Everyone knows the drill of looking for work online – we click, we read, and inevitably we sigh in disappointment at the “finder’s fee” or the “initial application fee” as we close out yet another browser tab. It’s easy to end up frustrated and disillusioned with finding online income that isn’t taking advantage of the distance between you and the company you’re working for.
Some of us have even experienced first-hand the wormhole economics of selling #BossBabe themed leggings, makeup, candles, and other empty promises of easy riches to an oversaturated market. Similarly, “secret shopper” scams exist too, all of which take advantage of our community’s need to find flexible, but reliable, supplemental income.
So what’s a motivated mil-spouse to do? Step one is to remember to never pay a company that’s supposed to be paying you, and step two is to network with VirtForce to locate real world remote employment opportunities that will actually increase (instead of deplete) your bank account balance. Step three is selecting a verified company that actually pays you for your time, while giving you the flexibility you need during that next deployment cycle that seems always just around the corner.
One of my favorite ways to bulk up our family’s budget is via Intelli-Shop, an online company that actually pays real people (me included, as full disclosure) to be “Mystery Shoppers”. The Mystery Shopper expectations are pretty simple: you visit businesses in your area (sometimes a little acting is involved) and submit evaluations that include specific information, which is always clearly detailed in the assignment listing.
The variety is refreshing and can be a lot of fun. Among others I’ve had the opportunity to “shop” for everything from a new car to new shoes, pretend to be shopping nursing homes for my aging mother, and tour fitness centers. We’ve even enjoyed free oil changes, and of course our kids love the free pizzas (via IntelliShop’s reimbursement) quite a few times over the years. Shop availability is dependent on location and can be variable though, so keep that in mind if your area isn’t flush with the same opportunities right this minute. I’ve seen their platform go from no shops in my metro area to over 100 in a week’s time – keeping an eye out is important. Shops will also vary widely in payout, from reimbursement only all the way to hundreds of dollars for qualified shoppers. There’s an option to have the platform email you with shop openings as well, which is a big help in keeping my calendar scheduled.
Applying at IntelliShop was a straightforward process that only took an hour or two all together, with a 2-3 day turnaround for my paperwork and identity to be verified. Quite a few people I know report that they’ve had similar experiences with this company. IntelliShop does verify your information like Drivers License and social security number for income reporting purposes, and you’re asked to read some paragraphs and answer questions in order to assess your attention to detail and basic writing skills. Something to note is they pay out (via PayPal) for the previous month on the 20th of the following month, but they’re very clear about all of this as you’re signing up. They pay reliably and are consistent – the only shop I wasn’t paid for is one that I admit to messing up by leaving out a key picture of the product in my report.
The reports you’re expected to file for each shop can be detailed at times, but other times they just involve snapping a few pictures and noting the name of the customer service representative who helped you (or didn’t) on that particular day. There’s also a smartphone app that can make the reporting process even easier and rank you as a “premium” or “preferred” shopper, due to geo-verification that you’re actually onsite.
You can apply to be assigned as many “shops” as you qualify for in your area, and what you qualify for depends on the answers you give in your demographics assessment. You’ll never be assigned a shop without requesting it, so it’s easy to take some time off if life gets too busy. You can also easily adjust your search area to other zip codes and cities, which makes it super simple to grab a shop while you’re on the road or visiting family in another part of the country. Be sure to pay attention to the stated deadlines and to the reporting requirements – your own “shopper rating” depends on your prompt accuracy. Your report is a reflection of your performance as well, and a higher rating history can qualify you for higher value shops down the line. As with any job, it is important to pay attention to those details.
You’ll start with easier shops in your area that don’t require a lot of skill and aren’t too complex. My first several shops were for a mainstream pizza chain (I can’t share which one), where I was asked to order a specific pizza to be delivered to my home. I was asked to note details about the driver – what they were wearing and what specifically they said to me. Then I had to take a few specific pictures of the pizza and its box immediately after the driver left, and answer some questions about the distribution of toppings.
From a free (reimbursed) item to hundreds of dollars or more for a few hours of your time, Intelli-Shop offers a flexible and genuinely productive income generating option that truly works for the varying needs of many remote workers.
Have you tried IntelliShop? Let us know your experiences in the comments below, and don’t forget to share these (and other) amazing VirtForce resources with your networks too!