The relationships between employers and their employees has experienced a major upheaval over the past decade. While it was once common for an employee to step foot into a place of employment and remain there until retirement, today’s workforce is being increasingly drawn into what is known as a “gig-based economy.”
What Is a Gig-Based Economy?
Also known as a freelance economy, “gig work” is a term used to describe a part time or independent contract job. Some good examples of gig work include:
- Driving for Lyft or Uber
- Graphic designing
- Freelance copywriting
- Coding and programming
Gig work is an attractive work option because it allows an individual to choose when they work, how long they’ll work for, and how much money they can earn. Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics clearly indicates that gig work is on the rise, with over 35 percent (55 million) of the American workforce identifying as a gig worker. This number is expected to rise to 43 percent by next year.
The Benefits of Gig Work
The one clear benefit to gig work is flexibility. There isn’t another form of work which gives you the same level of freedom in terms of who, when, where, and how you work.
It also offers a greater level of creativity than other work. Many people who work so-called “gigs” are able to explore passions and organically deepen their skills.
Another benefit is that gig work can be used to supplement your existing income. Because of its flexible nature, people can fit freelance work in between their typical nine-to-five job (some may even work on their side jobs during their breaks or at lunch!).
Beware Before Jumping into the Gig Economy
As attractive as entering the gig economy may seem, it certainly does have its drawbacks.
One common reason why people don’t take the leap into working side gigs is lack of stability. Your workload may be massive and unmanageable one week with the next week offering little to no work. Your pay is unreliable, you likely don’t have any health benefits (or a work-sponsored retirement plan), and you may have to continually chase down new clients.
Working a side gig means that you have to be a driven individual who is organized and practices good time management. There’s no one to help you out if you have an upset client on your hands or if you miss an important Skype call with a customer.
Then there is the responsibility of you continually needing to enhance your skills. In order to remain competitive, extra training and education is necessary if you want to continue to land work in the gig economy.
Three Tips for Making the Most out of the Gig Economy
If you’re interested in pursuing work in the gig economy, there are certain steps you can take to make it easier and more enjoyable. First and most importantly:
1. Develop Your Own Brand
When you create your own personal brand, you draw people to you rather than being forced to spend hours hunting for clients on your own.
Build an attractive website describing who you are, what you do, and what your skills are. Get involved on social media and write content relevant to your field of expertise. Then reach out to groups and industry experts and start building connections.
2. Acquire New Skills
As time goes on, you’ll need to enhance your skills. For example, a content writer would be smart to keep up with the latest information about SEO in order to remain competitive in the world of copywriting.
There are several free resources out there that will help you increase your skill set, as well as paid websites, books, and training. Choose which works best for you and continue to develop a new skill or two each year.
3. Build a Retirement Plan
Being a freelancer means working without the protection offered by employers, which sometimes includes a sponsored retirement plan.
The good news is that as a gig worker, you can choose your own investment strategy based on what’s best for your lifestyle. You can choose the best savings rate for you, assess your risk tolerance, and diversify your retirement portfolio as you see fit.
This is one reason why many gig workers might benefit from looking into peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. Also known as crowdlending or social lending, P2P lending cuts financial institutions out of the picture and allows borrowers and investors to directly connect with one another. It helps support entrepreneurs and small business owners, and it’s a rewarding way to watch your money grow over time.
There’s no question that the gig economy is going to continue grow. With the above tips in mind, you’ll be able to adapt and keep up with the accelerating pace of this exciting and boundless form of employment.