Summary: So you’ve probably heard of multi-apping. You might even think you fully know the power of this idea. Chances are though, you’re still leaving money on the table as a gig worker by not being fully aware of all your options. So let’s jump right in.
What is Multi-Apping?
Multi-Apping (n.): when you work more than one gig app.
Wow, wasn’t that enlightening?
But really though, multi-apping is on the rise in the gig economy, allowing ordinary folks to further the flexibility of their schedules and increase their earnings by giving them more choice. And the word “choice” here is CRITICAL because having options as a gig worker gives you control.
Laid off from your nine to five? Tide yourself over with pet sitting so you have the time to find that job you truly want.
Have a dream vacation in mind, or saving up for the holidays? Shift your time to do more Instacart deliveries.
Frustrated with how slow the grocery delivery apps are performing in your area? Check out food delivery.
Wrongly deactivated by DoorDash? Stick it to Tony by supplementing your income with user testing/survey sites.
Multi-apping has the potential to change your financial circumstances for the better. It is the secret sauce and future of the gig economy.
Uber’s original mission was to make “Transportation as reliable as running water. Everywhere, for everyone,” but in the end their greatest legacy won’t be in transportation. It will be in work.
The ability to find and start work within a matter of hours, or even minutes, and start earning that same day is revolutionary.
Work as reliable as running water. Everywhere, for everyone. But it’s a dream that remains incomplete.
As the companies of gig 1.0 like Uber raced to scale, they lost sight of the most essential part of the gig economy: you. It should have been easy to sign up for new apps and use multiple apps at once, surveying your options, picking what’s best for you. You were supposed to be in charge, a truly independent contractor.
And now, with the rise of more apps, gig 2.0 holds the promise of being different. It all starts with multi-apping. And we at Para are committed to building tools to make this multi-apping world easy and convenient for you.
Is Multi-Apping For Me?
First you need to ask yourself: Is multi-apping for me?
Who is multi-apping not suited for? I’ve talked to a lot of folks who do gig work to sorta kill time. Perhaps they’re retired and looking for something to do, or they simply like talking to people so they end up doing rideshare. There is nothing wrong with this! But if this is you, you should know right off the bat that you might not like the hustle, strategy, newness, and occasionally stressful nature of multi-apping.
We’ve found that if you’re into hustling, trying news gigs, and prioritize earning more money above comfort (like not letting passengers in your car, highly valuing your leisure time, or the awkwardness of, say, taking pictures in the grocery aisle), then multi-apping was made for you.
The Levels of Multi-Apping
Level 1: Multi-app (but not multi-silo)
We all know what this looks like. It’s the windshield wiper of almost every rideshare driver who’s ever come to pick us up.
It’s also this guy doing delivery, and this guy’s YouTube channel.
Level 1 is where you have accounts with multiple gig apps, but they are gig apps in the same silo. For instance, you have DoorDash, UberEats, and Grubhub, or you have Uber and Lyft, or Instacart and Shipt, etc. It’s a great first step, and it’s a huge benefit for the silo you are in. But it still leaves much to be desired.
Level 2: Multi-App & Multi-Silo
Ok, now we’re talking. Level 2 looks like this guy below.
Sure, this snazzy looking fella multi-apps, but he also does it across the rideshare, food delivery, and grocery delivery silos. Think about it. Although things differ from market to market, all else being equal there are going to be peak times with Instacart that will blow multi-apping with Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats out of the water, and vice versa. He’s even got rideshare in his back pocket, so even though that might not be in his rotation at the moment he’ll be ready once (if?!) things return to normal.
Multi-apping within a silo increases earnings, lessens the sting of deactivation, and gives you more choice. Multi-apping across silos does all those things, but to an even greater degree.
Level 3: The Multi-Apping Long Tail…
Let’s just say that Level 3 is not for the faint of heart.
For a taste of Level 3 multi-apping in action, I would recommend two sources:
- Kevin, who runs the Financial Panther website, specifically this article about the abundance of gig apps and this page where you can see his Side Hustle Reports, showcasing his earnings across apps each month.
- The Gig Life YouTube channel. Lavaras Tucker is an absolute beast when it comes to trying new apps and running a Level 3 Multi-Apping operation.
It turns out, rideshare and delivery may end up being just the tip of the iceberg for gig work. There are dozens of other apps out there, and dozens more on the way in the years to come.
However, there’s a big perceived problem with these second tier apps. None of them stand alone very well. Sure, you can get $2 bucks on Observa for literally taking a picture of produce at the grocery store, but you’ll only get maybe 2-3 of those a week tops if you’re lucky.
Observa and the Observa like apps of the world are small and scrappy, the aggregate payouts don’t look big, and they’re not enough on their own to make a very big difference for your bottom line.
But what if you were already on an Instacart run and happened to stumble upon an Observa in your store? And what if there wasn’t one Observa in your city, but more like 5-15 other Observa level apps in your area that you could pick up easy?
Introducing The Multi-Apping Long Tail.
For the two dudes mentioned above, you might notice something interesting about their earnings if you keep up with their work. They follow The Multi-Apping Long Tail.
Take a look at Kevin’s earnings breakdown for December of 2020.
Wanna see something crazy? Check out these charts we made of his earnings below.
Yes, Food Delivery was his bread and butter, netting 63.6% of his total monthly earnings. But look closer at the others and you’ll see a very long tail. Rover got him only 8.6%, ProductTube came in at 8.3%, Surveys, User Research, and picture taking apps all contributed sub 3% each to his monthly income. And the tail gets even longer with Shipt and Instacart, Trash/Flipping income, and Secret Shopping.
But what if Kevin hadn’t incorporated those other 8+ Observa level gigs into his routine? He could have looked at the payout of a single user survey or product test and said, “You know what, that number is just too small. This isn’t going to make a difference.” But he didn’t. Instead, he ended up increasing his monthly income by almost 40% by multi-apping like a madman, and doing it across silos.
When it comes to gig work, you’re the boss. No one says this better than Ron over at EntreCourier.com, and if this idea is new to you we recommend learning a bit more from this gig master. Because first things first, you’ve got to get your head on straight. You’ve got to start thinking of yourself not as an employee, but as a business owner.
Learning to master new apps is hard, and not everyone can do it. That’s in part what makes it so valuable. If you’re ahead of the curve in joining and mastering a new app, financial benefits will accrue.
With the mindset of a business owner, joining and learning how to use new apps is no longer a hassle but an absolute necessity. It’s an investment in your business and financial success. It’s an investment in you, and it’s another valuable skill to add to your arsenal.
Many gig workers we talk to tell us they wish they had had an Instacart account back in March/April when the world was ending and grocery delivery was a cash cow. Nobody knows what the future holds, but one thing is for sure: it’s better to have these apps and not use them than to need them but not have them.
So take an afternoon and just apply. We know it sucks, but put your head down and get it over with. Sign up for as many as you can stand. Frankly, most of them probably won’t shake out. They won’t have gigs in your area, or you might not like the payout windows. Or a million other things.
But remember, the sooner you join an app’s waiting list, the sooner you’ll get your account. And it’s always better to have your accounts and not use them than the other way around.
Once you’re on board with a couple, test the waters at a pace you feel comfortable with. No need to master the world all in one day or run all your apps on the first day.
And if you make steady progress day in and day out, one day you’ll wake up not only having mastery over some new gig apps, but a bit more mastery over your financial destiny as well.
Here are some resources to get your gig hunt started: