DRIVE TIME: Uber has opened up the market for both customers and drivers.
DRIVE TIME: Uber has opened up the market for both customers and drivers. michaeljung

How to make money through the sharing economy

THERE'S a new economy happening. It has a couple of names, both indicative of its meaning.

The names refer to the same thing and have come about due to what's known as the Digital Disruption, which had come about due to the innovation of Digital Platforms.

Before we go too far into this, let's share some meaningful phrases:

Firstly, in this article we are going to be talking about the Gig Economy, in other words, about the small jobs (the gigs) you can take on for some extra cash.

Secondly, we are talking about the Sharing Economy, this term refers to job sharing. Beyond our friends and family, we can now "share", for instance, our cars and our homes or other under-utilised assets and charge for it.

Digital Platforms are the websites where the wheeling and dealing is done. Customers use the site to view products placed and services shown by a provider.

Because it is on the web, it has a huge range of visibility and reaches massive audiences. On this site a host of tasks are available, ranging from household chores and errands to high level professional projects, making freelancing accessible to anyone, regardless of skill level.

THE CHANGING WORKFORCE

A study by The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has shown as the population ages, people are also working longer.

Forty-five percent of women in Australia aged 60-64 were in the labour force in 2013, up from just 15.2% in 1993.

For men 65 and older, it's 17% - double the number from 20 years ago. But what is well known is the older person's preference for part-time work and flexibility of hours works.

THE good news is that Sharing/Gig Economy is based on those preferences.

If you are computer literate, and can take quality photos on your digital camera or smart phone, you are on your way to pocketing some spare cash.

Make ceramic pots, children's toys, or clothing and want to sell some? List them on Etsy (http://etsy.com/au/), a marketplace started in 2005 in New York that now has millions of potential customers.

Got a spare room you'd like to let out sometimes or want to rent your house while you're on holiday? Welcome to Airbnb (www.airbnb.com/), founded in San Francisco in 2008, where hosts and guests get to know each other through detailed profiles and personal reviews and payments are transferred securely.

Fancy picking people up from the airport and taking them to their destination, or simply ferrying locals around? Hello Uber (www.uber.com), launched in Australia in 2012.

Uber spokesman Mike Abbott says: "For many retirees, driving on Uber is just an hour or two a day, here or there, to top up their pension, meet new people and help pay the bills".

Airtasker (www.airtasker.com), founded in 2012, is another great way for retirees to put skills back into use. From tasks like gardening or baking to services like accounting or legal advice, users list a task and a budget and community members bid to complete it.

Etsy, Airbnb, Uber and Airtasker are just a few of the web sites open for business, but don't stop there, spend a little time googling (importantly reading reviews) to find a digital platform that's a good fit for your attributes and assets.

 

CRAFTY WORK: Etsy is a site to sell your creative creations online.
CRAFTY WORK: Etsy is a site to sell your creative creations online. PointImages

HOW AIRTASKER WORKS:

What do you need done?

  • 1/ Describe the task you need completed. Post any task from cleaning to web design in just two minutes - for free. There's no obligation to hire.
  • 2/ Select the best worker for you.
  • 3/ View profiles and reviews to pick the best Airtasker Worker for the task. When you accept an offer, you'll add funds securely via Airtasker Pay, which are held until completion. Now you can private message and call the Airtasker Worker.
  • 4/ Task completed.
  • 5/ Now your task is completed you can release the task funds held with Airtasker Pay. Once released, you can leave a review for the Airtasker worker to help improve the community.
  • Visit www.airtasker.com

KEEP AN EYE ON TAX:

  • As for the dollars you might make out of all this enterprise, CPA Frank Knudson says that if it's just a hobby, with minimal income earned, you don't need to declare it but you also can't claim expenses.
  • If, however, you are making a reasonable income and it's not only a hobby, the tax office wants to know, so keep good records of both money in and money out.
  • For a full Age Pension, a single person can earn up to $4264 a year, while a couple (combined) can earn up to about $7592 a year without it affecting their pension.
  • Self-funded retirees can earn a "rebate income" of up to $28,974 each ($57,948 combined) or $32,279 if they are single without paying income tax, subject to certain conditions. This "rebate income" is in addition to any super benefits from a taxed source.

LOGGING IN:

  • Research into users of "platforms" like eBay and Airtasker shows plenty of Australians logging in, although the older age group could do well to start taking advantage of these sharing economies.
  • Airtasker says it now has 850,000 users and has created more than $8.5 million worth of work a month since its launch, with 8.5% of workers on Airtasker aged 55 and over, and this number is growing.
  • About 8 million Australians are interacting with eBay every single month, with less than 10% of those people 65+.
  • Recognition rates for Airbnb among the 65-plus demographic are about 14.4%, according to Roy Morgan Research.
  • As for Uber, about one in six drivers are older than 55 years old.
  • Etsy's American CEO Chad Dickerson says the site has more than 15 million members and, from a buyer perspective, Australia is number four out of 150 countries, just behind the US, the UK and Canada. The average age of sellers is 39.

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