The Best Gig Apps: Explore Top Platforms by Skill Set

The Best Gig Apps: Explore Top Platforms by Skill Set

The way the modern labor market thinks about work has changed. Workers are reimagining what careers can look like with gig economy apps and freelancing platforms. These apps let you choose the path you want to take. You can make the most of your skills and offer them directly to clients. Decide how much and when you work doing what you love, and these apps take care of everything from finding jobs to accepting payment.

Statista researchers estimate by 2027, independent professionals like freelancers, gig workers, and small business owners will make up 50.9% of the total U.S. workforce.

The traditional idea of working in the office from 9 to 5 is no longer the only acceptable option. If you want to earn extra income, you have more choices beyond who is hiring in your local area. Gig apps give you access to work at your fingertips, whether you want to market your skills to clients as a freelancer after work or pick up a side gig delivering food between classes.

If you're looking to break into the gig economy, we'll go over the best gig apps and the different types of platforms. You can work on demand or start building a business.

Table of contents

Ride-sharing apps

Ride-sharing apps were among the first on-demand gig platforms to become popular. All you need to become a driver in the U.S. is to meet some minimum requirements like having a valid driver's license and an insured car, and passing a background check. You may need to take an exam or driving test in certain countries and cities.

Ride-sharing apps let you work whenever you want, and make finding customers easy. You don't have to drive around waiting for someone to hail a taxi. All you have to do is turn on the app when you're available, and you can start accepting riders and earning money.

Ride-sharing apps are on-demand gig work, meaning you don't have to market your services. The app assigns riders to you when you turn your availability on. As a driver, you can earn feedback and tips from riders, which impacts your earnings on the platform's algorithm. The app may prioritize drivers with better reviews and assign them more riders, especially for those who also have positive feedback.

Ride-sharing platforms tend to be competitive when it comes to driver pay. Choosing which app to drive for may depend on where you live and what app is the most popular. You can sign up for a few driving apps and test them out to see which one you earn more on.

1. Uber

Uber was the first rideshare platform to take off in the U.S. The company launched in San Francisco in 2010. Today, Uber operates in over 10,000 cities all over the world and has partnerships with over 700 airports for drop-off and pickup services.

Each city has its own requirements for vehicles. Check and see if your car is eligible to drive. If you don't have a car (or don't want to use yours), you can rent a car to use while driving through Uber.

2. Lyft

In San Francisco, cars with fuzzy pink mustaches started taking over the streets as Lyft launched in 2012. Lyft drivers attached fuzzy, bright pink mustaches to their cars so riders could easily find them. Today, drivers can add a sticker or light-up sign, but the company’s retired their signature pink mustaches.

Lyft is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada. Lyft has partnerships with over 300 airports for drop-offs and pickups. See if your car meets the requirements, or you can use a rental through Lyft Express Drive.

3. Regional favorites

Check and see what rideshare apps are most used in your area. Some cities and countries don’t allow foreign rideshare companies to operate locally. Instead, those looking for a ride may use traditional taxi services or an independent rideshare app.

Europe:

Asia:

South and Central America:

Africa:

Food delivery apps

Food-delivery apps are similar to ride-sharing. They let you earn money driving, but delivering food or groceries instead of people. Food delivery service isn't just for cars; depending on the app and where you live, you can use a car, scooter, bike, or even walk. The apps aren't as strict about your mode of transportation since you don't have passengers.

As a food delivery driver, you can turn your availability on when you want to start picking up food orders. The platform will tell you which restaurants or grocery stores to go to, and they should have the groceries or meals ready by the time you arrive. Scan the app on your phone or use the company card, grab the order, and then drive it to the customer.

Some gig workers prefer food delivery over ride-sharing because you don't have to stay in the car the whole time. You have opportunities to walk when you go to restaurants or stores and make deliveries. If you want to also deliver groceries, you may be able to pick up pre-shopped orders or do the shopping yourself and earn even more.

Most food delivery service platforms have similar pay structures. Drivers earn a base amount for each order and can then earn tips from customers. The base amount is based on how far they have to drive, time spent at the restaurant, and the overall service demand. Some platforms offer additional incentives and pay more during peak hours.

