Well Paid Market Research Online Australia: A Complete How To

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paid market research online australia
Paid market research online in Australia can be very lucrative if done right. Image: Chris Montgomery/Unsplash

Think paid market research online Australia is just crappy paid surveys?

Think again.

I made up to $600/month for 2-3 hours/week of work – with no previous skills or experience in market research!

I just gave them my opinion.

Businesses, governments, universities, charities and other organisations all conduct online research.

When a business is going to launch a new advertising campaign, a product or a service, or a government department wants to offer a new service to the community; they need to research the market and find out potential positive and negative opinions.

You can make up to $150/hr for telling them yours.

What is Paid Market Research Online?

Online research is for Australian citizens and permanent residents (or sometimes just those “permanently living in Australia”) aged over 18, or for those under 18 (with guardian permission).

You will need a laptop, tablet or mobile phone with video and audio call capabilities and sufficient internet speeds to make video calls – plus 2-3 hours a week to apply for and complete the research.

They will usually specify what technology you require to participate and if you need to download a particular app or software, but common ones include Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Word/pdf Reader.

There are four main types of paid online research: surveys, focus groups, and university or medical research. Image: fauxels/Pexels.

Types of Paid Online Market Research

There are 4 types of paid market research online:

  • Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • University Research
  • Medical Research

I’ll discuss each in detail and tips for how you can make the maximum amount of money with each one:


During my first year of being a digital nomad, I began reading every blog article online that I could about making money from online side hustles. One of the first things that I came upon was online surveys, the most commonly discussed form of online research. They claim to “pay you for your valued time and opinions”.

I signed up for 15-20 of these sites and waited for the money to roll in. 

What happened?

Well, I made a bit of money doing these online surveys for 2-3 hours/week –
(≈$50-$100/month in a combination of direct deposits and gift cards).

Yet, at around $5-10/hr, it was boring and clogged my personal email account with 100s of emails asking me to fill in screeners for surveys (80% of which I didn’t qualify for). As time went on, I realised that the only reason that bloggers were recommending these sites to me was that they got paid a small commission to sign me up.

There were much better ways that I could be using my time.

I made $5-10/hr doing online surveys. Image © Kate Zarb/ohnomad.com

So, if you’re in a difficult financial situation, want to make a bit of pocket money or are happy with an extra $50-100AUD/month, here are the top 4 Australia-based sites (or ones accepting Australians) that I can verify paid me for the time and effort that I put in, and were overall the highest paying and most consistent:

Octopus GroupLinkYes
Purple Patch (Lewers)LinkYes
Stable SoapboxLinkYes

Tips for making money with paid surveys Australia-wide:

  • Create a new email address just for signing up for online research;
  • Apply for the highest paying surveys being offered first, then go in descending order;
  • Sign up for email invitations;
  • Scan the topic of the survey before applying and skip irrelevant ones. General topics such as food, shopping and entertainment fill up quickly. Specialist topics pay more (if you qualify);
  • Apply earlier rather than later for maximum chance of being selected;
  • Finally, the more information you provide, the more chance that you’ll be selected ….but there are personal details that I will simply never enter, including my relationships, sexuality, religious beliefs etc. I’ve never provided this type of data and it has not stopped me from making significant money.

    Be cautious of the information that you give away, especially for such little money. There is no need to enter your real address (other than a correct postcode), bank and credit card details unless needed for payment – often PayPal and email are sufficient.

What Other Paid Online Market Research Is There?

What I discovered is that online surveys are only one form of market research, called:

Without getting too technical, there are no limits on the amount of this type of research that you can do. While you’d likely go insane doing 16 hours of online surveys a day, theoretically… you can

Yet, there is a second type of paid online market research. The rest of the research options I am going to discuss are defined as QUALITATIVE MARKET RESEARCH.

Each of these is much more profitable but there are limitations to how many times you can be selected and/or participate, so while you can make much more money, there is an upper limit. I’ll get into this a little bit later. 

Let’s have a look at them.

Focus groups now commonly occur online via video calls and can net you up to $150AUD/hr. Image: Christina Morillo/Pexels

What are online focus groups?

If you are willing to spend an hour or two being recorded while being asked for your opinion about a product or service, participating in online research called a focus group will net you ≈$50-$150/hr for your participation.

Focus groups are commonly 60-90 minutes each and there are usually 5 or so other people. Occasionally you will attend alone and speak 1:1 with a market researcher. I’ve attended focus groups on:

  • Government Services;
  • Food Shopping;
  • Business Banking;
  • Software;
  • and many, many more. 

In a traditional offline focus group, you visit the office of the market research company (usually in the major cities) at the assigned time and walk into a room with the other participants. You sit at a table, eat a few snacks, talk about Car X or Political Party Y and an hour later walk home with ≈$100 cash.

