TL;DR: Working a side hustle doesn’t mean you have to drive a car, install shelves, or serve tables. Some “micro”/local gig apps make it easy to earn quick cash right in your neighborhood. And it could just involve you snapping a few photos of a nearby storefront.
Photographing shelves >>> installing them?
You already know the popular forms of gig work: driving for Uber and Lyft, assembling furniture for TaskRabbit, or designing logos via Fiverr. These freelance gigs can add up to part-time — or even unofficially full-time — work.
In addition to those, there are lesser-known apps that offer “micro” or local gigs you can do when you have some spare, scattered hours. Those gigs include: “secret” shopper; photographing the shelves of a store; photographing the exterior of a business; verifying business hours; hosting storage; inspecting a car, property, or equipment; product or website testing; and acting as an in-town courier.
With gigs that involve photographing a storefront or a Sprite display at a grocery store, the underlying reason might not be immediately obvious. Companies ask for these kinds of tasks to confirm that repairs or landscaping work has been done, or that their products are arranged according to a marketing plan agreed upon between them and the store. A third-party might need someone to photograph and assess a car that’s for sale online before they buy it.
Because some tasks can be done in just a few minutes (like snapping photos of a sign) the pay can be low, to the tune of $3 per task. Assignments that require more time and experience (like examining a boat for sale) can pay more, up to $100 and beyond. Since many of them have to be done in person, the availability of work and assignments will vary depending on where you’re located in the US. Interested? Check out apps, platforms, and websites like Gigwalk, WeGoLook, Airtasker, iVueit, and EasyShift.
Make this work *work* for you
Before you get too deep into any one app, find out what each one specializes in and how that matches up with what you can — and want — to do. Some apps might offer more courier assignments, which could work well if you know great shortcuts for zipping across town. Meanwhile, others might offer the retail display assessment work you’ve always wanted to try — and at shops you know like the back of your hand.
Read the reviews in the App Store and on Google Play. Search for the app names in Reddit to find out what people are saying about them. You might find some posts warning about shady business practices within some apps, like offering a micro gig and canceling it after the worker has completed it — and denying them their cash.
Going micro: How to get started
If you’re downloading a micro or local gig app, you’re probably going to need an iPhone or Android running a somewhat recent operating system. Your phone should also be in good working condition, since you might be taking photos, navigating via GPS, and communicating with customers.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to sign up, verify your email, and fill out some information about yourself. Questions could include whether you can lift 30 pounds, if you can speak Spanish, have a valid driver’s license, and if you’re a Costco member. Your answers can help pair you with certain jobs, like secret shopper gigs, so answer honestly.
Next, you’ll see a map showing micro gigs available in your area. For each gig, you’ll see what it is, like “get the name and contact info of a property manager,” “rate a shopping experience,” or “auditing” a certain product in a store, which means reporting on how many there are and how they’re displayed. It will show how far away from you the gig is, how long it should take, and how much this micro gig pays. If it’s a super low rate, like $7.50, you’ll have to ask yourself if it’s really worth your time. But if it’s truly fast and easy for you, that micro pay can cover the sandwich you were going to buy anyway, which is not nothing!
Some apps only pay by PayPal or another P2P payment platform. Others will require you to have a checking or savings account to receive direct deposit payments. Before you do any work, make sure the app’s payment method aligns with your financial setup and preferences. And as always, verify if there are any registration fees and get clarity on how long it takes to get paid. Timeframes can range from a next-day turnaround to more than a week.
Not that simple…
Some gigs are more specialized and time-consuming than others. For example, you may find an opportunity to assess a car, boat, or RV. These go beyond just taking photos, and would require you, for example, to verify the condition of the tires. Other local gigs are more performative and event-based, like the roles you might find on Gigsalad, which range from dressing up as Santa to playing the violin in a public space to working at a mobile spa. If your resume doesn’t match the experience needed, don’t accept the gig.
There are other kinds of quality assurance (QA) jobs that don’t require you to necessarily photograph the sidewalk in front of a 7-Eleven. These QA jobs can be done remotely and may entail testing the functionality of software, websites, and apps before they’re available to the public. For these types of gigs, you’ll need a good phone or laptop, plus a stable internet connection. These gigs aren’t always as one-and-done as being a courier; if you find a glitch, you might need to submit further photo or video evidence of it and assist the company’s engineers with recreating the bug.
When to say no to micro
If you’re looking for more hourly work, these micro-gig apps probably won’t be a good use of your time. If you’d rather bartend or work the check-in desk at a hotel — or if taking photos of shops has inspired you to work in retail — there are different apps for that. We even wrote a whole guide to picking up extra shifts. Start there for some essential money-making tips.