If you’re looking for a way to make money on the side, maybe it’s time to ride the gig economy wave.
“The pandemic has really made people rethink their priorities,” says Ania Smith, CEO of TaskRabbit, a freelance work platform that helps consumers hire locally for help with everyday tasks. She says the pandemic hiatus has prompted people to reevaluate how they spend and value their time.
Meanwhile, many companies are launching exit initiatives and downsizing to prepare for a potential recession. According to a recent survey of 1,300 respondents by KPMG, a global consulting firm, 91% of CEOs say they are planning cost-cutting strategies.
In tough times, many people rely on gig economy platforms to make ends meet in the meantime, and some are discovering that they love the flexibility. TaskRabbit’s U.S. contractors, known as Taskers, make an average of $36 an hour, though the range varies by location, according to a data sheet provided by the company.
TaskRabbit might be a perfect fit for you to explore a side hustle or something more, and Top Taskers have tips on what to focus on at the beginning to set yourself up for success. We asked her and Smith about how to approach the gig economy head first; here’s what they had to say.
“I always get hired”
TaskRabbit was founded in 2008 and acquired by home furnishing megabrand IKEA in 2017. Taskers create profiles that show off their skills and can set their own rates, and users can browse and book Taskers on an hourly basis to help with manual tasks around the house.
“As a gig economy platform, we’ve become a lifeline for people who have needed to make money during this very long-lasting crisis,” says Smith. “Those who stayed at home wanted to make their homes more comfortable. We were able to be there to provide assistance, which was fantastic for customers who wanted to save time.” Smith notes that the pandemic has increased interest from both Taskers and users.
“There’s always work to be done, so I always get hired,” says Christina Aspa, a Phoenix-based Tasker who left her day job in 2020 to work full-time on the app. When Aspa worked part-time, she made an average of about $1,000 a month and worked “a few days a week between four and eight o’clock at night.” She now makes nearly $5,000 a month by making herself available full-time, which includes both returning TaskRabbit clients and referrals from previous jobs.
For some, the gig economy suited them so well that they decided to move to a bigger city to take advantage of more opportunities.
“I originally started TaskRabbit because I was at a really difficult point in my life,” says Vanessa Garcia, a Los Angeles-based actress who works about five hours a week as a Tasker. In 2019, Garcia was working as a personal assistant in San Diego when her boss abruptly halved her hours. “I literally worked for my friends and did little gigs here and there. They knew I was struggling, and a friend of a friend told me how to get booked in furniture making.” After building her profile in San Diego, Garcia moved to Los Angeles to increase her gigs and prices raise.
“I decided to just jump in and see what the fuss was about because I didn’t really think you could get paid for something like that,” she says. “I needed more money. It started out gradually, mostly on the weekends, and then became more than just a weekend gig.”
How to stand out in an increasingly saturated market
TaskRabbit welcomed 100,000 new Taskers to the platform in new and existing markets over the past year, according to Smith’s LinkedIn announcement. As the app grows in popularity, Taskers are facing more competition, and some newcomers are struggling to gain a foothold.
“It’s a really tough hurdle for new Taskers, especially when the market is pretty saturated now in a lot of metro areas,” says Aspa. “When IKEA took a majority stake in TaskRabbit, they opened up in every major city where an IKEA store exists.”
“We spend a lot of time internally thinking about how we can help brand new Taskers on the platform,” Smith says when he urges that job ratings are a barrier to new Taskers. “We do a lot to ensure they are highly visible on the platform. We see that those who come onto the platform and get their first job quickly are more likely to stay and we want them to be successful.”
“There are many things we’re doing on the platform today that can help them be successful when they’re first signing up and getting through that initial task.” According to Smith, that support includes how to set up categories and schedules, as well as ways to contact TaskRabbit Technical Support directly.
First, prioritize reviews
TaskRabbit lets Tasker set their own rates, and the app walks them through tools that show what others are charging in a given market. It can be tempting to set your rates at or above market, but if you’re new, both the company and seasoned Taskers recommend undercutting the competition first for winning jobs and testimonials.
“I think one of the biggest mistakes [is that] A lot of people who don’t have reviews like to do an assignment or two and then double or triple their prizes,” says Garcia. “And then all of a sudden they’re like, ‘Why aren’t I getting hired?'” Garcia notes that on TaskRabbit, the number of jobs you’ve completed is shown on your profile, giving an advantage to those who prioritize volume and have booked many gigs on the platform.
“I put myself in the headspace of a customer,” she says. “When I hire someone, I need a little support to make sure I’m paying the right price for the right person. If you don’t have anything to show for it, it’s harder to get booked. If you want to make $60 an hour, you can, but you have to commit to it. That being said, I don’t think a Tasker should start at $15 an hour.” Taskers take home 100% of their hourly rate and 100% of customer tips, according to the aforementioned company data sheet.
On TaskRabbit, your ratings stay with you for the life of your profile. Tasker with many reviews of project experience and trustworthiness. Consider setting your rates slightly below the market average initially to make it easier to book first jobs and get testimonials.
The most lucrative skills at TaskRabbit
According to TaskRabbit’s support page, some of the most popular skills on the platform right now include:
- furniture assembly.
- help with moving.
- gardening and moving.
“I have many different skills listed on the platform, but the ones I’m being hired for are increasing,” says Aspa. “Hanging curtains, hanging your TV on the wall, art, anything that hangs on a wall, I get a lot of exposure to that. Also interior painting. I do a lot of those two things.” Aspa emphasizes that customers hire you to come to their homes and encourages setting up an inviting profile that can make a good first impression.
“Make sure their profile photo is very inviting, like someone you’d like to have in your house to help you with something,” she says.
Dive into the gig economy
Whether you’re curious about the gig economy or need an immediate fix in the face of a layoff, platforms like TaskRabbit have a low barrier to entry and can help you make more money every month.
“I think the most important thing I always tell everyone is the flexibility the app offers,” says Garcia. “There is no “must” to stay in the app. You don’t have to meet a quota. If you want to earn some money on the side, I think that’s great because you can work as many hours as you want.”
As for the woman at the helm of the company, Smith keeps his word.
“We booked this interview at the last minute, so I have a Tasker here today, right now, painting a wall in my son’s bedroom.”