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Need Extra Money? The Gig Economy Comes to Canada
Feeling a little short? Need some money for that dream vacation? You’ve probably heard about the “Gig Economy”. You can take advantage of it to earn some extra money in your spare time.
First, what are we talking about here? What is the Gig Economy? Essentially, companies have taken jobs that would normally be done by full time employees and farmed them out for a number of people to do. This is typically enabled by technology – an App – a way of matching the jobs to the people who need the work. The company benefits since it doesn’t need to employ people and pay benefits – saving lots of money. The workers benefit because you can do the jobs in your spare time and work as much as little as you want. The gigs are also perfect as a second job. We will save the discussion of overall impact on the Gig Economy on workers (negative) for another blog.
The most famous Gig is Uber. With Uber, you can sign up to be a driver and then drive when you want to, before work, after work or, for some, as a full time job. You are an independent contractor to Uber and Uber only pays you when you work. They get a workforce of thousands without hiring anyone.
You’ve probably heard of Uber but there are a lot of other Gig sites. Craigslist or Kijiji have sections for short term work like the newspapers of old but there are also sites that provide micro-tasks. At the smallest level Mechanical Turkby Amazon is a site where you can work on very small tasks and make dollars or even pennies depending on the complexity of the tax. For example, you can read something on a business card and type out what you’ve read for pennies. A game developer used it to come up with thousands of quiz questions – they paid $1 for 10 questions. Another site, Fiverr, initially targeted tasks that would pay $5 but the site has expanded significantly since then and some tasks cost much more – sometimes over $100. The types of tasks offered are wide ranging – from programming to making caricatures – almost anything you can think of. If you are an artist, 99 Designs is a site that companies use to get professional logos or other artwork. The company describes what it is looking for and you submit a quick design. The company then evaluates the designs submitted (usually 5-10). If they like it they may select you and ask you to create a professional version. You get paid when you complete the task (and you don’t get paid anything during the audition process). Bellhops is a moving site where you can help someone load or unload a moving van. Or you can simply rent out a spare room with AirBnB. There are many other sites out there like TaskRabbit, and Canadian versions Local Heroes and Adam Helps.
Generally, these sites all work the same. You register and advertise your skills/availability (Fiverr) the availability of your home/room in the case of AirBnB. Or in other cases the one who needs the work done advertises the job (Mechanical Turk, Bellhops, TaskRabbit). The site does the matching, handles the payments and of course takes a small or not so small cut for its services. Do you first task and boom, you are now part of the Gig Economy – now get out there and make some money.