Mystery Shopping to Supplement Income

Have you ever wondered if there really is possible to make money Mystery Shopping? It is an option, if you want to make additional income on the side either stationary or while traveling.

First, it needs to be stressed, you should never pay to mystery shop. When searching "Mystery Shopper" many ads come up offering you the "secrets of" or the "how to" for a fee. This is not necessary. There are legitimate opportunities to sign up with companies who manage mystery shop programs for many different types of establishments. There is even a professional association that helps regulate the industry. The MSPA helps set industry standards in the customer experience industry and offers a certification program for shoppers.

When working for most, if not all mystery shopping companies you will be working as an independent contractor.


One thing that needs to be understood is that this is not a get rich scheme; you will not get rich. And despite some advertisements you may have seen, you are not getting paid to shop. However it is a very good way to supplement your income or add an additional stream of income.

There are a lot of different types of shops in a lot of different types of establishments. You may be offered an assignment to complete an evaluation by observing any one or several of the following:

• A retail transaction
• The cleanliness of the restrooms
• Was a particular sign present in a specific area
• Whether the employee offers a certain item for sale or has a name tag on
• Give an observation of the quality of the food served
• The overall atmosphere of the establishment.

This is not an exhaustive list but some of things you may encounter. Each company that has a mystery shopping program will have its own expectations of what needs to be observed and measured.


These are some tools that you will need. You may not need a camera or a stop watch on every job, but it is a good idea to have one available just in case.

• A computer with internet access
• An email address
• The ability to print the instructions
• Dependable transportation
• Camera
• Stop Watch


Here are my recommendations to get you started Mystery Shopping.

  1. Open a separate email account – as you sign up with different companies you will start receiving a lot of emails of jobs available from different mystery shop schedulers.
  2. Join MSPA – take the course to become a Gold MSPA Certified Shopper. This is not a necessity at first but you will find once you start shopping that the certification will let the schedulers know that you understand what is expected.
  3. Visit – Volition is a site centered on a lot of free stuff. As part of their forum there is a very long list of legitimate mystery shopping companies.
  4. For any company you are going to sign up with check out the feedback given.
  5. Visit the companies you are interested in and sign up. These companies will ask you for your social security andMystery Shopping Things to do most will not let you sign up with providing it.
  6. Create a spreadsheet – as you sign up with the different companies, document the detail of the company, such as name, web address, and login information.


If you decide to give this a try I recommend you start out slow and learn what you like and don’t like.
As you start completing the different types of assignments you will begin to identify your preference of shop types. This will help you narrow the list of companies down that you want to work for.

To become the shopper the schedulers go to you must be dependable. Do not sign up to complete a shop unless you are completely sure you can complete the assignment. If you do not complete a job there is a good chance you will be blacklisted from that company and maybe others. Read the instructions thoroughly before completing the shop so understand the specifics of the job. Great organizational skills will help you in ensuring you do not overlook a shop you have signed up for.

Schedulers may be afraid to schedule shops for you out of your area if you are traveling to begin with. However, once you have proven yourself dependable they will be more willing to give you the shop.

Do you think this is something you could do to make additional income? If this is something you are interested in, let me know. I will be glad to help if I am able. Comments are welcomed and you can contact me privately via the contact us.




  1. Max says:

    This is a well-rounded article about mystery-shopping. I did this for about a year, and you’re right–the money isn’t huge. But it is fun and full of variety, and great for pin-money. Thanks for an honest and informative look at this work.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and provide feedback. I am always looking for unique opportunities to earn extra income. It is nice to know in a pinch you can do something to help out with the budget.

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