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Gettin Gig-gy With It: How To Make Money In a Gig Economy

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Many people want to know how to make more money so that they can:

  • save enough for a vacation
  • pay their monthly bills 
  • pay off their debt faster
  • save for retirement 

Whatever your reason, a side hustle might be just the thing that you need to achieve your financial goals. 

canvas tote full of groceries

If you’re wondering how to make more money without having to get a traditional second job, your solution is simple: the gig economy.

This might have started out as a small trend, but it has exploded into fulltime careers for many individuals.

So what is it and how do you make money with it?

Let’s Discuss: 

What is a "Gig"?

The “gig economy” is an employment market that is defined by the high ratio of freelance work or short-term contracts in contrast to permanent and traditional jobs. The whole idea of the gig economy is for one to earn more money or extra money with part time jobs and freelance work.

Best part of being a gig worker: it’s on your time. The scheduling flexibility allows you to take gigs when it’s best for you. You dictate how much or how little you work, depending on your availability and needs.  

With “everyone and their Mother” doing this, are there even any gigs left?

YES! 

Technology -> Connections

Technology allows people to connect with people (both individuals and businesses) willing to hire them for service-based or project-based work, based on their:

  • expertise
  • time availability
  • skills

Short-term gigs (or side hustles) are recognized as a legit means of income if you are in between jobs or just looking to supplement your income. 

Here are some facts that might change your mind about being a gig worker if you’re unsure if it’s actually legit: 

  • A whopping 34% of Americans (60M+) have or are planning to start a side hustle (Source: Zapier)
  • Around 40% of those surveyed said they needed the extra income to cover their basic living expenses (Source: Yahoo)
  • 85% of side-gig workers make less than $500 per month (Source: Earnest

The Bottom Line

It really boils down to:

  • the gig(s) you choose
  • how much you charge
  • the number of hours you work

Being a gig worker puts you in complete control if your hours and the time you commit. If you need to earn more for whatever reason, you can accept more jobs. 

Who Are the Best Candidates for Gig Careers?

Gig careers can be helpful to all age groups:

  • college kids who need to earn money while in school
  • senior citizens looking to supplement their incomes 

Hectic schedules make it hard to get hired by traditional employers. Gig work allows you to earn between classes and/or on your off-hours. Instead of having to ask for permission to leave and take care of your kids, you set your own schedule. 

Spoiler Alert: Everyone!

Gigs are great for:

  • College students with a crazy class schedule 
  • Parents who can only work limited hours while the kids are in school 
  • Senior citizens who hates the idea of retirement, but want out of their career
  • Creatives who love putting their writing/art skills to good use
  • Laborers who don’t want to have to expend tons of mental energy on a job
  • Audio-focused people who can listen to podcasts or music while delivering food
  • Introverts who aren’t fans of having to deal with coworkers and clients
  • Extroverts who love meeting new people, like Uber or Lyft drivers
  • People who love small talk and getting to see new places as they drive

Gigs also give introverts a chance to work from the privacy of their own home, dealing with clients through email or messages. 

Start a Side Hustle &
Build a Career

When it comes to gigs, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • skills
  • hourly rates
  • time management
  • other important little details (we’ll get to those) 

You might start out doing gigs here and there, then let it snowball into a fulltime job or career.. but you need to know a few things about starting and expanding gig work. 

When starting out, you might not have foreseen just how much time and effort a gig will take. You might lack certain skills or tools that you didn’t know you needed.

As you gain experience, you will be able to deliver for your clients at a more capable and faster pace, which will fuel repeat business. 

Some things to consider: 

Choose the Right Gig

You have to choose the right gig for you. That’s paramount.

As you’re looking over possible gigs, they might fall into a few categories:

  • YES! I could do this all day long! 
  • Meh. I’m okay with this *shrug* At least it pays the bills
  • OH HELL NO! 

Finding the right gig depends on a few key factors. Your:

  • Skillset
  • Life/Career Goals
  • Personality 

The Benefits of Research

Ask around:

  • those who perform gigs if they have endured any mishaps 
  • those who pay for gigs if their needs are being met 

Take a look at the gig you are considering, then make a list:

  • pros 
  • cons 
  • advantages 
  • disadvantages 

Why bother? Simply put: it will help you make the right choice. You wouldn’t want to work for a rideshare company without first considering the wear and tear on your car.

