Getting Started in the Gig Economy
Image Courtesy Pexels
by Lucy Reed
It’s no secret that Uber drivers can make a lot of money in their free time. You buy stuff from eBay and Etsy. You may be even know someone who freelances or works on contract. The gig economy is a big deal these days. About a third of the workforce is now part of this new way of earning a living, and their numbers are growing. What are the advantages over a more traditional job? And how do you get started?
The Benefits of Being Your Own Boss
Gig work has a few unique challenges, but it offers a lot of special benefits as well. You can set your own hours, working as much or as little as you like. Frequently, you can work from home or in different locations around the world.
A lot of people prefer the flexibility this style of work offers and enjoy the hustle. The harder you work, the more money you make. It’s easy to transition to gig work, picking up a few side jobs here and there while you’re still in your old career. You can see if there’s a niche market for your skills before you dive in and leave the security of your employer.
How Do You Find Work?
Most people who freelance work make liberal use of internet and smartphones. Uber and Lyft both have reliable apps with an easy enrollment process. For people who code, write, and design, social media platforms can be a great place to get started. Craigslist job listings, Facebook and LinkedIn networking, and various flex job websites help connect workers to employers. Writers, editors, tutors, and translators can access specialized websites, but it’s becoming more common to find these contracts posted to high-traffic job employment search engines like Indeed, Monster, and ZipRecruiter. Traditional temporary staffing companies, such as Kelly Services and Adecco, often offer such positions.
Create Your Workspace
In the beginning, you’ll be tempted to take any work you’re offered, maybe at any price. However, make sure to set boundaries. Decide how much money you need to earn to pay your bills and what hours you’re willing to work. You can reshuffle later if need be, but at first, you should get an idea of what you can expect to earn as a baseline. If you don’t set out these boundaries, it might feel like you’re working all the time.
If you’re working online from home, create a designated workspace. This helps you to create the right frame of mind to separate work from leisure time and will make you more productive. If you’re working via the internet, it’s a good idea to invest in up-to-date computer equipment and high-speed internet access. You might want to invest in a good fax/printer/copier combo to communicate with clients and send invoices and ordering materials. You should also consider purchasing financial software to help you manage billing and taxes. Fortunately, all these set up costs for your home office will be tax deductible later.
Get to Work
If you don’t advertise, the world doesn’t beat a path to your door. Get the word out to friends and family, and network with previous employers. Consider printing business cards, and create a web presence for your new business. Research your tax situation and decide whether to incorporate or continue working as an individual. It’s a little different when you’re working for yourself; you may need to fund your own health insurance and retirement plan, as well as estimate your taxes quarterly.
Millions of people have decided to get out of the rat race and enjoy greater independence in their working life by joining the gig economy. With the right mindset, it can make you more productive and allow you to pursue your creativity. It can be a great way to advance your financial future, allowing you to schedule your career more harmoniously with your life.