Getting Started in a Gig Economy
With tens of millions of people working in the gig economy, it’s clear the side hustle is more than a passing fad. But what exactly is a gig, and can you really leave behind the nine-to-five grind and still make a living? It’s possible, but you have to know what you’re doing.
SO WHAT’S A GIG?
A gig is short-term job, typically one that pays by assignment. Someone in the gig economy lines up various gigs to create a steady income. This is also considered self-employment, which means being responsible for reporting income and paying self-employment taxes. To learn more about taxes in the gig economy, check out the Freelancers Union’s tax guide.
HOW TO ENTER THE GIG ECONOMY
Unless an incredible opportunity comes up, don’t quit your day job to jump headfirst into the gig economy. Instead, spend time gaining experience and growing a customer base while you have a stable income to fall back on. Only when you’re confident you can make ends meet should you leave the office job behind and start working on your own schedule.
The following are some popular opportunities to get started in the gig economy.
DOG WALKING, PET SITTING, AND BOARDING
Who doesn’t want to get paid to spend time outdoors and play with cute pets? Pet services is a low-cost entry into the gig economy, but you’ll need to demonstrate to pet parents why they should trust you with their pets. Start with people you know to build a customer base before branching out, and make sure to be available midday, when most owners need dog walking services. If you have a reliable car, consider offering drop-in pet sitting).
DRIVING FOR A RIDE-SHARE COMPANY
To earn some extra cash on top of your day job, ride sharing is a perfect option. Driving on weekends and evenings is an opportunity to supplement income and allows the flexibility to take the night off when you have plans of your own. You’ll need a newish car and a clean driving history to get started with a rideshare company, as well as a current multi-point vehicle inspection.
SELLING HANDMADE GOODS
Is your collection of jewelry, pottery, or another handmade goods spiraling out of control? If you have a crafty hobby, you may be able to monetize it by selling your wares. Etsy is the most popular website for selling handmade crafts online, and you can gain a local following by investing a booth at craft fairs, farmers markets, and community events.
If you have a career skill that’s project based, quitting your job and working for yourself is an option. Whether you design logos, build websites, or fix people’s leaky faucets, going solo might be the answer to a better work-life balance. The best way to get started is to do side work while still employed, but don’t poach clients from your employer, or you might burn bridges!
SUCCEEDING IN THE GIG ECONOMY
The gig economy is great for freedom and flexibility, but it doesn’t offer the security of traditional employment. This means always hustling and managing your reputation, but that’s not all that’s required to succeed. Implement the following tips if you want to make it work in the gig economy:
Offer something unique - Find a way to stand out from the competition. You don’t need to offer something completely new, but you should at least offer it in a way that is better or different from the competition.
Build your brand - Appeal to customers on a level beyond service and price. Think about what your ideal customer looks like and design your branding to appeal to more people like him/her.
Create a network - Link up with other business owners for mutual customer referrals, ask loyal customers to give you positive reviews online, and make gig-economy friends to adventure with when everyone else is at work.
Making it work in the gig economy takes effort, but the rewards are amazing. Leave behind the frustrating commute and windowless cubicle to create your own hours and routines.With these tips in mind, you already have a leg up on outshining the competition.
- Guest blogger Lucy Reed has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created GigMine because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas.