I've made over $120,000 with gig economy apps over the past 6 years: Here is my best advice

"By diversifying your income sources, you give yourself more options."

Kevin Ha is the founder of Financial Panther.
Courtesy Kevin Ha

I often tell people that there's never been an easier time in history to start a side hustle. It's possible for anyone to earn extra income on their own time, with little to no start-up costs.

Before I made the move to self-employment back in 2019, I worked as a full-time attorney for five years. And even though I worked long hours and had a stressful job during those five years, I was still able to bring in extra income every month by side hustling with gig economy apps including Airbnb, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Shipt, and Rover.

Over the past six years, I've made over $120,000 using gig economy apps. Today, I regularly earn $1,000 to $2,000 per month with these platforms. 

This extra money helped me pay off $87,000 of student loan debt. My side hustling also helped me to save about $20,000 each year, which put me in a financial position where I was able to quit my job as an attorney to pursue a career as a writer. 

Here's what I've learned after making over $120,000 from gig economy apps.

Make money from the things you're already doing

For most people, the ability to earn extra income usually comes down to time. We have to work all day and when combined with other obligations, there often aren't many hours left to do more work. 

The strategy I've used is to figure out ways to make money from the things I'm already doing. When you think about it, we all have things that we want and need to do, whether it is a hobby or just regular errands. If you can figure out how to monetize these activities, you can earn extra income without having to use up your free time. 

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Personally, I enjoy biking and getting exercise. And food delivery apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub allow me to do deliveries on my bike. For the past six years, I've done just just that, and cultivated a side hustle that allows me to get paid while I exercise and explore my city.

I also dog sit with the app Rover. I already have a dog, which means that I have to take care of all of the tasks that come with dog ownership. But since I already have these responsibilities, watching a second dog doesn't add much additional work to my plate, and I'm getting paid to do the tasks I'm already doing.

Take a look at the things you're already doing. If you think creatively, you might find that there are gig economy apps out there that can work well with your life.

Diversify your income sources 

A mistake many people can make when it comes to gig economy apps is that they rely on a single app for all of their income. The problem with this is that if anything happens with that particular app, you'll lose your income. There are no guarantees with any app. By diversifying your income sources, you give yourself more options.

When the pandemic hit last year, my earnings with Rover dropped dramatically, since people weren't traveling and didn't need dog sitters. But while demand for dog sitting declined, food and grocery delivery apps like DoorDash and Shipt saw a huge surge in demand. As a result, my gig economy earnings were able to stay steady throughout the pandemic.

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Right now, I have dozens of gig economy apps on my phone, and in most months I earn income from 10 or more different apps. 

For example, I deliver food with apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub. Rather than using just one platform, I always use all of them at the same time. I'm often able to get deliveries from different apps that are going in the same direction, so I can deliver a number of orders at the same time, allowing me to double or triple what I would otherwise earn.

Small amounts can make a big difference 

With many gig economy apps, working for 10 or 15 minutes can be enough to earn you $5 or $10. It might not seem like much, but doing this every day, I've found that it adds up. By consistently dedicating about an hour or so of my time each day, I have been able to make over $120,000 with these gig economy apps. 

I've learned to not underestimate the impact that small amounts of extra income can have on your finances.  

If you earn just $5 per day, you'll end up with $1,825 in a year. Double it to $10 per day and you'll have $3,650. The more you earn per day, the more you'll have at the end of the year. 

More amazing is what can happen to that money if you allow it to grow through the power of compounding and long-term growth. I personally invest my gig economy income using low-cost index funds. 

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If you invest $5 or $10 per day over 30 years, you can end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars, assuming you can average a 7% rate of return with your investments. If you invest just $30 per day over 30 years, you can become a millionaire. By itself, $5, $10, or $30 per day doesn't seem like much. But with time, it can grow to huge sums.

Ultimately, if you're curious about side hustling and bringing in extra income with gig economy apps, my best advice is to just get started. Don't be afraid to try things out and see what works for you. And even if you are earning only a small amount of money at first, that will get you one step closer to your financial goals.

Kevin Ha is a former attorney–turned writer, blogger, and side hustler. He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, StarTribune, CNBC, Marketwatch, and other media publications. In 2019, Kevin quit his job to pursue self-employment and his side hustles full time. You can read his work at www.financialpanther.com, where he writes about personal finance, financial independence, and side hustling in the gig economy.

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