Regular readers will know by now that I love making extra money on the side. With three children and a big savings goal, I’m always side hustling – I don’t think there’s ever a day that goes by where I’m not doing something to bring in some extra money. Some of my favourite ways to make money are things I can do online, such as matched betting or high-paying surveys. However, sometimes, I like to get out of the house too! This doesn’t mean I stop making money though! I even make money when I’m enjoying a bit of retail therapy or a pub lunch. And there’s nothing to stop you doing the same thing too. Anyone can become a mystery shopper – it’s really easy to do and it can pay pretty well too.
What is mystery shopping?
I’ve written a lot about mystery shopping and how it’s a great way to bring in some extra money. But I’ll recap the basics again here.
Mystery shoppers are paid to test out how a real customer is likely to experience a shop, bar, restaurant etc. Mystery shoppers are usually employed or sourced through an agency. The agency will have a brief set by the client that they want the mystery shopper to follow. For example, a mystery shopper may be asked to visit a pub and order from the main menu. They’ll probably need to visit the toilets, speak to a member of staff and report on their findings. Usually, photos of the venue and the food will be required too.
I’ve had lots of pub visit mystery shopping assignments, and they’re probably one of my favourite types. When all three children are in full-time education, I’ll be doing at least one pub mystery shop every week if I can. It’s a free meal out and usually means we don’t need an evening meal because we’re so full! So it saves us a fair bit of money.
As well as pub visits, there are lots of shops that use mystery shopping agencies. Usually, with a shopping visit, you’ll be required to enquire about a specific item, take note of the general appearance and tidiness of the shop, make a purchase, and take a photograph of the exterior. You’ll usually be reimbursed for your purchase AND be paid a fee for your time too.
How to become a mystery shopper
There are lots of mystery shopping agencies, and if you want to make a decent amount of money doing this, then it’s a good idea to sign up with as many of them as you can.
Some agencies will email you when a job becomes available in your area, whereas you’ll need to log in and check with others.
You’ll need to fill out some personal information and give an area you’re able to cover (for example, your postcode plus a 10 mile radius).
How to be a successful mystery shopper
Complete lots of jobs – it may seem obvious, but the more jobs you complete, the more money you’ll make. This is why it’s a good idea to sign up to a few mystery shopping agencies.
Know your brief – you can’t take a notebook with you on your mystery shopping visits, it’d be a bit of a giveaway if you were spotted! Make sure you know your job brief thoroughly before you undertake the assignment. I usually read the brief through at least three times – once when I initially apply for the job, once again on the morning of the job, and finally I’ll read it again on my mobile before actually entering the venue.
Take required photos – I’ve made the mistake once of forgetting to take a photo of the front of a shop when I was carrying out a mystery shop. Fortunately for me, the client was understanding and I was still paid – don’t make the same mistake as me, you might not be as lucky!
Keep your receipts – you’ll need receipts in order to be reimbursed for your purchases. You’ll usually need to upload a photo of your receipt as part of your report.
What not to do…
Don’t miss/turn up late for a job – treat your mystery shopping assignment as you would treat any job. Act professionally and make sure that you always turn up when you should. If, for any reason you can’t complete an assignment, make sure you give the agency as much notice as you can so that they can allocate it to another shopper.
Don’t rely on mystery shopping – Mystery shopping is a fantastic way to make extra money. In fact, I have heard of one lady who makes a full-time income just from mystery shopping! The thing is though, that you can’t predict how much work you’re likely to get, and it’s certainly not consistent. Make sure you have other sources of income too.
Don’t sign up to any agency that asks you to pay – This goes for any ways you may find to make extra money online. If they’re asking for a fee, then the chances are they’re trying to scam you.
Mystery shopping agencies – who to sign up to if you want to become a mystery shopper
Each of these companies offer slightly different work. Some focus solely on mystery shopping, whilst others offer other types of work too. Have a browse and sign up to as many as you can. Make sure you’ve got their email addresses added to your safelist so that you don’t miss out on jobs if they email you.
- Market Force
- Grassroots Mystery Shopping
- Amber Arch
- ESA Retail
- Mystery Dining Company
- Retail Maxim
- International Service Check
Making extra money from home
Mystery shopping is a great way to bring in extra money, but it’s one of many things I do personally to increase our household income. I do lots of things every month to make money – in fact for the last three months I’ve made more money each month from my side hustles than I have from my part-time job. That’s pretty exciting!
If you want to make more money from home, there are TONNES of ways to do it. Sign up to my FREE 30 day money-making crash course to give yourself a kick-start. I’d just like to point out here that I’m dead against scams, gimmicks and MLM (Avon, Juice Plus, Betterware etc), so you won’t find any of that here!