In the United States, the way people work is dramatically changing.
The proliferation of the gig economy is shifting the American worker's view of nine-to-five employment and creating endless possibilities for earning extra cash to help pay the bills and make ends meet.
According to a recent analysis of gig economy and workforce data conducted by Nation 1099, about one-third of all US workers did at least some freelance work last year. What's more, about 11% of all workers are full-time freelancers and about 22% have embraced side hustling or moonlighting.
Giant gig economy platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork may be well known, but there are quite literally hundreds of similar sites, with more popping up every day. A growing number of these sites specialize in offering niche services—ranging from voiceover work to dog walking, engineering, financial consulting, and website development.
"When it comes to freelancing and the gig economy, all signals show it's growing even larger," said trends expert and public speaker Daniel Levine, founding director of Avant-Guide Institute. "What's so great about these sites is they're bringing together people from around the world. Borders are disappearing. Before you had to be in the same country for an employee and employer to meet."
Here are five gig economy sites that can help you earn a few extra dollars or provide a springboard to a full-time freelance career.
Phoenix resident Melanie Lewis works at home while she pursues a career in writing. About two years ago, she searched for a way to supplement her writing income and a friend helped her find Rover.com.
Through the site, she makes anywhere from $500 to $1,000 extra each month, by either boarding dogs or offering dog-walking and drop-in services.
"One of my favorite things about Rover is that you set your own rates for the services you offer, so you control what you charge and how much you earn," said Lewis.
The site, which operates in dozens of cities across the US and Canada, connects dog owners with a variety of services—dog walking, doggy day care, dog boarding, drop-in visits, and house sitting. Note that background checks are required for those seeking to work through the site.
Launched in 2010, Fiverr has become one of the gig economy giants. The site has tens of thousands of users who generate steady secondary incomes by offering creative and professional services—everything from graphic design to writing, translation, illustration, and marketing.
Fiverr's global community of freelancers now includes more than 100 service categories and people doing business in 190 countries.
The site is named Fiverr because the starting price for services is a mere $5, but that's just a starting point. Advanced sellers can augment their services, charging more money for additional tasks. For example, a copyeditor might charge $5 for editing, but add higher fees for formatting, layout, or rush turnaround.
In addition, the site just introduced FiverrPro, a higher-end initiative that matches curated, talented professionals with those seeking services.
Previously known as Elance-oDesk, Upwork enables businesses and independent professionals from around the globe to connect and collaborate. It's another giant in the gig economy. The range of work available through the site is mind boggling—everything from web, mobile, and software development to writing, administrative support, customer service, sales and marketing, and accounting and consulting.
Hourly and fixed-price jobs are available through Upwork. And the beauty of the site is that Upwork processes all payments and invoicing, eliminating the hassle of chasing down clients to get paid through a third-party platform. For hourly jobs, Upwork even offers payment protection, ensuring you don't get stiffed for any work completed.
If you have piles of baby gear and toddler toys sitting unused around the house, Babierge is made for you.
Babierge (a combination of baby and concierge) is a sharing economy platform for baby gear. Think of it as the Airbnb for baby gear. The site's baby gear entrepreneurs rent, deliver, and set up baby gear, games, and toys at hotels and vacation rentals, and then return to pick it up on departure day.
Though you may not have heard of Babierge, don't underestimate it. It has workers in 82 markets, with new locations added each week.
"When you look at the money you can make at Babierge based on the hours you put in, the pay is about $40 per hour," said Trish McDermott, vice president of community and communications for Babierge. "Not bad for gig work."
Some of the site's most active workers make as much as $700 per month.
One last up-and-coming site worth noting is Efynch, a platform designed to connect professional and freelance contractors and maintenance workers with jobs.
Operating in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and northern Virginia, Efynch currently has about 3,000 users and plans to expand to at least ten more cities on the East Coast by spring.
"In addition to skilled workers, anyone with a truck is basically a valuable commodity and can easily make $50 or more per hour on our site," said cofounder Teris Pantazes. "I've had some people make more than $5,000 per month on my site as full-timers. Freelance or side workers probably average between $500 and $1,000 if they work a few evenings or a couple Saturdays."
Modeled after Upwork but tailored to the contractor and maintenance crowd, the site offers a range of gigs, from simple manual labor tasks such as mowing a lawn to far more complex jobs such as carpentry.
Anyone can join the freelance movement. It just takes a little paperwork and planning. If the lifestyle speaks to you, you should fill out a 1099 and be ready to navigate the financial ins and outs of self-employment. Start by getting your free credit report and gain insights into how you can build your credit while you freelance. Embrace the hustle while maintaining a handle on your finances, and you'll be set up for success.