When evaluating food delivery apps, you'll want to find the most popular in your area. Some gig workers use more than one app to increase the number of orders they get—this is called multi-apping.

DoorDash

On DoorDash, you can start delivering food using your car, scooter, motorcycle, or bike as long as you pass the basic requirements, like having a driver's license and background check. After your first successful "Dash," the company will provide you with a food-warming bag and red card. The red card is how you pay for non-pre-paid customer orders and doesn’t connect to your bank account or earnings.

DoorDash is available in cities across the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico.

GrubHub

You can deliver food on GrubHub using your car or bike (in select cities only). Like DoorDash, you'll receive a free warming bag after your first successful GrubHub delivery. GrubHub is available in over 4,000 cities across all 50 states.

You can use the block scheduling feature (once you meet the criteria) to help guarantee you'll make a minimum amount during your pre-booked shift.

Uber Eats

Uber and Uber Eats are the same app for drivers. If you meet the requirements, you can do both gigs. When you want to work, you can check which service has more demand.

Uber is stricter about the type of car you have, while on Uber Eats, you can use any 2-door or 4-door car, bike, or scooter, or you can even walk, depending on your location. You don't need a driver's license unless you’re using a motor vehicle, just a government-issued I.D., which is a great option for those who don't drive.

Uber Eats is available in cities across the U.S. and over 45 countries globally.

Postmates

Uber acquired Postmates in 2020. Any new drivers wanting to deliver through Postmates will need to use the Uber Eats app. Drivers on Postmates can use their car, bike, scooter, or walk (depending on location) to deliver food, groceries, and other goods to customers.

Postmates is available in over 500 cities worldwide and may be more popular than Uber Eats, depending on where you live.

Instacart

Instacart focuses on grocery shopping and delivery. Instacart offers full-service and in-service shopping options. Full-service shoppers fulfill and deliver shopping orders. They go to the grocery store, pick out items the customer ordered, message them for any substitutions, and deliver the order. In-store shoppers don’t offer delivery and only package the orders for pickup.

Shoppers use the Instacart payment card to pay for the order. Instacart is available in 14,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Regional Favorites

Compared to driving, food delivery apps tend to be more localized. The available apps can vary from city to city. You'll want to check to see what customers use where you live.

While you may only have one or two rideshare driving apps to choose from, food delivery can have more options. Smaller apps can compete with the larger ones in the food delivery space through restaurant partnerships.

Popular platforms globally:

Freelance job platforms

Freelancing lets you offer a specific skill to your clients, from highly technical programming to creative illustration. It can be a side hustle or your full-time job if you can build a steady workload and demand for your skills. Freelancing platforms let talent market their services, and clients post projects, while also facilitating payment, disputes, and communication. Working on a platform offers protections for both the freelancer and the client.

As a freelancer, you can work remotely and focus on work that you enjoy—your niche. Set your own hours and choose the projects that you work on. Freelancing is becoming more popular both as a side gig and as an alternative to a traditional 9 to 5 job. Over 39% of the U.S. workforce freelanced in 2022.

Depending on the platform, you can work on hourly or fixed-price jobs. You can set your rate and decide how much you want to charge clients for different skills. Some skills are in higher demand than others, but as you gain experience and become an expert at what you do, you can start charging more. The Hourly Rates Guide can give you an idea of the market rate for different skills on Upwork.

Deciding what freelancing site to use will likely come down to the quality and types of jobs available, as well as the overall user experience.

Upwork

Freelancers on Upwork earned over $3.8 billion in 2022 across 10,000 skills and over 125 categories. On Upwork, you can submit proposals to projects that clients post on the Talent Marketplace™ or list your services on Project Catalog™ and let the clients come to you.

Over 30% of the Fortune 100 use Upwork to find independent professionals. This allows freelancers to send proposals and accept offers for a wide variety of projects to keep the work interesting as they develop new skills.

Clients can pay freelancers hourly or per project. Hourly contracts have payment protection, and freelancers can track their hours using the desktop app. When working on fixed-price projects, the client fully funds the project in escrow before the freelancer starts. Funds are released after the client approves or 14 days pass, whichever comes first.

