"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.
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