20 Gig Economy Jobs Smart People Are Using to Make Extra Money

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Gig economy jobs have surged in popularity, thanks in part to an expanding work-from-home mentality.

From freelance writing to mystery shopping to pet sitting, there’s more opportunity than before to make extra money with short-term gigs. Many people have even been able to replace their traditional job and work on their own terms with work-from-home jobs.

It doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Projections indicate that by 2020, a whopping 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.

That’s a staggering amount of workers choosing to be self-employed. But there are a number of options if you’re interested in joining them.

What is a Gig Economy Job?

25% of Americans are taking advantage of what’s been dubbed the “gig economy.” Gig economy jobs are typically part-time jobs with flexible hours staffed by independent contractors or freelancers in place of full-time staff. The pay is generally less and comes with no benefits like retirement savings or health insurance, but the trade-off is in the flexibility in hours and location, as well as workers being able to determine how much they’ll earn.

Anyone can work a gig economy job; there are often few educational or degree requirements. As long as you have access to a smartphone, reliable internet, and meet age requirements, you can work in the gig economy.

Gig Economy Jobs for Drivers

Front view of car

Having a car is key to making money in the gig economy since ride-sharing and delivery jobs pop up often. Many ride-sharing or delivery companies let customers leave tips, which increases the overall rate.

1. Deliver groceries

Busy families love to outsource errands like grocery shopping, and you can take advantage of that by working for Instacart.

As an Instacart shopper, you can either shop in-store for customers who pick up their orders or shop and deliver orders to their homes. Learn more about what’s involved in working for Instacart in our review.

2. Deliver food with Postmates

Although delivering food for a pizza place remains a popular gig, you can also deliver food with apps like Postmates.

Tons of folks have started delivering food with Postmates because it’s is a flexible, easy way to earn money on your own schedule. You can deliver day or night, whenever it’s convenient for you. If you’re approved, you just sign onto the app and start receiving delivery requests in your area.

With Postmates, you can choose how you deliver. Depending on your city, you may be able to deliver food with your car, bike, or scooter. Once you finish a delivery you can take the next request, or sign off for a few hours or the rest of the day—it’s totally up to you how many deliveries you make.

And just like other delivery gigs, you’ll be eligible to receive a tip.

Related: 17 Best Places to Find Small Task or Micro Jobs

3. Rent your car out to other drivers

If you don’t have time for a side hustle, let your car do the work for you. Getaround lets you rent your vehicle to others when you’re not using it.

If you rent out your car with Getaround, then you can participate in the gig economy without putting in much extra work.

Getaround has a rigorous driver screening process, so you can rest assured that your car is in good hands. Plus, your vehicle is covered with Getaround’s premium insurance policy just in case.

4. Fine dining delivery

Caviar is a meal delivery service specializing in fine dining. Since the totals are higher than they are with Postmates, you’re likely to earn more money with big tips.

Their website says earnings can top $25 per hour, especially if you’ve worked in the food service industry and have a “customer service attitude”.

You can deliver food via car, bike, truck, motorcycle, or scooter. Because of their flexible scheduling and delivery mediums, you can deliver food for different companies and/or also drive for Uber or Lyft.

5. Deliver packages with Amazon Flex

Delivering packages through Amazon Flex is another popular side hustle if you don’t want to deliver food. According to the Amazon Flex website, drivers make $15-$18 per hour delivering packages.

To get started, use your existing Amazon account to register and download the app. As long as you meet age and insurance requirements and have a smartphone, you’ll be approved. You get to pick your hours, service area, and the types of packages you’d prefer to deliver.

Gig Economy Jobs for Designers

woman working on graphic designs

If you have an eye for design, put your creative genius to work and become a graphic designer with these gig economy companies.

6. Do branding for small businesses

99designs is a popular platform that connects small businesses to talented graphic artists.

As a designer, you can offer 1-to-1 packages where clients contact you directly based on your portfolio. Or you can compete with fellow artists in site-wide logo contests.

For a budding graphic artist, this is a good chance to develop a portfolio quickly and earn money while building a referral network.

7. Create designs for clothing

Printed Village is a fabric design company. As a designer, you earn a commission on products that choose your design.

It isn’t entirely clear how competitive it is to earn a spot as a designer. However, their site indicates they run contests multiple times per year to solicit designs and to recruit new designers.

8. Create printables and other designs for Etsy

Etsy makes it easy to sell your designs online. You can sell knit hats, scarves, wine glasses, and custom printable pictures. If you can create it, you can sell it on Etsy.

The best part of selling on Etsy is you control your inventory, and if you’re creating digital products, you always have products in stock. This means customers can buy from you even while you sleep.

Pet Care and Home Sharing Gigs

woman walking a dog

If you’re a people person or love animals, taking care of them is a fun side hustle.

9. Dog walking and pet sitting

Rover connects pet owners with people who can walk their dogs, feed their cats, or change their guinea pig’s bedding while they’re not home.

Typical rates range from $25 to $100 a night for private boarding on the high end. Pop-in visits for 30-minute walks fall in the $10 to 30 range. That can add up quickly if you find repeat clients.

Related: How to Start Your Own Dog Sitting Business with Rover

10. Become an Airbnb host

Renting out spare or unused space in your home is an easy way to participate in the gig economy, especially if you register as a host with Airbnb.

If you don’t have space to rent, you can still join the app and work as an Airbnb Host, creating unique and local experiences for travelers in your area. You can do things like nature walks, brewery tours, cooking classes, or food tastings.

To maximize your earnings with Airbnb, rent out your space and host an experience.

Related: How to Make Money as an Airbnb Host

Part (or Full-Time) Contractor Gigs

woman shopping

11. Mystery shopping

You might think that mystery shopping is a scam, but it’s actually a legitimate job.