Check out forums and social media posts: the good and the bad.

  • What are people’s primary complaints?
  • What are others saying about their experiences? 
  • Can you handle dealing with people like this? 

Taking a bit of time to research before choosing just might save you a load of headaches. 

Should You Start a Business?

After taking a good look at the gig you’re choosing to pursue, ask yourself: should I turn this into an actual business? 

If you are going to be launching an actual gig business by yourself, perhaps you should consider registering as an S Corporation or an LLC (Limited Liability Company).

I’m not telling you to rush right out and do that. Speak with a lawyer to determine if it’s necessary or not. You might not even need to consider this if you’re working off a third-party platform like Fiverr

Taxes

Prepare for taxes. It just might be the last thing on your mind when you start gigs, but it should be one of the first. You don’t want to be hit with a bill that you’re unprepared for at the end of the year. 

TIP: keep your personal bank account separate from your business account, if you have one. You don’t want to mix up your finances and report incorrect numbers. 

If you have one in your network, speak to an accountant. Ask how you can prep for tax season, like how much of your earnings you should set aside. CPAs can help you figure out whether your gigs are helping you break even or costing you in the long run. 

Perk: No Restrictions

Yes, gig work may not provide the level of job security as a traditional job, but you’re also not restricted to one method/type of work.

You can find other ways to earn on your own.

Some gigs might require some skill development for you to make more at the same gig in the future. You probably don’t need it for food delivery or ridesharing, but you will need it for writing and graphic design.

It’s up to you if you want to get into those kinds of gigs or not. 

What You Need to Know
about Gig Platforms

There are various online or app platforms for on-demand work:

Through the magic of the internets, the gig economy connects individuals with brands that need their skills without having to go through certifications and a long application/onboarding process. 

Keep in mind: while looking for work through a platform, you need to abide by their rules.

Examples:

  • If they require funds in escrow, you can’t expect to be paid upfront.
  • If they have certain regulations about customer service elements, you need to know that in advance before you agree to anything.

Basically, make sure you read a platforms Terms and Conditions before you sign up.  

Reviews & Ratings

No matter how good you are at your gigs, your project manager (or whoever hired you) pretty much holds your success and failure in their hands. The ability to maintain a consistent flow of income or not will be determined by your reviews and ratings.

Gigs are quickly becoming a significant part of the overall workforce economy and platforms allow sellers and buyers to exchange offers/payments at a faster rate. 

Developing a solid work ethic and having the right skills will make you a stellar gig provider. Developing a good rapport and healthy client relationships is the best way to get to you enjoying full-time earnings. 

That being said, no matter what field you’re talents lie in or what skillset you possess, you can sell your expertise online. 

Let’s take a look at some gigs you can start working and earning from ASAP.

Here are examples of a few fields where you can put your talents and skills to work without leaving the comfort of your home: 

Freelance Writing

In a nutshell, freelance writing (as long as you’re proficient) includes:

  • editing 
  • proofreading 
  • translating 
  • transcribing 

Note: freelance writing is one of the most popular ways of earning extra money in the gig economy. You should strongly consider this route if you have the skills to convey a message.

On some platforms, skilled freelance writer can earn anywhere from $10-$250/hr.

This is dependent upon:

  • the type of writing that they specialize in 
  • their qualifications 
  • their portfolio or experience 

There is a wide range of specialties in this field:

  • medical writing
  • technical writing
  • academic writing
  • legal writing
  • entertaining writing
  • informational content
  • blog posts
  • works of fiction 

A perk about freelance writing: it mostly requires nothing more than a strong Internet connection and a gadget with a word processing software.

You can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection and one of the following:

  • laptop 
  • desktop
  • smartphone

Translations

Fluent in multiple languages? 

You can earn a living with that skill through translating. There are not many multilingual people in the gig economy, so a freelance translator can earn steady money from gigs. 

Fluent in an in-demand or difficult-to-learn language (such as Japanese or Mandarin Chinese)? 

