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How to Effectively Work and Succeed in the Gig Economy

The gig economy and how to succeed
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There are approximately 57 million people (more than one-third) who work in the gig economy in the United States.

According to Gallup:

  • Many workers in the U.S. have an alternative work arrangement as their primary job (29%)
  • One-fourth are full-time (24%) 
  • One-half are part-time (49%)
  • Including multiple job holders, 36% have a gig work arrangement in some capacity

Gallup classified people who have alternative work arrangements as gig workers. Examples of these are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, and temporary workers. 

Intuit predicted by 2020, 40% of all U.S. workers would be part of the gig economy. 

The workforce has become more mobile and most people who are a part of the digital age can take their work anywhere. 

The gig economy has helped people find work when they don’t have a full-time job. It has also helped small businesses as well. They are able to find the best hourly employees to do small projects and gigs while not having to pay someone full-time and offer benefits. 


What is the Gig Economy?

According to the dictionary, it is a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. 

Because of technology, many people who have been laid off, quit their jobs, or have retired have been able to take on short-term projects for different clients. It is also a market for people who tend to get bored in the same role or want to have flexibility in their work. It is also a way for people to discover what they really like to do. 

For a small business, hiring gig workers saves on office space, pay, and benefits. 

For a gig worker, it offers the flexibility to set hours for different clients and can help with work-life balance. 

Who are the people working in the gig economy? Everyone. Students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, people who have been laid off, or even workers who got tired of working in high-stress environments.  It is for many types of people who can afford the flexibility of working for a variety of different clients. Working in the gig economy can be part-time or full-time. 



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Examples of Gig Economy Work

Some people may work through an employer directly. They may look through job postings or know someone who can connect them to a gig. 

But most opportunities are given through apps or websites. These protect both businesses and workers. Many of them offer contracts, flexibility, and payment. 

Some examples include: 

  • Upwork or Freelancer – These sites provide a place for a worker to bid on jobs in their field and speak with the client on the site. They are also paid through the website. This helps to ensure the worker’s information is safe. The site takes a percentage of the worker’s earnings. 
  • Etsy – This is a site where people who are crafty or artists can display and sell their work. 
  • Poshmark – Some people buy or make clothing elsewhere and sell fashion through this site. 
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk – This is a crowdsourcing marketplace where businesses outsource their processes and jobs to workers. 
  • Bellhops – If you are professional, strong, and physically fit, you can earn money by helping people move. 
  • Care.com – If you like caring for pets, babysitting, or taking care of the elderly, then this is a good option for you.
  • Fancy Hands – You can apply to be a virtual assistant and pick up tasks on your own schedule.


Gig Economy Sites

There are many gig economy apps to find jobs which match your talents and see what fits you best. Some sites are for those who like to do lawncare or work as a handyman. Also, there are sites where you can get gigs delivering groceries or food for people. It is not just for those who use a computer. The gig economy offers work for a variety of functions and jobs. Whatever you like to do, most likely there is a site which offers that type of work. 

You may want to register for several sites giving you the flexibility to complete as many projects as you like. 

When you get a job it’s important for you to track your hours so you know exactly how much you should get paid. ezClocker is an easy to use time tracking app that helps you keep track of your hours and will calculate how much you have made based on your hourly rate.

The most important thing is that you do what you promise. Most of these sites offer ratings for workers so you want to ensure you offer professional services and you are a good worker. As you get better and do what your clients want, you will become a success in the gig economy. 


Pros and Cons of Working in the Gig Economy

Some pros include:

  • Doing what you love
  • Flexibility of time
  • Variable work
  • Independence

Some cons include:

  • Must have self-motivation
  • No health benefits
  • Pay may not be timely
  • You may miss working with others
  • You are responsible for your own taxes

Though many gig economy workers have many flexible benefits, they do not have traditional benefits like medical insurance or 401k. 

If you don’t belong to a site which guarantees payment, you may not be paid timely or accurately. Pick sites which offers the worker guarantees. Furthermore, ensure local businesses give you the dates when you will get paid if you are not working through a guaranteed payment site. If you are working through a contract, ensure that the contract specifies payment guarantees and dates. 

You should also ensure you work for more than one client, especially if working in the gig economy is your primary source of income.  Clients can come and go and many times they are working from a budget. They may have to make alternative arrangements and hire someone full-time, or your work may be something they don’t always need. 

Working for a variety of clients helps to keep your workflow going. 

If you are getting many gigs and find yourself missing co-workers, there are many places in towns which offer share work spaces for low rent. Check your local area for these opportunities. This will help you meet new people and share experiences. 


Pricing

It is important to know that in most cases you will be responsible for your own taxes. Most clients pay in full and don’t deduct taxes. You should ensure you keep this in mind when bidding on projects. You may go lower in price in the beginning because you are new and want good reviews. But once you have established your brand and reputation, you should ensure you are getting paid fairly for the work you do. Establish your hourly rate by your knowledge and expertise. 

Don’t underprice or overprice your services. Research best practices online. 


Final Thoughts

If you know someone else working in the gig economy, consider starting a small business with them, developing a website, and offering your services online and in your community. As more projects come in, you can hire your own gig workers to help with the workload. 

Working in the gig economy can be challenging at first. Research different sites and find the jobs you know you can do well. Expand your knowledge too. You may find you have other skills as well. Find jobs you really enjoy doing and ensure your clients are happy. Guarantee your work and offer refunds if you don’t do what you promise.



Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.

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