There is a lot said and written about mystery shopping and one of the main topics of conversation is ‘ How much can I earn as a mystery shopper ?’ Some say that you can’t earn a great deal at all, while others state that you can make a living out of it. With such confusion, it is little wonder that mystery shopping companies often struggle to attract people. When I go on the majority of mystery shopping websites I am signed up for, they are advertising for new applicants, or offering incentives for existing shoppers to refer a friend.
I have been mystery shopping for several years now, and I have tried it out with scores of different mystery shopping companies. Some I still work with, while others have either drifted away or I just don’t find anything from them. This is the way with an industry like this. A company may rely on one big client, then a lost contract can mean they don’t have a great deal available. I have always had to think about how much can I earn as a mystery shopper ?
So, how do you earn as a mystery shopper?
Mystery shopping gives you the opportunity to go out there and test the service of retail and hospitality outlets in exchange for two payments –
- You are repaid for what you spend in the shop – known as a reimbursement
- You receive pay for your time and trouble – known as the fee
Together, these are the earnings that you get from conducting a mystery shop. This is the answer to the question – ‘ How much can I earn as a mystery shopper ?’
Like many things in life, we best explain this by way of an example –
You select a task where you have to go into a pub, buy a meal and two drinks.
- The reimbursement is up to £9.75
- The fee is also £2.50
- If you spend £9.75, then you will receive your money back and a fee of £2.50 to cover your time, petrol, parking and any other expenses.
- You have also had a free meal, in effect.
Mystery shopping isn’t going to make you rich, as you can see from this typical example. There are more lucrative mystery shops and ones where you are paid a fee of say £10 and don’t have to make a purchase, but these are not as common as the ones outlined above.
How do I make the most of mystery shopping?
The best way to do this is to carry out more than one mystery shop in the same location, or close to each other. In the example above, I would need to not travel very far and have no parking charges to make this worthwhile in terms of pure income. Of course I wouldn’t need to buy dinner that day, but as an income £2.50 isn’t going to get me very far. The answer to the question ‘ How much can I earn as a mystery shopper ?’ suddenly doesn’t look as great.
To make this worthwhile I might have –
- A grocery store visit with a £3 fee
- A clothing store visit with a £2.50 fee
- The pub, as above, with a £2.50 fee
- A coffee shop with a £3 fee
- A perfume shop with a £2 fee
- A visit to an outlet with a £3 fee
- A £10 fee for visiting a mobile phone shop and making an enquiry
So I can walk away with this with
- Coffee and cake, plus a pub lunch
- Groceries to pay for meals for the next few days, plus perfume, clothes and another item
- £26 across the visits to pay for petrol, parking, etc.
This isn’t going to make you rich by any means. But could be a nice supplement to a day out that you already have planned.
How much can I earn as a mystery shopper ?
The long and the short of it is that you are not very likely to be able to live off mystery shopping. If you live alone with no mortgage in a big city then there is the slight possibility that you could make this happen, but that description doesn’t fit many of us. It is a lifestyle business that can help you soften the blow of monthly spending, go out for a meal every now and again or get presents for Christmas or birthdays.
There isn’t really anything else in it. I think that a full-time mystery shopper could probably manage between £15,000 and £25,000 worth of good and income in a year. But more than half of this would be the goods they get to keep. This seems like it can’t sustain most people. How much can I earn as a mystery shopper can be a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question. In conclusion, I hope this sheds some light on it.
If you are considering mystery shopping then my book is a great place to learn all the basics and be prepared for what it might throw at you. Check it out now.