CLEVELAND - If you need a little extra cash, look no further than your cell phone. Your next payday may be in the palm of your hand.
"At first I was kind of leery about doing these jobs and wondering if I would get paid," Jamie Lambert said.
Lambert is a busy mom always looking to make money for her family. So, she decided to try apps that claim they pay.
"It's a simple way to make some use and some money with your phone," Lambert said.
In the last six months, Lambert estimates her phone helped her earn $300 to 400.
We asked her if she ever didn't get paid. "Thankfully, no," Lambert said.
Apps that pay are put to the test
Lambert uses three apps: EasyShift , Field Agent , and Gigwalk . Each program displays a list of jobs or gigs located all over Cleveland. The jobs in northeast Ohio are typically for mystery shoppers or vacant building checks. Some jobs are more complicated than others.
I tried some of the offers in downtown Cleveland. I took pictures of shaving cream and candy at CVS. Those were quick and easy.
Then, I tried a job for Microsoft. It was more complicated. You need to take still photos and a panoramic photo inside a local business. The panoramic photo is tricky and takes time. The job took me 15 minutes and I made $5.
"Those are too much. I'm not going to go inside to take pictures of something for a small amount of money. I factor in the effort versus what I'm getting paid. Sometimes it's not worth it," Lambert said.
Lambert brings her daughter to the job so she needs quick and easy offers, like a vacant building check.
"I need to take pictures of the sidewalks, what's to the right and to the left of the building, the entrance, and the back area. Any noticeable damage or graffiti that's in need of maintenance I need to catch on camera for them," Lambert said.
It took less than five minutes and she made $7.
For another job, Lambert never left her house. She collected circulars that showed up in her mailbox and mailed them back to a market research group. Easy work and Lambert earned $60.
Privacy & apps
All the money is paid through PayPal so you don't have to give out your personal information to all these different employers.
"The less information I have to share with them, the better," Lambert said.
Most jobs are awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis with no questions asked, but you have to be flexible.
"If I decided to accept it, it would tell me I have 120 minutes to complete it," Lambert said.
Other apps give you a few days to finish the job. While there are lots of opportunities to make money, it's not always consistent work.
"It goes in spurts. There can be a lot for one kind and then there won't be any for awhile," Lambert said.
We don't go very far without our phone these days, so it doesn't hurt to check. All you can lose is money. Right now many of these apps are only for iPhone users, but they are working on Android versions.
From my experience and talking with users, some of these apps are better than others. I had one freeze up while trying to send photos.
Experiment with the apps before you use them so you know what to expect when you get in the field. If your cell signal is weak in an area, you may also have trouble completing the task. I couldn't send photos once until I connected to a Wi-Fi signal. When the job is timed, it's important to have an option to use Wi-Fi just in case you have problems. That way you can be sure you get paid.
Like any job, the more you do it, the better you get. I had never taken a panoramic photo before so I must admit, I was not the best at first. The more I did it, the faster I got.
So, I wouldn't dismiss the $5 Microsoft jobs. The company wants panoramic photos of restaurants for Bing Maps so they're all grouped closed together, which helps save time and gas. If you get good at it, you can probably make $15 to 20 an hour. There are more than 1,000 of these $5 opportunities spread all over northeast Ohio.
Also, read the directions carefully. Some companies are specific about how they want you to take the photo. They don't want you to be artistic.
Ready to give it a shot? Here's a list of 10 of the apps.
Throughout the holiday season, we'll feature apps that enhance your shopping experience. Do you have a favorite? Let Jenn known on Facebook or Twitter and it just might be featured on an upcoming segment.