The Fast Route to a Mystery Shopping Paycheck: Tips for New Mystery Shoppers

When you first start most jobs, you get some kind of on-the-job training, or perhaps an introductory seminar about the company. Someone may show you around the office and explain what it is you are supposed to be doing at your job. With mystery shopping, however, you really are on your own, and it will be up to you to learn the ropes, take the initiative, and fully ease your way into new territories. Some people seem to make the transition into mystery shopping with ease, and they do get a mystery shopping paycheck within a few weeks of starting. Others, however, seem to take much longer to get the ball rolling. If you want to get a mystery shopping paycheck fast, here are some tips to follow:

Find Providers First. You cannot make money as a mystery shopper until you have been approved to work by at least one or two mystery shopping providers. These are companies that act as a go-between for you and the retailers, restaurants, and so forth who need your services as a mystery shopper. You will want to check with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association ( for a list of legitimate providers. They post a complete list of providers, and using this list to contact providers is a great way to get started.

Apply to Work. Once you are on a provider’s website, you should be able to find a link to an application or sign-up page. Most providers will have this link easily visible, and most will have an application page that you can complete in just a few minutes. Some do have slightly more complicated applications, such as those that require you to submit a small essay or writing sample.

Search the Job Boards. With each provider that you get approved to work with, you can peruse their job boards and search for assignments. You can typically do this as soon as you are approved, so often it is possible to search for jobs the same day that you complete the application page. There are essentially two different kinds of jobs – those that you have to request to do, and those that are self-assign jobs. You will want to request both, but you will find that you get off to a faster start as a mystery shopper when you pick up at least a few self-assignment jobs.

Know the Requirements. Each assignment will have its own unique assignment requirements, and you will want to really study the requirements fully. On a site visit, you only have one chance to get it right, and so  you want to make sure that you really complete the requirements fully on the first go-round. You are not permitted to take the requirements with you into the site location, so these requirements should be committed to memory. Some mystery shoppers do give themselves a cheat-sheet by using notes in a cell phone, on a fake shopping list, or in some other fashion that is incognito.

Complete Your Report. Every assignment will have its own requirements in terms of how quickly your report needs to be completed. This generally is 24 hours of doing the site visit, but many require you to do it the same day. Most mystery shoppers will complete the report immediately after returning home so that they don’t forget any important details. After you complete your report online, you simply wait for it to be approved and for your payment to be processed. You should know that processing times vary, and sometimes this may be a week or so, and other times it may be over a month.

As you can see, getting the ball rolling with mystery shopping isn’t nearly so difficult as you might have first thought. When you need what to do to get started, you can quickly and easily be mystery shopping and earning paycheck after paycheck.