$500 in One Day

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She had a good day. Folks who do this for a living can make $500 in a day with some frequency.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I have been mystery shopping since 1997. There was once a time when this was an honorable financially viable environment to work in. However either the greed of the mystery shopping companies or the competitive pricing of the Mystery shopping companies for contracts have caused the shopper remuneration to diminish year over year. As a quick comparison if you figured your mileage and report time I do believe being a taxi driver pays more and you alleviate the possibly of being denied payment. That being said I have stood by and watched the payments offered morphing from lucrative, viable, interesting, am I going that way any way, disappointing, are they kidding, non-viable, laughable, not worth getting out of my car, and now they have reached the point of insulting. Yes Do I still do a shop from time to time I do I cherry pick but I am not moving my vehicle, enlarging my carbon footprint, risking a motor vehicle violation or accident to make 7 dollars sometimes even less. I do hold a small grudge towards those shoppers who accept such menial reimbursements because the reason they are offering so little is because you are willing to accept it. The mystery shopper work space has become a totally financially non-viable place to exert your energy UNLESS you wait till the 28Th of the month. !! On the other hand there are a few companies out there that have not fallen prey to greed and insulting payments and for those companies I still have a high regard for and jump at the opportunity to dedicate my attention to their emails. NJAAJUDGE@YAHOO.COM
Love that it is possible for shoppers to earn so much money in a day! smiling smiley

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
My highest day of $917 was 12/31/2013 for Maritz, but the following day was report time. Factoring that in, the actual sum was $458.50. I traveled 437 miles across NE and central Ohio visiting 17 banks. I arose at 05:00, drove 184 miles to my first stop and returned home at approx. 19:30 that evening. As all of the branches were in small towns or villages, I do not recall any waiting. My agreement with Maritz was that I would visit as many as possible to close the year.
I would love to be this productive, perhaps just one day a month. I am in Toronto, Canada. Got any ideas?
Also, I find that compensation for jobs has not increased over the past 5 years. What happened to inflation? it costs more for IC's to travel to locations on any kind of transportation
I am not a video shopper, and I have made that much in a day on a big route with big bonuses. It has only happened to me a couple times, but it's certainly possible.

Happily shopping the Pacific Northwest. Shopping since 2013 and editing since 2018 smiling smiley
Great article. The writer mentioned 30 cents/mile for a mileage deduction. I'd like to know where that figure came from.
@xfixer
I disagree. However, if you are going to make a go at this, you do have to be organized and work the systems a bit. I only do this part time and made close to $25K last year, not including reimbursements.

@tys168
There are a handful of folks on this board who do this fill time (or used to)... When they have things to share, listen. @bgriffin, @LisaSTL, @walesmaven, @SteveSoCal, @SoCalMama.... I took a bit form what each of them (and a couple of others) had to say, put my own spin on it and have found MSing to be very worth my while financially.

Ideas:
1.. Routes. Use jobs from different MSC's to form routes so that you can make on trip and pick up many shops.
2. Be selective. If you are making drives for $20 shops, you are going to limit yourself. Unless that $20 shop is right near something else you are doing, it's not worth the effort.
3. You make your own "luck." The shopper in the article stumbled into a good day. Getting lucky like that is rare. However, if you are with 150 MSC's and know what they generally offer, you can make lucrative routes with regularity.
4. Video: Many of these shops have double the pay and half the work.
5. Be willing to travel. My "huge" days have often involved driving 500 miles, overnight stays, etc. Folks who make a living will spend days and weeks on the road.
6. Never flake. Always do great work. Be responsive to MSC contacts. Be the person the MSC *wants* assigned to all their shops.
7. Answer the phone. Many MSC's only call you if they are ready to talk big bonuses. If an MSC is working the phones, they may be desperate.
8. If you want more money to do a shop, ask. I'll never forget the first time this happened to me. I was asked to to a gas station that was a five hour round trip plus a ferry ride. I explained where it was and what travel would be involved in getting to it. I asked for a bonus of $250 - and got it. I was shocked and educated all at once. Now, I realize I should have asked for more.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@RuralRunner wrote:

Great article. The writer mentioned 30 cents/mile for a mileage deduction. I'd like to know where that figure came from.
There's a company that pays that for their shops/audits, etc. I've done work for them and gotten that same mileage reimbursement. So that's certainly possible.
Day 1 was 12 hours for $500.
Sounds like the grocery stores were fine on the app. The two dealerships required reports on Day 2,

If I’m traveling (usually flying), I make sure I clean up and add-on at both airports and at my destination too. I usually do a $500 fee hotel once a month (2days) and try to add a few hundred bucks in other shops to get done with it.

