Successfully Navigating the Gig Economy

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Successfully Navigating the Gig Economy

This is a guest post from Dean Burgess. Dean is fascinated by business-minded people, especially entrepreneurs. He loves to learn about the start of their business journey and where they hope to end up.

Technology has changed the way we interact with each other, including how we earn income. Once, your money-earning choices were limited: either find a job working for someone else or go through the harrowing process of starting your own business.

The gig economy has smashed those two options into many choices that resemble self-employment but also retain some of the security and structure of traditional employment. These freelance and remote, gig-based positions provide opportunities for more people to earn money on their terms. The work is not for everyone, but for those willing to organize their lives and put in the work, a flexible and rewarding career is available to all.

The Origins of the Gig Economy

Although these jobs are part of the current economic buzz, the gig economy is not a new concept. The origins of freelancing go far back into the beginning of capitalism. Writers, artisans, and priests adopted a casual, part-time route to earning money in medieval times.

While it seems that writers and other similar jobs such as illustrators and photographers have always worked in less-formal employment arrangements, most jobs became formal full-time positions under a traditional employer-employee model in the 20th century.

Then, technology and lifestyle choices combined to create new options for those looking to make a buck. The number of people who are involved, in one way or another, in “side hustles” has reached 41 million, and it is projected that soon half of the workforce will have some connection to gig work.

From ride-sharing platforms to apps and sites that enable connections between those who want to work and those who need jobs done, technology has helped influence these numbers. People are able to work remotely in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago. The cloud has democratized computing power and storage ability, allowing a laptop and an internet connection to replicate a full-functioned office for many people.

What Is Required for Freelancing Success?

Although technology enables these work opportunities, success requires more than just a laptop. Certain skills are in higher demand than others, such as computer programming and personal services such as pet sitting and dog walking.

Beyond these specific skills, general organization and management skills are necessary. Specific personality traits excel in gigs — you need to be outgoing, risk-tolerant, and self-motivated. When freelancing, you don’t have a boss to drive you, so you can get lost in your deadlines if you do not structure your day.

Learn which skills and behaviors you and your team needs to excel.

Freelance success also requires financial responsibility. You can bring in a large amount of money one week, then nothing the next. Budgeting your income is key; no matter how successful you may be, your cash flow will often be erratic. Financial management is important also because you will be responsible for tax withholding as self-employed.

Creating a Life-Work Balance

While freelancing offers flexibility that many desire, some can find that a too-relaxed atmosphere can lessen their productivity. On the other hand, some remote freelance workers can find that they get fused to their work and never have a break. A sustainable career sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle. One way to maintain a healthy balance between working from home and living a normal life is by setting up a well-organized home office.

Ideally, your home office should be a separate room or area from your house. You’ll need a sanctuary of sorts to handle all of your work. Keep the room or area well-lit and stocked with all the things you need to get your job done.

Once you have a good office setup, it’s a good idea to set office or working hours for yourself. Otherwise, you will find yourself either neglecting work or spending too much time working, risking burnout. If possible, try working outside of your home office once a week or so. This will help fight isolation and can help with business networking.

The gig economy presents several opportunities to make money on your own terms. With some planning and consideration of a home office and organization of your day, you can easily set yourself up for freelancing success.


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