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TaskRabbit: Make a Little (or a Lot) Extra on the Side

Ironically, I first learned about TaskRabbit–the online marketplace that allows you to outsource small jobs and tasks to others in your neighborhood– from an article in the New Yorker*, even though it is headquartered in San Francisco (basically my own backyard), and was developed in the first-ever session of the Facebook fbFund incubator program.

A little history before I talk about why it’s a great service for freelance side income: Leah Busque, an IBM software engineer, thought up the idea for TaskRabbit one night when she and her husband were about to go out to dinner and she realized they had no dog food for their labrador. They thought: if only there were a place to go online to go where you could ask someone in your neighborhood to get dog food, and name a price you were willing to pay. And TaskRabbit was born.

12,500 loads of laundry washed and folded; 20,400 cupcakes delivered; and 80 iPad2s purchased on launch day.”*

Why is TaskRabbit a Good Service for Side Income?

It’s good for the task poster. I am an overly cautious person. I will sit in my home with plenty of things I could easily sell on Craigslist –but I’m stuck because I don’t want strangers in my home. But I would let a highly-rated neighbor “Rabbit” come over. It’s just more secure. Anyone who wants to become a Taskrabbit has to write an essay and do a video interview, submit to background checks and pass a written test.

You bid along with others like you. And unless you are bidding on a virtual job, you are NOT going up against providers with third-world cost-of-living needs, like Elance, ODesk, or Guru.

TaskRabbit is gaining in popularity, has great press (see BusinessWeek article), and vets their “Rabbits” thoroughly, so it keeps a good rep. You won’t waste your time signing up for all those “work at home” sites that go belly up, are poorly run, or don’t have enough decent jobs worth bidding on.

The UI is awesome and easy. Again, don’t waste time signing up and going through silly entrance tests just to be able to bid on some cheesy online “jobs.”

What Are the Drawbacks?

Task posters do not have to go through a screening process. I think this is the biggest drawback. You will have to weigh this. I personally consider it safer than driving a cab or delivering pizzas at night, or canvassing in neighborhoods I don’t know. But you will need to weigh that risk for yourself, by the job and person requesting it.

Unfortunately, it is not in all cities yet. So stay tuned. Become a TaskRabbit.

*Outsource Yourself, by Patricia Marx:

Still thinking like a girl about your finances? Read this.

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