Reviews

Respondent Review: Our Earnings, Rejection Rate and More

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Respondent is an online focus group platform that pays you for taking part in marketing and research studies.

We earned $31 per hour during our testing (after accounting for the time spent searching and applying to projects). We were selected to participate in just one of the 24 studies we applied to (a 95% rejection rate). 

This Respondent review will explain everything you need to know if you’re considering signing up for the platform, including key facts, the different types of studies you’ll find, and how the pay rate compares to other market research sites.

Nine Key Facts About Respondent

  1. Respondent’s FAQs indicate an average pay rate of $100 per hour, which is significantly higher than typical paid survey sites that average closer to $5 per hour. Keep in mind that we earned significantly less than that $100 figure during our testing period.
  2. There are many general-audience studies that do not require specific professional experience or specialized knowledge. You can search for projects by “industry professional” or “general population,” and we found studies looking for DIY landscapers, breastfeeding moms, and owners of cars who had responded to recall notices (just to name a few).
  3. The application process for each research study is relatively short. We answered between three and 12 qualification questions for each project, which took two to three minutes on average.
  4. You can only apply to three studies per day.
  5. You can only apply to B2B projects if you link your official work email. This is also required if you wish to receive invitations from researchers. B2B studies target participants with specialized professional experience, and they tend to pay better than general-audience studies.
  6. All payments are issued in cash through PayPal. Gift cards and bank deposits are not available.
  7. Payments are subject to a 5% “fulfillment fee” (or $1, whichever is higher). This fee covers a 2.75% PayPal fee and a 2.25% Respondent fee.
  8. You can be penalized for no-shows. While you’re allowed to cancel your participation in a study at any time, if you cancel within four hours of the study’s start time — or if you don’t show up at the scheduled time — Respondent indicates that it will penalize your account. (Note that we could not find any details about what such a penalty actually entails.)
  9. Respondent refers to research studies as “projects” and calls payments “incentives.” We use these terms interchangeably throughout this review.

Types of Studies

Most of Respondent’s sessions are web-based, though the platform does offer occasional in-person opportunities. We identified the following study formats during our testing period. 

  • 1-on-1: The most common format. You’ll meet with an interviewer (usually via video chat) who will ask you questions about the study topic.
  • Focus groups. A group of participants meets at a designated time to answer questions and discuss the study topic. We found focus groups that took place via video conference, as well as some where participants provided written responses to questions and did not interact on camera.
  • Unmoderated tasks. Participants complete online tasks and provide written comments on their experience within a timeframe defined by the researcher.
  • Diary studies. Projects that take place over a designated period of time (e.g., two weeks), where participants log their experiences and/or thoughts at predetermined intervals throughout the duration of the study.
  • Other. Respondent’s catch-all study category that covers the following (at a minimum):
    • Task/feedback. An interview mixed with an online task that participants complete during the session.
    • Product testing. A researcher mails an item to participants’ homes and then follows up with an interview to receive feedback about the product.
    • Survey. Participants answer multiple-choice and/or freeform questions.

Applying for Studies

Applying for studies on Respondent.io is easy and usually only takes a few minutes.

Step 1: Set Up Your Account

Before starting the application process, Respondent suggests that you fill out your profile information completely (including your contact details, demographics, employment information and skills), add your PayPal email address, link your social accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack, GitHub, and/or Instagram), and potentially even add a short video introduction.

The more information you provide, the more data the researchers on Respondent’s platform have to make a decision about whether to invite you to their project. In other words, providing as much information as possible increases your chances of being selected.

The addition of a video introduction can help a researcher — who may be offering as much as several hundred dollars for the chance to chat with you — to be confident that you’re a real person who can speak clearly on a given topic.

That said, you ultimately need to be comfortable with the information you’re willing to share. Some people are open books while others may want to keep their social media accounts personal. 

For this test, I shared my LinkedIn account and work history, but I didn’t connect any other social media accounts and didn’t add a video introduction.

Step 2: Start Applying

Respondent limits you to three applications per day. This is likely to keep people from applying to every available study, regardless of whether or not they’re qualified. While this rule provides clear benefits for researchers, it also limits earning potential for participants.

