Using the free “Gigwalk” or “EasyShift” apps on your smartphone could make you a few hundred dollars a month doing product and restaurant and retirement home surveys.

You’ll need a smart phone or iPod Touch with a camera and Wi-Fi connection. The software app they provide lets you send pictures and accompanying information directly to the marketing company.

It also helps enormously if you live in a city or near one. These marketing companies offer small jobs (often called “gigs,” a musician’s term) for small pay. Most of the “gigs,” involve going to places like drugstores and taking photos of things like how they display their cans of Red Bull. There were also odd jobs like taking photos of menus at specified restaurants. For small jobs, you wouldn’t want to travel.

Small jobs pay about $5 each, though some pay as little as $2. But bigger jobs pay much more. We could get $150 as a “mystery shopper” going to a retirement community and saying we’re over 50 and interested in what they had to offer. In that case we evaluate how they treat us and whether they seem straight about what they offer.  

Gigwalk says their top freelancers make between $500 and $1200 a week and are paid within a day or two of submitting their work. EasyShift workers get paid the same day.

Of course, a typical smart-phone bill is $80 a month, so that eats into your profit. However, you may already have the smart-phone and are paying the monthly bill anyway. You can get a no-contract smart phone from Virgin Mobile, with unlimited web use and texting for $35 a month. You pay more initially for the phone, but you can save thousands over a few years. VirginMobile sells the latest iPhone 4s for $650, but Android smart phones start at $50.

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