In the spirit of making money, I think its high-time we start diversifying the ways we do it! You can have SEVERAL side-hustles going on at the same time. In fact, some of the most successful solo entrepreneurs I know make as much money as they do because the know how to leverage their time effectively! When we begin to consider ways to amplify the value we create, our perspective on how we can make money changes. My hope is that this blog post does that for you, not only by showing you three simple ways to make money from your phone, but also framing it with sound economic thought.
I want to be especially clear that these aren’t apps that I use to make money. I do not enjoy leisurely walking around grocery stores and, if I use to my time effectively, I can make a lot more than these apps pay. But that doesn’t mean that they are bad or even that they aren’t worth your time, because everyone has a different life and we need to respect each individual’s decision for how they choose to make money.
As always, my goal here is to supply information and let you make the decision. Unfortunately, none of these services have an affiliate program so I won’t be getting any money from the businesses if you choose to sign-up.
EasyShift: Make Money Taking Pictures on Your Phone
EasyShift is the first app I found when I began looking for ways I could make money only using my phone. It sounds great- in my area, they posted three “shifts” (what they call the tasks they require you to perform to get paid), all at grocery stores. The were paying about between $15-20 when the job was all said and done (they have a scaling pay structure that pays you more per photo requires, hence the variance) and, based on reading the reviews, it should take about 45 minutes to complete any task, on average. In this specific instance, it was taking a phone of every beverage aisle and display.
Choosing the Right Shifts
At a large department store, this might take up to an hour, but at a small niche store, it could be done in as little as 15 minutes. As I began to read the FAQ and reviews, it became very obvious to me that the devil is in the details. EasyShift has A LOT of bad reviews, all mirroring the same complaints: 1. It takes too much time and 2. you aren’t guaranteed to get paid after you submit a shift.
Part of this is stupid thinking on the part of the user- they are still caught up in the “trading time for money” mentality. They think that EasyShift is paying them to walk about and take pictures. Wrong. They are paying them to supply correct data. That is going to be a big theme in this article- you are essentially a contracted out human-robot. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, it matters that it’s right.
With those rules in place, it becomes very easy to develop a winning strategy in the game: that being one of minimizing time and maximizing profit by hitting up on the smallest stores and not wasting time on tasks that are either too far away or too difficult. Does that remove some of the convenience from this app? Sure. But I still think that it’s a great way for people in mid to large-size metropolitan areas to make as much as $100 a day on their side hustle.
PROS: Easy to sign up, not a lot of thinking involved, pays relatively quickly after shift has been accepted.
CONS: A lot of people think that they don’t pay enough for how much work is asked as well as complaining about their shifts being denied. I am inclined to believe that these people are just shitheads.
Gigwalk appeared to be another very popular option. When I downloaded the app, it took about two minutes to get my account up and running. The setup is similar to EasyShift where you see a map of possible jobs and select them- the difference with Gigwalk is that you need to apply for these jobs instead of reserving them. I also noticed that in my area (and most of the Midwest) there weren’t as many options as EasyShift. It also seemed that the option in my area paid less. So far, I would conservatively estimate that both of these apps can earn you about $15/hr on your own terms, although I’ve seen reviews of people making $500/day when they stack promotional bonuses that companies like this will occasionally run.
Gamifying Data Collection
The main goal of these companies seems to be gamifying data collection so that makes sense. Again, I want to STRESS that you are not being paid to drive around and take pictures, you are being paid to collect data, the way you collect that data is inconsequential to the goal of the company. When we begin thinking like this, we have a much clearer vision of what these companies expect and if it’s really something that is worth our time. For someone who lives near these, has a lot of downtime in different parts of any given city (uber drivers, perhaps), or enjoys product merchandising, using all of these apps could easily give you a $1000+/month side income. Based on my years of helping people perfect their side-hustles, I know a lot of you are looking for just that.
Pros: Wider array of tasks to complete
Cons: Smaller payout, tasks seem to be either very densely located or none at all. Interestingly enough, there were over 750 in Nashville alone, so maybe that’s a PRO for you.
Field Agent took the longest to sign up (still only about 3 or 4 minutes) because I had to take a brief survey about certain aspects of my life. Just simple stuff like my age, where I lived, if I was married, etc… Nothing that requires braid power.
When I got to the “jobs” portion of the app, Field Agent seems to have the most diverse section of tasks you can complete- whereas both EasyShift and Gigwalk were mostly focused on having me go somewhere, take pictures based on a set of rules, and then upload them in the correct format, the first job I checked out ton Field Agent was to “Buy, Try, and Share” my experience with Bud Light Seltzer or “slightly diluted water” as we call it in my house. They give you $5 plus a partial reimbursement (about $5.25 for a 12 pack) so, while this is technically making money, it’s more like a $10 coupon (unless you plan on selling the seltzer you just bought, which is probably illegal so my official recommendation on that is “don’t”).
Types of Tasks Field Agent Asks You To Complete
They seem to break up their tasks into 5 main categories: Mystery Shop, Audit, Buy and Try (and sometimes Buy and Try and Share), and Survey. I think a lot of people get excited about making money taking surveys online, so maybe that appeals to them, but I want to be painfully clear when I say that no company focused on making money gives two shits about the opinion of someone who spends all day taking surveys. It’s nothing personal, those just aren’t typical consumers. Could you end up making over $100/day using these three apps? Yes, absolultey. Should you? I don’t know, that’s up to you.
I have a few thoughts about this that I think you might like to hear. Firstly, this is not a scam. There are people out there who leave reviews saying its a scam, but they’re just angry that they didn’t follow all the rules or that it didn’t meet their expectations. Go into this with low expectations and only take the tasks that are too simple to screw up (rather than sorting by value) and I think you’ll find yourself making $10-$20/hour. However, you also have to consider the opportunity cost of the time as well as the expenses associated with your travel to and from the locations.
If I were to advise someone on how to make the most money while they shop, it wouldn’t be using just ONE app, but rather using a whole litany of avenues, including rebate apps like Ibotta, looking for coupons and rebates that can be stacked in-store, and seeing where if you can go to areas to shop that are more likely to have a higher density of task options so you can potentially hit up 3 stores on the same street rather than driving 80 miles a day to complete the same amount of tasks (this time them being scattered around town).
I would say that the higher the app advertises its pay, the higher the likelihood that you have issues with their acceptance criteria or the amount of work assigned. The fact that there are so many options out that that provide a very similar user experience signals to me that the meat on the bone is being gnawed away more and more with each successive wave of startups who can “improve” upon the process. More automation, more granular data, and more emphasis on real-time data is going to make this seem less and less appealing to the hobbyist. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, it’s just how I see it shaking down.
I hope you enjoyed this brief write up! Instead of just re-writing the FAQ the way I’ve seen so many reviews of these apps handle an article like this, I tried to take you a bit deeper into the economics behind the kind of apps that pay you to shop! I hope you enjoyed it because I enjoy helping you make money!