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'Microjobs': Quick extra cash

A number of websites offer links to one-time or short-term employment. Some of the work pays surprisingly well.

By Donna_Freedman May 24, 2012 2:23PM
Image: Laundry (© Somos Images/Corbis/Corbis)According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 25% of the 16- to 19-year-old population is employed. In some places even the part-time fast-food jobs are snared by adults who are anxious to find work of any kind.

If Junior can't find a job, maybe he should look for a so-called microjob.

Whether you're a student home for the summer or an unemployed adult, sites like Fancy Hands and Agent Anything can hook you up with short-term or one-time gigs.

More-specialized gigs, such as writing and Web design, can be sought on sites like eLance and vWorker. Companies like Fiverr and Gigbucks let you offer your skills (whether savvy or silly) for hire.

Somebody out there wants you to pet-sit, deliver cupcakes, set up booths at trade shows, test video games, walk a dachschund, build a website, pick up dry cleaning or do countless other chores or errands. Poking around on a site called TaskRabbit, I found that people were paid to do things like:
  • Take two or three loads of laundry to the laundromat and return it clean and folded ($23).
  • Make sure an electronic coupon works at a restaurant ($12 plus free lunch).
  • Remove and discard packing materials from 30 small boxes, flatten the boxes and walk them downstairs to a recycling bin (up to $29).
That last was "up to" because it hadn't been completed yet. The site provides a price range that potential workers use to bid on projects.

Who needs a microjob?

Look around on Craigslist, too. That's where freelance writer Becky Blanton found a $50 job helping a college student load his belongings into a truck (it took 20 minutes). She also landed a $60-an-hour gig speaking into a recorder for a company designing voice recognition software.

"It takes some searching, but there are always one-hour, one-day or short-term, pays-in-cash jobs there," Blanton says.

Depending on the number of jobs you have time for and the pay rate you command, you might be able to make a living at this. Abigail R. Gehring, the author of "Odd Jobs: How to Have Fun and Make Money in a Bad Economy," says short-term employment has its advantages.

"Usually you decide when you work and when you take the morning off to sleep, or the week off to go skiing," she writes. "And the variety of people you will meet, places you'll find yourself and skill sets you'll discover are sure to keep life interesting."

That flexibility makes the microjob a good bet for at-home parents, the underemployed, retirees who want to bring in a little extra and people who already have jobs but want to earn extra money for specific goals.

Making the everyday pay

You might even get paid to do what you were doing anyway. New York City artist Jenny Elfar, who works at home, takes dog-boarding jobs. She's caring for her own pooch, so why not care for other dogs from time to time?

"It's not that much more work. I'm making $20 to do the walk and take another dog," says Elfar, who signed up with DogVacay.

A few tips to keep in mind:
  • Make a note of it. Keep written or electronic notes of all jobs, so you don't offer to work a trade fair on the same day you'd already committed to pack Father's Day gifts for an e-commerce site.
  • Keep an open mind. A category that sounds like a no-go could actually be a good fit. "Grocery delivery" might summon up an image of four or five heavy bags. But one advertised job was to buy and deliver bananas, milk, a box of cereal, an avocado and a container of salad. Someone earned $23 to do this.
  • Think ahead. Booked solid for the next week? Great. But what about the week after that? Set aside a little time each day to search for enough work to keep you busy all summer (or beyond).
  • Be realistic. Allow enough time to do the job right. Otherwise you won't get much more work. (Some sites allow previous employers to rate/recommend workers.)
Incidentally, these part-time gigs could be one way to test a business idea. A few months' worth of part-time gigging can help you determine whether there's a market for your service and to hone your business plan.

More on MSN Money:

Oct 16, 2012 1:43PM

A lot of great options here for sure - this is going to be one of the most interesting things to see where it all leads in the coming years IMO.  This rogue-freelancer, micro job market has grown tremendously very quickly and is still on the way up.  I wonder if a "Facebook-like" monster will join the fracas and push all these small players out for good or if it will continue to be one of the wider current markets?  I'm certainly very intrigued to see where this all leads as I'm a user of many of these sites - trying to scrape together an income with all means possible is challenging to say the least, but it leads to great satisfaction in the end!  I could list all the sites I use currently, but I'm afraid that list would be a tad long :)  I can say that I enjoy and do well on there and also a few of the smaller sites provide me with good income.  I'm currently a big fan of as they're one of the only places where I don't have to "pay the house" any of my hard-earned money and the sites works well and looks nice.  The big thing is there has to be buyers on these sites and a lot of them lack that entirely, but on Fiverr and Tenrr, there are plenty of people willing to buy my jobs - so long as they catch their eye!  OK, I've gone on a bit long - thanks for the article and am excited to see where this entire market goes...

