Are Focus Groups The Perfect Side Hustle?

focus groupsWithout side hustling, I never would have become a millionaire. In fact, side hustling and investing the extra money was one of the key drivers of my net-worth growth and I estimate I’ve made over $1 million side hustling.

Over the next several months I’m going to highlight the best ways to make more money. Here’s one – focus groups. Yes, you can actually make money telling someone your opinions – either in-person or even online.

I really enjoy participating in focus groups, like a lot.

Over the past seven years, I estimate I’ve participated in over 50 focus groups and helped brands like Microsoft, Lyft, Samsung, Toyota, Caviar, and Blue Apron refine their products, services, and marketing.

I’ve also made a bunch of extra money and eaten many free meals. Whether you are still in college or just want to earn extra cash or get free grub, paid focus groups can be a legit source of side income. In fact, I might go as far to say that focus groups might be the perfect side hustle. Let’s check them out.

How much do you get paid for a focus group?

There are companies out there that are willing to pay you to test new products and participate in group discussions. Some of them you can even do online. No matter what, it definitely beats minimum wage.

While focus group companies are often interested in recruiting participants of all ages, people between the ages of 18 and 30 are a coveted demographic for most companies, so they are willing to pay to talk them. So how much money can you make participating?

Most focus groups last for between one and three hours and pay ranges from $50 to over $1,000 in some case. Yes, I actually got paid $1,000 for 3 hours of my time once for a luxury car company.

On average you will likely make between $100 and $200 for your time, but the more in-demand and unique your skills/viewpoint the more money you will get paid.

Ironically, now that I make a lot of money, I get paid more money to participate in focus groups, since I am a relatively difficult demographic to reach. An added benefit is that most companies pay you in cash, prepaid debit cards, or Amazon gift cards, so you can use them how you please. I’m still using the Amazon credit I received from a recent focus group. Not only do you get paid, but you often to get to eat for free as well. Many focus groups are held after hours or on the weekends, so food is provided.

What kind of topics do they cover?

There are many research types you can participate in. Some of them are fairly standard where you visit the company at their location or someone from the company visits you at your home, and you answer some questions. You can also take part in online discussions and do everything from the comfort of your computer. There is even something called mystery shopping where participants pose as regular customers, and then write down information about the business they are visiting on things such as their customer service experience and the cleanliness of the location.

A popular research type is product testing. This is when participants are given a specific product to test. These products can include things like food, drinks, and even beer. Another common item is shaving supplies, such as cream and razors. Some popular topics that often come up in marketing research include:


For these tests, it does not matter what car you personally drive. You often just need to provide your opinions on what you look for in a vehicle and how you view certain brands. In some cases, you might even get to drive some new cars and share your opinions, but most car focus groups have to do with technology or features.


If you are a die-hard sports fanatic, then you will definitely enjoy providing your opinion on current sports trends. These surveys are even great for casual fans because companies are looking for their opinions as well. No matter what sport you like there’s definitely a focus group for it. I used to be really into golf and participated in a few golf focus groups where I got to try the clubs and got paid $200 to hit some golf balls.


Many times, companies want feedback on political television ads before sending them to air. You will watch an ad and then offer your opinions on how it made you feel and whether you like the candidate. No matter what your political affiliation is there are some focus groups out there for you.


There are many health issues that are specific to both men and women. A lot of the times you just need to share your attitudes and opinions about things related to medical conditions, your lifestyle, treatments, and medications. If you happen to have a condition yourself you can get paid quite a bit of money.

Cell Phones

Cell phone companies spend a ton of money organizing focus groups – like a ton, so they are very common. Whether you prefer Android or Apple, you can take surveys based on your experiences with your mobile devices. There are some paid focus groups where you test out a new app long before it get’s released.

Food and Drinks

This is one of the most enjoyable focus groups you can be a part of. You get to eat or drink something, which will probably be delicious, and then offer your opinions. You essentially get paid to eat, and what’s better than that?


There are focus groups on almost everything, including things like entertainment and business trends. You never know what you may enjoy, so it’s definitely worth trying out a few focus groups. You will likely be very surprised – I always find them fun.

How do you increase the odds of being picked for a focus group?

When you first sign up, you only need to provide basic information, such as your age and gender. However, before being a part of a paid focus group, you need to fill out a survey to see if you qualify to participate in a particular study. Typically you will fill out a survey and then if you could be a fit, you will receive a call from a recruiter who will ask you some follow up clarifying questions. One recommendation: answer honestly, because they are looking for your unique opinion. There are no “right” answers and in many cases focus group recruiters are looking for unique perspectives.


