Earning more money is one of four basic steps to enjoying a Frugalista lifestyle. And since Frugalistas love to shop smartly, what better way is there to get paid than to make money mystery shopping? It’s fun, it’s sexy and at times, it’s really rewarding – as long as you’re skillful in creating and developing your mystery shopping profile by staying on point at all times.
Yet, with so many mystery shopping scams running rampant throughout the Internet, you may feel a bit uncertain about whether or not mystery shopper positions actually exist… and whether or not you can really snag one. So, how can you start getting paid to shop while also avoiding mystery shop scams as well?
How to Start Mystery Shopping Now!
First, the best place to begin learning how to mystery shop is with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. As “the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources,” the MSPA has a pretty strong code of ethics for both mystery shopping companies, their clients and mystery shoppers themselves.
Visit the MSPA website, click on the “Shoppers” portal of the homepage. This will take you to an area that provides specific legitimate information about no-fee mystery shopping.
Search for mystery shopper positions in your area using the search form on the site. You’ll be able to see different types of shops are available from various companies, as well as estimated shop fees you’ll earn upon successful completion.
Since schedulers are highly aware new shoppers are always seeking new companies to join, they provide plenty of contact and website information for you in case you want to register to work for them.
How to Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams
Avoid mystery shopping scams by performing due diligence on companies you wish to work for. Search the company’s name online; visit both their official websites and check to see if there are any consumer complaints against them. Lastly, another secret trick is to check forums like WorkPlaceLikeHome, which usually have mystery shopping sections devoted to discussing different company experiences.
Do I Have to Pay to Mystery Shop?
You are never to pay a company to provide mystery shopping assignments for you. Your only upfront costs are the cost of MSPA Certification, which is optional, and actual shop expenses. Any expected out-of-pocket expenses are usually noted in the job description along with shop fees. Any company that demands or requires payment prior to providing you a list of shops should immediately be reported to the MSPA.
How Much Will I Make as a Mystery Shopper?
To be completely honest, your mystery shop earnings depend upon you and your financial goals. If you’re okay with your finances but want to complement your income by saving money on meals, then you may find working with companies that only reimburse, or provide a small fee ($10 or less) in addition to reimbursement satisfactory. If, on the other hand, you’re really interested in truly earning money, you can easily earn $100 to $2,000 more per month. It’s really about getting hired by shops with good fees, getting to know the companies and assignments and staying focused. Additionally, you’ll need to keep track of your expenses, mileage and receipts too. Fifteen dollars to $25 is a good shop fee, especially if it includes reimbursements. Get four or five of those in a week and that’s $$60 to $125 extra in a week in addition to your regular job!
Oh – and please believe, the more you shop, the more access you have to better assignments. When you’re first starting out, you may find the majority of assignments available may not only suit your taste, but have low fees. Accept the ones you can tolerate; this is part of paying your dues. As your frequency of shops completed improves, so will your pickings. In fact, you will have schedulers calling you!
Insider’s Tip: Getting Massages, Facials, Cruises and Beauty Treatments – for FREE!
One of the lures of mystery shopping jobs are the assignments at luxurious places. Imagine a day of soothing spa pampering, dinner and a latte – all at your favorite places. Or even getting paid to perform contract work using your favorite cafe’s Wi-Fi and enjoying a meal. Yes, it’s possible – but you have to know how to snag preferential assignments. Here’s some insider secrets:
1. Keep immaculate details about your assignments. Take note of every detail necessary – even if it seems like too much – during assignments. It helps to remember and report as much as possible accurately in your narratives in order to give the companies a clear visual of what you observed during your shop. Remember, your job is to paint a vivid, yet actual snapshot of the visit, as if they’re there with you.
2. Get MSPA-certified. Paying $15 for a silver certification will give you preference over uncertified shoppers. Furthermore, going for the gold will put you at the head of the line. Certification demonstrates that you’re serious about the mystery shopper profession. Schedulers are always searching MSPA for gold and silver certified shoppers, and the investment may be a legitimate write off. (Check with financial advisor.)
3. Become a last minute savior. Your schedulers have details on the best shops but they reserve them for the best – and brightest – shoppers in their databases. Make sure to pick up the slack on emergency last minute assignments; not only does this initiative display your ability to come through for them, these shops usually come with bonuses and make you favorable to your schedulers, who in turn may reward you with first preference for assignments. (*wink*)
Bonus: To get you started with some of the more choice companies with lush assignments, check out Coyle Hospitality, Sentry Marketing and A Closer Look. I can’t tell you who these companies provide work for, but you’ll love them!