I’m the next few posts, I’m looking at the Gig economy and actually taking part in it. I’ve got off my bum and headed outside so that I can see in real-time, what works and what doesn’t. Ideally, there’ll be something that helps ride out the COVID pandemic, or I could just be wasting my time?
The first thing I thought I’d try is Shepper. (https://shepper.com/become-a-shepherd/)
Shepper has been running a while. Established in 2016 and in operation around the world, Shepper brokers micro-tasks that pay a few pounds when completed. Everything is centred around a mobile app that displays available tasks close to your location. You claim a task, follow some instructions, take a few photos, upload everything – still using the app, and then when your work is validated, money is paid into your Shepper account, which then drops into your bank account at the end of the month.
Downloading the app, registering and even going through a little training was very straight forward. I did all of that on a Saturday afternoon; they validated me on Sunday, so I was all set and ready to go by Monday morning.
The jobs are pretty basic. The one’s local to me mainly involved checking bus shelters for damage (£2.50 – £4.00), but there were a few others checking storage areas (£7) or advertising boards in small corner shops (£3).
The app lets you set up ‘areas’ and displays all of the tasks around that area. You can add multiple areas; for instance, one could be around your home, another work, and this leads us to the first problem. If I lived in London, I’m going to see more jobs than if I lived on the outskirts of Litchfield. So, for the moment at least to get the most out of Shepper, you’ll need to be able to set at least one area in a location that provides the opportunity of getting some tasks.
I had a choice of a few though. I selected three, two Bus shelter checks and a check of a Self Storage site, which was quite close to one of the bus shelters. One thing I quickly picked up is that the closer the jobs, the quicker you can do them, the less money you spend travelling between them so the more you make.
I lost my Shepper virginity on Bus shelter No 8643. Once you’re close to a job, you open the task on the app, and it walks you through the checks that you need to follow to complete the task. The app said this check would take 10 mins, but it took me about twenty. It was my first time though, and I’m sure that once I’d done a few, 10 mins would have been realistic.
It turns out that surveying a bus shelter is a little weird, especially if there are people making use of the shelter. I did get a few odd looks as I took the necessary ten photos. The photos needed to be quite detailed, so I had to get up close and personal with anyone waiting for the no.5 to Bulwell, and this posed a couple of problems. Firstly you are invading peoples personal space, and some may not like that. Secondly, we’re all social distancing at the moment, so I had to wait a few mins for the shelter to be empty before I could finish the job. Those couple of issues apart, it was a straight forward job, I followed the steps, took the photos and completed the task. Then I headed over to the storage job.
Once you open the job on the app, any instructions specific to the job are displayed. As this was a Self Storage site, one of the types that are basically a large car park with shipping containers, and the site was secure, I needed to follow an entry procedure to get in. That procedure involved sending a chat message to Shepper support, who in turn would arrange to get the gate open for me. I messaged, and after a few minutes I was told the gate was about to open. It didn’t. I waited 10 more minutes and it still hadn’t, so I tried support again, who had the same message as before. But again the gate didn’t open. Over the course of another 30 minutes, we did this a couple more times before support told me to give up, complete what I could and reassured me that I’d still get paid for the job.
The last job was a short drive away. The app links into Google maps, so it’s pretty easy to find your intended target. But after driving around for ten minutes, there obviously wasn’t a bus shelter at the apps final destination. So it was back to Shepper support, and again I was told to complete as much as I could, and that again, I would still get paid.
And that was the end of my day. I’d completed all 3 jobs, albeit only one correctly. But, I did at least get paid for all three.
Despite a couple of issues, I’ve got a positive opinion about Shepper. The apps good and is straight forward to use. I also felt rather community-spirited, being a part of making sure we all have nice, tidy bus shelters to linger in.
You aren’t though going to make a fortune. Shepper works best as a side hustle, which in fairness is how Shepper describes what it does. It would take considerable effort and luck to find enough tasks each day to get anything like a liveable wage.
But as long as the tasks you accept fall alongside your day to day plans, and don’t turn into being your day to day plans, then It’s actually something worth doing. It’s quite fun.
Worse case, you’ll make enough to subsidise a daily coffee habit, best case, you make enough to buy dinner.
- Despite the problems I faced, the tech seemed to work well.
- Shepper Support are excellent, helpful, and it’s easy to contact them through the app. They really did help me.
- If you can find several tasks around the same area, you can make a fair amount of money quite quickly.
- Since doing my tasks, I’ve been checking the number of available tasks daily, and it varies. Somedays there are none, somedays more than ten. It’s all quite random.
- You’ll need to be in an area where there is a possibility of jobs being available. Cities are good, rural areas less so.
- I felt a bit self-conscious checking bus shelters with people in them.
Next, I’ll be dipping my toe into software testing.