Are You Working Too Much as a Mystery Shopper – and Still Not Making the Cash You Want?

If you are like most mystery shoppers, you feel overworked and underpaid. The truth is that most mystery shopping assignments don’t offer as much pay as most mystery shoppers would like. However, the other side of the coin is that some mystery shoppers may not be working in the right way to maximize their income potential. You may be able to work less and actually make more money as a mystery shopper if you follow some of these strategies:

Consider All Assignments. Some mystery shoppers skim right over the lower-paying assignments on the job boards. It’s true that nobody really wants to get a $5 payment for a job, but the fact is that if you can knock that assignment out in 15 minutes without leaving the house (such as with a quick phone assignment), it is be better than a $15 or $20 assignment that can take over an hour to complete and has you driving all across town. To really maximize your earning potential as a mystery shopper, you need to learn to read between the lines on assignments and determine how much time each assignment will roughly take, and then do a quick calculate in your head to determine the equivalent hourly pay the assignment can provide. When you do this, you may be surprised how many of those $30 assignments you pass over in exchange for $5 or $10 assignments!

Don’t Forget Reimbursements. You may have heard others say that not all assignments are equal, and this is completely true. And just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you also can’t judge an assignment by its base pay. For many assignments, it is not uncommon to get as much as half of your total compensation in the form of an expense reimbursement. So while you are reviewing the assignments to see what the equivalent hourly compensation is, glance at the expense reimbursement, too. Now, your eyes may pop out of your head when you see a $25 expense reimbursement at a jewelry store, and you may have little emotion at all when you see a $5 reimbursement for a grocery store assignment. However, an expense reimbursement is only as valuable as the items you can buy with it. While jewelry certainly is nice to have, most people will agree that $5 at the grocery store is more welcomed than $25 at a jewelry store (where the cheapest thing you can buy there is over $100 anyway!)

Other Benefits. There are other bonuses to mystery shopping assignments as well. Sometimes you can pick up some extra cash by taking on last minute assignments and earning bonus pay. Other times you can get travel expenses paid. Anytime you hop in your car to drive somewhere, you can also write off the mileage as a tax deduction for a business expense. These little benefits all add up. So that $10 grocery store assignment with a $10 expense reimbursement that you picked up at the last minute with $5 bonus pay can end up being worth $25 plus a tax deduction for miles traveled. That sure looks a lot better than a simple $10 assignment, which is what it shows when you skim over the job boards!

The trick to really making good money as a mystery shopper is to keep your eyes open for hidden benefits that assignments can offer as well as negative aspects (such as having to travel too far without travel expenses paid, reports that take too much time, or a $10 expense reimbursement where the cheapest thing in the store will cost you $50.) You can make more money as a mystery shopper if you read between the lines and do some number crunching before you request your assignments.