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Gig economy jobs

The Ultimate Guide to Gig Economy Jobs

Last updated: June 25, 2019
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According to Upwork’s annual “Freelancing in America” study, it won’t be long before 50% of the American workforce is contract-based.

It’s not surprising, considering that the gig economy has massive benefits for employers, consumers, and workers.

It allows consumers to pay low prices for on-demand services like food delivery and taxi rides. It enables companies to save money by hiring employees on a contract basis. And it benefits workers by providing them freedom and flexibility.

The strict, 9-5 workday governed by ever-present bosses and stuffy corporate culture is becoming a thing of the past and gig economy jobs are taking its place.

Whether you want to dive head-on into the freelance world or just earn some extra income, there are plenty of opportunities to make money on your own time.

To help you find your way in this new world, we’ve created the ultimate guide to gig economy jobs.


What is a Gig Economy Job?

Before going too far, let’s define what we mean by “gig economy jobs.”

Here’s the lowdown: The gig economy is a market in which independent laborers perform temporary work as part of a short-term contract.

Therefore, gig economy workers are those who participate in this marketplace.

These workers include everyone from Lyft drivers and Airbnb hosts. It also includes freelance writers, designers, developers, and even lawyers.

Gig economy workers do not work for any one company. Instead, they work for themselves. They are independent contractors paid on a per-job basis.

Related: A Complete Guide to Freelancing in the Gig Economy

Freelance gig economy worker

Features of a Gig Economy Job

Flexibility is a key component of most gig economy jobs. Since you operate as an independent contractor, you basically have no boss.

You can work as much or as little as you want. And, you get to set your own schedule. In the gig economy, almost everyone has the opportunity to work from home in their PJs.

Of course, there are some downsides:

Gig economy workers typically don’t receive traditional employee benefits. They aren’t granted health insurance, paid leave, or any of the other benefits that full-time employees usually enjoy.

Furthermore, as per a recent ruling, contractors are prohibited from organizing unions. As a gig worker, you may have little recourse, except for quitting, if you feel that working conditions are unfair.


What Types of Gig Economy Jobs Are Out There?

Gig workers perform almost every job imaginable. But, there are some types of work that lend themselves more to a contract arrangement.

Here’s are a few industries that gig workers tend to succeed in:

Freelancing

Companies have hired freelancers and consultants since long before the invention of the internet. They bring in experts to lend their skills to all kinds of different projects.

Technology has made it easy for skilled freelancers to connect with the companies who need them. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr, for example, make it super easy for contractors to find work.

Gig economy freelancer

Examples of freelance gigs available today include:

In other words:

If you have a specialized, skill, someone out there will hire you on a freelance basis. There’s no shortage of freelance websites for finding work online.

Pros

Some of the main advantages of working as a freelancer are:

  • Skillbuilding: The freelance world is a great place to hone your skills, build a resume, and develop a portfolio.
  • Earning potential: Freelance workers do very well if they possess a valuable skill. If you have knowledge of a field like data and machine learning, for example, you can rake in some good money.
  • Enjoyable work: Get paid doing something you love! As a freelancer, you don’t have to worry about wasting time on a job you hate.

Cons

Some of the main disadvantages are:

  • Trouble finding work: Early on, it can be tough to get hired. To build momentum, you have to prove that you are a valuable asset to potential employers.
  • Inconsistent pay: Sometimes, it’s hard to predict how much you’ll earn during a given month. For this reason, many people do freelance work as a side gig while holding down a full-time job.
  • Fees: If you use platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, they take a fee for helping you find work. In some cases, the fees are as high as 20%.

Interested in working from home? Check out our list of the 11 Best Work From Home Jobs for 2019!

Ridesharing

The gig economy has revolutionized the transportation industry.

Rideshare jobs are perhaps some of the most well-known gig economy jobs simply because so many of us use services such as Uber and Lyft.

Gig economy rideshare

Pros

For many people, ridesharing is a full-time job. Here are some of the good things about this type of work:

  • Earn money with your car: It’s relatively easy to become a rideshare driver if you have a license and insured vehicle.
  • Explore your city: As a rideshare driver, you’ll spend a lot of time on the road. It’s a great way to learn about your hometown.
  • Get paid to drive: Driving is second nature for most of us, making this a super easy way to make money.

Cons

As with any job, ridesharing isn’t all fun and games. Here are some of the downsides to working in the transportation gig economy:

  • Liability: Rideshare companies help you with insurance. But there are instances where you may not be covered. Plus, most insurance companies won’t honor your policy if you use your car for business.
  • Wear and tear: Driving your car around all day puts additional stress on your vehicle. Unfortunately, you’re responsible for all maintenance and repairs.
  • Bad passengers: If you’re not in the right mood, picking up a group from the bar at 2 AM can be a hassle.

Delivery

The gig economy delivery industry has made it easier than ever to order food from any restaurant.

To meet increased demand, companies such as DoorDashGrubhub, and Amazon Flex hire lots of drivers. In other words, there’s a lot of work out there.

