Make Extra Money By Discovering Focus Groups
When the recession started, I was living in the Los Angeles area (the San Fernando valley) and working a great job in Burbank. You know how you think that you are awesome at your job and that there is no way that they will let you go? Well, I thought that and was proved wrong. As the newest person in my office, I was the first to be let go when things started taking a turn for the worse.
Despite having been a model employee, I found myself looking for new jobs as well as ways to make immediate cash. Sure, people always tell you to do things like donate blood for cash, but that does not pay much and is a real short term solution as a result.
After seeing an ad on the television for a local SoCal focus group study, I decided to give that a try for some cash. The ad that I saw on TV was for Cedar Sinai medical focus groups, but there is a good possibility that you have seen some of these on your own TV for local hospitals and research facilities. I want to get you a bit more familiar with these by sharing my own personal experience.
image via morguefile
Businesses & Companies Value Your Opinion
You might be wondering why these things even exist and why some of them pay so well. I certainly know that I used to have those sorts of thoughts. The fact is that these companies and organizations need people like us because they need the opinions of unbiased people.
These businesses spend a lot of money on research and development for products and services, and this is a vital part of that R&D step. For instance, how will a pharmaceutical manufacturer know if a cancer drug works? They have to test it out on people with cancer to know for sure. And those people get compensated for it.
Of course, often the experience is not for something as huge as a prescription drug trial. For example, have you ever gotten stopped by those people in the mall who want to take you into their office and pay you $25 for answering a few questions? This often happens with things like movie trailers, gauging public perception for products and brands, as well as other types of advertisements. Television studios even use it to see how people feel about characters!
Learn About The Various Types of Focus Groups
The most common type is the one I described in the mall setting. You have a small office (not always at a mall) with some conference style rooms. The rooms have a large table or a U-shaped table (at least in my experiences) and some chairs for the participants. You have a moderator type person that runs things who asks you the questions and such. These are usually some of the lower paying options and can offer cash or gift certificate payment.
Online focus panels are also gaining visibility as it is an inexpensive way for companies to conduct the research. Often, online survey companies offer these. Some examples of such companies include e-rewards, InspiredOpinions.com and Pinecone Research. Compensation is often very minimal and may even be a raffle drawing where no one is guaranteed pay. Others, like the TV Inner Circle group only offer the satisfaction of getting early sneak peaks of TV shows and having the ability to voice your opinion about them.
Some companies have representatives come into your home or call you on the phone in order to participate. I have never done any of these, so I cannot give you too much detail about them. However, I do know that they exist.
Medical studies are the ones that pay the best. These can be for everything from paid sleep studies to testing new drugs to evaluating how things like a diet change effect the body. Many of these pose the possibility of serious medical risk and should be carefully evaluated. Often, the higher the pay, the higher the risk. I find that the safest ones are those where they just want to evaluate you for a study or research paper.
Where To Find Focus Groups in Los Angeles and Other Areas
I have actually found people doing some low paying studies in areas of Los Angeles that get a lot of foot traffic. You can usually bump into people handing out this sort of info in the Westwood area near UCLA and the Hollywood and Highland area. This is definitely the best chance you have of getting a movie or TV show group as this is the only way that I have found them.
Another great place to look (both in LA and the rest of the US) is by checking out the back page listing of your free weekly papers. So, if you are in NYC then pickup a copy of the Village Voice (for example). Often, this is where you will find some paid medical focus groups. I have seen a few different paid Los Angeles focus groups posted in easy to find areas like this.
Also, pay attention to the ads on television instead of skipping past them with your DVR.
Call up your local colleges to see if they offer this sort of opportunity. I find that I have the best luck doing this if I call the psychology department or if the school has a medical department. Well known medical facilities are another great source. In LA, try Cedars Sinai and the Kaiser Permanente locations for the best results.
Craigslist can also be a great source for these, as long as you use common sense to avoid any potential scams.
The FocusGroup.com website is another great resource for finding some high paying opportunities. On this site you can find paid focus groups in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, New Jersey, New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington DC, Dallas, Los Angeles and nationwide.
And just for people in SoCal – check out the Trotta Associates website at Trotta.net as they specialize in groups just for the greater Los Angeles area.
A nationwide option that pays well (up to $300), but does do some telephone groups, is Savitz Research Solutions Panel.
Overall, I would say that my past experience doing this sort of thing has been positive. Sure, there are a few drug trials that I did where I kind of wish that I hadn’t needed the money so bad. There was risk, and I was fine, but still. With the drug trials, there is a 50% chance that you end up in the placebo half of the group, but that also means a 50% chance of possible side effects if you end up in the other half.
I think that the biggest waste of time I had was doing the online ones that paid so little or only offered an entry into a raffle for a gift card. Some of those took 45 minutes and only paid me a total of $5, which was a total waste of my time.
This is an easy way to make some extra cash, but it is not something that you can count on for regular income.