Upwork freelancers can also benefit from AI tools and features powered by Uma™, Upwork’s Mindful AI. Uma is ready to be your companion through every leg of your freelance journey, from writing your proposals (Proposal Tips) to completing your jobs more efficiently (Upwork Chat Pro, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4).

Uma has been customized with proprietary data from the Upwork marketplace and, in the coming months, will be fine-tuned so that it can increasingly meet your needs in a rapidly changing market. Uma uses its training from data on the Upwork marketplace and pairs that with your specific goals, history, and experience to develop on-demand support tailored to your needs.

All you have to do to get started on Upwork is create your free account. Fill out your profile and then submit proposals to projects that are a good fit for your skills.

Fiverr

Fiverr started as a gig platform for smaller transactions, like creating a logo for just $5, which is where the name comes from. Today, freelancers can sell their services for a fixed price, offering different tiers of service and cost. Fiverr charges a 20% service fee to freelancers.

When you list your service as a seller (freelancer), you let the buyer (client) know what you need from them beforehand. Once they pay for the service, the funds are released to you after delivery. The buyer can leave an optional tip afterward. While the price doesn't have to be just $5 anymore, many freelancer services are smaller and lower-cost projects.

Unlike Upwork, Fiverr only allows fixed-priced projects and doesn’t have a talent marketplace. Fiverr buyers shop for sellers' services rather than posting their projects and interviewing candidates. The platform doesn't support hourly or long-term contracts.

Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is another option for both hourly and fixed-price freelance projects. You can bid on client projects, submitting your best "pitch." If you want to freelance in person, Freelancer.com has an option for clients to post projects that require being physically at the location, like handing out flyers or doing photoshoots.

Freelancer.com has a 10% service fee for using the platform, and offers perks like payment protection. Unlike Fiverr and Upwork, independent professionals don’t have the option to market their pre-packaged fixed-price services. Freelancers have to submit bids or enter their work into contests.

Freelancer.com contests are a way for freelancers to get feedback from clients and network. Multiple freelancers can submit their work for review, but only the winning submission gets paid for the contest. Clients use this to evaluate freelancers and crowdsource.

Task and odd-job apps

Another type of gig app is for tasks and odd jobs. Many of these tasks and assignments are in-person, but you may find some virtual options. Users on these apps need help with issues like assembling furniture, moving, dog walking, and pet sitting. If you're handy and good at fixing things or putting them together, you can offer your services. Work when you have free time and choose the different types of projects you want to take on.

These platforms let you choose an hourly rate or a fixed price for different services. You can set your availability and let clients book time slots that work for you. The platform you choose may depend on what's available in your city.

TaskRabbit

Taskers on TaskRabbit can choose to offer services in over 50 categories, including contactless tasks. All you have to do is create your profile, select your skill, and set your hourly rate.

TaskRabbit charges service fees to the clients, not the taskers, so you get to keep 100% of what you charge. New Taskers must pay a one-time $25 registration fee to use the app before they can start accepting jobs.

TaskRabbit is available in over 67 cities across the U.S.

Thumbtack

On Thumbtack, you may be able to find bigger projects that take more than a day to complete. Many skilled professionals list their electrical, handyman, and general contracting services on Thumbtack for home improvement projects.

While you can do one-time projects like assembling furniture, you can also find repeat clients for house cleaning or lawn mowing. Thumbtack charges for leads and bookings, but you can decide how much you're willing to spend for each.

Thumbtack is available in all 50 states.

Rover

If you have some free time and love animals, you can earn extra cash by walking dogs and pet-sitting on Rover. Find pet owners in your neighborhood who need help taking care of their dogs, cats, and other pets during work or when they go out of town.

If you don't have a pet-friendly home, you can pet sit in the owner's home or offer walking services. Decide what you want to charge for different services, set your availability on your calendar, and start seeing what pet parents send inquiries.

Wag

Like Rover, Wag is another pet-sitting and dog-walking gig app. You get to choose what services you offer, pricing, and when you're available. You can stay at other people's homes to care for their pets or board them at your place.

Wag walkers and sitters must pass a background check, take a pet safety quiz, and can add optional endorsements from their friends, family, or colleagues to help speed up the approval process and start getting clients.

