Making the Gig Economy Work for You

The Great Recession definitely “did a number” on many individuals’ careers. Mid- or late-career professionals were downsized and unable to find a similar position at a similar income. New college grads struggled mightly to even find their first post-college position. Many men were let go and unable to find work due to a lack of positions in “traditionally” male occupations such as construction, transportation, etc.

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If you’ve struggled to find employment in the years since then, you may have found that you prefer to work as a free-lancer, subcontractor or even temporary associate due to the independence and flexibility such positions offer.

Yet the “gig economy” is attractive to many people today, not just those who fought to find regular work with an employer, because the siren call of freedom is hard to resist for many who have the skills to make it in this new, flexible economy:

“No one can ever fire me again!” is their mantra!

Additional reasons why more and more people are embracing a non-traditional work style (from Forbes.com):

  • Only 14 percent of companies offer pension plans to their employees (down from 60 percent in 1982), so what’s the point of working for an employer (some people may figure)?
  • LinkedIn reports that the average length of unemployment is almost six months (25 weeks). Many people may have decided not to look for work anymore and instead started a freelance enterprise.
  • Developments in technology make it easier than ever for people to start up new ventures and/or freelance from home.
  • Artificial intelligence probably will uproot the workplace in ways as yet unimagined, forcing/pushing more and more people to go solo. The Forbes article predicts that 47 percent of jobs are “at risk in the next 20 years,” with those who work in transportation, office and administration, logistics, and production probably at the most risk of employment upheaval

If you’d like to become a member of the gig economy, take a look below for some steps you may want to take in order to do so:

  • Ascertain your skills.

Many freelancers develop websites, work as business writers, write code, provide bookkeeping services, work as virtual assistants, consult for businesses, etc. What skills do you have that you could sell to others? Start researching how much money you may be able to make as a freelancer.

  • Save money! Lots of money.

It’s going to take time to start making money, so you’ll need some sort of income/cushion to tide yourself over as you start marketing your services. If you have a working spouse, congratulations! If you have debt, pay it down while you save.

The less outgo you need to worry about and the more savings you have as you start your new gig-economy career, the better. If at all possible, have at least three to six months’ savings handy and no debt.

  • Build a website and a social media presence.

Don’t spend too much time on your website in the beginning; it needn’t be fancy at all. Create social media channels and start posting/curating information of benefit to your target market.

  • Start trying different marketing tactics.

Whether you want to network at business functions in your local area, email or cold-call prospects, approach them on LinkedIn (or a strategy that uses all three), you’re going to have to start putting yourself out there.

If you consider yourself a shy person, work hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone: many introverts think they can simply email/reach out on social media to get clients. Of course you can, but it will take you far longer to land clients that way than if you were to pick up the phone and call and/or attend many networking events. At least in the beginning.

Instead, if you hustle up some courage and actually ask people for work, you’ll grow as an individual and grow your business much more quickly than you will hiding behind a computer.

  • Treat your freelancing as a business.

Sure, you can take an afternoon off to see the latest blockbuster, but if you do so and miss deadlines, you’ll have seen the movie but missed out on income. You can do both (see the movie when you want and get paid), but understand you may have to work on the weekends/late into the night in order to meet deadlines.

Remember: most clients want a reliable freelancer, not the best freelancer. Good enough is more than good enough if your clients know they can count on you to meet deadlines.

If you’ve decided to become a part of the gig economy and need some income to help you along as you build your business, consider working temporary assignments with Helpmates. You can work one-day assignments here and there, or work at a client for several weeks, which will help you keep your coffers full. Contact the Helpmates branch office nearest you today.

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