It’s no secret that starting a side hustle can bring in extra cash. The popularity of gig jobs is growing. Now, more people than ever can join the gig economy. Still, some struggle with knowing where to start. Curious about how it all works? Here’s everything you need to know before you jump in (& 20+ places to find your first gig.)
What are gig jobs?
A gig job is short term, temporary work. This can include everything from driving for a rideshare service to providing freelance writing services. A worker that takes on a gig job is part of the gig economy. This differs from a traditional job, where businesses hire workers for a permanent position.
This arrangement benefits everyone involved. A gig worker gets more control over their schedule and flexibility. It’s also cheaper for companies to work with a freelancer when compared to what it costs to hire an employee.
Why is the gig economy growing?
According to CNBC, the gig economy has grown by 15% in the past decade alone. While there are many factors that contribute to this growth, it really comes down to two things. Job security and the increase in online apps and services.
The state of job security
There’s a lot of mixed messaging surrounding the state of job security. The truth of the matter is that job security trends look different when we look at different age groups and industries. Job security also fluctuates.
Is job security really decreasing? There doesn’t appear to be a concrete answer to that question. It depends on who you ask. However, many workers feel uncertain about their futures and either want or need to take control of their income to live the life they want.
Online apps, services, and the global workforce
Today, workers have access to more opportunities than they have ever had. They don’t have to rely on what’s available in their area. Anyone with an internet connection can access websites that make it easy to find gig jobs. As these gigs have become more accessible, their popularity has grown as well.
The gig economy is empowerment. This new business paradigm empowers individuals to better shape their own destiny and leverage their existing assets to their benefit.
What are the best gig economy jobs?
If you have no experience as a gig worker, figuring out what you should do can be overwhelming. There are a variety of tasks you can complete to make money. Here are some of the most popular gig jobs for you to choose from.
1. Freelance writing
Always liked to write? Get paid for it! There are many websites where you can find freelance writing gigs, including job boards and platforms. Many freelancers, like myself, start this on the side as part-time work, build their portfolio and are able to grow their businesses to support them full-time.
2. Food delivery
Almost anyone with a car or bike has the ability to deliver food to make money. One option is to be a driver for restaurant customers, via a service like GrubHub or Postmates. You simply go to the restaurant, pick up the food, and bring it to the customer.
There are also grocery delivery services, where you can pick up items from someone’s list and drop them off at their home. Both of these choices are great for someone who wants to jump into gig work.
Note: Some food delivery services, like Instacart, offer in-store shopping positions. An in-store worker is considered a part-time employee.
3. Rideshare driver
Your car gets you from point A to point B. Why not try offering rides as a service to others? There are many different rideshare app options, including Uber and Lyft.
4. Package delivery
Don’t want to fill up the extra space in your car with a passenger? Try boxes. You can deliver packages to customers with companies like Curri and Amazon Flex.
5. Dog walking and sitting
If you love animals, why not make some extra cash by taking care of dogs? Rover and Wag! are sites where you can find these gigs.
Especially now that more people are working from home, there are many families looking for help with childcare. You can find childcare gigs on sites like Care.com.
If you love cleaning in the same way that Monica Geller does, turn those skills into cash. Cleaning gigs are everywhere online, including Handy and Task Rabbit.
8. Renting out your home or car
Have a room or a vehicle that you aren’t currently using? You can rent out your home on Airbnb or VRBO and rent out your car on Turo.
If you already have teaching experience or enjoy working with kids, this may be the right gig for you. You can find traditional tutoring gigs online or provide ESL tutoring to students in China on a site like VIPKid.
10. Tech support
If you have the knowledge to help others troubleshoot tech issues? If so, you may be able to pick up a gig in tech support by searching on FlexJobs.
11. Testing websites
Some sites will pay you to visit web pages and give your honest feedback. You can participate in this type of work by signing up with UserTesting or Testing Time.
12. Graphic design
Love art? If you have experience or interest in digital art, graphic design gigs might be a git for you. You can find freelance jobs for graphic designers on Dribbble and 99 Designs.
Turn your passion for photography into a part-time job. Seach local groups on social media to find your first gigs or try selling stock images on Abobe Stock and Almay.
To make this best choice, think about what makes sense with your background. Do you have experience or interest in a particular field? Start there.
