July 1, 2010

Mystery Shopping and Freelance Writing


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Mystery shopping and freelance writing go hand-in-hand quite easily. Most mystery shopping jobs require the shopper to fill out a form, for which good writing skills are crucial, as with writing jobs. Tax write-offs for mystery shopping can lend themselves easily to paying less income tax for the freelance writer. Mystery shopping jobs are paid per job, whereas many online freelance jobs pay residual income, so mystery shopping can supplement freelance writing jobs nicely.

HOW TO START

To begin mystery shopping, a good website to check out to start is volition.com. This site posts an extensive list of legitimate mystery shopping companies to try. Once on the site, click on "Get Paid" then "Get Paid to Shop". Find companies who work nationally or with companies in your area. Currently I am signed up to work with about 20 different companies. These companies send lists of shops to be completed via email, so available jobs show in an email inbox every day.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Mystery shopping jobs have two main components: the shop itself and the form to fill out after the shop is completed. Mystery shops are generally explained very thoroughly, and if one does not understand exactly what is expected, a good scheduler will work with the shopper to ensure the shop gets done correctly. As with freelance writing, good grammar skills are a must when filling out forms online.

TAXES AND THE MYSTERY SHOPPER

For income tax purposes, the mystery shopper is considered an independent agent, the same as a freelance writer. For tax preparation, fees paid for mystery shopping and residual income from freelance writing should be added separately then figured together to find the total money owed minus deductions.

As a mystery shopper/freelance writer, 50% of my time on the computer is used for work, so 50% of the cost of my internet can be deducted, as well as mileage for mystery shops and other miscellaneous items such as printer ink and paper, notebooks, et cetra. Mystery shopping typically has more deductions available for business expenses, and especially miliage, so when added together the mystery shopper/freelance writer would pay less income tax than an individual who either mystery shops or writes freelance.

CASH FLOW AND THE MYSTERY SHOPPER

The final benefit of mystery shopping and freelance writing together is the upfront money. Residual income is nice, but so are upfront fees. Payment for mystery shops typically are in the form of reimbursements for money paid by the shopper to buy required items for the shop and a fee paid to the shopper for work completed satisfactorily. Most mystery shopping companies pay about two months after work has been completed. If mystery shops are done on a regular basis, this can be quite a lucrative cash stream to supplement residual income earned by freelance writing.

Mystery shopping and freelance writing done together can be a very profitable endeavor!

2 comments:

Chris said...

Volition is a great site to use. You can also sign up at www.insularesearch.com to become a mystery shopper with Insula research. - Chris Hires

Michael Ryerse said...

I've also heard that BestMark is a legitimate mystery shopping company to become a mystery shopper with. If you are looking to become a mystery shopper, you can go here:

http://shop.bestmark.com

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