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Living off the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has grown far larger than perhaps anyone could have anticipated. Many people are aware of this economy's potential for supplemental income or a side hustle, but is it possible make a living completely off of the sharing economy?

More and more people are showing us that the answer is an absolute yes.

Perhaps the most high-profile case is that of Maria Eriksson, a political writer from Sweden who decided to quit her job and live off the sharing economy for a full year.


"366 Days of Sharing"

Maria's project, entitled "366 Days of Sharing," documents her full-immersion journey into the sharing economy.

Although Maria's primary goal was simply to experience the sharing economy and meet new people, she was always able to meet her basic needs.

On average, she earned the equivalent of $1,579 a month. March was the month when Maria saw her lowest profit at $1,006, but her best month, September, landed her $2,273, more than double her lowest point. 

Maria started with Airbnb and Couchsurfing, sleeping on her dining room floor to rent out her bedroom and spare room to guests.

She has mailed sausages through TaskRunner, found a personal trainer through Vint, and gotten rid of excess food through Olio.

Maria even tried her luck with Airpnp, an app that helps people find restrooms, but hasn't seen any business on that front.

And think, Maria's experiment was limited to only platforms available in Sweden.


A Sharing Economy Career: Platform Stacking

Many people have trouble making a living off of the sharing economy because they only stick to one platform. That said, many commentators have discussed what is referred to as "platform stacking," as a way to multiply your sharing economy income potential.

This is the simple process of taking all the hard you've done on one platform, and moving it to another. For instance, if you've created an Airbnb listing with all the details about your property, then list your home on another home-sharing platform. You've already done all the hard work!

You can take a look at Dave's story, who earns an average of $3,840 by working odd jobs in the sharing economy.

Dave doesn't just work several platforms; he does so strategically. He starts off the day driving for Uber and Lyft. If you already perform one type of job, why not do it for another platform?

Working for multiple platforms expands your reach and potential income. Even though Dave still earns the majority of his income from Uber, Lyft is a supplement to keep him busy.

Several platforms that provide the same or similar services are typically a reality in the sharing economy. For instance, if you work on TaskRabbit, you can try Handy. Or, if you deliver using Instacart, you can try out DoorDash as well.

If you work for WeGoLook, during your down time, you can drive for Uber or work tasks on TaskRabbit. 

You can rent out a room by listing it on both with Airbnb and VRBO.

Wyzant and Skillshare are two different tutoring platforms - and Dave is on both, by the way. 

The possibilities are endless. Don't just look for multiple platforms, join platforms in the same service family. In the gig economy, it's not taboo to work for the competition.

Remember, you are your own boss!


The Future of Work

Alternative work arrangements are the future, and it's already a reality for many. Trends show that people value autonomy and flexibility.

Indeed, in a study from Upwork and the National Freelancers Union, 55 million Americans were earning money in the sharing economy as of 2016. Of this cohort, 87% said that the sharing economy gives them greater flexibility in their lives.

According to one of our favorite sharing economy commentators, Arun Sundararajan, New York University business professor and author of The Sharing Economy, we may even see a platform for crowdsourcing professional services like medicine, accounting, legal services, and consulting.

Clearly sharing economy careers are only going to become more popular.

He qualifies that this type of service would never replace professional medical help, but could be useful for minor injuries. Attempting self-diagnosis using information online is already commonplace.

Sundararajan sees great potential for growth using "crowd-based model." The mentality is that you can do it yourself, through a platform.

For current or aspiring gig workers, these digital platforms allow you do just about anything. If you can find the platform, you can do it. Join enough platforms, and you can make income from sources as diverse as dog sitting with DogVacay, to acting as someone else's eyes with WeGoLook, to renting out your car with Turo.