A very good,and very long, article by Sarah Kessler in FastCompany examined the realities of doing tasks for TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Uber etc. She found that making a living in the “gig-economy” is not easy at all.
For 4 weeks she tried to make money by using all the sharing economy services she could – from walking dogs, tutoring kids, and delivering packages to wrapping gifts.
It’s an excellent piece of journalism.
Along the way she experienced a lot of weird and worrying situation and she got a first hand view of what life is like when you surviving from one small gig to another.
Anyone interested in the collaborative economy should be aware that there is a very harsh competetive economy alongside the warm and friendly sharing of resources among people who have something to spare.
Here are a couple of quotes from Sarah Kesslers article, Pixel and Dimed – on (not) getting byin the sharing economy:
“Because of the way TaskRabbit works, job posters can easily find the people willing to work for the least amount of money. A user with the screen-name BaubleBar (the name of an online jewelry vendor that has raised $6 million to date) creates a task for $40. "We need 10 TaskRabbits to help us pack and check the quality of merchandise, and add labels to merchandise tags," it says. "PLEASE NOTE: We cannot allow frequent cell phone use during this task, so if you need to be on your phone often, this is not the task for you. This job will take approximately 8 hours. From 8am to 4pm."
“Setting up a full day of gigs--or even a gig in a target free period--isn't easy, and it often takes as much effort as applying for a regular economy job. I get rejected from about five tasks for every one I win. Sometimes I hold spots in my calendar that I could fill with other tasks for jobs I've bid on but haven't heard from. I'm essentially competing for every hour of my employment.
Even if I land a gig with a decent hourly wage, it typically looks like nothing once I factor in the time spent looking for jobs and commuting between them. Despite the oft-repeated promise of the gig economy, in fact I have no control over when I work, because the only way to get gigs is to be available sporadically and often without much notice. For example, the only people who respond to my DogVacay profile want a dog sitter over Christmas, when I am also out of town”.
“I have come to realize that one of the cruel ironies of the gig economy is that even though it's geared almost exclusively to serve urban markets, the kind of densely packed cities where space is at a premium, one needs a car to have a shot at the cream of the work that's available. Even worse, the universe of gig economy startups is mostly relying on young people and others who are underemployed--exactly the people whom are least likely to be able to afford a car in a city. Or have an extra bedroom. Or a parking space. Or designer clothes. Or handyman skills”.