Whether you’re trying to make a little extra cash to help you get by until payday or you want to boost your savings to get one step closer to a major purchase, there are a host of opportunities in the gig economy to find a side hustle that fits your talents and schedule. Yet it’s important to remember that side hustles typically involve some expenses. For example, if you’re charging Bird scooters, that’s your electricity that you’re using to do so. Before getting started, it’s smart to tally up your total expenses and look for ways to maximize your time and funds. Not sure how to determine the costs of a side hustle like charging Bird scooters? Here’s everything you need to know.
How to make money charging Bird scooters
Charging Bird scooters is a gig that appeals to a lot of people because you can mostly be in charge of your own schedule — you pick the scooters up, charge them and drop them back in high-traffic areas between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. per Bird’s app. Bird refers to these people as Bird Chargers, although you could also become a Bird Mechanic, a slightly different gig that involves fixing broken scooters.
Here’s what you should remember if you’re trying to maximize your Bird Charger earnings.
- Cost of chargers: Once you become verified as a Bird Charger, you’ll need to buy the chargers before you can get started — you’ll need to buy at least three at once since that’s the minimum number of Birds you can charge to be considered a Bird Charger. In addition to that, the quickest way to increase your earnings is to charge more Birds at once, but in order to do so, you’ll need extra chargers — an additional expense. Remember to deduct these costs, and the costs of any power strips, out of your total earnings before tallying your income.
- Cost of electricity and fuel: Not only will charging Bird scooters increase your electricity costs, but you’ll also have to spend fuel driving around to capture Birds and bring them back to charge. Consider capturing Bird scooters within a specific radius so that you don’t spend too much money on gas.
- Account for taxes: You will be taxed on the money you earn from your side hustle, and unlike employee wages, taxes are not withheld. What that means is you’re responsible for paying your own taxes. Many freelancers make estimated payments throughout the year to avoid being surprised by a huge tax bill come April.
Each Bird scooter has a different value for Bird Chargers, which can be seen on the Bird Chargers app. In order to maximize your earnings, you’ll have to weigh the cost of traveling to the high-value scooters against your probability of successfully capturing a scooter. Different strategies have developed amongst Bird Chargers when it comes to capturing scooters: some look for scooters at 9:00 pm when Bird “releases” them to Bird Chargers on the app, while others like to look early in the morning before other Bird Chargers wake up.
Why is the gig economy booming right now?
Official estimates on the size of the gig economy vary as government agencies have debated who should officially be counted as a member of the gig economy and how, exactly, they should be tallied. However, a survey funded in part by the Freelancers Union estimates that in 2019, 57 million Americans freelanced — that’s about 35% of the workforce and up 4 million from 2014. This is similar to a 2018 Gallup poll that showed 36% of U.S. workers had a gig economy job of some sort.
What’s causing this rise in freelancing? There are many different reasons U.S. workers turn to the gig economy. Some, about 46%, say it creates more flexibility in their personal lives that wouldn’t be available if working for traditional employers. Others, about 70%, say it allows them to have more agency over where they live. Other times, people start side hustles to help repay student loans, credit card debt or to reach a savings goal.
Finding help for other side hustles
While charging Bird scooters is becoming a more popular side gig, there are certainly a variety of options for earning extra dollars through other apps and websites. One of the drawbacks to having a side hustle can be that gig workers don’t always get the same support as traditional workers when it comes to things like filing taxes, understanding their rights or maximizing their income.
If you’re looking for more support in any side hustle endeavor, consider getting in touch with nonprofits such as Gig Workers Rising or local business alliances (for example, the New Orleans Business Alliance has a relief fund to offer financial support for gig workers, and Seattle initiated similar support during the COVID-19 pandemic). Becoming a gig worker can be rewarding and challenging — these organizations have answered the call to support gig workers through the process.