Short-term rental and hosting apps

Short-term rentals and hosting apps are ways to earn passive income in the gig economy. If you have a spare bedroom or rental property, you can make money by renting it out to travelers and vacationers. As a host, you have to maintain your rental space and get it ready between guests—but it's not a job you have to work at every day.

Short-term rental and hosting apps let you list your property and its availability. Choose a competitive and fair nightly, weekly, and monthly price for your space. You can accept guests based on the length of their stay and ratings.

Some cities have laws regarding short-term rentals. You may need to research and see what is allowed in your area before listing your property.

These platforms offer both renters and hosts more security and protection than renting to individuals directly. Hosts might have insurance through the apps in case of any damages or disputes. Guests have to verify their identity when making an account. The review system also helps to build trust. As a host, if you see many positive reviews, the guests will likely be who they say they are.

Airbnb

Travelers can book Airbnbs in over 191 countries around the world. On Airbnb, you can rent out an entire place, or just a room. This platform allows hosts to rent out shared spaces, making it popular for those who live in big cities and need a roommate.

Depending on where you live, if you have a big property, you can even think outside the box and rent out yurts, R.V.s, and other less traditional stays. Some hosts find they can make money renting out their spare rooms by the night rather than finding a long-term roommate. Listing your room or second home on Airbnb can become a profitable business.

Vrbo

Compared to Airbnb, Vrbo is stricter about the types of properties hosts can list. You can't rent out a room in your house or any shared space—only the entire home. The types of properties on Vrbo tend to be more traditional than those on Airbnb. As a host, you get to set the rules and pricing.

Vrbo is also a global platform available in over 190 countries. Some hosts choose to list their properties on both Airbnb and Vrbo to attract more bookings. Some travelers choose Vrbo for longer-term stays over Airbnb.

Couchsurfing

If you want to earn extra cash and meet people from all over the world, you can list your spare room or even your couch or air mattress on Couchsurfing. Travelers turn to Couchsurfing for an authentic and budget-friendly experience. It's an opportunity to get to know locals and is popular for shorter stays. Couchsurfing is available in over 200,000 cities across the globe.

Creative gig platforms

If you enjoy crafting and creating, you can monetize your hobbies on a creative gig platform. These types of gigs make it easier to market and sell your arts and crafts, whether it's a physical product or a digital one. It's a great way to make money doing something you love.

Creators can set up digital storefronts for customers and clients to shop. Sell whatever you want to make or accept custom requests. You can run your own small business selling your art. If you sell physical goods, keep in mind that you'll need to package and ship them out to your customers in a timely fashion.

Etsy

Instead of creating your own e-commerce website to sell your artwork and crafts, you can use Etsy as your storefront. On Etsy, you can sell your goods to people worldwide. People turn to Etsy to buy creative goods from independent creators.

As you sell more of your art, you will start getting customer feedback, which can help grow your business. You can add physical products to your shop like a handmade craft, or digital products like a planner or template. Create listings for each product with pictures and descriptions for customers to shop.

Dribbble

Dribbble is a gig platform created for digital artists to connect with clients and other creators. On Dribbble, you can freelance and find clients by searching the job boards and networking with other designers.

You can also create a portfolio to market your design services. Dribbble is a creative community with categories like animation, branding, illustration, and product design to choose from.

Patreon

Patreon is a subscription-based gig platform for creators. Anyone from podcasters to educators can create content and monetize it. Creators on Patreon earn money through exclusive paid content. Subscribers called Patrons have to pay to access their favorite creator's pages and content.

On Patreon, as a creator, you have more options for the types of content you want to offer. You could livestream and interact with your Patrons or sell limited-edition prints of your artwork.

Compared to other gig platforms, you have to build a following on Patreon and may need to advertise on social media to drive traffic to your page. Creators earn money through engagement rather than selling digital or physical products.

Tutoring and coaching apps

Another type of gig app is designed for educators and coaches. If you have a subject or software that you're an expert in, you can offer your services as a tutor. Coaching is similar to tutoring but focuses on soft skills like leadership or interviewing.

