Make It Work: How to Thrive in Today’s Gig Economy


Leap into the gig economy with confidence and some good advice.

Short-term, task-based work is nothing new. The working concept of a gig economy has been around ever since businesses started hiring temporary and seasonal workers. Today, however, the gig economy refers to freelance work, independent contractors, and other forms of employment outside of a traditional 9-to-5 job. Food delivery, graphic design, and rideshare drivers are just a few examples of gig economy jobs.

Our current understanding of the gig economy traces back to the Great Recession, which greatly affected many traditional businesses. To make ends meet, many people turned to contract or freelance work. This coincided with the invention of 4G in 2009, which increased internet speed and led to the creation of companies such as Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber.

The global COVID-19 pandemic changed the employment landscape even further. The normal course of business was disrupted, and many people shifted from in-person to remote work. Instead of just side gigs for a little extra cash, people can find work that suits their own schedule and skillset.

The perks of gig work extend to both businesses and workers. Companies use gig jobs to respond to staffing fluctuations, leveraging on-demand employment for the projects and services they need right now. For many, traditional employment has lost its luster, and people turn to job postings that promise perks like flexible schedules and the ability to work from home.

Making the shift to the gig economy can seem scary—freelance work doesn’t have the stability of a traditional full-time job. You may worry, “Do I have what it takes to make it?”

Don’t worry, you probably do! We work with independent contractors and gig workers every day and have seen firsthand what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s gig economy.

Remember Your “Why”

People enter the gig economy for all kinds of reasons:

  • Independence: As a gig worker, you become an entrepreneur and get to be your own boss. You have the freedom to choose what job postings you want to take on and set your own hours.
  • Side hustle: Gig work doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment. Many freelancers work part-time on side gigs to make extra money. Finding work in the gig economy is also less intense than in the traditional workforce, with many services only requiring you to pass a background check to get started.
  • Semi-retirement: Gig economy jobs also help people stay active in their golden years by finding work that complements their schedule and interests.
  • Skill upgrade: Gig jobs let you try different things and acquire skills, honing your craft on your schedule.
  • Money gap: Gigs like food delivery and shopper services are an easy way to make extra cash during the evening and on weekends.
  • Long-term world travel: Remote work means you’re not tied to a particular location. You can earn a living from anywhere and stay connected digitally.
  • Asset maximization: Some gig jobs monetize your car or vacation property, such as rideshare drivers and Airbnb rentals.
  • Artistic expression: Live your dream by working part-time on creative endeavors while keeping your day job.

Slow patches, work-life imbalance, and fear of failure make gig work stressful. Remembering why you entered the gig economy can carry you through the hard times. For many, the perks outweigh the risks.

Specialize in Your Skillset

The gig space is crowded. With so many people competing for different gig jobs, it is crucial to establish a niche. Specializing in an area you’re familiar with will increase your credibility with clients, which will likely lead to more work in your queue. In-demand freelance skills include:

  • Website design and development
  • Content writing and copywriting
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Graphic design
  • Social media marketing/management
  • Data analytics
  • Information technology (IT)
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Tutoring and teaching

Plan Like a Startup

Approach your entry into the gig economy as you would as a small business owner launching a startup. Successful entrepreneurs adapt, making a plan and constantly reevaluating what works and what doesn’t. Take the same approach and adjust your plans accordingly.

Startups are also lean. Entrepreneurs avoid expenses that don’t boost the bottom line. They use growth hacking to maximize value, efficiency, and exposure. When you’re new to the gig economy, it’s important to stay lean until you have stable work. (The amazing equipment and accessories for your remote work setup might need to wait.)

Be Patient

After reading this blog post, you might be ready to dive head-first into the gig economy candidate pool. Keep in mind that it takes time to establish a sustainable gig routine, especially one that compliments your own schedule. Few professionals get it right immediately, so be patient.

Remember that establishing a sustainable gig routine doesn’t necessarily mean working full-time. In fact, incorporating part-time work into your routine can be a great way to achieve your professional or financial goals.

Embrace Your Inexperience

It’s okay to take gigs in an unfamiliar field. Maybe you’ve never been paid to write or take pictures before. That’s fine. Consider looking at gig platforms like Fiverr, which specializes in short-term gigs with quick turnaround times. As such, tasks tend to be smaller, such as a single blog post or image.

Fiverr is a marketplace, not a job search site. Freelancers, independent contractors, and other gig workers create a list of their service offerings and clients choose what best fits their needs. The base price for all Fiverr gigs is $5, making it an ideal space to delve into freelance work while also building skills and gaining experience.

Once you have a realistic idea of your ability and the work involved, you have a baseline for pricing your services. You will also have experience and work samples to share with future customers.

Pick a Platform

Finding your own gigs can be challenging. The time you spend reaching out to would-be clients takes away from your billable work. Various gig platforms have job postings for freelance work, acting as a direct link between gig workers and clients. Listing your services on a third-party platform streamlines sales and payment collection. It also gives you exposure to high-traffic sites and apps that people trust. Here are some of the most popular gig platforms:

Join the Gig Economy

Gig platforms are ideal for a number of task-based jobs, but there are other viable options when it comes to skilled service work. ProEdit specializes in staffing, placing talent for short-term projects and full-time jobs across North America.

Our network of writers, editors, content developers, and instructional designers trust us to help them navigate the gig economy. This is why we offer both staffing and job search services, ensuring both gig workers and clients find the right fit for their needs.

If you’re ready and eager to make it work in the gig economy, ProEdit can help. Join our pool of talented writers and content creators today! Visit our Jobs page to create a profile and upload your resume. Let’s work together to find your next gig!

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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