Looking to pick up some cash for post holiday bills? It might be time to try out the so-called “gig” or “sharing” economy.
The gig economy is what economists call work arrangements that come without fixed hours, fixed salary or fixed benefits. The term originated with musicians, who’ve always called their jobs gigs. Now, though, it extends to many kinds of work. The best known example is Uber, which allows just about anyone to scare someone witless zipping in and out of traffic and slamming on their brakes — I mean being a part-time cab driver — using their own car.
Chances are you’ve been on the buying end of the gig economy for years: paying babysitters, snow shovelers or the person who photographed your daughter’s wedding. You may have even used Uber or the competing service Lyft.
Since Uber launched in 2010, tech companies have fallen over themselves to create new online marketplaces — or “platforms” — to rake in gig economy gold. Think of them as super-efficient, and mobile, community bulletin boards.
On a bulletin board, you might see a sign from someone looking for a dog walker. Or you might see a sign from someone who’d like work walking dogs. But that’s inefficient. Rover.com, founded in 2011, makes the match instantly. It now boasts more than 140,000 dog sitters, who can set their own hours, services and rates — giving Rover a 20 percent commission for the convenience finding four-footed clients.
Interested in converting some of your time and skills into money? Here are a few other possibilities.
Got a car?
You’ve got to like to drive and own a car. The big drive-sharing platforms Uber and Lyft will find you customers and insure you to schlep them around. But which one to pick? It’s so hard to know that a blog has cropped up to sift it all out. According to RideSharingDriver, Uber drivers make $15.73 an hour before expenses and $11.93 an hour after expenses. Lyft is similar, although some drivers claim to make as much as $41 an hour. How much you make could depend as much on geography as the platform. RideSharingDrive teases out the differences between the two platforms, surveys drivers regularly and offers a free book, “How to Make a Living Driving For Uber and Lyft.”
Good at reading those pictograph assembly instructions from Ikea? Maybe you can hang pictures straight or Marie Kondo a closet into submission. TaskRabbit is just what is sounds like, a marketplace for chores, which allows vendors to set their own rates. It takes a 30 percent commission. You can even get paid for waiting in line.
Maybe your skills are more creative or digital in nature. You were a writer or a designer or even a voiceover announcer before you retired. Enter Fiverr, a platform similar to TaskRabbit. Fiverr lets vendors list 100 different types of skills, including logo design, translation and astrology readings. Fiverr lets you set a price between $5 and $995 and takes a 20 percent commission.
Perhaps what you have extra of isn’t time or skill but real estate. There’s a market for that too these days. Airbnb creates a beautiful listing that helps you rent out a room — or even your whole home — for a few nights. I have a friend who can cover three months rent in his Brooklyn bachelor pad by Airbnbing it for a few weeks. He can then take a much cheaper vacation to Mexico. Airbnb is more an example of the sharing economy than the gig economy, but the two are closely related. And, you can even host an Airbnb “experience” — such as an expert Manhattan shopping expedition or a sneaker-painting workshop. Airbnb charges 3 to 5 percent for regular home or room rentals. It takes 20 percent for experiences.