For example, I was prevented from applying to a number of studies I was well-qualified for because I had already hit my daily limit. When I returned to Respondent the next day, some of those projects were already closed because the researchers had selected their participants.

When searching for projects, you can filter opportunities by:

  • Audience: Industry professional or general population.
  • Project type: In-person or remote. (Most studies are remote.)
  • Compensation: Select a range between $5 and $1,000.
  • Time: Select a range between 5 and 240 minutes.

The search functionality works as expected, but I found it more effective to just skim through all of the studies. 

Each available study lists its topic, when it was posted, the payment amount, how long it should take to complete the task or session, and how many questions are involved in the initial screener.

If you decide to apply, you simply answer the screener questions and the researcher will contact you (via SMS and email) if you’re selected. 

Screeners are quick and easy. Here’s an example of the type of questions you’ll encounter:

Respondent Screener Example
Example of a multiple-choice screener I completed.

If you see a notice of acceptance, you need to log in to Respondent and sign up to participate before all of the spots are taken! Researchers may invite more participants than they need to ensure they’re able to complete interviews in a timely manner. 

We received an email confirmation for every study we applied to, an email notification telling us that we were accepted for a project, and two reminders leading up to the meeting date.

Our Respondent Experience

Here’s what you can expect if you sign up for Respondent.

What It’s Like Participating In Studies

The application process is extremely straightforward. I was only selected for one project, which was an online focus group. Upon receiving the email stating that I was accepted, I followed the link in the email, confirmed my participation and was able to see the upcoming study in the Dashboard section of my account. 

On the day of the study, I followed the provided link to join the focus group. The group started on time and ended five minutes early. There was no video requirement, and I was able to type answers to various questions about landscaping materials (specific product types, packaging, and my thoughts on price points) and comment on other participants’ responses completely anonymously. 

Once the focus group ended, I entered my first name and last initial. My Respondent account updated to show that I had successfully participated and I was given an estimated payment date. The payment showed up in PayPal on the estimated date (five days later) as expected.

Who Is Most Likely to Qualify

While most Respondent projects are classified as “Industry Professional” (about 70% during our testing period), there were also a good number classified as “General Population.”

While meeting any of the specific skills necessary for the industry-specific options qualifies you for a larger number of projects, the wide range of topics means that there are at least some opportunities for most people.

Keep in mind that the more specialized your background and experience is, the more you’ll earn for your participation. Respondent has a significant number of opportunities for career-track professionals and experts in technical areas such as software development, and these opportunities pay substantially more than general-population studies.   

Respondent Earning Potential

I applied for 24 studies and completed one over a period of 45 days, with total earnings of $57. After accounting for the time I spent searching the site and applying to studies, my earning rate came out to $31 per hour.

Here’s how that compares to the other survey sites and market research platforms we’ve tested (click the links below to read our review of each site):

Survey SitePay Per Hour
User Interviews$55.00
Respondent$31.00
Google Opinion Rewards$22.24
SurveyMonkey Rewards$13.56
Rakuten Insight$9.62
Survey Junkie$3.75
Toluna Influencers$3.43
MyPoints$2.75
Branded Surveys$2.20
PrizeRebel$1.46
KashKick$1.43
InstaGC$0.90
Drop Rewards$0.76

Here’s a log of each study I applied for, along with the results. In addition to showing the details of my testing for this review, this log can give you a sense of the types of studies, durations and payouts you’ll find on the platform. (Note that I’ve bolded the one study I was accepted to and completed.)

Study TypeStudy TopicAdvertized TimeActual TimeAdvertised Payout
1-on-1Family media service30 minutesNot selected$30
1-on-1Collaboration tools60 minutesNot selected$125
1-on-1Bank accounts30 minutesNot selected$50
SurveyDisability insurance15 minutesNot Selected$10
1-on-1Parenting45 minutesNot Selected$45
Task (feedback)Web users45 minutesNot Selected$100
1-on-1Parenting60 minutesNot Selected$145
1-on-1Health60 minutesNot Selected$100
Product testingLip balm30 minutesNot Selected$50
1-on-1Parenting20 minutesNot Selected$50
1-on-1Household chores60 minutesNot Selected$100
1-on-1Clinical research 120 minutesNot Selected$100
Test (feedback)Project management90 minutesNot Selected$180
Test (feedback)Project management15 minutesNot Selected$15
1-on-1Expense reports10 minutesNot Selected$25
1-on-1Remote work30 minutesNot Selected$5
Test (feedback)Prototype review25 minutesNot Selected$25
Unmoderated testWebsite review20 minutesNot Selected$25
Focus groupFood and shopping90 minutesNot Selected$150
1-on-1Body wash90 minutesNot Selected$145
Focus groupLandscaping60 minutes55 minutes$60
1-on-1Contractor selection30 minutesNot Selected$85
1-on-1Product selection30 minutesNot Selected$25
1-on-1Vehicle recalls45 minutesNot Selected$75

