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A fourth of Americans today are taking advantage of what’s been dubbed the “gig economy.”
From sharing your opinion to toting strangers around in your car, there’s more opportunity than ever before to make extra money and save a buck or two with these short-term “gigs,” oftentimes without even leaving home.
Many have even been able to replace their traditional 9 to 5 and work on their own terms.
And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Projections indicate that by 2020, a whopping 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.
If you’re not already in the game, then what are you waiting for?
Get your slice of the communal pie with one of these high-paying companies pioneering the gig economy.
1. Gigs On Wheels
Have a car? That’s a good start in the gig economy given how quickly opportunities are springing up! Introverted or extroverted, here are some great options for tip-based ridesharing services (read: cash at the end of a shift!).
Fine dining delivery
Let’s start the list with a company you probably haven’t heard about yet: Caviar.
This meal delivery service specializes in fine dining.
Translation: high tabs mean you’d make money quickly with big tips! Cha-ching!
Their website says earnings can top $25 per hour — especially if you’ve spent time in the foodservice industry and have a “customer service attitude” to really deliver the charm when dropping off a filet mignon.
You can work via car, bike, truck, motorcycle, or scooter. Because of their flexible scheduling and delivery mediums, it’s common for their drivers to also contract with ridesharing companies.
Chauffer your favorite foods
Pizza delivery is the OG of food delivery gigs. Today it’s been replaced by apps like:
I was a pizza delivery driver for a popular chain when I was in college and it was actually a pretty good gig! (I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but that was before Google maps.?)
I got to goof around, eat cheap pizza, and listen to my own music all night.
When I started in 2006-2007, the tips were unbelievable. I’d leave with $100 in cash tips some nights!
Tons of folks nowadays have started delivering food with UberEATS because it’s is a flexible, easy way to earn money on your own schedule. You can deliver day or night, for however long you’d like. You just sign onto the app, and you can start receiving delivery requests in your area.
With UberEATS, you can choose how you deliver. Depending on your city, you may be able to deliver food with your car, bike, or scooter. Between deliveries, it’s just you, so you can turn up the music and cruise around town.
Once you finish a delivery you can take the next request, or sign off for a few hours or the rest of the day—it’s totally up to you how many deliveries you make. And just like other delivery gigs, at the end of each delivery, you’ll be eligible to receive a tip.
Drop off groceries
Instacart is a service for delivering groceries.
If your house is anything like mine and your shopping is a huge production each week, maybe you can see why folks are willing to pay a premium for this service!
Deliver the goods with Amazon Flex
According to the Amazon Flex website, drivers make $15-$18 per hour delivering packages.
If you’re interested in getting a piece of the delivery gig pie but don’t want to haul people or food, this may be a good fit for you.
Give riders a Lyft
As a rider, Lyft has been my go-to ridesharing service since it launched in Atlanta in 2013.
They routinely offer discounts and I racked up a lot of free rides when my Airbnb guests would sign up for a new account with my unique referral code. (My version of coupon stacking. ?)
Lyft has an awesome tipping feature that allows riders to pay extra for good service. So the more personable you are (or can pretend to be), the more money you could make!
Get Uber friendly with your car
Uber was the original mover and shaker in the ridesharing movement.
I remember when my friend Ben called the first Uber I ever took.
A big group of friends was going out on a Saturday night and he said he was going to use his phone to call a car. I thought he was nuts!
Today, Uber is as much a verb as a noun. I recently asked two friends who drive for Uber what they think about it.
The pros: As an Uber driver, you choose your own hours to hit the road and make extra money. So maybe you want to drive for Uber right after you finish at your 9-5. Or maybe it fits your schedule to make Uber more of a weekend gig. That’s the best part about Uber: you don’t have an assigned schedule. The clock starts when you want it to start.
The cons: It’s not a long term career (well, maybe it could be). But it’s great for extra side money, which is what you want.
2. Gig Economy Jobs for Designers
If you have an eye for design, put your creative genius to use with these brilliant gig economy companies.
Do branding for small businesses
99designs is a popular platform that connects small businesses to talented graphic artists.
As a designer, you can offer 1-to-1 packages where clients contact you directly based on your portfolio. Or you can compete with fellow artists in site-wide logo contests.
For a budding graphic artist, this is a great spot to develop a portfolio quickly and earn while you learn.
Create designs for clothing
Printed Village is a fabric design company I first learned about while watching the NBC show called The Profit.
As a designer, you earn a commission on the products that choose your design.
It isn’t entirely clear how competitive it is to earn a spot as a designer. However, their site indicates they run contests multiple times per year to solicit new designs and to recruit new designers.
Go for it! What do you have to lose?
3. Petcare and Home Sharing
Because who wouldn’t like to get paid for meeting new people and hanging out with cute pets? If you agree, these are the gigs for you.
Get paid to play with pups
Rover is quickly becoming the cat’s meow (I couldn’t help myself). They pride themselves on being “the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.”
Typical rates charged on the site range from $25-$100 a night for private boarding on the high end.
Pop-in visits for 30-minute walks fall in the $10-30 range. With a neighborhood route, that can add up quickly!
As the service is still relatively new, your area is likely not yet oversaturated with animal pros. Get started before everyone finds out about this awesome gig!
Become a host
Make the most of your spare space by renting it out with Airbnb.
I was a Super Host for a year and a half and it was a very positive experience. I hosted short-term and long-term guests, people from China, Japan, Germany, and Canada.
While being a host isn’t for everyone, it was a great way to support myself as a full-time graduate student.
It’s entirely possible guests enjoyed staying at my place because I had an Old-Fashioned cocktail station on my living room bar:
Embrace a world of diversity
Innclusive (formerly Noirebnb) is an Airbnb-like resource that connects travelers to affordable rentals.
This site was born out of one traveler’s experience with discrimination on other home sharing platforms.
In that spirit, the hallmark of Innclusive is their celebration of diversity within their traveler and host communities.
4. Mystery Shopping
The #1 question I get about mystery shopping: “That’s a real thing? Like, it isn’t a scam?”
No scam — mystery shopping is legitimate!
There are hundreds of reliable mystery shopping firms. They are consulting firms who are hired to help all types of businesses identify, evaluate, and fix customer service problems.
To do this, mystery shopping companies hire mystery shoppers as independent contractors/sleuths-for-hire. That’s you!
People ask if mystery shopping is a scam, however, because unscrupulous companies pose as mystery shopping firms. These scammers frequently ask for money to register with them as a shopper.
No reputable firms ask for money to sign up in their database.
This is a huge red flag! Never pay to sign up with a mystery shopping firm as a shopper. That is a scam.
Assignments are paid per project.
I personally average 1-3 hours of effort per assignment and my my net hourly earnings vary from $10-40. Your mileage may vary.
On a per-assignment basis, I’ve made as little as a free cup of soup and much as $100!
This is a list of roughly 30 firms I currently am listed with as an active shopper. I get email notifications daily about assignments available in my area.
5. Freelance Everything
Some of the best-known gigs are those found on freelancing job boards.
There are a ton of sites dedicated to connecting us with companies looking to hire for project-specific work. These gigs are especially great for anyone who has previous experience in the realms of:
- Office management
- Virtual assisting
- Technology implementation
- Digital marketing, including SEO
- Graphic design
The Gig Economy is Alive and Well
Open your home to other people, look after your neighbor’s pets, deliver meals, pursue a passion for design, or help a business tackle their overflow of projects.
When it comes to making money in the gig economy, the world is your oyster!
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