On these types of gig apps, you can find students and professionals looking for help and meet with them virtually for sessions. These platforms can make it easier to find students rather than having to advertise your services on a website or social media. They can also help you feel more secure by vetting your clients and facilitating payment.

VIPKid

Educators who have at least a bachelor's degree can help students all over the world learn English on VIPKid. Each one-on-one virtual class is 25 minutes long. VIPKid designs and develops the curriculum, which teachers can view ahead of time before each of the classes.

Teachers have to apply to become an educator on VIPKid and, after meeting the qualifications, pass a demo lesson and then a mock class with another VIPKid teacher. Once you're ready to start teaching, you can add your availability and let students begin booking your classes.

Skillshare

Instead of teaching one-on-one, on Skillshare you can film your own classes and create courses for students and professionals to learn from. You get paid every time someone watches your class, similar to royalties.

You don't have to be a teacher to create a course on Skillshare. All you have to do is apply and make sure the topic and class follow the platform’s guidelines. Once you create your class, you can earn passive income as more students take it. If you want to interact one-on-one with students, you can host live and private sessions to earn more.

Coach.me

If you want to focus on soft skills, Coach.me helps people achieve their personal and professional goals. The platform vets coaches during the application process and offers coaches training and certificates.

Habit coaches focus on helping their clients be accountable for their goals, like mindfulness, fitness, sleep, or creativity. These coaches check in daily with their clients with the messaging app. Traditional coaches meet with clients through video or phone calls and concentrate on topics like business, fitness, or even relationships.

Tips for succeeding on gig apps

Succeeding on gig apps starts with finding the right platform for your interests and lifestyle. Some apps let you work on demand, while with others you’ll need to be consistent and build your following. Think about your skills and what you enjoy doing, and see what gig apps match.

Once you're ready to start working on a gig economy app, these tips can help you succeed:

  • Craft a standout profile. Spend time optimizing your profile for the platform to attract clients and projects.
  • Gather client feedback. Many gig apps are based on feedback. Be sure to showcase positive reviews and do your best work to keep your customers and clients happy.
  • Get involved. Engage with platform communities to find leads and get support from other freelancers and gig workers.
  • Keep learning. Stay updated on platform changes that may affect algorithms or new features that you can monetize.
  • Manage client expectations. When you list your services, submit proposals, and meet with clients, make sure you set clear expectations and know the full scope of the project before accepting.
  • Find your niche. Many freelancers find success by choosing a niche and then working hard to become an expert and the go-to person for that specialty.
  • Upskill. As a freelancer, you can take courses to stay competitive, hop on new trends, and expand your service offerings to clients.
  • Diversify your services. Depending on your schedule, you may be able to work on multiple gig apps during your workweek. Use whatever app is more popular and pays more at the time.
  • Network outside the platform. You can use your personal network, social media, or blog to drive traffic to your profile and attract clients.
  • Manage your time effectively. On many gig apps, being productive helps you to earn more.
  • Mindfully budget. When freelancing or working in the gig economy, some times may be slower than others. Keep in mind that the workload may not always be steady when managing your finances.
  • Prioritize self-care. Try to take time for yourself and focus on self-care to avoid burnout. When freelancing or working in the gig economy, saying yes to every opportunity can be tempting but can lead to stress.
  • Create a manageable schedule. Be realistic about the hours you can take on without sacrificing work quality or your mental health.

Make money on Upwork

On Upwork, you can build a career doing exactly the type of work that you love. As a freelancer, you get to work when and where you want, setting your own schedule. Decide how many hours you can dedicate each week and choose the projects you say yes to.

Whether you're looking for a side hustle to earn extra income outside of your 9 to 5, or you want to try out freelancing before committing to it full-time, you can find jobs on Talent Marketplace that fit your skill set. Build relationships with clients from all over the world looking for someone just like you to help with their projects.

Upwork does not control, operate, or sponsor the tools or services discussed in this article, which are only provided as potential options. Each reader and company should take the time to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Author Spotlight

The Best Gig Apps: Explore Top Platforms by Skill Set
Cassie Moorhead
Content Writer

Cassie is a storyteller and content creator with over eight years of experience helping brands communicate to their customers through different channels. She enjoys finding new coffee shops to work from and spending time in nature with her dog, Sweeney.

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