While there are some scammy companies, there are hundreds of reliable mystery shopping firms. They’re consulting firms that are hired to help all types of businesses identify, evaluate, and fix customer service problems. To do this, mystery shopping companies hire mystery shoppers as independent contractors aka sleuths-for-hire.

Assignments are paid per project, and hours and pay may vary. You might also get paid for the mileage traveled to the various stores.

12. Handyman services

Working as a handyman, performing tasks like moving furniture, hanging televisions or pictures, repairing holes in walls, fixing loose stairs or deck planks, is a tried and true gig economy job.

While people used to find this kind of work through word-of-mouth referrals or hanging flyers, apps like TaskRabbit and Amazon Home Services make it easier than ever to find work as a handyman.

You’ll need access to a vehicle and tools to perform this work, but it’s a reliable and consistent way to bring in extra income.

13. Babysitting

Another old-school gig economy job, babysitting isn’t just for teenagers anymore. In fact, many parents prefer that adults watch their kids for them. Sites like Care.com are great to get started babysitting. It’s free to register, and all you need to do is complete a profile that allows parents in your area to find you.

You’re able to set your rates, your hours, and if you provide any extra services like light housekeeping or dog walking.

Find a Freelance Gig

woman working online

Some of the best-known gigs are found on freelancing job boards.

There are a ton of sites dedicated to connecting us with companies looking to hire for project-specific work. These gigs are especially great for anyone who has previous experience in:

14. Freelance writing

Online and print magazines, newspapers, and websites are always looking for people to create content for them. If you have solid writing skills, can work on a deadline, and are an expert in different subject areas, consider becoming a freelance writer. You get to pick what and how much content you create, and what to charge for it.

Holly Johnson’s Earn More Writing course is a good place for beginners to learn how to find clients, how to set rates, and how to pick a focus.

If you don’t want to write for someone else, having a blog is another way to make money from your writing.

15. Facebook ad management

Facebook ads are a component of digital marketing that requires no specific background or degree. As long as you understand Facebook’s ad system and can craft appealing ads, you can offer your services to businesses interested in using Facebook’s massive audience to find new clients or customers.

Bobby Hoyt created a course to teach aspiring Facebook ad managers the tips and tricks to grow this kind of business.

16. Proofreading

Before an article, paper, book, or blog post is published, it needs someone to look for things like punctuation errors, spelling errors, or stray spaces in between words. Freelance proofreaders perform this service for authors, journalists, and website owners, and have the flexibility to work from home on their own schedule.

Professional proofreader Caitlyn Pyle offers a course to help new proofreaders launch their business. Her course can help you whether you’re looking to start working as a general proofreader or a transcript proofreader.

17. Virtual assisting

Online and brick and mortar businesses often hire remote workers to assist with administrative tasks like booking travel, answering emails, or database management. These virtual assistants can also help with social media management, event planning, website management, or blog post editing.

If you’re organized and can perform a variety of tasks for clients, becoming a virtual assistant (VA) is a solid option for you. You can learn more about what it takes to be a VA from professional virtual assistant Kayla Sloan in her course, 10K VA.

18. Graphic design

Helping businesses design visually appealing images is the responsibility of a graphic designer. You can choose to specialize in Pinterest images, logos, website design, or book covers or offer a complete menu of services.

Working as a graphic designer means you need access to design programs, but there are free options if you can’t afford to buy one.

19. Digital marketing

Digital marketing is the umbrella term for how companies advertise online. They can do this through ads, digital campaigns like email newsletters, search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing.

You can find a gig working for a company that needs help with their digital marketing efforts, especially if you have a background in marketing or know things like SEO.

20. Coding

This is one of the more technical gig economy jobs around, but if you understand programming languages, you can find work coding or creating apps. You can use your coding skills to design plugins, create custom websites, or build apps. You can even create games people can download on their phones or play online.

Where to Find Gig Economy Jobs

You can find gig economy jobs in a number of places. For instance, freelancer sites like Fiverr, FlexJobs, and Upwork are a few places to find freelance gigs.

If you’ve registered with an app like Care.com, Rover, or Postmates, having a profile will give you instant access to clients with minimal effort on your part. This also applies to working with Airbnb, Etsy, and 99Designs.

For those looking to start their own freelancing businesses, you can find jobs by advertising in person using flyers, online via social media and ads, or through word-of-mouth referrals. These freelance job sites are also a good place to start looking for gig economy jobs.

Is a Gig Economy Job Right for Me?

If you need work that offers flexible hours and location independence, a gig economy job could be what you’re looking for. Make sure that you understand the terms and conditions of the job, as well as any requirements.

Gig economy jobs offer a way for people to make extra money, regardless of circumstance. You might be looking to bridge the gap between jobs when unemployment isn’t enough, save for moving expenses, or need a way to make ends meet every month. Whatever your reason for working in the gig economy, it’s a viable option.

Annette Miller

Newlywed coach with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology + specialization in financial wellness for millennial couples. Boilermaker, former Air BnB Superhost, clumsy yogi, tech lover, aspiring whiskey snob, and Heath bar addict. Currently living in Bourbonland, USA (aka Louisville, KY) and tweeting @millerannette.


Great post. I’m a full-time student and I really wanted to have a job that wouldn’t interfere with my school schedule. Gig jobs turned out to be a great solution for me. I found a lot of offers from various categories in my city. I’ve decided to start with petsitting for Rover. Easy and nice work. Good money too! This is my first gig job, but surely not last. 🙂

Eric S.
Eric S.

Great post, Annette. It’s amazing to see how we’re gradually shifting away from the traditional ways of working. Millennials and Generation Z do not necessarily want to be tied to a desk working for a company that isn’t theirs.

There are so many gigs coming into fruition.

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