iPhone app helps users make some extra cash

When the recession hit, Marc Ramos suddenly couldn't make ends meet as a wedding photographer.

"The beginning of this year work was so slow that I just had to find something else to do," he says.

Then he heard about Gigwalk, a technology company that has an app which allows anyone with an iPhone to make a few extra dollars.

Here's how it works. Gigwalk contracts with companies which need large amounts of data updated from real people on the ground. Those people take pictures of things like restaurant interiors, intersection signs and road detours.

It's simple. the Gigwalker turns on their phone, finds a gig nearby, snaps a picture, and uploads it with a click.

Matt Crampton is Gigwalk's chief technology officer. He says 65,000 people around the country have already signed on.

"A Gigwalker is typically somebody who works less than 40 hours per week, somebody who is say a real estate agent, or somebody who is working retail," explains Crampton.

Ramos is earning close to $2,000 per month working about 15 hours a week. Flexibility is what makes this attractive to him and others.

"The key to me is basically being able to work when you want, where you want [and] for how long that you want to work for," he says.

Most of the gigs pay only $4 to $8, but that can add up.

"Gigwalkers will go out and do many gigs at a time," says Crampton. "So if you're in a dense urban area, a gig might pay $7, but there may be six or seven gigs within a block radius."

Task Rabbit is a website that also helps people earn money on the side by paying those people to run errands. Similarly, the websites Elance and oDesk list thousands of freelance jobs. Many can be done at home on a flexible schedule.

Simply Hired is an Internet job search engine. VP Carolyn Hughes has been watching these kinds of businesses grow.

"Over the last 18 months in the SimplyHired.com's job database, we've seen a 300 percent increase in jobs that contain 'contract to hire' as a phrase," she says.

For people like Ramos, this isn't forever. But for now, it helps pay the bills.

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