Being a mystery shopper is a great side hustle to make extra money. Sometimes having a job with a set schedule or business takes up too much time. Think out of the box what you are used to doing for income. So, if you’re looking for an unconventional work from home job, then mystery shopping might be for you.
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Updated Post: This post was originally published on Sept. 22, 2016, but has been updated to accuracy and comprehensiveness.
How You Make Money as A Mystery Shopper
If you’ve been watching Good Girls, you may have seen the episode where the three moms come with a “mystery shopper business” to help laundry money. Don’t let that give you the wrong idea about mystery shopping. It’s a real, legit business and nothing like what that show portrays.
The concept of mystery shopping or secret shopping is simple. You get assignments to visit a business and make a purchase. Afterward, you fill out a form to evaluate the customer service, quality of your purchase and other things about your experience.
Secret shopping gives a company feedback about their service by ordinary people. Companies hire mystery shopping for a wide variety of reasons. Some investigate the quality of their employees. And others want to find out how their locations do with stocking items.
There are many different reasons that a company looks for mystery shoppers. Generally, they are looking for shoppers who provide good feedback based on facts they observed during their shopping experience.
Who Hires Mystery Shoppers?
Instead of companies hiring mystery shoppers themselves, they use a mystery shopping company to do handle hiring. As a mystery shopper, you visit different stores and businesses in your area. These opportunities may be to make a purchase in a store or visit a coffee shop to observe the service.
The more you do successfully the better the gigs can get like hotel stays and dining at restaurants. Generally, there are more opportunities near larger cities.
How much money can you make?
This can vary greatly. It depends on how much time you spend mystery shopping, how many gigs you get, and what the company offers to pay. According to one experienced mystery shopper, she managed to make $14,000 in a year. Not bad for a side hustle!
Sometimes you are paid a fee in addition to reimbursement for your purchase. Other times, you only are paid the reimbursement. Restaurants are an examples of this. They often will pay you back for your meal without any additional payment. Still there is value in that since you’d have to eat anyway, right? 🙂 When paid a fee, it’s usually $5 to $25.
How You Get Paid
As a secret shopper, you get to try products and services for free. Plus, you will also get paid. You can get paid in several different ways depending on the mystery shopping company. You can get paid at flat fee for completing the job. And, sometimes you are just paid with the free product or service.
It’s true, the jobs that are paid a flat fee are more desirable, especially when your goal is to make money as mystery shopper not just shop! But when you are first starting out, you may need to take some of the other type of job just for experience.
Generally, mystery shopping companies pay by check on a monthly or biweekly basis. Payment for a shopping assignment is made when you complete the necessary paperwork on your shopping experience. Although, some companies require you to mail in your reviews, paperwork is often be filed electronically.
Remember in order be successful and make make money as a mystery shopper, you need to follow instructions and deadlines for each shopping gig. Payment can take 30 to 60 days to arrive.
How to Get Started
To get started with mystery shopping, you’ll need to find a mystery shopping company to work for. Because some companies that offer mystery shoppers assignments are frauds, you want to look for reliable ones. Look for ones that do not charge a fee to join. Upfront fees are a red flag the company may not be legit.
When doing assignments, be prepared to pay for the services or products that you purchase. Although this may sound like a bad deal, the mystery shopping company reimburses you for your purchase. This is a precaution by the company to avoid mystery shoppers taking free goods and not fulfilling their commitment to provide accurate feedback.
Although, it’s not required, you can become a certified mystery shopper through the MSPA-NA. It looks good to companies you are trained and ready to make money a mystery shopper. It shows commitment that you appear more professional and serious about your job with them. And, even though, there is a cost to being a member of the MSPA-NA, it is known and reliable resources for both companies and mystery shoppers.
Here are some mystery shopping websites to get you started:
Telephone Mystery Shopping
Mystery Shopping Apps
Although, these apps don’t use the term mystery shopping, they pretty much do the same thing. You get paid to complete tasks in your local area: visit stores, shop, and give feedback.
Watching Out for Scams
As with any work at home job, be cautious to avoid getting ripped off by a scam. Generally with mystery shopping companies, they don’t ask for any money from you. It’s a red flag if one does. Check to see if the company is a member of the MSPA. They regulate mystery shopping companies.
In closing, as with any side hustle, job, or business, you get what you put into it. The hard you work to find good gigs and do well as a mystery shopper, the more potential there is to earn.
Looking for other side hustles? Check this out: 5 Ways to Make Money Quickly from Home