I stumbled upon Merchandising and Mystery Shopping back in the late 1990’s not long after I started surfing the net. I used to see ads in my local paper about getting paid to shop but they also always wanted money for a packet. First rule is NEVER EVER pay a fee to a company for info. Good legit companies will never ask for money from you. Those are scams and run away as fast as you can. I have worked for over 20 different companies in the last 10 years and have never paid a fee to work. Again, this won’t make you rich, but it is a good extra income. Sometimes you will you can get with a company who will give you a lot of work so it is possible to make a pretty nice income of even say $20,000-30,000 (this is definitely true if you live in a big metro city). My towns around me are building up and so are the number of jobs. There is some competition, but if you are reliable, have some experience, and take last minute jobs then you will be offered more work. I was with company that the scheduler always called me first since he knew that the job would get done quickly and could depend on me if someone cancelled.
What kind of work will you be doing you ask? Well it depends on the company but I have done Mystery Shopping jobs like evaluating a bank, real estate jobs, buy something from a store, and you either keep it or have to do a return, restaurants, clothing stores, electronics, video game and movies, actual movie theaters, gas stations, pizza, burger joints, pharmacies, grocery stores, and so much more. Pretty much anyone with no experience can start but the more experience you have the higher paid jobs you can receive. This again depends on your area and the company. I don’t take the small $7 jobs unless it’s a quick one and I’m already doing something else. Most jobs pay $10-15 each and there are ones that pay $20-40 (again most of these require more experience). There are times that I will take 3-5 jobs for one day so I spend less money in gas, and I earn that day about $50-80 for a couple of hours worth of work. Most jobs are 10-20 minutes long. The more you do the faster you get with the paperwork.
Now Merchandising is a little different and again you don’t have to have experience but it will definitely help. I did have experience since I used to work as a stocker at my local Wal-Mart, and I used to put together the displays, shelving, and could read a plan-o-gram (the paperwork that shows how to put the display up and where everything should go). It’s really not hard once you get the hang of it, but most companies really prefer you have experience. These pay much better and usually it’s by the hour but sometimes it’s by the job. Most of my jobs I got paid $10-12/hr. Some companies are cheap and only want to pay $8 but I did take one since it was 4 stores all within a 20 mile radius and it was a weekly job so a nice steady stream. Of course gas was still pretty cheap when I was doing this regularly. So now you should definitely consider the cost of gas. I love the flexibility and to me it was fun.
The kind of Merchandising jobs you do could be anything from putting up actual shelving, restocking, and putting up displays. I mainly did displays and restocking. It was extremely rare I had to do actual shelving. I did once have to put a display that required another person to help so I employed my mom. We went to 6 stores in different towns (the same weekend) and we did get paid almost $400 which after gas we still both made $16/hr. The work really wasn’t that hard but it was a lot of fun, and gave us a chance to spend some time together. I even helped her find a few jobs in her town to make an extra income.
There is also demonstrating. This could be anything from handing out samples/coupons in your local grocery store to Wal-Mart but there are other kinds of demo work. Sometimes it can be working at a cellphone kiosk to showing an electronic gadget. There is also work involving taking surveys at a certain location. The pay isn’t as good but most companies pay $7-9/hr for 2-6 hours of work.
Last let’s talk about focus groups and surveys. I have already shared a few really great survey sites that do pay you for your opinion. I also have done focus groups. This is a little hard to break into unless you live in a metro area. The bigger the city the more opportunities. Some are done online but most are done in person. These can pay anywhere from $50-200 or even higher. There are different kinds like mock trials, medical research (with or without using oral meds), and even companies asking if you like a new product or to talk about a certain issue which could be about many things. There are so many kinds of focus groups and some are even for kids. I also have my son take a couple of surveys which pays $10 each so not bad for a young school-aged child.
Now where can I find these jobs? There are several ways to find jobs.
1)Forum boards are a great way to see jobs by location and by company. There are a few good places I check regularly for work.
Mystery Shopping Providers Association- http://www.mysteryshop.org/index-na.php (just a small word on this one. If you become certified then they will be more jobs available to you. This changed a few years ago and I have never taken the test. I’m not sure if it’s worth the fee or not).
NARMS (love this place)- http://www.narms.com/s_indiv.html
There used to be a couple more but I lost the info when my computer crashed. If anyone has more to share then please leave it in a comment and I’ll add it to the post. Thanks.
2)The other way is to check the company directly. Not all will share a job list and some won’t even take applications. You can check companies above at those forums and just go to the site directly.
3)Another of my favorite ways is to talk to other vendors and check the vendor log. When you merchandise most stores have a vendor log for you to sign with your name, company name, date and times you were at the store. Some ask for you to wear a vendor tag if you don’t already have one. This was a great way for me to find other great companies. Then I would either go to the website or call the company. Some won’t take apps but a few schedulers would add my name to their database and it’s how I got in good with one. I proved to be reliable and dependable for those that quit or backed out and I would go and do the job. Of course this helps if your kids are in school or older or even no kids. It’s not always to take last minute jobs with small children. Good luck and I hope this helps those that were curious.