The two-way mirror does have people behind it, almost always. Mess with them at your own discretion.

Post-pandemic, many of these sessions now occur via Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams instead of the office. The same process occurs but you will now participate in a video call with the market researcher and a few others.

You will usually be recorded. They must legally inform you of this beforehand and you must agree to participate. If you are uncomfortable at ANY STAGE, DO NOT PARTICIPATE.

Digital nomads located overseas may want to list their location as Australia when applying for online focus groups as I’m not sure whether you would be selected if located elsewhere. You might need to test this, as I was located in Australia for the pandemic when I was participating. 

Make $150AUD/hr from online focus groups. Image © Kate Zarb

Are there limits to how many online focus groups I can attend?


Although I could not find ANY official Australian policy or industry legislation regarding this, there is a general rule that most market research companies do not want you to participate in “qualitative research” like focus groups more than TWICE PER YEAR (1 every 6 months).

This is likely to ensure that their group is filled with people who are genuine customers and users of the service or product and not professional market research participants, skewing their results. 

My experience has been that there is little to no enforcement of this rule between companies and it is highly, highly unlikely that they will cross-check your participation.

They will have a record of when you participated with their agency but not others and I don’t believe there is any kind of national database. 

In most screeners (the survey you fill out before you are selected for the research), you will be asked if you have participated in “market research” in the past 6 months. Sometimes they specify which type, i.e. a focus group or an interview, other times it’s more a general question.  You simply answer “Yes” or “No”. Others specify that you cannot have participated in any type of research in the previous 3 months, while others don’t ask at all.

I honestly mark “Yes” for this question, having participated in research less than 6 months earlier and am still asked to participate in research. If it’s specialised research and they are looking for your particular profession or demographic, they seem to waive the rule.

In theory, if you wanted to make money quickly, you could simply sign up for as much market research as possible and dishonestly answer the screener questions. I believe that nothing is stopping you, but be aware that this is against their terms and conditions and they can easily terminate your account. I enjoy participating and have been doing so for many years, so answer the question truthfully when asked.

I’ve also found an exception to this 6-month limit!

User Interviews is a US-based market research company that frequently looks for Australian participants and doesn’t have the same restrictions.

I’ve done a few focus groups with them and received payment with no problems. You are a little more limited with your gift card choices (including Amazon Australia).

If you’re overseas, this is also a good option as they do international studies.

Some examples of online focus groups that I have participated in the last year:

$320 to answer questions about filing my business taxes (2 hr);
$120 to talk about my use of a government website (1 hr);
$110 to talk about what type of iced tea I like (1 hr);
TOTAL = $550AUD (≈$137.50AUD/hr)

Tips for making more money with online focus groups:

  • Apply as soon as you can. Focus groups (especially the higher paid) fill up very quickly;
  • If you own a small business, even a side hustle, mention it. Since I’ve owned my own business, I’ve found that I am asked to both participate more often and am paid more;
  • I quickly scan (then don’t apply) for 99% of screeners now and only apply for the highest-paying research. You’ll find your method.
  • There appears to be a big jump in focus group numbers in January/February and then again at the end and beginning of the financial and tax years. So, be aware that numbers are highly variable month by month. It tends to come in ‘waves’.

How do I sign up for paid online focus groups?

During my investigation into paid online research, I began recording all the online research companies that I discovered. I’d like to share it with you…

I’ve created a .pdf list of ≈100 clear, easy to apply for links for you to paid online research:

25+ Australian (and international) market research companies that offer focus groups;
35+ Australian universities that want research participants;
20+ Australian health research organisation opportunities;
15+ Australian clinical trial opportunities…

Get the list for only $9.99AUD and begin making $100s online per month with no prior skills or experience!

As we’ve seen though, there are limits to the number of focus groups that you can participate in, so let’s look at some other forms of paid online research.

University research is not widely advertised but can pay $50/hr or more. Image: Pixabay

While companies and government agencies conduct market research, universities in Australia are often looking for people to give their opinions on or participate in other forms of research, often by those conducting PhD thesis studies.

I’ve found the most common departments looking for research participants are Medical, Psychological, Economics, Business and Social.

I started doing this as a uni student and traditionally, students were the most common participants. Now, as many studies go online, they are also seeking people from wider society that have no links or experience in the tertiary sector – although a portion remains open to current students only.

Yet, paid online university research is a little different from the first two and has a different set of restrictions:

NHMRC has published advice for researchers and reviewers about when payment of participants in research is ethically acceptable. Similarly, it is “generally appropriate to reimburse the costs to participants of taking part in research” (National Statement 2.2.10). For example, costs of travel, accommodation and parking may be reimbursed, and/or reimbursement for the time involved in the research. However, “payment that is disproportionate to the time involved, or any other inducement that is likely to encourage participants to take risks, is ethically unacceptable” (2.2.10). This, again, depends on the community within which the research is to be conducted.