Dec 3, 2012 2:44PM
I got into Mystery Shopping. It is a great way to make a little extra money. There are no fees to deal directly with the various companies. I can work when and where I want. They do not pay for gas but bundling assignments makes it more lucrative. After each job assignment there is a report to complete. I've learned which assignments have the longest reports and try to avoid them. Bonuses are frequently given to take a job no one wants. It is fun and I get to go to some interesting places. It works well for me as I am still needed for "Grandma duty", sometimes with no prior notice. To find companies I did a search for "mystery shopping". Lots of things came up. After one company gets your name they must share with other companies. I have had many offers to sign-up with certain companies. It doesn't pay a big bundle, just enough to help ease the end-of-the-month pinch.
May 25, 2012 9:43AM
Micro jobs are going to be the future trend even for big boys, simple rule split your services to small. Your win or lose is going to be captured totally based on your splitting of skills to micro skills.

I have some sites which helps me to gain more in this area. for micro jobs. for all time projects. yet quick stuff to run around.
Elance is going to be my all time favourite.
Aug 1, 2014 9:03PM
I've been using  for the past month for my micro jobs and it's been great. They have a great system all together, I would recommend it to anyone who got an extra 10 mins. to earn some money.
May 23, 2014 8:09PM
Great article.They're so many of these micro job websites nowadays and it's definitely important to know the ones which are worth the time to try.I have had success with some,little to none with others which has to do with the type of job one posts as well as the traffic the freelance site gets.The ones I've made money on for sure are then there is as well as and along with which from my experience are all worth a try.
Sep 13, 2013 6:01PM
I prefer, I got 65 orders in just first 2 months, thats a big achievement for me! Also did you people check their new look? Its incredible. Take a look, you would love SEOClerks!
Dec 13, 2012 12:37AM
avatar is a good place to do microjobs
Feb 13, 2013 5:29PM
Micro Jobs are the way to go! You need to check out this Canadian micro job community. The site is simply impressive. Live chat support. SSL secured. Commission structure is between 18% and 5% which means as a freelancer I will make more money :) on each Job I post and I can post Jobs up to $450 dollars. Great site! Check it out.
Aug 14, 2014 4:11AM
TaskGigs:  is an example of a great site to make an easy and fast extra cash. This is a new quality site with thousands of workers and buyers. Very low cost, as a virtual assistant, for example, starts from $3.50.
Jul 22, 2014 7:55PM
I've been using and fiverr lately, both seem to be pretty good.
Apr 17, 2014 8:02AM
I have found some more microjobs and freelancing site and also
Oct 29, 2013 9:11AM
what do you think about this kind of site : 
Oct 24, 2013 5:59PM

Why you didn’t mention in this list, it should be on top! I’ve been using SEOClerks for years and have made a lot of extra cash, got to level X, and have consistent revenue. This site is amazing and highly recommended! OR you can say the only capable competitor of Fiverr.

Jul 1, 2013 7:44PM
what about
Jun 20, 2013 10:01PM
Micro job sites allow you to sell your micro jobs for fixed prices on a secure platform. The range of this fixed pricing varies for most sites.   We just launched MicroJobsListings. Please feel free to visit us and any suggestion or comments will be really appreciated. Thank you.
Jul 10, 2012 2:46PM
Amazon's Mechanical Turk is also a good one to try. The frequency of surveys may be a bit tedious at first, but I try to complete 2-3 a day (usually when I'm bored at work, like now lol) and it adds up.
May 26, 2012 7:24PM
Uh, I suppose it depends on where you live, but I always find that half the ads in the 'Gigs' section on Craigslist now are for some kind of club dancing/adult film.  If you have the patience to sift through that, go right ahead.
Apr 18, 2013 1:25AM
You can create and post your own gigs, whatever you're good at and charge what you want on - a great site for microjobs and gigs. Good seller's are automatically rewarded with free featured status, that comes with many benefits.
Oct 2, 2012 3:13PM
Interesting article but I like in how they are targeting professional services from freelancers not tackyness. Bluegig should really be getting mentions in many places.
May 29, 2012 5:14PM
Fancy Hands requires you to pay a subscription fee, and Agent Anything is for college students only.  So, this article is a waste of time.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.