Focus groups are a way of researching a particular idea, product, or service through the reactions of a particular selection of people. Sometimes focus groups are made up of a random selection of people, while others include only people of specific demographics. Several websites host online focus groups where members are paid for their participation. Most websites that host focus groups also host paid surveys, which tend to pay less but appear more frequently than focus groups. It may be advantageous to join multiple focus group websites to ensure that work is always available.
Sign up as a member of a focus group hosting website. Some of the possible websites include, Surveys4checks.com, SurveySavvy.com, and ACOP.com (see Resources). Read the site's terms and conditions before confirming your registration. If the website has a Frequently Asked Questions section, read it entirely prior to joining.
Pay the sign-up fee if necessary. Some websites do not require users to pay to join, and are therefore preferred by many. According to Surveys4checks.com, the fee they charge ensures that only serious applicants will join the website and are therefore less likely to throw off focus group results with misinformation. As of January 2011, the Surveys4checks.com sign up fee is $49.99. Any sign up fee higher than this figure should encourage users to research the company further to make sure the fee is put to proper, legal use.
Use discretion when joining an online focus group website, particularly those that have sign-up fees. There are many legitimate paid focus group websites online, but it is important to research each site thoroughly before signing up. Websites that are not legitimate may not post contact information or, if you are able to get in touch with a company employee, they may appear unprofessional. Read online reviews of the company you are considering joining to better assist your decision.
Participate in the online focus groups by following the procedure of the particular website you have joined. This will likely involve entering an online chat room with other focus group members and participating in a guided session of questions about a particular idea, product or service. This could also involve receiving email focus group and survey offers. To avoid receiving spam emails, read the terms and conditions of the site prior to entering your email information. If the terms and conditions allow the site to give your email information to other parties, do not join it.
Understand that joining an online focus group may result in your filling out a few surveys here and there, but it is not a method of earning a living. Typically, you will fill out a pre-survey only to be told that your demographic isn't right for the full survey and instead of being paid you are "entered in a drawing to win $10." Even if you are chosen to fill out the survey, the pay is only about $6, as of 2011, and the surveys are few and far between.