You have a whole lot of opportunities open to you. Zip Recruiter assents that a freelance translator can earn up to an average of $62,159/year

Coding

Coding, otherwise known as computer programming, includes several popular programming languages, such as Java, SQL, and Python to name a few. The difficulty it takes to learn coding can ensure that a freelance programmer earns a high rate.

According to Career Karma, a freelance programmer can earn up to $60 as an average hourly wage. You can find work on gig sites or launch your own site to accept on-demand projects from individuals and companies who need your skills. 

Ridesharing

Another popular job in the gig economy: ridesharing.

This service allows users to transform their cars into taxis. The popular ridesharing apps are Uber and Lyft. Typically, they are more convenient and cheaper than traditional taxis.

For this, you need to:

  • own a smartphone
  • have a car and insurance
  • pass a compulsory background check
  • go through application processing to know the company’s rules and regulations

There is flexibility in work hours and one can earn an average hourly wage of about $15 to $25, depending on the location.

It’s possible to sign up with more than one company to earn from, too. Check with each company for details. They might change the rules from the time this is posted and the time you’re reading it. 

Delivery

Not every restaurant has delivery options.

The gig economy + the option of food delivery = lots more restaurants can now offer home deliveries using these third party platforms.

These food delivery platforms operate like the ridesharing services and let you earn cash for delivering food to customers.

A list of food delivery services:

Upwork

Upwork is arguably the largest freelancing job structure on the Internet and offers a wide array of fields for gigs:

  • writer
  • designer
  • sales marketer
  • legal service provider
  • business analyst
  • data scientist
  • brand expert
  • translator 

The platform takes a cut of all earning as a service fee.

  • Earn up to $500 of lifetime billings, they apply a fee of 20%.
  • Earnings of $500.01 to $10,000, it’s a 10% fee.
  • Earn over $10k, your fee is 5%. 

Fiverr gives you the variety of having writers, artists and programmers all on the same site. The site also offers you the option of add-ons, which lets you charge more when you complete additional tasks for each job. 

Like Upwork, Fiverr also uses a customized profile and portfolio and takes a 20% fee on all jobs completed. This is a good starting point for the newbies in the freelancing gig economy. 

How to Succeed as a
Gig Worker

Yes, there are several apps and gigs that you can use to earn some cash, but not everyone will succeed with them. You want to consider the following things before you get started so that you’re able to maximize your earnings: 

Skills & Schedule

Don’t take a gig if you’re unsure about completing it, whether you lack the time or skills. It’s better to pass an opportunity than to ruin your ratings by:

  • accepting a gig
  • failing
  • accruing bad reviews 

Go The Extra Mile

Be sure to carefully abide by requests from:

  • customers
  • clients
  • platform (if necessary)

Don’t stray from your assignment: if you’re hired to write a report, an outline is not going to cut it. 

Example of going the extra mile: a rideshare driver who provides snacks and has multiple phone charging ports available. 

Providing that little something extra creates a comforting experience and ensures you not only get tipped well, you will have great ratings for future work.

For freelance writers or graphic designers: feel free to suggest something a bit extra to seal the deal. That ensures you will be their first choice in the future.  

If the gig is something where you are chosen specifically (like ghostwriting) then ensuring your customers’ happiness will translate into more work via word of mouth recommendations. 

Currently sitting at a job you hate?

Unemployed and in need of money?

Gig work could be the solution to your problem! 

You could create a listing and have money potentially deposited into your account within hours, or even instantly if that’s the case.

Remember: there are no guarantees, so get everything in writing!

It’s possible there could be a bit of a lag between when you create a profile and when you get hired, so don’t give up too soon.

If you’re currently working, don’t quit your day job just yet:

  • Do some gigs in your spare time and build some momentum.
  • Learn the ropes and collect those great ratings.
  • Give yourself time to get used to gigs and see if this is the right thing for you. 

Once you have a foot in the door with a reliable income (as in your gig income potential tremendously outweighs your day job), then you can consider putting in your two-week notice. 

In time, you just might decide to move from a platform offering gigs to the creation of your own business entity dealing directly with customers and clients and cutting out the middleman altogether! 

YAY for your new business! 

Stock Photos:

Ivory Mix 

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