My wife and I went on a mystery shopping road trip Wednesday. This is a good way to increase your earnings from mystery shopping. We did shops in some small towns that were 1-2 hours away from us. Shops in little towns often go undone and the mystery shopping companies will give you nice bonuses to do them before the end of the month. It isn’t cost effective to drive an hour or so each way for just one shop but by both of us going we were able to make the road trip worthwhile. We did two bank shops and four fast-food shops. The bank we shopped for only allows a shopper to do one shop a day but since there were two of us we were each able to pick up a nicely bonused shop in towns located close to each other. At the end of the day we made about $150 and had received five free meals and only spent about $20 on gas. Since we only actually worked a couple hours each I consider that a pretty good deal.
In August I decided to cut back on mystery shopping since I had a job. I did end up doing fewer shops in August than usual but it ended up being one of more my profitable months mystery shopping. This is because the mystery shopping companies contacted me and offered me high-paying and/or heavily bonused shops. I had previously been contacted for these shops once in a while but not as often as in August. It seems like my persistence is finally paying off.
I think that getting the workers at the mystery shopping companies on your side is one of the keys to making decent money mystery shopping. When you first start out the companies are unlikely to call you for any assignments. When they do call try to do the shop they are requesting if at all possible. If you can’t do the shop make sure to let them know that although you can’t do that shop you are interested in doing last minute shops if they come up in the future. I suppose it is somewhat like being nice to the dispatcher when you are a taxi driver. They have lots of power to affect your income so you better be nice to them.
That is my mystery shopping tip for today. Hope that all of you that are mystery shopping are able to use it.
People often ask me how to make money doing one of these things after I post my monthly income report. I have written posts before about all of these things before although I suppose none of the posts would qualify as a definitive guide. Since there are probably more readers out there who are interested in making money from one or more of these ways I am sharing some resources for more information.
For medical trials try the websites JALR.org (Just Another Lab Rat) and GPGP.net (Guinea Pig, Get Paid). These should provide you with all the information you need to get started and of course you can search this site for my previous posts on the subject as well.
For mystery shopping check out Volition.com. They have a ton of information about mystery shopping although it isn’t always easy to find exactly the information you need. You might also check out MyFrugalMiser.com. This isn’t a “how-to” site but he is successfully making a living as a mystery shopper and you can pick up a few tips.
For blogging there are a ton of resources. I really like the “How to Make Money with a Blog” post at Christian Personal Finance. It provides a nice overview of what is involved in making money with a blog and provides additional resources as well.
If anybody has more resources covering the money making areas above please feel free to share them in the comments.
I did some mystery shops over the weekend that highlight some of the good things and bad things about mystery shopping. There were a couple of bad things about this mystery shop. First, I had a receipt rejected because it didn’t include the address of the convenience store. I can’t control whether a store puts their address on the receipt or not. Luckily, I had another receipt with the address printed and I was able to scan the address on to the other receipt.
The other problem was that a report checker invalidated one of my reports because she said I didn’t purchase gas. This wasn’t correct and I had submitted a receipt for the gas so I don’t know why the checker said I hadn’t. I resubmitted the receipt and the checker asked me to send it yet again because the edge of the receipt didn’t scan. This was a little ridiculous since everything on the receipt was still readable and the important information was intact. Since I wanted to get paid though I had to send the scan in yet again. I have heard that you will occasionally run into checkers that are a PITA and I guess this was my first experience with one.
There are some good things about mystery shopping. It is nice to get to get paid to buy gas although there is quite a bit of work besides just buying the gas. It is also nice that most of my mystery shopping income will be tax-free. Since I can legally write off my mileage at $0.50 per mile most of my income is eliminated. For example, one of the fast food shops I did this month was 16 miles round trip from my home giving me an expense of $8. Since my pay was only $7.50 I technically didn’t make any money doing this shop. This would be bad if I thought my true expenses were anywhere close to $0.50 but since I estimate my true expenses to be less than half that these shops are worthwhile.
My goal was to make $500 from mystery shopping this month. It looks like my total will probably be around $300 unless I get some really lucrative shops at the end of the month. There usually are shops with raised fees at the end of the month but I’ve not been quick enough to get the ones I want.
I probably would have made $500 but I did hardly any shops last week and I don’t have any scheduled for the rest of this week. I have decided I am only going to do shops if they are either especially lucrative or shops that I enjoy doing. It seems that a large percentage of the shops are petroleum shops and I don’t care for those. They take me too long and there is too much stuff to remember and too many pictures to take.
My conclusion after doing lots of shops this month is that it is possible to become a full time mystery shopper. It would require several things to be able to achieve this though. It would take some time to become more efficient at doing the shops so that you are returned a decent wage for your time. You also need to be highly organized to schedule the shops and report them in the most efficient manner. You would also likely need to persevere through some lower earning months because the mystery shopping companies do not show you all the opportunities when you first work for them. After you have worked for them for a while they will give you access to more and better shops. Although, I do believe it is possible to make a living as a mystery shopper it would be a lot of work. Since I don’t enjoy most of the mystery shopping jobs it wouldn’t be worthwhile for me. My plan for now is to continue making online income and look for a regular j-o-b, possibly in the legal industry.
****Don’t forget to enter my giveaway this week if you haven’t already.