With the cost of living on the rise, you may be looking for easy ways to earn some extra cash. And the good news is that there are a growing number of apps that say they can help you top up your income.
One that has been gaining in popularity recently is Shepper, which says users can earn money by completing quick mystery shopping tasks in their area, with each errand usually taking about 10 to 15 minutes and payments typically ranging from about £3 to £10.
The number of users, known as “Shepherds”, has apparently soared to more than 100,000, with the cost of living crisis leading to more people downloading the app.
After reading that the average Shepherd earns about £100 a week from the app, I decided to have a go to see if it was too good to be true, or if it really could help to boost my rainy day fund.
There are several other apps that promise easy cash for quick jobs, including EasyShift and Field Agent, so I gave them a go, too.
How does Shepper work?
Getting started with Shepper is easy: you just need to download the app and submit your name, email address, date of birth and location.
Then you have to do a quick practice run, which involves answering questions about a product and taking some test photos to demonstrate how it will work in stores.
After you have passed the induction, a map of the UK will pop up, showing you all the live jobs available that day.
This is where I ran into problems: there weren’t many jobs near where I was staying at the time, in north Wales, and only a few listed on the outskirts of London.
I monitored the app for about a week and noticed that the number of tasks listed varied greatly – from 1,800 to more than 3,000.
Although there were some in north Wales, they were all too far to access on foot and often more than an hour’s drive away.
I was also conscious of the fact that spending a lot of time and money on completing the job would cancel out any cash I earned.
I resolved to try again when I was back in London, hoping there may be some quick jobs I could do in the King’s Cross area.
On the day, there were three listed at bars in Shoreditch and two at a pub in Colindale, north London – not as close as I’d have liked but much more achievable.
I accepted the Colindale job and headed off from the Guardian’s office to the pub, until I realised I needed to scan my ID to continue with the job. After a quick detour home to upload a photo of my passport, I was back on the road. The pub opened at 11am but I couldn’t actually begin the job in the app until noon, so make sure you double-check timings to avoid having to wait around.
When I hit “begin job” on my phone, I was instructed to take a photo of the outside of the pub and upload it to the app before heading in to order a specific drink: in this case it was Lucky Saint’s 0.5% beer.
Shepper told me to order an alcohol-free beer, asking for the bartender’s recommendation if the pub stocked more than one.
I then had to buy a bottle of Lucky Saint, making sure to ask for a receipt to use for expenses for the £5 purchase (this was Thursday this week, and I was told I will be reimbursed by Monday 25 July).
Once I sat down in the beer garden, I simply had to answer some questions about which beers were on offer, whether I was recommended the Lucky Saint, and how much it cost.
I uploaded a photo of my receipt to the app and the job was done within a matter of minutes.
On the way back to the tube station, a notification told me my report had been approved and £3 was in my Shepper wallet, ready to be withdrawn.
I struggled to find a convenient job to complete but once I did, the app worked as intended.
When Shepper has more jobs available, it should be a simple way to make a bit of extra money when you are out and about.
The chief executive, Lindsay Forster, says Shepper is trying to address this.
“We plan to make £3m of jobs available next year and have the ambition to double year on year thereafter,” she adds.
So far this year there have been 174,000 jobs advertised on the app, with an average of 6,200 listed a week, I was told. The most to be advertised in one week was 50,000 in mid-June.
Jobs I spotted while browsing the app included finding a national galleries advert on the side of any Edinburgh/Glasgow route bus – which would earn you £5 – and checking whether certain products and promotional materials have been installed in Superdrug stores for £10.
Jobs are either verified by technology or another app user, and the money is usually paid the same day.
App users can make two manual withdrawals from their Shepper wallet each month, and one automatic withdrawal at the end of the month. It can take up to seven days for the money to hit your bank account.
What similar apps are available?
Shepper isn’t the only app promising to help you earn money from mystery shopping using your phone.
EasyShift and Field Agent are similar apps that say you can earn easy cash for quick tasks – but, again, the main problem is that, when I looked, there weren’t enough advertised to make much money.
It was simple to get started on EasyShift but despite saying that it operates in the UK, when I checked, there were no jobs advertised on it.
Field Agent asks for more information when you sign up than either of its competitors, and you have to input household information and shopping habits.
The only job nearby in north Wales was two miles away at a Morrisons store. The job, for £5, was to check whether certain hay fever products were on sale and to take photos and count the items.
I put in my London postcode and, again, the only available jobs at that point were at Morrisons. You could select 10 jobs in total, so if you felt like visiting that many Morrisons stores in one day, you could earn a maximum of £50.
July 24, 2022 at 08:37PM Jess Clark