Top Work At Home Moms
    How to make money from home.

If you are thinking about becoming a mystery shopper, this article is for you.  While getting paid to shop certainly sounds like a great idea and a great way to make a living, it is important to understand just what is required, and it is important to be realistic about your potential earnings.  In addition, it is very important to know what to look out for, and how to avoid the types of scams that these kinds of opportunities tend to engender.

It is certainly easy to understand why so many people are interested in mystery shopping and other work at home opportunities.  Between the demands of work and family, it can be difficult to find time for ourselves, and the idea of setting our own hours, and working at our own pace, certainly has a great deal of appeal.

For many of us, therefore, mystery shopping seems to be the perfect opportunity.  Mystery shoppers are paid to pose as typical customers, and to report back on how they are treated.  A typical mystery shopping scenario may have the shopper visit a sporting goods store, clothing store or other type of retailer.  Upon arrival, the mystery shopper interacts with several different sales associates from several different departments, carefully making a mental note of the names and descriptions of those associates.  It is important for the mystery shopper to have a good memory in order to capture all these little details, so be prepared.

While it is fine to jot down a few notes, it must be done inconspicuously, and according to the directions of the mystery shopping company.  Above all, the shopper must never do anything that would give away his or her position as a mystery shopper.  This is perhaps the cardinal rule of all mystery shopping companies.

Upon completion of each mystery shopping assignment, the shopper is typically required to enter a full report via the mystery shopping company website.  The length and complexity of these forms will vary, and it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more to complete the form.  When looking at pay rates and deciding which assignments to accept, it is important to consider the amount of time needed for completion of the form, as well as the time required for the actual shop.

Speaking of earnings, it is important to be realistic about your potential earnings as you enter the world of mystery shopping.  In most cases it would be very difficult to make a full time living as a mystery shopper, for a number of reasons.  One reason is that many areas of the country have only a limited number of mystery shopping opportunities available in a typical month.  In addition, mystery shopping companies will generally not send the same shopper to the same location month after month, in order to maintain the anonymity of the program.  And lastly, many of the assignments pay only a nominal fee, plus perhaps reimbursement for a small purchase if it is required to complete the shop.

That does not mean, of course, that a career as a mystery shopper is without its rewards, and being a mystery shopper can be a great source of part time income for stay at home moms, as well as a great second job for men and women of all ages.  Everyone likes to pick up a little bit of extra cash, and mystery shopping can certainly provide those extra funds.  And many mystery shopping assignments are lots of fun and quite easy to do. 

For instance, some mystery shopping assignments ask shoppers to pose as an ordinary diners and visit a variety of casual, upscale and fast food restaurants.  These dining assignments are a favorite with experienced mystery shoppers, and the promise of a free meal is certainly quite an enticement.  Other assignments may even send mystery shoppers to the movies, to covertly count the number of patrons at a specific feature, or sometimes to ensure that the proper trailers are being shown.  Again, part of the park of the shop is a free night at the movies, plus an extra shop fee in many cases.

If all this sounds intriguing, you may be anxious to get started, and in fact becoming a mystery shopper is a relatively easy process.  There are a number of mystery shopping companies doing business all across the country, in addition to a number of job boards that regularly post available assignments from a variety of companies.  In some cases some training will be required, but it is generally quite easy to sign up and get started.  Shoppers generally have the choice of being notified b email or phone when assignments in their area become available, making it easy to decide which assignments are worth their while.

It should be noted that signing up for the various mystery shopping companies around the country is a free process, and it is important to avoid any company that asks for an up front fee in order to make you a mystery shopper.  There are many free job boards and other sources of mystery shopping assignments, and it is not necessary to pay any sort of fee to get started being a mystery shopper.  So be sure to do your homework, look around for mystery shopping companies and free job boards, and have fun getting paid to shop!