So are focus groups the perfect side hustle? I wouldn’t go that far, but I definitely think they are one of the best side hustles. There are very few opportunities where you can make $100-$200+ an hour to sit around and share your opinions – and in some cases do it from your couch.

In most cases focus groups are actually a lot of fun, because not only do you get paid for your opinions, you also get to make a real difference. Your voice matters and your input is actively used by the companies hiring out the focus group firm, so you get to influence what products may be coming to store shelves soon.

The extra money can also really add up. I mean, who wouldn’t like making $100-$200 an hour? While there are many focus group companies, I recommend signing up with, who host focus groups all over the country across many verticals. As always, try to invest at least 50% of the money you make so it can grow and compound over time. Every $1 I made side hustling in 2010 is now worth $3.50 today. ✌️

Have you ever done a focus group? How was it? Any recommendations?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Read Comments

  • Comment Author image blank
    Aurora B.
    Also... even if I do qualify based on the product, my age group always seems to be filled no matter how I answer. Or, my demographic, or my income... and it doesn't seem to matter if I answer with a $25000 income or $75000, or if I answer as white or Native American (I'm mixed), or as a parent, or not, or retired or working, or whatever. My group is always "filled up". Again, I think these are scams even though they're local offices. A scammer is always going to be local to someone.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Aurora B.
    I never seem to qualify for groups. Every time I get a call for an upcoming group, it seems that no matter how I answer, they're looking for "something else". Just today I got called for a group that was discussing sport SUV's, trucks, etc. I thought that SURELY I'd qualify since I drive a Jeep Liberty and a Jeep Wrangler. But NO... they were including the Renegade. The Liberty and Wrangler didn't qualify. Really? The Libby is definitely an SUV, and the Wrangler is defined as a truck. So why didn't they qualify? I was called for a group that was discussing sodas. I drink Dr Pepper and Coke. But those didn't qualify because they were looking for people who drink Pepsi products. Another group... I said Pepsi. They wanted people who drink Coke products. Printer study... I said Epson. They wanted Canon. I said Canon in another instance. They wanted a different brand. I said Samsung for a group on cellphones. They wanted LG or something else. I said Android for another group, they wanted iPhone. For a different group they wanted Samsung and I said iPhone. It's as if they await my answer and then choose something other than how I responded, on purpose just to exclude me. I think that MOST of these are scams just to harvest marketing data.
  • Comment Author image blank
    deborah a lariscy
    I looked ( a phone book, lol) up my LOCAL research companies. I found a good one (Plaza Research- many locations) , and gave a snack and lunch break (if needed). Got the check that day. I will say, they did Not want me being in a focus group frequently, usually wanted you to wait 6 months before applying. But, I guess you can apply to other types, (like the mock jury) and I like that it was LOCAL, less likely to be a scam. I have seen newspaper ads asking for "mock juries" and that is a good job offer, too. The first co. I worked for, I got about 150. for the hour of in person group. Once, they had someone come to my house to evaluate my thoughts on a new OTC medicine and how it would be sold. For that, I got $250. and it was easy. I think you will make only occasional cash in a year because some focus groups don't want to repeat the consumers they use, but it is a good way to get the money you may need, and fast. Hope this helps.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Andreaka Miller
    I also, really agree with Anonnie Mouse in away. There need to be more of direct contact for people to participate.
  • Comment Author image blank
    I do agree with Anonnie that I've found I haven't been able to participate as often as I would like. But, the focus groups I have been a part of were actually fun. It's like getting paid to hang out with people with similar interests. It's always nice to earn money doing something one enjoys. Totally worth trying.
  • Comment Author image blank
    Anonnie Mouse
    Focus groups could be the perfect side hustle; HOWEVER, it's you qualify and get chosen for them often enough. It's not that easy to qualify for a focus group because the algorithms and criteria for each company and each survey you take changes so often ( Also, if you've participated in a focus group for a particular company within a certain period of time, then you can't qualify to do another focus group for that company until 30-180 days. While I do enjoy doing paid focus groups, I wish all the companies were more consistent with their surveys and more open with how many focus groups people can participate in before being ruled out--that's my only gripe.
    • Grant Sabatier
      Grant Sabatier
      These are great points Anonnie. Thanks for sharing. I've never had an issue getting qualified.