I work full-time again, so MS is a new side-hustle, but I still do MS after work and on weekends. $25,000 in fees as a side gig is definitely possible. It’s less stressful than trying to do over $50,000 full time.
The amount you can make as a MS definitely depends on where you live. I live in North Dakota, and get a fair amount of work, but sometimes have to do a lot of traveling to get it, and I'm talking hundreds of miles to get to the shopping destination. Also, outside of some large cities, or regional areas, it can be more difficult to find companies that have shops in that area at all, nevermind close to where you live. If anyone knows companies looking for shoppers in ND, SD or MN, please let me know!
MB, the job board here frequently posts shops in ND, SD, and MN.

I, too, will drive hundreds of miles for shops. One route I do, the furthest shop is over 400 miles from home. I suppose it's NOT making over $500 a day, because the first day, I drive to that furthest location, spend the night, rise early AM and complete 7 to 13 shops on the way home.

PrestoInstaMaps shows shops all over the place in all 3 states.
I have made the full transition to hobby shopper. I was a FT shopper/editor between 2005-2008, and then have slowly transitioned from side-hustle to now just hobby shopper/total lifestyle shopper. I made all of $500 bucks total over the YEAR in 2018 after all of my expenses were factored in and I could not be happier (finally I don't have to worry about any taxes or this "side hustle" bumping me into a higher tax bracket).

Like SoCalMama I do one or two $400-$500 fee hotel shops per month, but that along with maybe a few other shops where it cost me more to do the shop (in travel/etc.) than I make to balance it all out and I am good.

I still promise myself that I am going back to doing this more full time as a retirement gig, and I still stand by my personal belief that MS can be whatever you want it to be - rather that is full time employment, part time extra money maker, or means to gaining a lifestyle of luxury on a working class salary - it just takes work and perseverance.
The most I've ever done was $660 in a day last summer ($650 after deducting my BART ticket). Did 20 e-cigarette compliance shops, each for $33. Super easy shops and take about 1-2 minutes max per shop and the report takes 2 minutes max to complete. All the smoke shops were pretty close together and walkable. Finished all 20 shops and reports in 4 hours. Unfortunately the e-cig company switched to another MSC recently and cut the pay significantly.
I could clean up on apartment shops in Denver. My only issue with picking up ten of them a week is that they are targeted.

If I pick up ten shops, by the time I reach a target on some of them and schedule a visit, I could be making the hour long trip to Denver several times in the week. I don't want to do that, so I don't pick up the shops. I don't have time every single day to make a trip...I could do it one or two days a week, sometimes, depending on what is going on in that week.

So...just curious...should I talk to the MSC and explain that I would pick up the shops but that it might take a couple weeks to get all of them done?
RQA offers the mileage. You do, however, have to factor it in when you're deducting mileage for your taxes. Nice thing is that reporting for them is very minimal time-wise.

If you pick up a route of Timbuktu shipping shops at the end of a month or quarter, and then fill in other orphans, it's certainly doable. And you don't spend the whole next day working on reports.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
If I’m not making $60+ per hour, I’m having a bad day. It’s all negotiating and relationships in this business.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
This past Saturday (January 19), I did two shops, $500 each. Drove 225 miles. They were signal audits for businesses that were showing pay per view events without paying for the right to show them publicly. Video and a couple of still photos, and write an affidavit for each location. I left home at 7:30PM and was home in bed by 2AM Sunday morning. I've done it enough that I have a bare bones affidavit saved on the computer so it becomes fill in the blanks and there's about 2-3 paragraphs of narrative that are unique to each location. Payment runs about 6 weeks.

The only downside is that you literally have to be able to plan your route on the fly. I had one sure location and a possible location. On my way to the sure location, I got an email from the client saying they had a second location so I changed the route to skip the possible location to get the sure thing. The second location was out in the middle of nowhere--no cell service. I was on my way home when I got back in cell range and found an email with a third location. A quick calculation showed that I wouldn't be able to make it to the third location before the event ended. But, if cell service had been available, I could probably have added 60 miles to my route and picked up another $500. Oh well, I now have my first target for the next pay per view event in February.

