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The gig economy sometimes seems like a giant free-for-all, and in many ways it is. So, let us try to help you make sense of it, especially as it relates to spotting the best gig economy apps.
To give you a quick big-picture overview, the gig economy has grown by leaps and bounds over the last ten years since Uber was first founded. Back then there were a handful of online gigs people could work with although most people had never heard of the gig economy and had no idea what gig work was.
Today, not only does it seem like everybody knows what it is, it seems everybody and their friends are working a gig or two!
Today, there are gig economy jobs in more industries than there used to be gig companies. We estimate there are now a couple of hundred app-based gig companies that have a decent shot at making it. And there are probably several hundred more that no one has ever heard of and probably never will.
But, whether or not they have a chance at making it, the perceived success of Uber has brought on a slew of wannabe imitators. So, we’ll help you weed through it all to get to the best money-making gig economy apps.
How to utilize gig economy apps to your advantage
As an independent contractor, getting the most use out of gig economy apps is more than just putting in long hours of hard work with the app you’ve chosen, it is choosing the right app(s) in the first place.
When gig work comes to mind, most people think of Uber and Lyft. That’s natural because Uber and Lyft were the first companies to make it big and really bring gig work to national attention.
In the early days, 7-10 years ago, they were the most widely-recognized gig companies. So, it’s natural that they would come to mind, first, when most people think of gig work. But now, research shows the gig economy has completely exploded with more opportunities than ever before.
But today, gig work has literally exploded in a thousand different directions. Today, there are so many gig jobs to choose from that there is no reason anyone should feel like they have to choose an app that doesn’t fit their skill levels and interests. There are even gigs for doctors now!
Today, just to name a few, there are gigs for:
- Web developers
- Software coders
- Dog sitters
- Homeowners and apartment dwellers
That’s just for starters and it should give you an idea about what all is available today as far as opportunities in the gig economy. You can find gigs that are well-suited to your skills and interests, so don’t think gig work means being tied to a $7-an-hour menial job anymore. It doesn’t.
Because of this great diversity, you can now employ interesting strategies to get the most out of any gig work you may choose to do.
Plus, most, if not all of these gig economy apps are available on iOS and Android devices. What most of them require is a quick interview, background check and you can get started within days.
It’s true that a lot of gigs are low-end, low-paying jobs, but they do make it easy for people with no experience or specialized training to start working. And you can use your time in between gigs to get free or low-cost training to up your skill level so you can improve your situation over time.
The four best tips I can give you for using gig apps to your advantage are:
- Find gigs you already have some inherent interest in.
- The best apps for making money are those where your reputation follows you. The better your reputation becomes over time, the more work you’ll get and the more it will pay. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. Patience and persistence pay off.
- Gigs that require higher skill levels generally pay more.
- Gigs that allow you to set your own prices pay more than twice as much as gigs where the company sets your price.
With that said, let’s take a look at various gigs to get a better sense of what will best help you make some extra cash in 2019.
Top 10 gig economy apps for making some extra money
Without a doubt, this is the number one money-making gig app out there. And we say that for three main reasons. First, Airbnb lets you set your own prices. You will almost always make more with the companies that let you set your own price.
Another reason Airbnb is our top choice is because most people can work as a host without incurring many additional expenses. Whatever small expenses you do incur are so incidental that they can be almost entirely overlooked.
And the other reason we love Airbnb is because if you don’t have a traditional full-time job, you’ll have plenty of spare time in between guests to work other gigs. Once a guest checks in they will rarely take any of your time, leaving you free to earn money from other gig jobs.
The main drawback to home-sharing is that it is coming under growing scrutiny and regulation by local governments. Some jurisdictions have made it completely illegal. Other jurisdictions have come up with a variety of schemes.
The most common scheme allows people to host short-term guests as long as they live in the home at the time Airbnb guests are there. This effectively outlaws whole-home rentals, where you might buy a second home or lease an apartment that you’re not going to live in for the sole purpose of using it for Airbnb.
The other drawback is that there are few if any tax advantages. Federal tax law doesn’t allow you to deduct any portion of the price of your home or apartment when you use it for the business of short-term rentals.
However, if you live in a home with at least one spare bedroom, then Airbnb is legal in most places. If you have two spare bedrooms, you can rent them out separately and double your short-term rental income. You should check out Airbnb’s site and see what hosts are earning per night in your area.
