What Do I Need to Get Started?
Participating in focus groups is easy but requires you to be punctual and flexible with your schedule, have good organisational skills, proficiency with Internet technologies such as chat rooms, instant messenger, etc, some basic computer equipment and a decent Internet connection (trust me…you don’t want to get dropped in the middle of a focus group).
Here is a basic list of the things you will need.
1. New Email Address: We highly recommend that you open a different email address for your focus group responses. You will be filling out a LOT of online forms and you will be getting a lot of email in return. My personal preference is Yahoo because they give you 6MB of free storage whereas Hotmail only gives you 2MB. Make sure you TURN OFF any junk mail filters.
2. Updated Operating System and Browser: Make sure you’re running a relatively updated version of Windows (or Mac OS) and an Internet browser that won’t crash if it tries to run a Java Applet (this is the technology that is sometimes used for chat rooms for online focus groups). This shouldn’t be a problem for most people with what they already own, but you’d be surprised at some of the ancient computers some of my friends still use.
3. Keep Good Records: Whether you use a yellow pad or you’re an Excel spreadsheet monster, make sure you keep tabs of every website you’ve signed-up for, how often they invite you to participate in focus groups and surveys, the quality of the incentives, and how responsive they are. You will find that with time you will gravitate to a few really good companies that you favor.
4. Voicemail and/or Pager: Sounds obvious but make sure you have either a voicemail that you check frequently or a pager. A lot of times, market research companies will call you on the same day or evening for a face to face focus group and you do not want to miss out. These are usually the companies that pay the MOST cash, and if they see that you’re reliable and flexible about showing up on short-notice, they will call you more often. We know people that make a nice living wage getting calls from just a few market research companies. It pays to be available!
5. Decent Internet Connection: Although not necessary it is best to have broadband access to participate in most online focus groups, you should have at the very least a reliable Internet connection so you don’t get dropped off in the middle of an activity. Any of the major services should be fine