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A Primer On The Gig Economy

A Primer On The Gig Economy

by Justin OConnellDecember 11, 2015

Approximately 53 million Americans—1 in 3 workers—are considered freelancers, according to this 2014 report by independent research firm Edelman Berland. The so-called “gig” economy has garnered a lot of international attention. Even presidential candidates are commenting on it as an issue for the 2016 election.

“Many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing a website … even driving their own car. This on demand or so called ‘gig’ economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future,” Clinton said. Here is a list of the more prominent “gigs” available out there. But be forewarned, with the good comes some bad.

AirBnB – The well-known website helps people list and find temporary lodging. With more than 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries, AirBnB has been one of the fast growing companies in the world. Founded in 2008, the San Francisco based company has run up against regulatory concerns, but that has not necessarily slowed its growth. The firm has raised nearly $120 million. Want to list your space? Sign up here. AirBnB is a large company. There are opportunities if you have the right space to make some money. My neighbors use this app and each weekend a new group of college kids funnel in-and-out. They’ve never had any major issues.

Amazon Flex – Amazon Flex is new, having just been announced in September. Flex is a new on-demand delivery service set up in a peer-to-peer fashion. The online retailer says it will be pay between $18 and $25 per hour and deliver packages for Amazon.

There is one catch: the service is currently only available in Seattle, though the company plans to offer more services. For now, the service is focused on hiring couriers for another service the company offers, Amazon Prime Now. Sign up for Amazon Flex here. Amazon Flex is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Favor – Favor Delivery serves 14 markets in the US. The app-based delivery service is based out of Austin, Texas. Favor is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

“We’re going for something of a Texas takeover, at the moment,” Heileman told Austin Business Journal. “We hope to eventually be in every market in the state.” The startup has raised millions in funding. Sign up for Favor here.

Get Me – This rideshare service just launched in August and combines some of the others listed into one application.  The initial launch for Get Me limits the service to the Dallas area. GetMe is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

“We chose Dallas to be our launch pad because the idea, its development, and the team are from here. Get Me is a true local start-up, and we know that the people of Dallas truly crave convenience and flexibility,” stated Jonathan Laramy, co-founder at Get Me, in a press release. “Next, we plan to launch in Austin and Houston, with Las Vegas to follow by the end of the year. The expansion plan then grows more rapidly in 2016 including an International Launch in Q1 2016.”

The firm works to get you places you need to be or to deliver things you ordered online. Sign up for Get Me here.

Instacart  – The smartphone app Instacart is available on iOS and Android platforms, and connects people with driver’s who can procure accoutrements at a grover and deliver them. Customers can use Apple Pay. Instacart hires delivery workers and drivers. These are generally independent contractors, however, in some cities, the company is experimenting with giving these individuals the option to become part-time employees. Sign up here. Here’s a Facebook group for the service. Instacart is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Lyft – Based in San Francisco, Lyft is a transportation network company (TNC) using mobile phones to get people rides in a peer-to-peer ridesharing manner. The company is smaller than Uber, and available in 65 US cities for now. Want constant information about Lyft life? Check out this Lyft group on Facebook. Get a prius. Sign up for Lyft here. It uses Facebook to identify you. This company is smaller than Uber, so there are fewer opportunities.

To be sure, there are horror stories about being in Uber. Like people throwing up in cars or one person getting in and sitting directly behind you which creeps people out. Some people are pet peeved by people getting in the front seat and some people have pens that break open and destroy the backseat of the car. Such is life when it comes to starting a business, however. Risk is everywhere. It can be bitter, but it beholds great lessons. There are still myriad questions about rideshare, like is it okay to date other drivers? Be forewarned.

Postmates – Postmates enables anyone to receive a product in under one hour via a peer-to-peer application. Someone purchases something from any restaurant or store in a city, then you pick it up and drive it to them. Sign up here. Postmates courier Facebook group is here. Postmates is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.


Sidecar – Sidecar is a business-to-business delivery company. Sidecar offers three services – a ridesharing app, shared rides, a discounted instant carpooling app; and Sidecar Deliveries. Sidecar Deliveries is available in eight U.S. markets.

TaskRabbit – This gig is a bit different from the other ones. TaskRabbit is essentially a marketplace where users outsource jobs and tasks to others in the neighborhood. It’s kind of like but for non-digital world jobs. Sign up here. Here’s a TaskRabbit Facebook group. TaskRabbit is still new, so opportunities are limited. But, if you start now, you will learn the intricacies and will be ahead of the curb.

Uber – Surely you know about Uber already. The company has skyrocketed in value in the past year and has erupted controversy all over the world. Mexico City cab drivers have used violence on people, and there has even been a bit seen in Tijuana, as well as other places. Still, people are doing well in this portion of the “gig economy.” I’ve seen some people make $1,100 in 50 hours. Not great, but not bad either. The company is expanding into new services as well, having asked its drivers if they would like to do cross border trips or deliver items to people.

Check out my #uber car. It's a Delorean #backtothefuture

A photo posted by Sim K (@arrowbox) on

Some advice? For one, get a prius. Gas efficiency is important. Also, put out a tip jar and accept cash. People in this industry turn down cash tips, which is insane. On Uber forums drivers who deny cash eventually learn from other drivers they are indeed insane for not accepting cash.

Sign up for Uber here. It uses Facebook and other options to identify you. Many drivers also sign up for Lyft to be more efficient. Some have signed up for Uber, Lyft and Postmates (see below) or whatever gigs are available in their town.  Search here for an Uber group in your area. This is one of the bigger companies and, if you’re in the right area or are willing to work the right shifts (weekends), you could make the most money with Uber.

Facebook Rideshare – Facebook has a community which is trying to do the above-mentioned in a somewhat more decentralized manner. Check out the Rideshare Community for potential money-making opportunities.


In the gig economy, a lot of people don’t make that much money. It’s hard work. The income ranges wildly depending on factors such as location and hours worked.

I have not come across someone who uses all of these applications together. Granted, you’ll need a lot of space for data on your mobile phone. Still, the power of all the listed services above could turn you into an entrepreneur overnight. Keep in mind these are generally car intensive gigs. Buying a special car – such as a Prius or other gas efficient car – could help you succeed in the gig economy.

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