This was one of the original gigs. They’ve been around a long time. In the beginning, they really did sell gigs for $5 a pop. Writers would agree to pen 500-word articles for $5.
Well, no one is going to write a decent article for $5 so any legitimate writer would either exclude themselves entirely from the platform or end up working basically for free. The good news is that has now all changed.
Today, professional gig workers can actually charge something close to a reasonable price and sites like Fiverr work as a solid client-referral system for them.
Plenty of freelancers are making good money on Fiverr. Jobs like the one pictured here literally used to go for $5. Now, talented people can earn what they’re worth.
TaskRabbit was recently purchased by Ikea because Taskers (as they call them) were in such demand for tasks such as putting Ikea furniture together. As the name implies, TaskRabbit sends people out to perform a variety of tasks.
Tasks can be anything from assembling furniture to hanging pictures, moving boxes to running errands, or waiting in line for people who don’t have time to wait in lines themselves! The upside for workers is that TaskRabbit allows each tasker to set his or her own prices.
Because of that, TaskRabbit is one gig app that we highly recommend because people using it make way above average for gig work. Plus, there is so much flexibility and variety that if you have a decent mind for business, you should be able to find in-demand niches that are perfectly suited to your skills.
People who have done that and built up a good reputation with TaskRabbit customers can actually make a very decent living with it. So we recommend keeping this app handy when you’re in need of extra money.
This freelancing gig app used to be very low-end for starting a side hustle. However, over the last couple of years, they have begun to pick up their game. Upwork has attracted a following of customers who produce a high demand for independent contractors with strong creative and/or computer-related skills.
Some of the top skills on Upwork are web developers, mobile app developers, graphic designers and writers.In their early days, they accepted all workers. No one needed to show any proven abilities to do the jobs they were presenting themselves as capable of doing.
That was great for people who really had no skills but it was terrible for people who did. High-end graphic designers who could earn up to $50 an hour in the old economy suddenly found themselves working for $5 an hour.
Today however, Upwork has put into place some pretty strict standards so now people who have actual skills can earn something closer to what they’re worth. So, if you have any of these skills, Upwork is an app you should take a look at. Especially if you’ve had success on other sites like Upwork.
One downside to Upwork, as well as several other apps, is that they charge you to bid. In other words, when you get a request from a potential client, you’ll have to pay a fee in order to respond. And you have to pay the fee whether you get the job or not.
Freelancer is very similar to Upwork. They too specialize in creative and computer-related skills. If you’re a creative type, you might enjoy the fact that a lot of demand they have for computer work leans toward the creative side. Typical freelancing jobs include social media manager, audio and video editing, as well as web design.
Yes, you heard me right! YouTube is a gig too. If you love producing video content, you may be able to make extra money on it by uploading it to YouTube and signing up to be a content creator. The requirements for making money directly from YouTube are pretty strict and not easy to meet for newcomers.
You have to have at least 1,000 subscribers and your videos must have been watched for a total of at least 4,000 hours in the last year. After you meet these requirements, YouTube will review your channel and if everything looks good they’ll approve you for monetization.
But don’t jump up and down just yet! Those are pretty difficult hurdles to meet for a beginner. And even if you do meet them, the pay isn’t all that great. It’s not possible to say exactly how much any one person might make, but estimates range from about $2 to $4 per thousand views.
So, if you get 10,000 views, you’ll likely make around $20.However, there are other ways to make money without having to rely on YouTube for your paycheck. For instance, if you have another marketable skill, you can make videos that teach people about it.
You could then lead them to your website where they can buy things from you. They could buy something you make, a service you provide, or they could buy video classes that would go deeper into your subject matter. Just be aware that all this takes a long time and a lot of effort to get off the ground.
This gig app has a couple of things in common with TaskRabbit that make it a desirable company to work with as well. Like TaskRabbit, they let workers set their own prices. And they have a wide variety of tasks their workers can do as well to make extra cash.
The main difference is Thumbtack independent contractors are on a more professional level, which can come in handy. Many of them are licensed tradespeople like plumbers, electricians and other handyman jobs. The downside is that Thumbtack, like Upwork, charges their workers to respond to inquiries. And sometimes they have to pay a lot.
One plumber told me it costs him up to $150 per response. And he has to pay that whether he gets the job or not! But, then he added, it’s worth it.
