Nearly a Quarter of Americans Earn Money This Way. Here’s How You Can Too

gig economy
shapecharge/Getty Images
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

I think we can all appreciate a good gig — flexible work schedules, some side income, noncommittal terms…

And the gig economy is booming, thanks to what Pew Research Center is calling the “digital platform economy.”

You’ve heard of this. Think: Uber, Etsy, Airbnb, DogVacay… anything that contracts folks via the digital realm to work flexible gigs.

24% of Americans report earning money from the digital ‘platform economy’ in the past year,” reports a recent Pew study.

So What’s The “Gig” Deal About The Gig Economy?

Digital earning platforms offer so much room for activities.

Seriously, there are tons of ways to make money. Some of the most popular sectors include online tasks (surveys, data entry, transcribing, etc.), ride hailing, shopping/delivery and cleaning/laundry, according to Pew’s study.

And people are drawn to these because you can take on jobs in your own time — in addition to that 9-to-5 career or alongside another gig. Heck, if you want to skip “work” for a month or two, you can do that, too.

Many Americans (54% of those surveyed) consider gigs good for older people who might not work full time. On the other hand, 37% think these platforms offer good entry-level jobs to those entering the workforce.

Want to Find a Gig? We Have a Few Ideas About Where To Start

Certainly you can get handy work or become a freelance writer, but that’s not really what Pew’s talking about here. It’s talking about technology, of course, and finding gigs via the digital platform economy.

So go ahead and fire up your computer and turn off your iPhone “Do Not Disturb” setting (because I know you always accidentally keep that on for way too long). Consider these apps and services as you join the other 24% of Americans.

1. Airbnb

List your space on Airbnb to make some serious bucks.

Marian Schembari of San Francisco made more than $2,000 in a year doing this during weekends she was off camping with her husband.

She even used an Airbnb rental as her wedding venue. Be sure to check out her tips on Airbnb hosting.

2. DogVacay

Petsitting just got a heck of a lot easier. No more door-to-door marketing.

Now you can download apps such as DogVacay, Rover or Wag! and play with other people’s pups — even kitties.

And it’s not just for dog-lovers. You can like cats, too.

3. Etsy

If you’re crafty, you can join the hoards of people setting up storefronts with Etsy.

From knitted scarves and scrapbooks to engraved jewelry, you can find it all for sale on Etsy. What could you sell?

One mom opened Three Bird Nest and makes up to $70,000 a month selling headbands, jewelry, scarves, hats, gloves, sweaters and even home décor. The crafty platform is a great jumping off point for starting a side gig — or business for that matter.

4. Mechanical Turk

It sounds so foreign, but it’s so easy. Basically, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk pays you to do easy-to-accomplish tasks. All you need is a computer.

Our CEO, Kyle Taylor, tried out the service and made an extra $50/week. Not bad!

5. letgo

According to that Pew study, 14% of Americans earned money online last year by selling used or secondhand goods.

You can sell pretty much anything else on letgo. Have too many books? Find out what those are worth on Bookscouter.

Decluttr will take your old CDs, DVDs and electronics.

If you want to take selling online to a different level, stop by garage sales and thrift stores to find items to resell.

6. Shipt

People hate grocery shopping, but you could make money as a Shipt shopper.

Customers use an app to request groceries. You can pick and choose when you want to pick them up for someone grocery and make $15-$22 an hour, according to Shipt — and Destiny Frith, who we spoke to about working with them.

7. SwagBucks

This is one of our readers’ favorite survey tools. Yup, surveys count as one of these digital gigs.

With Swagbucks, you simply sign up and explore all the ways you can make money — one of the most lucrative ways is taking surveys. Some pay up to 300 SBs each (those Swagbucks), which are translated to money. Plus, you get a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB within your first 60 days.

Our CEO also does this and pockets an extra $10-$100/month. *Survey* all the details with our ultimate Swagbucks guide.

8. Uber

You can’t forget about the company that seemed to started this whole movement: Uber.

The Pew study reported 2% of U.S. adults earned money from a ride hailing platform last year — including this comedian.

Signing up is easy, and we’ve already rounded up some hacks for you.

So what do you think? Will you give the gig economy a try?

You can check out more gigs on our Facebook jobs page.

Your Turn: Maybe you’ve already given the gig economy a try. Tell us about your experience.

Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.