

That's a good question. I was introduced to a person by someone already on "the list" to do groups. I assume you can scan the classified ads in your local paper or do an internet search.

For example in the village voice I see this ad:

for a rather high-paying focus group.

But you're right, NYC is a big city. Maybe there aren't as many opportunities like this in other places.

I still say its better than filling out online surveys!! :)