So, he earns enough, despite paying sky-high rates to answer inquiries that don’t convert into jobs, that it not only covers that expense but there’s enough left over at the end of the month that he feels it’s worth it.
Now, we move into the gig apps that require the use of a vehicle. Roadie is basically a delivery service company, and like most gig companies today, they’re pretty free and loose with what it is they deliver!
Deliveries can be anything from a grocery or drugstore pickup for a customer to moving a piece of furniture across town. They also do long-distance moves, so if you have a large truck, something like a U-Haul van, you can take those jobs.
One of our forum members told me recently that he loves working for Roadie. He mostly does local jobs. But recently he travelled from his home in California to visit family in Ohio.
His travel dates were flexible (of course, because he does gig work)! So, he waited until a good long-distance job came up with Roadie and he ended up getting paid for three quarters of the distance he travelled.
Another interesting feature about working for Roadie is that once you’ve signed up, you can work for them anywhere in the country. You’re not stuck to just your local area like ride-hail drivers are.
This app is fairly typical of the delivery apps genre. Instacart works in conjunction with grocery stores while others may work with restaurants such as DoorDash and Uber Eats.
When an Instacart worker receives an order he or she will head to the designated supermarket where they will shop the order and then deliver it to the customer’s designation location. Instacart generally pays about $5-$9 per order, plus tips, so it’s a little difficult to understand how anyone can make very much money from this kind of gig.
It could easily take half an hour or more for an Instacart worker to get to the store, shop the list and get out of the store. Then you have to account for the time it takes them to get from the store to the customer’s location. So, it’s hard to imagine how they could do more than one job an hour.
Instacart will pair them up with two jobs if they happen to come in at the same time and are in the same direction. But for the most part, this seems like a less-than-minimum-wage gig. It doesn’t help that Instacart was caught stealing workers’ tips a few months ago.
When Instacart sends an order to a driver they’ll tell the driver how much Instacart itself will pay for the job. Workers were finding that when customers left tips through the app that they weren’t getting the total of Instacart’s base pay plus the tip. Instacart later admitted to this.
Basically, they were using the tip to fund the portion they were supposed to pay regardless of whether or not there was any tip. So, if Instacart agreed to pay $5 and a customer left a $5 tip, the driver would just get $5 instead of $10.
When this all came to light Instacart agreed to stop doing it. But now that they’ve showed that side of themselves it’s a little harder to have much faith in them to do the right thing by workers.
The one you’ve been waiting for! While Uber is known for its contentious relations with drivers, it still remains the biggest side hustle opportunities out there. Uber has more than two million drivers and is still the company most people think of first when they flirt with the idea of dipping their toes into the gig economy.
If you have access to an insured car, a driver’s license and a clean driving record, that’s pretty much all you need to start driving with Uber.
A lot of people like driving for this ridesharing company, Uber, because they really can set their own schedule. Although, there are certain times that are more profitable than other times.
While it is easy to get started with Uber, studies have shown that more than half of all drivers in the United States earn less than $10 per hour after all driving expenses are taken into consideration.
For that reason, we can’t say Uber is one of the best gig economy apps out there. But if you just need a few extra bucks in your pocket, and you need them fast, it’s not a bad way to get them.
The Postmates app is a growing and very popular delivery apps among the list of gig economy apps. They are not like Uber Eats or GrubHub offering just food delivery — they are a delivery service that delivers groceries, office supplies, phone chargers, you name it.
Essentially, Postmates is like your own personal assistant, since they pick up and deliver whatever it is you need within an hour. Pretty epic, right?
Becoming part of the Postmates “fleet” comes with some great perks. You get to keep 100% of your earnings and tips, plus you get to cash out your earnings at any time on-demand.
They also provide all the supplies you need to make your job easier — like a delivery bag to put the food in — and you set your own schedule. You do need to complete a background check, as with many of these gigs anyways.
It’s gig economy apps like Postmates that seem like a great way to earn some extra money.
Getting the most from today’s gig economy apps
The best gig economy apps are those that let you set your own prices and require something more than menial skills. The more skills a gig job requires, the more you’ll make.
The fewer people who share your higher-level skills, the better positioned you’ll be to make some decent dough from an app-based gig.
Some of the companies, like the ones at the top of our list, offer the magic combination of allowing you to set your own prices and work at a higher-skill level, making it possible to maximize your income and get the most out of some of the best gig economy apps available.
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