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Top 10 Video Mystery Shopping Questions

Updated on May 24, 2013

Jeff The Geek

Jeff The Geek.net
Jeff The Geek.net | Source

10 Questions about getting started as a video mystery shopper

Mystery shopping with a video camera is a workable way to start making more money in the industry. Video shopping, as it’s called, pays from $40 to $200 per shop. So you can see that it has the potential for more income. Here is the list of frequently asked questions and the answers that will give you basic information as you are thinking about video shopping.

1. How and why did you start to do video shops?

I started doing video shops soon after I first learned about it when I attended the Independent Mystery Shopping Coalition (IMSC) conference in August of 2009. I loved the idea right away because I saw a way to get more for my time and effort. The potential for an improved return on investment (ROI) was considerable. So I signed up for training in Denver. After the video conference, I purchased the equipment and realized my first three video shops within a month. My initial investment was returned to me in that short time frame.

2 .Are they complicated to do?

Like regular shops, the video versions require preparation and effort. What you say is recorded on video. So, you must have a good presentation.

Practice is always a good thing to do before you do your first actual shop. Become familiar with your equipment inside and out and understand how it works. Get comfortable with it. You might try walking around the house with your camera and equipment in place. Learn to act naturally with it.

Then, do a few dry runs. Test your approach on family members until you are satisfied with the results.

As in so many things, after you do a few, it gets easier. You become more comfortable and it comes naturally. And it becomes fun.

3. What kind of equipment do I need? Do companies supply the equipment or do I need my own?

The companies you work for expect you to have your own equipment. However you can get companies to send you their equipment in some instances, but you will not make as much money as you might if you have your own equipment.

The other issue is that supplied equipment is likely to be unfamiliar, have its own problems and it might not fit you properly. Any or all of these issues would make it difficult to use. I bought my equipment from the start to avoid these issues. The one time I opted to use company supplied equipment, I hated it. I decided then and there to use only my own gear from that day forward.

4. What is the pay range for video shops?

Video shops pay from $40 to $200. Most average from $60 to $90, but I have been paid as much as $125 for one shop. Since I have my own equipment I get about $20 more than if used their equipment. I will not shop for less than $60.

The area you work in also affects your pay and the number of shops you can garner. I get calls all the time for video shops because I live in an area where I am one of only two certified video shoppers. When companies look for shoppers in my area, they call me.

5. How does a shopper conduct a video shop? What are the steps you take to set the project up, record, then get the video to the mystery shopping company?

Begin by purchasing a button or pinhole video camera with a built in microphone and a recorder that has a Secure Digital (SD) card.

The pinhole camera replaces one of the buttons on your shirt or blouse, so you will need shirts or blouses that lend themselves to hiding the camera. Be sure they are your best size so that they fit well. A tight shirt or blouse makes hiding your equipment more difficult. I like a black shirt because the buttons will also be black, making the camera less noticeable.

You will need to have a way to hold the camera in place so you get useable video. I like to use Velcro. Women can set up a special bra that holds the camera in place. Experiment until you find the best way to arrange your gear. Make it as easy to arrange and use as possible. Once you settle on a system, it takes only about five minutes to set up.

When you arrive at your location and before you leave your car, turn on the video camera and create a slate. That is, announce who you are, the date, the time and the location for the record—all before you get out of the car. That way you are less likely to attract attention. Once you complete the shop, do not turn off the recorder until you return to your car.

Next, you should upload the recording to the location specified by the company. This can take time, anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending upon the speed of your Internet connection. Most use File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites such as Drop Box. Always carefully follow the company’s instructions for uploading.

6. Do you need special licensing to do this kind of work?

Only the state of Nevada requires special licensing, as far as I know. You must have a private investigator (PI) license to do any kind of shopping there.

But there are regulations in some states regarding recording disclosure. Some states require that only one party be aware that they are being recorded; others require that both parties be aware. Fortunately, the states where I work are “one party” states, making my job easier. If you live in a “two party” state, then both parties must be aware that they are being recorded. In that case, the company that hires you is also required to inform each of their employees when they are hired that they may be recorded by a shopper at some future time. As long as the company does so, the recording is legal.

7. What happens when the equipment malfunctions or the shop goes wrong? Will you still get paid?

The companies are aware that there is a chance that something could go wrong. If they can get the client to accept it as usable to some extent, then they will pay you at a reduced rate. That’s been my experience. For example, one company used my recording, but they reduced my pay by $20.

If something really bad happens and you have no useful recording of the shop, you will NOT be paid. For that reason, it’s a good idea to foresee problems. Always have a backup battery and fully charge it beforehand. Also, erase your SD card after each use. It should be empty before you go into the next shop in order to have full use of its recording capacity. I also suggest your SD card hold 8 gigs of data. That’s about the right amount for one shop.

8. Do you have a list of some of the companies out there who video shop?

Ask your favorite mystery shopping company if they do video shopping or if they know who does. Once you put the word out there, you will start to get shops.

9. How do you feel this has benefited your mystery shopping business?

As a CEO (Chief Everything Officer), I am always looking for more ways to broaden my base. I find that video shopping is a way for me to earn more money at doing what I love to do. And I love the video shops because I don’t have to do much writing to complete the shop.

The uploading can be time consuming, but I don’t have to write lengthy reports. I make more per shop, securing more money for the same time investment. It requires you to be more prepared and more aware of what is happening around you. Remember, you’re taping live! Video shopping is a blast, and I love it. It has brought the fun back into mystery shopping. And who would not like to get paid more for fewer reports?

Video shopping has opened up other areas for me as well. I love to travel. This past December, I found a company that needed shops done in other states. I traveled to one other state and made $200 in two shops. It paid for my airfare, and I was able to then do other shops in that area and make more money than I could dream of in two days—over $600!

If you want to make real money, then you must video shop. I have completed only 53 shops myself, but I have had more fun and made more money than doing the small shops at $10 each. It works. Trust me. You’ll love it.

10. I know you have a group of shoppers in Utah that you like to work with. Can you tell us a little more about that group and how other in that area can possibly be involved?

Video shoppers in my area are hard to find, so I have trained all my family members. Since it’s unwise to be the only one shopping an area, making you easy to spot, we take turns.

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    • jycmba profile image

      jycmba 3 years ago from Los Angeles CA

      A followup comment - Jeff's advice got me started. It's been both a steep learning curve and easy once you get past some key challenges.

      #1 - equipment; can't be stressed enough to be familiar with your video gear so that it's second nature. I've blown more than a couple of shops because I simply didn't have the camera on like I thought.

      #2 - build a couple of key personas / cover stories that you can re-use; again, the more comfortable you are with your story, the less likely you'll blow it in the heat of the moment!

    • jycmba profile image

      jycmba 4 years ago from Los Angeles CA

      Great overview of video mystery shopping! I need to look more into this myself.

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