If you’ve never used them before, then you may be surprised how much of a little gold mine online focus groups and interviews can be. Take a look at some of the best sites in the UK and how much you can really expect to earn.
Best online focus groups to join in the UK
- User Interviews
- Testing Time
- Take Part in Research
- Your Voice Market Research
How To Make Money From Online Focus Groups And Interviews
Anybody that knows me will tell you that I spend a lot of time doing surveys – probably a bit too much time. And whilst I enjoy them and they don’t take too much effort, they’re not the greatest of earners and pay similar to minimum wage.
But after a while, I started to earn invites to some focus groups. Although I wasn’t particularly keen at first, I soon changed my mind when I found out how much they actually paid.
What is an online focus group/interview?
Online focus groups and interviews are usually run by independent marketing companies on behalf of a client. Their job can be to run ideas by you to see how well you like new products or ask for your opinions on current services. As they are independent, you can be as honest and brutal as you like. In the words of Catchphrase “Say what you see.”
Until recently, the majority of these focus groups only took place in person, usually in major towns or cities. Of course, that meant you had travel costs and time to take into account. However, 2020 changed all that and the marketing companies shifted most of their work online.
What do focus groups and interviews involve?
I have taken part in lots of groups and interviews over the last year or so and they’re very rarely the same. I have broken them down into 5 main tasks.
- 1 on 1 interviews. This will involve you speaking to an interviewer, just about your views on certain topics.
- 1 on 1 user testing. You’ll be asked to look at a new website and share your views about it.
- Group chat. You will be joined by between 2 and 5 others and discuss topics or new products.
- Product test. Not quite so common, but some focus groups just require you to test a product over a webcam. You won’t need to speak, but some reviewers will watch your reactions as you try out a product they sent you.
- Product rating. This doesn’t require a camera or a microphone. You’ll be shown a product and you’ll review it by filling in ratings or typing your opinion, along with dozens of other reviewers. You’ll also get to see other people’s thoughts too.
What equipment do you need?
So, different groups and interviews will need different equipment. Usually, you will need a laptop or computer with a camera and microphone, although sometimes it can be done from a smartphone. You can use headphones, but it’s not essential unless you live in a noisy house. You can use a separate microphone, but most modern computers have a decent built-in option. But, you should receive a brief beforehand, which will always tell you if there are any special requirements.
As well as the above, you’ll need a decent internet connection. Nothing super fast, but you will need to be able to stay connected so you can hold a decent conversation and sometimes share your computer screen.
Do I need any software?
Most groups and discussions can be completed just by following a link through an email. Very occasionally you may be required to download a specific piece of software, but this is rare. If your meeting is taking place over Zoom, I recommend downloading the app though, as this I find works better than the Zoom website. The last time I used the website, the sound would cut out every few minutes and it became very frustrating having to ask the interviewer to repeat the question.
If you’re testing a website with an interviewer, you may need to set up permissions to share your screen. This isn’t too complicated and with Windows machines, it should just involve clicking ‘allow’. MacBooks are a little more complicated and you will need to go into your security settings. But, I have found that when screen sharing has been needed, the interviewer is knowledgeable and can guide you through the process.
How long do the interviews take?
Most 1 on 1 interviews take between 45 minutes to an hour, but they can finish earlier depending on the interviewer. Group chats will take longer and are usually between 90 minutes and 2 hours. Although longer, you get a bit more of a break as other people speak. In all my time, I have only had one task overrun, and that was only by around 3 minutes. Remember, they want to finish early too!
How much can you expect to earn?
This really depends on the company and the type of interview. 1 on 1 interviews nearly always pay the most and can pay anywhere between £40 – £70 per hour. Group chats aren’t quite so generous and I find that pay ranges from £20 – £40 per hour.
Some companies will pay you in cash by bank transfer or via PayPal, whilst others may allow you to redeem your payment for a gift card of your choice.
Are the interviews difficult?
No. They’re quite nerve-wracking to begin with, as you don’t know what to expect. But, once you’ve done a few, they become quite natural. And, I have not met an unpleasant interviewer yet and they are always happy to help. Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer, they just want to know your thoughts. The reason for these groups is to get an opinion from a broad spectrum of people and what you might think of as rubbish, I could think is quite briliant.
By this, I don’t just mean be polite to everybody you speak to. That goes without saying. But, life gets in the way of plans and there may be a reason why you can’t attend an interview or a group. If this is the case, let the company know. The sooner you can, the better as this will allow them to find a replacement.
If you simply just ignore your time slot, there is a good chance that you will never be invited to another one.
