What is “The Gig Economy” and How Can I Use it to Make Some Extra Money?


After the success of companies like Uber and Airbnb, many others have tried to capitalize on the rush of shoppers and workers ready and willing to use their smartphones to find and post gigs. These companies often rely on contract workers, who work on their own schedules and are not legally considered employees.

While this has come with its own set of complications and controversies, this allows potential workers the flexibility to work (or not) whenever they choose.

Maybe you’re a musician that teaches lessons and creates jingles on the side when you aren’t touring with your band. Or perhaps you’re a student that drives with a ridesharing service to pay your way through school (or, let’s get real, at least pay your room and board). If so, you’re one of countless others that can benefit from the work offered through the so-called “gig economy.”

As Forbes magazine has reported, by 2020 43% of the U.S. workforce will work freelance in some capacity or another. As a freelance worker in the gig economy, you’ll be part of a larger trend in the workforce, but is freelance work right for you? Read more to find out.

The Benefits of The Gig Economy 

The biggest draw to freelance work is the flexibility that it offers. You can work whenever you want, and depending on the nature of the work, wherever you want as well. If you have a particular passion like photography or web design, freelance work can give you an opportunity to either supplement your income while you chase your dreams or get some money doing the things you love while you work a regular 9 to 5 job.

You’ll also have a lot of variety to your workday and won’t have to worry about a boss criticizing your work because YOU get to be your own boss!

There are certain gigs that make up what is called “the sharing economy.” When consumers choose to rent pre-existing resources like a bicycle from a neighbor, rather than buy brand-new products, it decreases the need for consumer goods for the benefit of the environment. Much has been written about the environmental benefits of the sharing economy, for better or worse.

The Downsides to The Gig Economy

Working as a freelancer means you need to be able to prioritize your time and push yourself to work hard, which can be a challenge if you don’t have a set schedule. You’ll also be without benefits like a 401(k) retirement plan or medical insurance, so you’ll need to cover savings and healthcare costs on your own.

You’ll also not be covered with the same legal protections when you are working as a contractor instead of an employee. So if you’re injured on the job, for instance, you won’t be able to file for workman’s comp. Several companies that operate on-demand apps have been faced with lawsuits over classifying their workers as independent contractors instead of employees, so this remains a bit of a murky legal area that may change over time.

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Where Can I Go to Find Gigs?

If you’re looking for ways to find freelance gigs, you have numerous options out there, particularly with websites and apps that connect freelancers to customers. I’ve assembled lists on my blog such as Jobs Like Uber: 15 Alternatives for Freelance Work and Sites Like Airbnb: Make Extra Money By Renting Out Your Humble Abode that can help steer you towards potential gigs.

Each week I have new articles and videos right here on The Thrifty Man blog that will provide you with new ways to make extra money and save extra money. Make sure to bookmark my homepage and subscribe to my YouTube channel, plus follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for updates!

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How I Made Money By Being a “Seat Filler” in the Audience of a TV Show

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You might not realize this, but the audiences you see on television for TV shows, sporting events, press conferences, and political rallies often include PAID audience members. These paid audience members work as “seat fillers” who help fill in empty seats and assist with the optics of the event when the organizers want the appearance of a full crowd.

While it can be a little off-putting when you first hear about this, realize that there are many reasons why someone might pay people to be in the audience. It DOES NOT necessarily mean that the general public doesn’t want to attend. There could be unforeseen circumstances that might prevent unpaid audience members from attending the event like weather or traffic, for instance, and paying audience members ensures they have a minimum number of people at the event.

The TV show I attended films outside after dark (they film after dark because it works best with their lighting setup) so to keep their schedule as tight as possible they film overnight. As a result of the schedule, audience members can sometimes trickle out in the wee hours of the morning so they compensate by hiring people to fill in the gaps in the bleachers if necessary.

I found out about this gig via Craigslist and will admit I was fully expecting to get to see the entire show. I was a little disappointed to discover that the audience wasn’t empty enough, so the other seat fillers and I ended up waiting outside the filming area on the sidewalk while they waited to see if enough people trickled out. Watching the stage managers and other crew run back and forth with walkie talkies, monitoring the audience to see if they could let more people in was an interesting glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of TV shows that I hadn’t considered before.

The first night I was there during my entire scheduled time, which lasted several hours, but only got to see 45 minutes of the actual taping from the bleachers with the other audience members. The second night they cancelled because of rain so it ended up being a very small amount of time that I actually attended the show. The good news, however, is that I got paid for the entire time I was there, whether I was in the audience or not.

