The Gig Economy: What it is and How to Get Started

Also known as side-hustles, freelancing, contract work, consulting, or any short-term project-based work, the gig economy is not going to disappear any time soon—in fact, it is predicted to continue to grow. According to Forbes, gig workers represented around 35% of the U.S. workforce in 2020, up from 14-20% in 2014. If you are a self-starter looking to make some extra money or build your skills, check out this list of some pros and cons of the gig economy as well as some advice on how to get started.

Pros:

  • Flexibility: Unlike a traditional 9-5, you are allowed to be your own boss. As long as you are meeting the deadlines of your clients, you are able to set your hours and can work wherever and whenever you want. This is one of the main appeals of the gig economy.
  • Maximize your skill growth: You are able to directly choose which tasks and projects you want to take on. As a result, you have total control in ensuring that all the work you do will benefit your personal and professional goals.

Cons:

  • Competition: The rise in popularity of the gig economy has resulted in a glut of certain services (like photography), which has increased competition among workers. To stand out from the competition, it is vital to communicate the unique value that you offer to clients.
  • Additional costs: As your own boss, you will need to acquire and pay for healthcare insurance, set aside money for retirement, and be responsible for any other benefits that come with a traditional salaried position. To understand your rights, visit The Freelancers Union. Additionally, you will need to document all income and expenses, file the necessary tax forms, and make your tax payments on time.
  • Discipline: Although being your own boss does have its perks, it also demands that you stay on top of additional opportunities to maintain income flow. You should also keep track of your performance goals by maintaining regular check-ins with yourself and your clients.

Sound like a good fit? Here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Define what you have to offer:  To stand out in the gig economy, it is essential to market your strongest assets to show potential clients how you can add value to their lives. Review your resume, your past team projects, and your portfolio. Define the top contributions you can carry over into client projects. 
  • Market yourself: Take advantage of social media and free website builders to advertise your services and attract clients!

Additional resources

How COVID-19 has Transformed the Gig Economy
How to Survive and Succeed in the Gig Economy
How to Choose the Right Side Hustle for Your Lifestyle

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