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." Edward R. Murrow

Thou shalt not steal. I mean defensively. On offense, indeed thou shall steal and thou must.--Branch Rickey
I do not know how she did it. What are the companies??? Why do we hear about these great shops, but no help in getting to the companies that offer them????
@LaraEllen New Participant

The companies include those that are listed below in the "Official List of Mystery Shopping Companies". Sign up with them and do excellent work. There's your help.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2019 02:34PM by nslinhar.
@LaraEllen

Some things to realize:

* Though this group is friendly and offers tips, guidance, etc., we are also all competitors. If I have a shop that I regularly get with a wonderful bonus and I pass that information on to others, somebody else might be willing/able to do it for less - which is great for the MSC, but takes away from my earnings.

* Most of the great (bonused) shops happen unexpectedly and can come from any MSC at any time. I get them 1) when the MSC contacts me personally because they are familiar with my reliability and work. 2) I check their job board in specific areas at times and in places I recognize as difficult to fill. 3) I know to ask for a bonus. I cannot say, "ACME CX MSC is going to have a $5,000,000 bonus on a gas station shop on January 28" because I don't really know. If I do my due diligence and find it, I am going to grab it for myself - and not mention it here until I have completed the visit.

* We all have our favorite MSC's. However, we may not mention the ones that bring us the most income publicly. We have spent considerable amount of time honing our relationships with those companies and would rather not introduce others great shoppers (i.e. "our competition"winking smiley to them. We'll gladly point you to the lists on this site and suggest that you start by singing up with the "most discussed" MSC's. However, we may not want to tell you which companies we really like off the rest of the list. You'll find them if you work at this long enough. NOTE: I suspect that at least half the work from the shopper in the article is from MSC's on the "most discussed" list.

* The key to getting these great shops is putting yourself into a position where you have a chance to find them. Sing up with LOTS of MSC's. It's tedious, but shoppers who look to make good money have done it. It's they only way to keep in touch with all the possible shops in your area. Always do great work and never flake. If you have that reputation with a company, you are one of the folks they will call when they are in dire straits. (Just make sure you can answer the phone, check email, etc.) Be willing to drive longer distances. Don't be afraid to tell an MSC your price. They usually say, "no." However, that's okay: If I am a four-hour drive (each way from a location), I will spend more than $50 on gas, fares, coffee, etc. Schedulers know this. If I get a call this afternoon for such a shop that *must be done today,* I will ask for $400 (or more).

As a group, we are happy to point you in the right direction and give suggestions as to how to approach shopping. However, we generally don't give away direct lines to our income. smiling smiley

MFJ

@LaraEllen wrote:

I do not know how she did it. What are the companies??? Why do we hear about these great shops, but no help in getting to the companies that offer them????

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@MickeyB wrote:

I made all of $500 bucks total over the YEAR in 2018 after all of my expenses were factored in and I could not be happier.

Kudos to you for making a profit at it still!

I ran my numbers for 2018 this week and it looks like my combined side hustles ended up costing me $239 in 2018...but I put a lot more of my profit back into expenses last year than I ever have in the past. Purchasing round trip airfare to Bora Bora for two was the major hit to my profit...but it was well worth it. That particular month was a $585 loss but I ended up receiving an amazing vacation (I cashed in some hotel points for that as well) and the MS reimbursements were around $12k. I used to strive for $50k in reimbursements annually with no expenditure on my part, but that was actually wreaking havoc with the lifestyle portion of the lifestyle shopping.

For 2018, I ended up with over $37k in reimbursed travel and food. I had only 1 day last year that made me over $500 via MSing and was on the road for much of that day...and it was probably the most stressful day of the year, so I am going to concentrate and generating income from other sources this year.

In terms of lifestyle, I ended up making some good improvements. I was only required to write 8 full hotel narratives for the over 60 nights I spent in hotels. I ended up with top status at 2 hotel chains and maintained status with my airline of choice through Feb 2020.
@iShop123 wrote:


If you pick up a route of Timbuktu shipping shops at the end of a month or quarter, and then fill in other orphans, it's certainly doable. And you don't spend the whole next day working on reports.

YES! I have really come to love the bonused shipping shops. Good bonuses and super short reports. What more could you want? smiling smiley

Happily shopping the Pacific Northwest. Shopping since 2013 and editing since 2018 smiling smiley
@Hoju wrote:

If I’m not making $60+ per hour, I’m having a bad day. It’s all negotiating and relationships in this business.
Does that come with 12 cans of Pringles as well?

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
@iShop123 wrote:

@Hoju wrote:

If I’m not making $60+ per hour, I’m having a bad day. It’s all negotiating and relationships in this business.
Does that come with 12 cans of Pringles as well?

I can’t figure out what that means...?

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
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