And don’t worry about forgetting your meeting. You’ll find that most of the companies will email you multiple times (and sometimes text), so it’s almost impossible to forget it!
Which are the best online focus group sites?
There are plenty of sites out there, but below are some of my favourite and most trusted.
My top site for earning, User Interviews focuses mainly on website and app testing. If you’re testing an app on your phone, you may not even need to speak to anyone and will just have to record your thoughts over audio or on video. These pay around $10-$20 and take 10-20 minutes.
Interviews generally take around 45 minutes and pay $50. Most will be made through your computer, although some can be conducted through your smartphone.
You are either paid in Amazon gift cards or through PayPal, although all payments are made in $US. Don’t worry if you opt for a gift card as this will be converted into £’s and can be used on the UK site.
You can find new tasks through the User Interview website or allow them to send you emails for interviews you may be eligible for. I prefer to stick with the emails as you’re more likely to be eligible to take part.
As an average, the pay works out at around $60 per hour. Expect to receive your reward between a few hours and 2 working days after you complete your work.
Angelfish concentrates more on interviews and longer-term studies. For example, I took part in a 5-day discussion on a forum with regards to fast food. Each day, I spent around 30 minutes answering questions and recording videos and earned a £110 gift card. I was also selected to take part in an online discussion group, which paid an extra £45 for 2 hours. On top of all that, I was all reimbursed for the cost of 2 meals!
You can apply for studies and interviews through the Angelfish website or wait for them to send you emails. Payment is made via gift card or PayPal and usually takes a few days to reach you.
Average pay works out around £40-£50 per hour. As an added bonus, if there is a survey available that you think your friends might be interested in, you can earn a £10 gift card for referring them.
Testing Time is an all rounder, offering online focus groups, surveys, interviews and website testing.
At the time of writing, as a tester, you can’t log in to the Testing Time website, so it’s a matter of waiting until you receive an email invite. Once again, you are either paid through PayPal or by gift cards and your earnings reach you in around 10 days, although often much quicker.
Average pay for Testing Time can be anything between £40-£60 per hour. There is also a referral scheme which will earn you £5 if your friends join.
Take Part in Research
The majority of earning tasks from this site are either from online focus groups or longer-term studies. You can find new studies through their website, Facebook page or wait for an email to come in.
Focus groups tend to pay around £50-60 per hour. How much you can earn from longer studies really does vary and they can take anywhere between 2 days and 12 months. However, some of the top earners will pay you as much as £400.
Your Voice Market Research
This isn’t actually a website, but is conducted over Facebook and email. The company is based in London but recruits people from all over the UK. I have used them a couple of times and they always pay promptly.
The only downside is that you have to fill out an application each time by email, which involves a bit of typing. It would be much easier if they introduced a tick box system.
Average pay is again, around £50 per hour.
A couple of other sites to consider
Obviously, dedicated sites like the ones I have listed above should be your first stop when looking for online focus groups. However, you may stumble across some on survey sites. They aren’t as common, but still worth keeping an eye on.
This is a British based survey site that pays you in cash via bank transfer or you can opt for gift cards. Not only can you take part in online interviews, you are sometimes chosen to receive products to test.
The pay for the interviews isn’t quite so good, so expect around £30 per hour.
Swagbucks isn’t just a survey site, but you can earn from searching the web, playing games or watching videos. However, the bulk of your income will come from surveys.
Sometimes, you will see some surveys that pay far more than others and these will be focus groups. These are product testing groups (as I mentioned above) and you won’t need a microphone or camera.
These usually pay around 2,500 Swagbucks for an hour’s work. If you convert these into Amazon gift vouchers, it works out at just under £20 per hour.
How to make the most money
The issue you’ll find with any of these sites is that there are plenty of other people looking to take part too… and who can blame them for the amount you can earn? So to increase your chances of being selected for groups and interviews, you need to join as many sites as you can.
And when an email comes through saying you might be a suitable fit, answer it as soon as you can. You can be sure others will and it might be a case of first come, first served.
On average, I take part in around 3 activities each month. But, how many you receive will depend on your demographics. And how quick you are to reply.
If my review of online focus groups hasn’t convinced you, why not take a look at my top 10 paid survey sites for another way to make extra money?
*Please note that this post contains affiliate links.
Do online interviews and focus groups always need video?
The vast majority do, but not always. Some of the groups have over 50 people in, so it would be impossible for everybody to be on a video call. Instead, you will be shown products and asked to type your thoughts and give ratings.
How much do online focus groups and interviews pay?
Pay varies between companies, but expect an average pay of around £50 or $65 per hour.