Getting Paid

Respondent pays in cash, and PayPal is the only payment option. Upon setting up your account, you can add your email and your PayPal email (unlike with some platforms, they do not need to match).

Once I completed the only project I was selected for, the information in the “Your Activity” section of my account updated to show my participation and a date for when I could expect payment. 

As you can see below, my $57 payment ($60 minus $3 in fees) was “expected” on 12/20, five days after completing the study. I received the payment in my account on 12/20, as forecasted.

Respondent Confirmed Payments
Screenshot of my confirmed payments.

Respondent FAQs

Is Respondent Legit?

Respondent is a legit market research platform that specializes in sourcing participants for various business studies. During the test period for this review, we were able to sign up and visit the platform on numerous occasions to apply for projects. We found the platform easy to use with a glitch-free experience, and earned $31 per hour (paid by PayPal).

Does Respondent pay in gift cards?

No. Respondent only issues cash payments via PayPal. Here are some of the best ways to get free gift cards if you don’t have a PayPal account.

Are there other sites similar to Respondent? 

The platform most similar to Respondent is User Interviews. We earned over $50 per hour when testing the site, and found it similarly difficult to qualify for studies. 

If you like the idea of product testing, there are a variety of companies that have product testing opportunities

Is Respondent available to participants outside of the United States?

Yes, Respondent opportunities are available in over 175 countries. However, most participants are located in the United States. Researchers can choose what countries, and specific regions within those countries, that they want to target.

How does the Respondent referral program work?

Respondent’s referral program is fairly lucrative and allows you to earn in two ways.

(1) Once you have a participant account, you can share your referral link to your contacts so they can search and apply to studies. If a contact uses your link and earns at least $75 from projects, you will be paid $20. 

(2) Alternatively, if you refer someone for a particular study that pays $100 or more, that person signs up, applies for the project, is selected and participates, you will earn $50. Note that you can only receive five $50 referrals per project.

How much can people actually earn?

Your eventual earnings will depend heavily on how many times you’re willing to come back to the Respondent site to apply for projects. Having relevant industry experience is helpful, though there are enough general options available that there should be something for everyone. 

That said, here are some industry-specific average hourly Respondent earnings that may be useful:

– Business owners: $500 per hour.
– Enterprise software users: $750 per hour.
– Executives: $700 per hour.
– Marketers: $150 per hour.
– Sales and support: $100 per hour.
– Software developers: $200 per hour.

Respondent Review: Our Final Verdict

Respondent offers a user-friendly experience, an easy application process, and much higher pay rates than most survey sites. We made $57 for typing answers to questions about rubber and wood mulch (while also making dinner).

Unfortunately, similar to our experience with User Interviews, Respondent’s study acceptance rate is low. We were chosen to participate in only 4% of the projects we applied to. 

We made more while testing User Interviews, but we also applied to a lot more studies (100 for User Interviews and only 24 for Respondent). Respondent’s three-study-per-day limit makes it more difficult to reach the application volume needed to counter the site’s high rejection rate. 

Luckily, there were a good number of options for people without extremely specific work experience. 

Overall, we like Respondent and think it’s an excellent addition to anyone’s list of side hustle ideas. As the second-best-paying market research platform we’ve tested, it’s worth your attention if you’re looking for ways to make money online and are interested in participating in online focus groups.

Vanessa Zeigler
Vanessa Zeigler is a freelance writer and editor focused on personal finance and time management. She has an MBA from Duke University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). She writes about frugal-living techniques, side hustles, product testing, selling on Etsy and eBay, and using money-making apps. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Upwork and Etsy.

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