Tips for Winning in the Gig Economy From Taskrabbit’s CEO

An image to accompany a story about TaskRabbit Courtesy of TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit CEO Ania Smith, who took the helm in August 2020, says the platform can be “a lifeline” for people who need to rely on the gig economy during turbulent economic times.
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If you’re looking for a way to make money on the side, it might be time to ride the gig economy wave.

“The pandemic really made people rethink priorities,” says Ania Smith, the CEO of Taskrabbit, a freelance work platform that helps consumers hire locally to get help with everyday tasks. She says the pandemic pause caused people to re-evaluate how they spend and value their time.

Meanwhile, many corporations are initiating pullback initiatives and headcount reductions to brace for a potential recession. 91% of CEOs say they’re planning cost reduction strategies, according to a survey of 1,300 respondents recently conducted by KPMG, a global consulting firm. 

When times get tough, many people lean on gig economy platforms to make ends meet in the interim, and some discover they love the flexibility. Taskrabbit’s U.S. contractors, known as Taskers, make an average of $48 per hour, though the range varies by location, according to a fact sheet provided by the company.

Taskrabbit might be a perfect fit for you to explore a side hustle or something more, and top Taskers have tips on what to focus on initially to set yourself up for success. We interviewed them and Smith on how to tackle the gig economy headfirst; here is what they had to say.

“I’m Always Getting Hired”

Founded in 2008, Taskrabbit was acquired by home furnishings megabrand IKEA in 2017. Taskers create profiles showcasing their skills and can set their own rates, and users can browse and book Taskers on an hourly basis to help with manual labor tasks around the house.

“As a gig economy platform, we emerged as a lifeline for people who needed to make money during this crisis that lasted for a very long time,” says Smith. “People staying at home wanted to make their home more comfortable. We were able to be there to provide help, which was fantastic for clients who wanted to save time.” Smith notes that the pandemic has driven up both Tasker and user interest.

“There’s always work to be done, so I’m always getting hired,” says Christina Aspa, a Phoenix-based Tasker who left her day job in 2020 to go full-time with the app. When Aspa was part time, she averaged about $1,000 a month working “between the hours of four and eight o’clock in the evening, a couple days a week.” She now makes closer to $5,000 a month by making herself available full time, which includes both recurring Taskrabbit clients and word-of-mouth referrals from past jobs.

For some, the gig economy was such a good fit they elected to move to a bigger city to pursue more opportunities.

“I started doing Taskrabbit initially because I was in a really tough spot in my life,” says Vanessa Garcia, an actress based in Los Angeles who works about five hours a week as a Tasker. In 2019, Garcia was working as a personal assistant in San Diego when her boss abruptly cut her hours in half. “I was literally working for my friends, doing little gigs here and there. They knew I was struggling, and a friend of a friend told me how you can get booked for building furniture.” After building up her profile in San Diego, Garcia relocated to Los Angeles to increase her gigs and raise her rates. 

“I decided to just jump on in and see what it was about, because I didn’t really believe that you could get paid for that stuff,” she says. “I needed more money. It started little by little, mostly on the weekends, and then it became more than just a weekend gig.”

How to Stand Out in an Increasingly Saturated Market

Taskrabbit welcomed 100,000 new Taskers to the platform in the last year across new and existing markets, according to Smith’s LinkedIn announcement. As the app gains popularity, Taskers face more competition, and some newbies struggle to find their footing.

“It’s a really tough hurdle to get over for new Taskers, especially when the market is pretty saturated in a lot of the metro areas now,” says Aspa. “When IKEA took over the majority share of Taskrabbit, they opened up in all the metros where an IKEA store exists.” 

“We spend a lot of time internally thinking about how to help brand new Taskers on the platform,” says Smith, when pressed about job reviews being an obstacle for newbies. “There’s a lot that we do to make sure they are very visible on the platform. We see that those who come onto the platform and are quick to get their first task are more likely to stay.”

”There are a lot of things we do today on the platform that can help them be successful, as they log on for the first time and get that first task behind them.” Smith says this support includes walkthroughs on how to set up categories and scheduling, as well as opportunities to get in touch with Taskrabbit tech support directly.

Prioritize reviews at first

Taskrabbit lets Taskers set their own rates, and the app guides them using tools that show what others in a given market are charging. It can be tempting to set your rates in line with or above the market, but if you’re new, both the company and experienced Taskers recommend undercutting the competition at first to get successful jobs and testimonials under your belt.

“I think one of the biggest mistakes [is that] a lot of people who have no reviews, they’ll do like one or two tasks, and then they double or triple their prices,” says Garcia. “And then all of a sudden, they’re like, ‘Why am I not getting hired?’” Garcia notes that, on Taskrabbit, the number of jobs you’ve completed is shown on your profile, giving an advantage to those who prioritize volume and have booked lots of gigs on the platform.

“I put myself into a client’s headspace,” she says. “If I’m going to hire someone, well, I want a little bit of backup to make sure that I’m paying the right price for the right person. If you don’t have anything to show, it’s harder to get booked. If you want to be making $60 an hour, you can, but you have to work up to it. That being said, I don’t believe any Tasker should start with $15 an hour.” Taskers take home 100% of their hourly rate and 100% of tips given by clients, per the previously mentioned company fact sheet.

Pro Tip

On Taskrabbit, your reviews will stay with you for the life of your profile. Taskers with lots of reviews project experience and trustworthiness. Consider setting your rates slightly below the market average at first to have an easier time booking initial jobs and getting testimonials.

The Most Lucrative Skills on Taskrabbit

According to Taskrabbit’s support page, the most popular skills on the platform right now include:

  • Cleaning.
  • Delivery.
  • Errands.
  • Furniture assembly.
  • Help with moving.
  • Mounting.
  • Shopping.
  • Yard work and removal.

“I have a lot of different skills listed on the platform, but the ones that I get hired for mostly are mounting,” says Aspa. “Hanging curtains, hanging your TV on the wall, art, anything that goes on a wall, I get a lot of that. Also interior painting. I do a lot of those two things.” Aspa emphasizes that clients are hiring you to come to their home, and encourages setting up a welcoming profile that can make a good first impression. 

“Make sure that their profile photo is very inviting, like someone you would want to have come into your house to help you do something,” she says.

Dip Your Toe in the Gig Economy

Whether you’re curious about the gig economy, or need an immediate solution in the face of a layoff, platforms like Taskrabbit have a low barrier of entry and can help you make more money each month.

“I think the biggest thing that I always tell everyone about is the flexibility that the app offers,” says Garcia. “There’s no “must do” in order to stay on the app. You don’t need to meet a quota. If you want to be making some money on the side, I think this is amazing, because you can work the hours that you want.”

As for the woman at the helm of the company, Smith walks the talk.

“We booked this interview last-minute, so I have a Tasker here today, right now, painting a wall in my son’s bedroom.”