If you see an opportunity like this come up, it can be an interesting thing to try out if you want to pick up some extra money. Be aware that the pay isn’t extravagant (think $10-$12/hr), and also be aware that you will see little, if any, of the actual taping of the show. If you’re just looking to attend a show, it’s better to go for the real tickets where you are guaranteed a spot in the audience for the entire taping.

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Working as a GrubHub Driver- What’s it’s Like


For my YouTube video on this topic, click here!

I’ve worked as  GrubHub Delivery Driver and thought I would share my experiences for those that are interested in applying for this job and want to know what’s it’s like. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful!

What is GrubHub?

GrubHub has been around a long time (since the late 90’s, which is ancient in internet years) and was originally a “hub” where restaurants could post their menus for online takeout ordering. As they have expanded and evolved over the years, this now includes GrubHub’s own delivery service that operates through an app.

GrubHub is able to provide drivers to restaurants that may or may not offer delivery on their own. Essentially restaurants are outsourcing their delivery to a third party. Not every restaurant is available for customers to order from (in contrast to Postmates) so as a driver you will only be delivering to restaurants that have contracted with GrubHub.

How Scheduling Works

You can pick your own schedule. It is totally up to you if you want to work 80 hours or 0 hours a week and you will not be penalized either way. You sign up for mini shifts (called “blocks”) that range from anywhere from 2-6 hours. They release all of the blocks at the start of the week and they are on a first come, first serve basis. So if you want to work you’ve got to snatch them up fast!

Unlike Uber, you cannot just get in your car and work anytime you feel like it. You do have to stick with the blocks you signed up for.  If you work during a time that you aren’t scheduled for you won’t get paid- so don’t do that!!

The Training/Requirements/Sign-on Process

The “interview” process was very easy- there wasn’t one! Basically as long as you pass the background check and have a good driving record (and there’s spots available) you can become a driver. With Uber and other similar services you have to have a recent (5-10 years old) car, but with GrubHub you do not. Thus, as long as you have a vehicle with four wheels that runs you are probably good.

Training varies depending on your city. Some places have regional offices where you do the training, but mine did not so I had to train through an online webcast thingy. Once you start working all communication with GrubHub occurs though their phone line or by email, which takes some getting used to. You have no direct manager so you get the benefit of not having someone looking over your shoulder. Yet you are also kind of in this thing without direct assistance so it has it’s pros and cons.

What Your Blocks are Like

You are assigned a specific geographic region and you HAVE to be in that region to get offers and get paid. You have to download an app on their website. If you have an iPhone there’s a GrubHub Driver app in the app store but this is NOT the current app so don’t download it, use the link they have in the emails they send you.

Once you are on your first block, you go to your region and sign in to the app. Your phone will ding whenever there’s an offer available. You’ll see the address on your phone of the restaurant, then you pick up the food and take it to the customer. If you are signed up for a block you work rain or shine, so remember that when signing up.

The Pay!!

Okay so you’re thinking blah blah blah get on with it, how much did you actually make!? I wanna make it rain! You will not get rich from GrubHub but can make SOME money. Here’s how the pay structure works- for every order you get a base amount (in my region it’s $3, but in larger cities like NYC or LA it will be higher), then they reimburse you for mileage (which is based on a straight line distance from the restaurant to the customer only, they don’t count driving to the restaurant itself), plus the tip.

So for example, if I got an order from a restaurant I would first get $3 automatically for delivering the food, the measly amount they give for mileage (let’s say I get $1.50), and then I get a tip for $3.50 I would have $8 total for the order. Usually I would get about 1-2 orders per hour.

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So let’s say I was working a three hour block in the evening, and the first two hours I picked up three orders for a total of $27, but the last hour is dead and I get no orders the final hour as I sit in my car pondering existential life questions (it happens). Technically I would make $27 from the orders, but GH guarantees an hourly minimum (varies by region but can be 10-14/hr), so then GB would bump it up to at least $30 for the three hours.

Here’s where it gets tricky- you can decline an order that pings in on your phone. So if it’s too far of a drive you can decide against it, but if you don’t accept 75% of the orders you are NOT guaranteed the minimum pay.

Take note that you are an independent contractor so you don’t get benefits. Plus you have to provide your own car insurance. They also don’t pay any extra car expenses.


One final note- some cities have GH deliverers who walk or bike so that’s an option, too. Working with GrubHub can be a good way to pick up some extra money so it’s definitely something to consider if it’s available in your area!

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