What gig jobs pay the most?
It’s no surprise that ride-sharing is one of the best paying gigs. This is, in large part because of demand. If you’re driving in a metro area, the need for your services will usually be consistent. Consistent demand = more pay.
There will always be customers who want to get in shape. This is why the gig economy works for so many fitness coaches and trainers.
Freelancers usually take on creative projects and often provide services to multiple clients or businesses. Check out the blog for more posts about how to start freelancing.
People love to shop online, and you can use this to their advantage. With this method, you fulfill orders that come to you by purchasing items from a third party and shipping them directly to your customer. This has lots of income potential but may come with a steep learning curve for those without experience.
Renting or selling property
While renting or selling property can be very profitable, it’s not the easiest business to get into. While it can be very profitable, this is likely not the best place to start unless you have the experience and the resources.
This survey from CreditLoan provides insight into the earnings that people from each of these and other popular side hustles.
For those that plan to offer freelance, coaching or consulting services, these are the resources, tips and tools I recommend.
Any of these options have the potential to be a high-paying gig job. What gig will be the most profitable for you will depend on what your existing knowledge is and how much time you’re willing to dedicate to it.
Gig Economy Worker FAQs
Got more gig questions? Now that you know what jobs you may be able to pick up, let’s take a closer look at some of the most frequently asked questions.
Is a gig worker considered self-employed?
Yes. Gig economy workers typically are considered independent contractors or self-employed. In the United States, it’s critical to understand this classification. If you generate any income as an independent contractor, taxes are not withheld automatically. That means you are responsible for reporting your earnings and paying taxes to the IRS.
Another important thing to note is that these workers don’t get the same benefits that others in traditional roles do. This isn’t a concern if you are just taking gigs on the side, but if you want to do this full-time, you’ll have to pay for things like health insurance.
No matter where you are in the world, you should do some research to find out what rules and regulations there may be for this kind of work where you are. Don’t wait to be surprised by legal trouble or a giant tax bill. Doing this research in advance will save you from headaches in the long run.
Should you become a full-time gig worker or freelancer?
The short answer is: it depends on your goals. You certainly can build a career for yourself in the gig economy. Some people set out with the intention to make that a reality. Others work as contractors until they find their dream job.
Some people choose to be a gig worker alongside their 9-5 job to bring in extra cash. In fact, one study shows that over 40% of full-time workers in the United States have a side hustle. One-third of those people say that they need the income from their side hustle to stay afloat.
That’s the great thing about this opportunity. It’s flexible and you can choose to work in a way that fits your lifestyle best.
How to find the right gig jobs for you
If you want to bring in more income, it’s likely that taking a gig job is the right choice for you. For those with a 9-5, this is a great way to make more cash. For those with limited or no income at the moment, gig jobs provide an opportunity to create an income and potentially put yourself on the path to starting your own business.
With that being said, there are considerations beyond bringing in more money. When you take a gig economy job, you should be aware of:
Some gigs are easier than others to maintain. No matter where you start or what type of work you do, there will always be a need to brush up on skills and best practices. If you’re delivering groceries, this could mean thinking about what you can do to make the experience better for customers. For creatives, this could mean looking for materials like books or courses to help you get better at your craft.
These gigs don’t necessarily have to come with a lot of expenses, in fact, there are many free tools you can use as a gig worker or freelancer. However, some of them will have expenses. For example, if you choose to be an Uber driver, you have to factor in the cost of gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
You have to be a self-starter to work in the gig economy. Time management is the key here. You also need to be aware of how much you can manage. It’s best to start small and scale up. If you overextend yourself, you could end up dealing with burnout or even be unable to continue leveraging some income sources.
While being self-employed is enjoyable for many, it isn’t easy. Despite what some may claim, it is a lot of work, especially if you are starting with the intention of growing your side hustle into something much bigger.
Gigs jobs: Final thoughts
Whether you want to quit your job and join the gig economy full-time or just make some money on the side, being a gig worker is a good option. The gig economy is often called the future of work, but with so many people now working this way, it’s not the future anymore. It is work today. With every passing day, more people take on gigs. If you aren’t a part of it yet, now is the time to start. Have more questions about gigs or freelancing? Leave them in the comments below.