Overview: Members of Mystery Shop Forum have frequently asked if it is financially feasible to survive solely on mystery shopping income. Volunteers, who were successfully earning $2,000 or more per month, were solicited and Mystery Shopper Magazine is proud to present the fifth in a series of interviews on the topic.
MSM talks with MJT9598:
MSM: Please give us a brief overview of your background prior to mystery shopping and, if you will, discuss what past work experiences have contributed to your success as a mystery shopper.
MJT9598: I have been a secretary for 20 years. I’m highly organized and very detail-oriented.
MSM: How did you first learn of mystery shopping and what was the impetus for you to begin? At what point, did you realize it could become a lucrative venture?
MJT9598: I learned of mystery shopping from another local mystery shopper who posted a notice about it on a local web group. She had more work than she could handle, and the company desperately needed more people. When I discovered how many mystery shopping companies there were, and how much work was available, I realized that this could be a substantial source of income.
MSM: Monetarily, can you give us an approximation of what you consider a “bad month”, a “good month” and a “banner month”? Do you count “useful reimbursements”, such as gasoline, groceries, etc. when computing your “earnings”?
MJT9598: I average over $2,000 a month, cash. I’ve also received around $2,000 in free gas last year, and a couple thousand in restaurant meals.
MSM: Please describe your average work week, including number and types of shops, amount of time spent away from home and the time required to report the shops.
MJT9598: The majority of my mystery shopping income comes from out of town shops. I frequently do one to three day trips, where I may do around 25 shops per day. I do many rural gas station routes where I work very long days, but then take some down time and just do easy local shops for a while. I wait until the out of town shops are offering good bonuses before I set up a trip. I do a couple thousand shops a year. My average work week could include a trip, or it could include just simple restaurant shops. It varies greatly.
MSM: It would be difficult to generate significant earnings from mystery shopping without a sound strategy. What is yours and what makes it so effective?
MJT9598: The reason I am able to earn a good income is that there are so few shoppers in my area. Most shops have to be bonused, often ridiculously high, before they can get someone to take them and since I don’t have time to do everything, and I don’t bother with low paying shops.
MSM: How stressful is it maintaining this level of income, month after month? What do you do to keep from getting burned out?
MJT9598: Since I also have a regular job, I can easily take a break and cut back on shopping if I feel burned out. The long trips do get tiring, but I don’t do them all the time. I can make good money by doing just occasional trips.
MSM: What advice do you have for new mystery shoppers and for experienced mystery shoppers, who want to increase their income?
MJT9598: My advice is to register with as many companies as possible. There are companies that I’ve registered with who didn’t have jobs in my area, and three years later I’d get an email for jobs that are new to my area. You also need to be very efficient in planning out routes if you plan to travel – look for jobs from multiple companies to create a route, and negotiate good bonuses for hard to fill shops.
MSM: Thank you, MJT9598, for taking time out of your busy life to share your “work smart” strategies for earning a good income from mystery shopping.