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Do your research to avoid scams.
The mystery shopper industry, often called the secret shopper industry, is full of untrustworthy companies looking to take advantage of people. Before you sign up, with a little bit of internet research, you can get a good understanding of which companies are legit and which ones are not. Check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB) if you are not certain of a company’s legitimacy. Two important things to always remember: Never give a mystery shopping company money. Legitimate companies will never charge a fee to complete a mystery shop. Sometimes part of the assignment requires purchasing something during the shop, but never pay before, even if it’s just a small fee to access the list of assignments. Another common method that illegitimate mystery shopping companies use is issuing false checks that you are supposed to transfer. When the bank catches up, you’ll be the one paying it off.
Understand the difference between an independent contractor versus an employee.
When an individual is an employee, the employer is the one held responsible for the worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance, as well as federal/state income tax withholding. On the other hand, if an individual is an independent contractor, these costs and withholdings are entirely their responsibility. If managed properly, it shouldn’t be a problem. One thing to note: once you make over $600 as an independent contractor, that is when you will receive a 1099 form that you will have to officially file.
Familiarize yourself with the duties of an independent contractor.
When you register for any type of independent contractor, you will have to agree to an Independent Contractor Agreement (ICA). These agreements typically include confidentially and non-disclosure clauses, as well as payment policies, dispute resolution policies, and other crucial information that you must know.
Having another source of income is important.
Mystery Shopping is part of the gig economy and the number of assignments/types of assignments can vary greatly from month to month. Your monthly income from mystery shopping will not be consistent so having it as your primary source of income is not ideal. Check out our other blog about the rise of the gig economy and why it’s important to have a side gig. Make sure you can afford the out-of-pocket expenses. Many companies, including Secret ShopperⓇ, require shoppers to make a small purchase as part of the assignment. Typically, this is something small like $5-$20; however, sometimes you won’t receive your payment/reimbursement for a couple of weeks, so make sure you budget correctly so you don’t run into any financial trouble.
As a mystery shopper, staying organized is vital. You will do a better job and will be able to manage things easier. To keep things simpler for you, use whatever means that work for you - whether that’s an excel spreadsheet or a simple notebook. A lot of mystery shopping assignments require some type of proof. This could be a brochure or receipt, but whatever it is, make sure you hold onto it for several weeks. You never know what will come up so it’s smart to get a folder or binder to store everything in.
Understand the reporting requirements
Each secret shopping assignment has a certain set of instructions that each shopper must follow. These instructions are very important to follow and if you don’t follow them step by step, you face the consequences of your shop being canceled. Make sure you read over the instructions multiple times before.
Be clear, honest, and always make sure you use correct spelling and grammar.
Secret shopping companies want shoppers who they can trust to turn in a quality product. The better job you do, the more opportunities you’ll get. Having bad spelling and grammar and/or not being detailed enough could result in having your shop canceled and that mystery shopper company no longer allowing you to complete shops. Sometimes, like here at Secret ShopperⓇ, we classify our shoppers based on their qualifications and experience. The higher classification you are, the more opportunities you will see. For example, if a shopper has proven themselves enough and at our highest level of classification, we may give them the opportunity to complete our over-the-phone shops.
Gig jobs have been around for a long time and may not be a new concept; however, the rise of their popularity, especially among the younger generation, has had an enormous effect on the economy and how people live their daily lives. Traditional employment has lost its luster, and the 9-to-5 job is no longer the dream job for many workers. People are seeking flexibility when it comes to working, and a side gig or a freelance job offers just that. Let’s take a look at just how much the gig economy has risen over the years and why it may be the backbone of our economic future. You can trace the rise of the gig economy to the global financial crisis in 2007 & 2008. This economic downfall greatly affected many traditional businesses, which resulted in either their decline or completely altering the nature of their business. Consequently, many people in the workforce turned towards freelance or contract work to survive the crisis. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been seeing this repeat itself over the last couple of years as the gig economy continues to grow. In 2020, 23 million new participants joined the pool of gig workers in the US. (daVinci Payments, 2021) Even before the pandemic, the gig economy was growing at a significant rate. In 2018, the global gig economy was at around $204 billion. By next year in 2023, it is estimated that will raise to $455 billion in 2023. (MasterCard, 2020) Simply put, in terms of economic output, the gig economy is expected to double in just 5 years. Companies around the world are now realizing that the future of work could revolve more around the gig economy, and many businesses are completely changing their business model to accustom that. In conclusion, the continued growth of the gig economy will significantly benefit workers today by offering new work opportunities and multiple sources of income. Not only can you choose your own hours and accept interesting work, but you can also participate without quitting your job. There are hundreds of different side gigs anyone can do, so no matter what your experience is, it’s time to partake in the rapidly growing industry.
Having a side hustle is important because it brings more financial freedom and flexibility into your life. Becoming a secret shopper is an easy side gig that takes little time out of your daily routine. Not only do you diversify your income which protects your financial well-being, but you also develop your skills, experience, and knowledge.
Halloween can be expensive, we understand that. The costumes, candy, face paint - it can add up. Secret Shopping is a great way for anyone to get some extra side cash for the upcoming holidays.
Let’s start with the shopper feedback survey we sent out in January. The amount of responses we received was outstanding! Our team has been diligently working on reviewing the comments and ideas so we can incorporate some of them into our website to improve User Experience. The winner of this raffle survey $100 prize was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Stay tuned for more opportunities to enter our drawing by completing our shopper surveys – next time you could be the winner!