Almost everybody can use some extra money. And since many of us have smartphones or computers, it’s only natural to look to apps and online platforms when you need some extra cash. A recent Pew Research Center study reported that in the past year, 8% of Americans have earned money by using a digital platform to take on a job or a task. Additionally, 18% earned money by selling something online, and 1% rented out their properties using a home-sharing site. That means that a total of 24% of Americans have earned money in the “platform economy” in the past year.
The gig economy or platform economy isn’t perfect, of course. Its dependence on contract workers raises very real labor issues, which have been the subject of numerous lawsuits. And both racial and gender discrimination are a problem in “just about every corner of the on-demand labor market.” But if you do your research and know what you’re getting yourself into, you can still use a website or an app to earn some extra money.
If you want to join the many Americans who are already making money with their smartphones or computers, we can help. We’ve collected some of the best ways to make money in the gig economy or platform economy. Most enable you to work when and where you want to. They give you the flexibility to earn extra money (whether you need it for the essentials or just want some extra cash to save or spend). And they work around the responsibilities and commitments that already keep you busy.
1. Work for a ride-hailing service
Driving for a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft is one of the most well-known ways to earn some money via the gig economy. Working as an Uber driver or as a Lyft driver requires a car, which may disqualify it for many city dwellers. (Your car will also need to be relatively new.) But if you track your expenses and pay attention to when and where it’s most profitable to work, you can make a decent income working for a ride-hailing service. Many people drive for Uber or Lyft part-time to earn extra money, but some even drive full-time as a replacement for their regular job.
2. Rent out your car
If you have a car, but driving for a ride-hailing service isn’t for you, then you can consider another way to make money with your car: renting it out for either short or long periods of time. Turo lets you rent out your car to other people in your city for as many days of the month as you want. Turo can set a daily rental price based on your car’s market value, your location, and the time of the year, or you can set your own daily price. Or if you want to rent out your car for shorter periods of time, Getaround enables you to share your car by the hour or the day.
3. Work for a shopping or delivery service
Another common way to earn some extra money is to work for a shopping or delivery service. There are plenty such platforms to choose from. (Though you should figure out which ones are the most popular in your area to make sure that there’s plenty of demand.) You can deliver groceries with Instacart or deliver food from restaurants with DoorDash or Seamless. If you’d prefer to work for a delivery service that encourages workers to bike or walk as an alternative to driving, try Postmates. Or, you can deliver chef-prepared food for Munchery with a bike or a car.
4. Offer cleaning, handyman, or laundry services
A variety of gig economy apps make it easy to offer cleaning and laundry services. Handy, for instance, enables you to work as a cleaner or as a handyman (as long as you have paid experience in the area). FlyCleaners hires New Yorkers to drive trucks that pick up users’ laundry or dry cleaning, while Rinse hires drivers in San Francisco and Los Angeles to pick up and drop off people’s clothes. Cleanly, similarly, is a laundry and dry cleaning service that hires valets in New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a few other locations. Zaarly is a great platform to offer handyman, home cleaning, or lawn and garden services. And Managed by Q hires operators to clean, offer handyman services, or perform maintenance at clients’ offices in New York.
5. Help people move
If you’re not afraid of a little manual labor, helping people move is a great way to make some extra money (and get a good workout while you’re at it). You can work for Bellhops, which provides full-service moves, labor-only moves, help loading or unloading, or even help arranging furniture. Thumbtack is a great platform to find customers if you’re already a pro mover. And Dolly is an app you should definitely check out if you want to help people move residences, move specific pieces of furniture, or take their things to or from storage.
6. Park people’s cars
If you have a driver’s license and a clean DMV record but don’t currently own a car, parking other people’s cars may be a gig for you to consider. You can easily work as a valet with platforms like Luxe, a service that just requires you to be 18 or older, have a valid license with two years of driving experience, have a clean DMV record, and own a smartphone. You’ll just travel around the city to meet customers and park their cars. Luxe is available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Austin, and New York. Or, you can check out DropCar or Valet Anywhere for more options in New York.
7. Run errands or complete tasks
If you want a side job with a little more variety, then you might enjoy a platform that enables you to run errands and complete a variety of tasks. TaskRabbit, for instance, puts you in touch with users with a variety of tasks and errands. You can offer cleaning or handyman services, but you can also make deliveries, help people move, assemble their furniture, or even work as a personal assistant. Alfred connects you with clients whose homes you visit weekly. From there, you can clean for them, shop for groceries, pick up dry cleaning, ship packages, and complete other tasks. Gigwalk makes it easy to find and complete a variety of projects for businesses. And if you have skills in a specific area — anything from home improvement to tailoring to photography to editing to landscaping — Thumbtack is a great way to find customers who need a project done.
8. Complete online tasks
If you’re looking for a job that you can do without leaving home, the gig economy offers those, too. CrowdFlower enables you to complete tasks for data science teams working on sentiment analysis, search relevance, and business data classification. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace that enables you to find a variety of online tasks to complete. And if you’d prefer to offer your own services online, Fiverr enables you to offer a wide variety of services — in areas like graphics and design, digital marketing, writing and translation, video and animation, music and audio, and more — which you can complete without leaving your computer. You can find freelance jobs with Upwork. Or if you’re really looking for something very part-time, there are even some reputable survey sites.
9. Work as a virtual assistant
You can use freelance marketplaces like Upwork to find work as a virtual assistant, which is a great way to earn extra money without leaving your computer. You can also use a platform that’s designed specifically to provide virtual assistant services if that’s the kind of work you’re looking for. Consider Zirtual, for instance. The site will connect you with an entrepreneur, a professional, or a small team for whom you will work as a virtual assistant. Before you start working, though, Zirtual will train you to be an efficient and effective assistant. So even if you haven’t worked as a virtual assistant before, you’ll have the best chance at being successful.
10. Teach, tutor, or coach
Tutoring is a classic way to earn some extra money. And it’s only gotten easier to make money by teaching other people what you know thanks to a variety of online platforms. If you’re great with an academic subject, you can tutor college students with Chegg. Or, if you’re an expert on your current city and the best sights around, you can lead cultural experiences for travelers with Vayable. You can create classes for people around the world with Skillshare, to teach them a wide variety of skills. You can also teach a wide variety of subjects and skills with TakeLessons. Or, if you’re great in a specific sport, you can coach athletes and fitness enthusiasts with CoachUp.
11. Sell goods online
Selling your used or unwanted stuff on eBay is a popular way to make some extra cash. You can trade in used books and video games on Amazon or sell your old gadgets to Gazelle. In the case of vintage and antique items, you can even use sites like Etsy to put your finds in front of a big audience. If creating art or making crafts is one of your hobbies, you may be able to turn that hobby into a business. Artists and artisans can use sites like Etsy and Redbubble to sell the items they make.
12. Rent out your property online
If you’re fortunate enough to own a second home or a vacation property, put it to good use when you aren’t staying in it by renting it out to travelers. Homeowners can use sites like Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey, or HomeAway to rent out their house or apartment to guests. Or, if you don’t have a second home but would still like to make some money with your home or condo, you can rent out a room on Airbnb, or even host travelers and show them around your city with Homestay.