Gig economy delivery

Pros

The benefits of being a gig delivery driver are:

  • It’s easy: There’s not much to this work. All you need to do is use your phone to navigate to the restaurant and the customer’s home. The app takes care of the rest, even the money.
  • Tips: You get to keep 100%  of your earnings. You can bring in some serious cash by providing excellent service.
  • You don’t need a car: Don’t own a vehicle? No problem! Many delivery services allow you to ride a bike or scooter.

Cons

There are also some negative aspects of these platforms:

  • Limited flexibility: You have the right to work when you want. But, people only eat at certain times. If you want to make money, you might have to force yourself to work during lunch and dinner time.
  • Heavy travel: To make real money, you should be down to travel. Hustling too and from restaurants gets exhausting, especially during rush hour when traffic picks up.
  • Tip-dependent wages: Every delivery service pays a flat wage. But, the real earnings are in tips. Depending on your customers, you could either have a great night or a terrible one.

Lodging

Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO allow you to rent out your apartment or house. It can be very lucrative, especially if you live in a touristy area.

Gig economy lodging

Pros

Some of the main advantages include:

  • Making money off your home: You already pay rent or a mortgage. Airbnb allows you to make some of that money back when you’re away from home.
  • High earning potential: Nice apartments in good areas can rent for more than $100 per night. If you rent your space out during a big event like the Super Bowl, you could earn a few grand per night.
  • Meeting new people: You could have a lot of fun meeting travelers. People from all over the world use Airbnb and VRBO to find lodging accommodations.

Cons

There are some negative aspects of the gig economy lodging industry:

  • Upkeep/maintenance: You’ll need to maintain your home as if it were a hotel. You’ll have to change sheets and towels regularly, mop the floors, and clean up others’ messes. Some hosts hire professional cleaners, but that cuts into your margins.
  • Liability: Airbnb covers injuries if it’s the guest’s fault. However, if someone hurts themselves due to your negligence, they could sue you personally. In these cases, the company waives insurance.
  • Property damage: By letting strangers stay in your home, you open it up to all kinds of potential damage. Repairs can be expensive. Make sure to vet guests and double-check your insurance in case of property damage.

Odd Jobs

Odd jobs aren’t a new way of making money. But, they’re becoming more common thanks to new apps and platforms.

For example, TaskRabbit can help you find work doing pretty much anything. Shiftgig enables you to pick up loose shifts at restaurants and other small businesses. Both of these platforms are potentially lucrative.

Other examples include Bellhops, a freelance moving service, and YourMechanic, a platform for independent cart mechanics.

Gig economy odd jobs

Pros

Some of the advantages are:

  • Lots of variety: People hire odd-jobbers for almost every task you can imagine.
  • Improve your skills: It’s always good to build skills for your resume.
  • Make tips: Good service leads to high tips. Odd jobs are a quick way to make extra cash, especially if you have a specific skill.

Cons

Some of the disadvantages include:

  • Lack of specialty: If hard to get good at one thing when you do something different every day.
  • Low pay: Some odd jobs–carpentry, mechanical work–pay well. But other gigs only bring in a few dollars at a time.

Education

The internet has democratized education. There are more chances than ever to teach for money.

Udemy is the main platform in this sector. It lets you design your own course and sell admission for your desired price.

Gig economy teacher

Pros

Teaching online has many benefits:

  • Get paid to teach: What could be more rewarding than helping others learn?
  • Design your own course: There’s no need to adhere to a curriculum. You are the superintendent of your school.
  • Work from home: No longer do you have to commute to school. You can create your entire course from your couch.

Cons

Here are some things that may make this work less than desirable:

  • Niche market: The skill you have to teach might not be widely-desired. If people don’t sign up for your class, you might have difficulty earning money.
  • Requires specialized skills: If you’re expecting people to pay you to teach them, you best be good at what you do. If you can’t offer valuable knowledge, you might not want to teach.
  • Hard work: Online teaching requires long hours. You have to develop courses, record lectures, and create quizzes. Plus, you may have to promote your class on social media to get people to enroll.

Care

There are few things better than helping others. The gig economy offers plenty of opportunities to make money as a freelance care worker.

Services such as Papa and Care.com are designed to connect care specialists with the children and elderly folks who need help. Other services, like Rover, help you find work as a dog walker or pet sitter.

Gig economy dog walker

Pros

The main benefits of this type of work are:

  • Get paid to help: Babysitting, elderly care, and dog walking are rewarding work.
  • Job experience: Care platforms allow you to gain experience for future jobs. They’re perfect for aspiring care professionals in college or training programs.
  • Good money: Because you’re dealing with someone’s loved ones, the compensation is relatively high.

Cons

Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Strict hiring requirements: The companies operating in this have more stringent rules about who can work for them.
  • More stress: Taking care of people is hard. Make sure that you’re prepared for high-stress situations.
  • Lots of travel: Some jobs require a lot of driving. Oftentimes, it involves shuttling clients to work, school, and errands.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are numerous gig economy jobs out there for you to do. There are plenty of full and part-time opportunities for you to make money.

Each job is different, but they all offer far more freedom and flexibility than traditional employment.

So, if you’re looking for a career change, or want to start a side hustle to make some extra money, give one of these jobs a try. It could change your life.

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