Mystery shopping is one of those things that for the novice, is just that – a mystery. With questions such as how much you might earn, or what’s actually involved, it’s difficult to know where to start. So here is the lowdown on how to make money as a mystery shopper.
How can I get into Mystery Shopping?
In this information age, it’s much easier to break into the market than it was say, 10 years ago. There’s a wealth of information out there and plenty of organisations available to sign up with. The secret is knowing where to find them. Once you’ve signed up with a few, it’s important to keep checking in for new assignments to ensure you’re making the most of the opportunities available. You may be required to confirm your right to work, but taking these steps is worth doing because otherwise you’re reducing your earning potential.
Once you’re registered, any jobs available will be listed in your emails or on an app (depending on the method/company). It’s worth setting up alerts/notifications for new assignments. Each assignment will have a short description of what’s involved, and once you book or accept the job, you’ll receive the full brief. A few task apps have the full breakdown available for you to view before you book, too. This helps with planning your time.
What do mystery shopping jobs involve?
There are a multitude of different types of work you might do, but here are a few typical ones.
Check and purchase
This generally involves checking that a particular item is in stock and taking photos to demonstrate the layout in the store. Once you have established that the item is in stock, you might be requested to purchase one or several. This could be for review, or simply to get a product off the shelves and consume or dispose of them. You should be reimbursed for your expenses, so be sure to retain and submit your receipt with your report.
Check stock levels
Some jobs/tasks require you to count a particular number of products in a bay/shelf. This could include physically counting and confirming the number in a report, and/or taking photographs to demonstrate this. Brands also want to know how and where their products are being presented, so this is a useful way for them to find out.
Be a customer
If you act as a customer, usually for mobile phone or bank account applications, these are some of the higher paying jobs. This is because sometimes you will be required to actually open an account or complete a credit check. It’s worth doing if you aren’t concerned about your credit score. They should remove the search from your credit file within three months if you don’t proceed with the purchase (although you can choose to proceed on some occasions if you wish).
Getting paid to eat and drink
This is definitely a bonus! You could use this opportunity to have an evening out. However, there is usually a budget and a guide to what you will need to purchase. So, unless you want to spend over the reimbursement amount, you will need to consider this and who to take with you, before you go. You’ll be asked to check things like cleanliness, customer service, presentation etc. Familiarise yourself with the assignment notes before you go to ensure your report is thorough.
Not for anyone with a gambling addiction! There are often assignments to check that a casino is operating as it should be, and things to look out for might be similar to those of a restaurant or bar, such as checking cleanliness and quality of the establishment and customer service. As well as payment, you’ll be allocated a certain amount of money to play with, which will be reimbursed. Any winnings should be yours to keep, but you will only be reimbursed up to the amount stated in the brief. Anything above that will be out of your own funds, so it’s best to simply complete the job and move on.
How much can I earn from Mystery Shopping?
Small tasks typically pay £3-10, with the more involved jobs paying a little bit more. A drinks assignment for example might pay around £4.50. You would be reimbursed for drinks up to the value of say, £8.00. It’s worth doing for an hour out, a free drink, and a natter with a friend!
Another company might pay you £20-£25 to complete a food or drink assignment, in addition to refunding your meal out.
Assignments where you have to engage as a normal, everyday customer generally pay between £10-£30 (and sometimes higher). Jobs usually take around 15 minutes to 2-3 hours, depending on what’s involved.
The more assignments you do, the more familiar you will become with the concept, which will in turn help you decide whether the money being offered is worth your time. As you’re looking to make extra money, bear in mind that you need to take travel costs into consideration, too. You can read about how to maximise your mystery shopping opportunities here.
Who is Mystery Shopping for?
Basically, anyone looking to earn an extra income! Examples might be:
– Stay at home parents (you could choose to fit them in around – or with – your children).
– Students who are looking for a break from their studies and need to earn a bit of extra cash.
– Employees looking for a way to bump up their income in their spare time.
– A self-employed person who wants to develop additional income streams.
Mystery shopping and task apps are particularly popular with people who have a busy and unpredictable schedule. You can pick and choose which assignments you do and when, depending on time frames and availability.
Ultimately, there will always be a way to earn a little bit of extra money, and mystery shopping can definitely help with this. It’s not only good for your bank balance, it develops confidence and is character building. It requires discretion and care, and it is something else to add to your skill set. So, next time you’re looking for a new way to make money that could also open up new possibilities, consider this and make money as a mystery shopper.
Many thanks to Fiona for this brilliant and informative article on how to make money as a mystery shopper. You can find out more about Fiona on her blog, Miss Penny Money, where she documents her family’s journey out of debt.
If you enjoyed this money making article, you might like some of my other blog posts on self employment and making money from home here.