This ethical ‘grey zone’ means that paid online university research is not advertised or described in the same way as market research and the payments that you receive are not allowed to be considered incentives “likely to encourage participants to take risks.” This also means they are usually not widely advertised to the public. So, if you want to make money online with paid university research, you’re going to have to do a bit more work to find these studies than with focus groups or online surveys.

Note: Please be cautious when agreeing to participate in any form of online research that places your mental or physical health at risk. This NHMRC advice is to protect you and I don’t recommend that you do anything that puts you at risk – just for a gift card.

Are there limits to how much paid online university research you can participate in?

As far as I’m aware, this type of research doesn’t have the same limits on participation as, say, focus groups – so you can theoretically apply for an unlimited number of paid online university research projects.

One university research study paid me a $500 gift card (≈$100/hr) to enter questions for five hours into a spreadsheet from my sofa, another a $50 gift card for a 30-minute survey and a third $50 gift card for a 60min Zoom – all in just one month.

So, while you won’t always make as much per hour as you will with online focus groups, there will usually be more consistent ongoing research opportunities.

© Kate Zarb

Some examples of online university research that I have participated in the last year:

$450 to participate in a university research project on social anxiety (9.5 hr);
$40 to assist a PhD student with their thesis research project on education (30 mins);
$60 to answer questions about my energy use (1 hr);
TOTAL = $550AUD (≈$50AUD/hr)

Tips for making more money with online university research:

  • Sign up for university participant databases and email newsletters. As they usually do not advertise their research, this is the best way to find out about who is currently looking for participants. You’ll usually receive an email bulletin but you can also check any sites semi-regularly to find out about the latest studies being conducted.
  • Follow the selected university departments on social media and monitor new studies.
  • Search for “university research participate“.

Finally, the last of the paid online research opportunity that I’ve found…

Online medical research is a small but potential source of income. Image: Pixabay

Note: For full transparency, I’ve never participated in paid medical research as I am personally uncomfortable with the potential health and privacy risks involved. So, this information is provided for you to make an informed choice about your options and I take no legal responsibility for any actions taken as a result of the information provided here.

Paid online medical research often overlaps with research conducted by universities but is also conducted by pharmaceutical, health and charity organisations. MOST medical research needs to occur in person but there is still a significant amount that occurs online – especially in psychological fields and mental health.

There appear to be two main types of paid online medical research in Australia:

  • Paid online surveys are conducted with either healthy participants or those who suffer from a particular medical condition (arthritis or asthma, for example);
  • Paid online video calls (1:1 or groups) that resemble a “focus group” but instead of asking about a service or product, they are asking about health conditions, attitudes and/or use of health-related products.

Tips for making more money with online medical research:

  • As I’ve never signed up for or participated in paid medical research, I’m not exactly how the recruitment of participants is done but recommend signing up for the newsletters and databases of medical research organisations in Australia to maximise your opportunities;
  • Following social media accounts of medical research organisations and joining Facebook groups may also increase the research that you can apply for;
  • Search for “medical research participate“.

Online Clinical Trials

“Clinical trials are scientific studies usually testing new treatments, and are available for either healthy volunteers or individuals with specific illnesses”, says Australian Clinical Trials. They rarely, if ever, occur 100% online but I’ve included them in the ≈100 Paid Online Research List (Only $9.99AUD) as another potential paid opportunity. Some sources say that you can apparently make up to ≈$500/day.

Is it the perfect digital nomad side hustle for Australians?

In just an hour or two, you can set yourself up for a constant stream of side hustle income with little to no experience or existing skills. While the income may not always be consistent, I have easily made $600AUD/month for only 2-3 hours a week of monitoring my email, applying for research, filling out the required surveys or participating in video or phone calls.

What about my privacy?

Australian market research companies must comply with national legislation regarding your privacy, yet be aware that you are agreeing to pass on personal information and/or agree to be recorded. Please use your discretion, especially with your banking, financial and identity information. You can confirm if a research company is legitimate by searching for them on The Research Society website, according to Services Australia

International companies may need double-checking.

What about tax?

According to the ATO, income (including gift cards) from market research, focus groups and surveys is taxable income and needs to be “declared as ‘other income’ at question 24 of your income tax return”.

How do you get paid for participating in online market research?

The most common methods of payment are via direct bank deposit and online e-gift cards.

Online e-gift cards (depending on the provider, often GiftPay – see site for options) are usually valid for online retailers such as Amazon and eBay but also for travel, entertainment and supermarkets.

Armed with what you’ve learned today you can start searching for paid online surveys, focus groups, university and medical research and clinical trials.

Or get the complete list for $9.99AUD and start making money online in your spare time immediately!

Just start at the top of the list, begin applying and earn up to $150AUD/hr.

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