Gig Economy: What It Is And How To Survive

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the gig economy

The Origins Of The Gig

Part of being a millennial – or even one of the other generations that have been so influenced by millennials – means waving goodbye to workplace traditions, especially the archaic nine to five. That is why so many people have joined the freelance ranks; it is to work when and where they want.

Of course, this isn’t just because of millennials. It also has a lot to do with the 2008 economic meltdown where unemployment boomed and people began to take whatever work they could get the desperate hands on. Side hustles became full-time gigs, and this was the eureka moment for so many. It was the moment freelancing became mainstream. We’re talking about almost 35% of the workforce.

What made the gig economy official, though, was Uber. That thing burst onto the scene and changed everything. It gave people the chance to try their hand at the whole freelancer thing without much risk. Since then, Uber has become the status quo. It has changed it all.

Once upon a time, people just had to consider what careers they wanted and that was that. Nowadays, however, people can consider whether they want to be traditional or modern first, and that is attractive. People can look at the skill-set and then decide a) if it can be monetized and b) what the best way to monetize is.

the gig economy

The Darkside Is Controversy

Just because there are choice and flex and freedom does not mean the gig-economy has created a utopia. Not by any stretch of the imagination. If we use the Uber example again, nowadays all its media attention is negative. It is talk about hostility in the workplace, or not knowing who was responsible in an accident, or who the responsible party is should insurance need to step in, or what the worker’s rights are given they are pseudo-self-employed.

That is probably the most contentious part of it all, for most workers anyway. It is knowing what the workers comp is. It is this idea of working for a company, adhering to their rules and regulations, committing to regular hours and performing to their standards and demands without getting any of the employee benefits, such as healthcare, insurance, sick days or holiday pay.

After all, you are doing the same work as you may have been doing while employed, and you are getting paid the same, but there are added costs and responsibilities too, and that can feel like the employer is simply palming what was once their problem onto you.

Explaining Its Popularity

Like we mentioned at the beginning, the most popular aspects of the gig economy are less about the financial rewards and more about the freedom in which they can work and operate. It is the chance to work from wherever they decide and do the work when they want.

Not all of us operate well at half-eight in the morning, so why would we want to work then? Why not get up late, enjoy the mornings and then work until later? Or give yourself Thursday off because it is your kid’s sports day. That is what makes the gig economy more attractive than the normal nine to five thing; something that is feeling increasingly archaic.

This freedom extends way beyond just where and when you work, though. It is also that freedom of being your own boss. Now, we’re not saying that the boss has it easy (something that the freelance world is finding out – stress, commitment, responsibility etc.), but having that choice is a nice feeling, and knowing that the effort you put in gets directly rewarded – instead of working hard and hoping those up high notice and then promote – is attractive too.

Basically, joining the gig economy can be a worthwhile life choice.

What It Takes To Be Successful

For most people that are considering the freelance life, the grass can seem impossibly greener. That whole idea of being your own boss can look incredibly attractive. We get that. However, that naivety is also why so many people find it such a shock at first.

Being your own boss means your responsible for making your own money. It means finding your own clients, setting your prices, negotiating, invoicing, getting your invoices paid and managing your time effectively. Of course, this has been made easier by the internet because there are sites and apps that are designed to help, whether it be UpWork or Paypal or whatever.

Anyway, in order to be a freelance success, there are certain things you need to give careful consideration to. We’re talking about how you market yourself. Using social media to network and backing that up by attending networking events.

Another thing you absolutely need is a professional website complete with a portfolio that makes people go ‘wow’ like this one, and business cards too. You need to make sure your branding is spot on, you need to keep clients sweet so that you can get repeat business and you need to do the work as your promised. It ain’t easy, but it can be worth it.

A Brave New World Of Responsibilities

Yeah, we know it may feel like we covered this whole responsibilities thing in the point above, but we haven’t. No. We barely even scratched the surface. You see, the responsibility of getting paid and finding work is just a part of it.

The other responsibilities you have to shoulder are things like paying your taxes, getting health insurance and planning ahead so that you start planning for your retirement. There are all these expenses, and they tend to be a lot more expensive now that you are in the wild and fending for your own.

Health insurance will no doubt be more expensive, the additional taxes you face will no doubt add up to a massive amount and those retirement funds your employer once had to add are no more a thing to think about because they have gone. You now need to do this on your own and that can mean a lot of research to get a good deal.

So, the question is, do you think you are ready? Can you be your own boss? That’s what you need to ask yourself.