When I first heard of this way to make money, I thought that my dad was crazy. He was telling me that he knew a guy that was making pretty good money driving around to gas stations, taking a few pictures, buying a small item, and taking a survey about his experience.
Sounds crazy doesn’t it?
Never to be one to shy away from crazy (I mean – I married my lovely crazy wife), I decided to do a little research.
SIDE BAR: You will see that I am a huge fan of doing a little research. It’s part of my continuous learning process and it allows me to see the good, bad, and ugly before I ever jump into a business idea. There is a fine line between a little research and too much research. I’ll talk about this line in a later post, but you just need to know that you need to know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to be scared. END SIDE BAR.
My research led me to a website called Jobslinger. This is essentially a job posting board for all of the mystery shop companies. They post a job, you take a look, and then you head to their website to set up an account and assign the mystery shop to yourself.
So I kept looking around and saw shops that ranged from setting up bank accounts to getting a meal at a restaurant. I even saw a few that were for funeral homes (talk about creepy shit – Hey…I’m looking for a casket….can I take a few photos?). The number of shops were plentiful and the opportunities looked promising.
Now that I have a hypothesis (you can make money via mystery shopping) and some initial research (seems legit and I have some knowledge of where to go to do it), I need to start with my first small scale experiment.
Should be easy. Just pick a mystery shop and give it a whirl.
Instead of picking the highest paying shop or the one that requires a shit ton of work, I decided to do a simple local shop that required me to go into the store, grab some beer (so difficult…not), try to buy the beer without an ID, and report on the outcome.
So I requested the shop, it was assigned to me, and I went and preformed the shop.
Overall, it was quite easy. They laid out the instructions in an easy to follow fashion and I was in and out of the shop within 10 minutes.
Since the first part of the experiment was complete, I needed to wait for the outcome. I needed to wait and see if I actually got paid for my work.
And what do you know? A payment processed in my PayPal account a few weeks later for my shop payment and a reimbursement for my purchase.
Small scale experiment – CHECK
Time to ramp it up a bit. Let’s schedule and perform a few more shops.
The next round of shops went off without a hitch.
I have now taken my idea, tested it, and proved that it actually works. Mystery shopping can actually make you money!
Now that you are a bit excited about this (I know I was), I’ll pass on a little bit of knowledge from my experiences thus far.
1 – ALWAYS GET A RECEIPT! This is the one of the only ways they can verify you completed a shop.
2 – Stay away from any shops that you are uncomfortable with performing. Personally, I won’t do anything that involves a credit card application, money transfers, etc. If you have a bad feeling, just walk away.
3 – Never pay to sign up for a mystery shop. The only payments you should ever consider are a subscription to Jobslinger Pro and the MSPA Silver/Gold certifications (I have the silver and I’m not 100% sure it has done much).
4 – The real money is in the shops that are close or past their deadline. Once you get a few shops under your belt, you will start getting emails from the schedulers about urgent shops. I have found that the more remote areas around me tend to always have trouble getting people to fill the shops. I sit around and wait until the shop deadline passes and the schedulers start to send multiple emails with added bonuses. Then I’ll assign myself a shop and do it ASAP.
5 – Have fun with it. It’s not very often you get to go out shopping and get paid for doing it. I have had some fun with interesting shops and I always do a check for shops before I go on a road trip. It’s nice to pick up a few along the way and make a little extra cash for some fun money.
As you perform your shops, you’ll start to find a list of preferred mystery shop companies and types of shops. I’ll share my list below (feel free to add to it in the comments section below). Remember these are just my favorite companies – there are a ton out there and a bunch of different opportunities:
Second to None – Tobacco compliance shops
North Fork Research – Tobacco compliance and supermarket shops
Intelli-Shop – Pizza shops
See Level HX – Causal dining shops
All of these companies I have personally shopped for, received payment, and would recommend.
And last but not least, I wanted to leave you with a few stories of successful mystery shops that make me want to keep on mystery shopping (Please note: these shops happened in rural cities and were past due, so the bonuses were out of this world awesome):
1 – I performed a tobacco compliance shop at a gas station in a small town in the middle of nowhere. The shop was easy: Go in, ask for a pack of cigs, and see if they card you or not. All said and done, the shop itself took about 2 minutes. I submitted my report and I was paid $86 for it. Talk about easy money.
2 – I performed a carry out pizza shop at a pizza place that was along my way home. I called, placed an order, and picked up the pizza. I submitted my report and I was paid $22 and reimbursed in full for the pizza. Not too often that you get paid to grab dinner.