Hi Kristen from Fort Worth,
Welcome to the forum and iss. I've been doing this for almost 4 years. I want to disclose the amount that I made but I will say that this year alone I've already made 4 figures. This is not a regular employee job so the money you make is sort of like a dinner and a movie, think of it like that. But, if you are retired or like to have a so-called second job, this is it. Welcome again and happy secret shopping.
Hi Kirsten -
This is an industry in which you very much determine your earnings. I know of folks who only dabble and are happy to bring in an extra $100 a month. I know of others who do this as their primary income and, from what I can piece together, make better than $70K annually. And, there is everything in between.
I teach full time, so I shop quite a bit on non-school days and much less when school is in session. I just glanced at my spreadsheets and am at a little shy of $20,000 so far this year. With that, I have had two months that I basically took off. This number does not include purchases for which I have been reimbursed (meals, electronic equipment, clothes, gambling losses, gas, oil changes) or other perks, such as gambling winnings. The value of these would be close to another $10K.
I have been shopping for about 2 1/2 years. I shop when I want and take time off when I need to rest or have something more important. I do want to be clear: You will *not* earn thousands of dollars right away. It takes time to building yourself up as an independent contractor. I occasionally go on multi-day routes and I frequently spend long days driving. There is money to be had, but it takes time, a ton of work, organization, and reliability.
While some people make quite a bit of money, others do it part-time as additional income. Whichever you are, you can't forget to include your time and travel expenses (gas) when determining what shops you take and how far you are willing to travel.
I recently completed a restaurant shop where I actually took a loss. The cost of the meal and a small tip actually totaled more that the compensation and reimbursement for the meal. This did not include the gas and travel time. When I brought this up to the scheduler, the compensation was increased for the next shop but then dropped back down for subsequent ones. Live and learn!
As you continue in this field don't forget to take all aspects of the shop into consideration before taking it (location, travel time, compensation, etc.). When possible, try to schedule several shops during one trip to minimize the driving and maximize the income. I will try to take at least three shops in the same general area to make it worth my time.
As MF Johnson put it, you will not make thousands right off. It takes time to build up a system that works for you and this forum is a great place to get tips from seasoned shoppers.
Good luck in your shops!