What is a Gig Economy and Why Should You Care?

Joe Weinlick
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"Gig economy" is a buzz phrase that's been flying around to describe a new way companies leverage a workforce. Instead of hiring people and onboarding new employees, firms hire independent contractors to perform work on short-term projects.

In terms of job seekers, the gig economy offers several advantages, such as more flexible work hours, the ability to pursue varied interests and the possibility of working from home. Employees who idolize the freedom of independent contractors need to know a few key facts before diving into this type of work.

Realize It's Not Always Full-Time Work

Participating in the gig economy is a great option for people who go to school or want to pursue a second career. Freelancers should ease into contract work as opposed to quitting a viable job and trying to start fresh without any opportunities lined up. This is where strict budgeting, emergency funds and knowing your financial standing help when it comes to starting a freelance career.

Network, Network, Network

Much like finding a regular job that pays well, using your network to find new opportunities can expand your client base. Once you know how to connect with companies that need your services, it becomes easier to land more contracts. The more contracts and clients you have, the easier your financial situation becomes.

Tout Your Skills

It's vital to know how to tout your skills or resources to companies that may be in need of your talents. If you have a reliable vehicle, companies such as Uber or Lyft may use your services as a transportation contractor. The gig economy also employs graphic designers, writers, marketers, bloggers and video producers. The possibilities are endless, but you need to know what marketplaces need your skills. Several websites aggregate independent contract workers, so you might start your search with those.

Expand Your Knowledge

You may begin with a specific skill set, but you probably learn new things with each client and project you complete. These new skills broaden your horizons and make you more valuable to a new batch of clients, thereby increasing your standing in the gig economy. As an example, if you love to write script for videos and then, through a job, you learn what it takes to produce a 10-minute YouTube video, you can offer video productions skills to your next client.

Show Off Your Best Work

A strong portfolio is another important element in finding freelance gigs. Put your best work on your freelance website so potential clients know what they can expect from your finished product. At the end of your portfolio, provide a link to your basic contract to get the legal ball rolling.

Take Responsibility

Perhaps the best part of this type of work is that you get to be your own boss. However, it also entails tracking the time you spend on each project, covering your own business expenses and handling self-employment taxes. In return, you get to run your business your own way. Once you get the hang of it, freelancing becomes second nature.

Welcome to the land of the solopreneur and the gig economy. If you think this type of work is for you, the sooner you start on this path, the sooner you can be making money on your own terms.


Photo courtesy of Mark Warner at Flickr.com

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  • mitchell jefferson
    mitchell jefferson

    Very Informative

  • Dyanna L.
    Dyanna L.

    I think this is being misconstrued. If you have a full-time job that's great, you wouldn't want to quit that! But if you are in between jobs and about to loose your home, or you just want to earn some extra income, this seems like a viable option.

  • GARY MENKIN
    GARY MENKIN

    The "Gig" economy is another scam in destroying the middle class. It's working well. Keep importing cheaper labor from China and India and build up their middle classes. The "Gig" or in reality Bullshit economy will eventually backfire. Whose going to buy all those expensive cars, TV's, and homes when we middle class peons are no longer? A rich person can only wear so many suits, live in so many homes, and eat steak so many times before they run out of appetites.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Lance thanks for your comment. Please note that this is only one article out of thousands. Sorry this article was not to your liking but we hope you will take the time to read other articles on our sites.

  • Lance H.
    Lance H.

    Thanks Beyond! Now I know not to expect anything "beyond" spin-doctored baloney from you! Gig economies don't work for people with kids and/or mortgages!

  • Sally D.
    Sally D.

    Totally agree that this is PR rubbish for what will be destroyed personal economy for most people.

  • Susan Ashe
    Susan Ashe

    I love the gig economy - I turned it into a full time business with lots of gigs turning into clients.

  • Jess N.
    Jess N.

    Gig economies not only suck for people but the economy overall. First off, a person would have to be vapid or wealthy not to worry about the end of their contract. Constantly losing a job (yes its a short term project but its still not working-reframing doesn't change its odor) is not healthy and takes a toll. Second, where do people their experience? Who wants to hire a fng for a gig? An increasingly large pool of talent will be even more overlooked than they already are. I see this at IT seminars, "show of hands, who needs educated workers? (most are up) who's going to hire entry level? (nearly all go down)". They save a little money now, hr gets a raise for their brilliant idea, meanwhile they shrink the pool of talented workers and drive up labor costs. Frankly this seems idiotic.

  • Frank M.
    Frank M.

    I think the idea of a gig economy for most people, sucks!! This is a way to pay people less and to do so without benefits. While I recognize that for some people, it is a good deal, for most of us job seekers, it is terrible.

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