The Beginner's Guide to Breaking Into the Gig Economy

Posted by Lucy Reed on Jul 19, 2018 10:03:42 AM


Gone are the days when people need full-time day jobs working for a company and collecting a weekly paycheck. Gigging, which is defined as on-demand and project-based services, has grown so rapidly that gigs exist everywhere you turn. Whatever your reasons are for getting into the gig economy, read on to learn the ins and outs of gigging.

There are people who gig full-time and make a decent living, and there are people who gig for extra income. There are also people who are unemployed but need money to get by until they find full-time work. Some people freelance as a side job, while others turn it into a business.

Everyone has different reasons, but they usually have similar personality traits. In order to survive in the freelance world or as an entrepreneur running a business, you must be tenacious, willing to take risks, able to adapt and solve problems, and bold enough to seek out work. That means asking your network to hire or refer you, selling yourself as an asset to potential employers, and contacting potential clients who might not know you exist.

A gig can be anything from walking a dog to making an airport drop-off to developing a website. It’s a one-off job, a project, or (sometimes) a steady gig. It’s usually temporary and based on a specific task or skill. There are two ways to find gigs: post your services online and wait for employers to find you or search for gigs and apply for them. The latter is an active approach and is more likely to land you work until you become in-demand enough to get recruited via word-of-mouth. You can start with these sites that connect users to users:

  • Fiverr is a website where you can offer a service starting at $5.
  • TaskRabbit is a site for everyday tasks and handy work around the house.
  • Craigslist is a popular forum for connecting users, but it can be a haven for scams.
  • Upwork is a bidding site for creative freelancers such as writers, graphic designers, and web developers. Upwork vets their freelancers, so it’s not as easy to break into. You bid on jobs, and clients hire you based on your portfolio, reviews, and test scores.

App-based gigs, meanwhile, allow you to pick up work on your own schedule, whether it’s driving for a ride-sharing company or delivering meals.

In some cases, gigs are paid through a company’s payroll system with W2s and tax deductions. Most gigs pay you as an independent contractor, sometimes with a check and other times through Paypal. Since the employer isn’t withholding taxes from your paycheck, this means you need to set aside the money for taxes later. Don’t get caught up in spending everything you make, because when tax season comes around, you don’t want to find your bank account empty from poor planning. If you’re gigging full-time, you’ll also need to set aside money each month to pay for health insurance. Since you’ll have to account for additional expenses like insurance and overhead, set your rates higher than an hourly employee would make.

Employers hire freelancers because they don’t have the budget for a full-time employee and only need occasional work done. It saves them money on paychecks, overhead, and insurance. But it is in these instances that freelancing hurts the employee. Without a full-time job, you have to pay for your health insurance and expenses to run the business. Some months might be busy and others might be dry so any money you save might have to save you during dry months.

Sometimes all it takes to get into gigging is knowing someone who needs your help. Perhaps you’ve had a taste of the freedom and flexibility and now you want to grow that work into a business. Keep a thick skin and be persistent in the gig economy. There will be lows, but if you can fight through them to stay afloat, you’ll be closer to your goals.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Topics: gig, tasks, Tech, side work, work, fiverr, gig economy

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