How To Get Started In The Gig Economy — By Lucy Reed Of

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By Lucy Reed Of

Most of us have been conditioned to think of work as something we do on behalf of someone else. We’re also taught to define success as how well we perform in those circumstances and whether the work we do pleases an employer. Unfortunately, for many people, that’s an artificial and restrictive way to spend 40 hours or more a week. And pleasing an employer is a subjective matter — you can meet the objectives of your position and still not satisfy a supervisor who has specific ideas about how you should work, how you should dress, and how you should interact with others. If that describes your situation, or if you just want to make a change and try something new, the gig economy could be just what the doctor ordered.

The Gig Economy

For a prospective contractor/freelancer, the gig economy is an opportunity to make a fresh start doing something you enjoy. If you’re not sure if it’s a viable alternative, consider that 57 million Americans are involved in the gig economy in some capacity. That’s roughly one-third of the country’s entire workforce, and those numbers are growing.

In other words, America’s gig economy is booming. It’s a good time to make the transition if you’ve had enough of the traditional, eight-to-five grinder because a growing number of companies have embraced the benefits of engaging experienced professionals on an ad hoc basis. However, it’s not like switching jobs — there are things you need to know to make it work.

Go with What You Know

Offer a service you know well and enjoy doing. For example, if you’re a writer or a designer, it’s probably not a great idea to start a landscaping business or become a financial consultant unless you have a background in those areas. The beauty of the gig economy is that you can take on work you want to do and work hours you want to work, so it’s a welcome change from being vulnerable to a demanding supervisor. Think about the niche you can create for yourself by offering a service in which you excel. The more you can specialize and differentiate yourself from competitors, the more you’ll stand out to potential clients.

Open for Business

You’ll need to let everyone know you’re open for business and make clear what you offer. Create profiles on freelance sites like Upwork that pair giggers with suitable opportunities. If you don’t already have a website, you’ll need one that’s professional and engaging. Remember, this will be your online identity, so consider having it done by a professional website designer.

Post samples of past work and provide a description of what you do and how you can help potential clients. Let former clients and colleagues know that you’re going into business as a contractor — they may be able to hook you up with work opportunities.

Get Organized

Entering the gig economy means you’re on your own — no one’s going to stand over your shoulder and ask about your progress. Getting work done on time and according to your customer’s expectations is on you, so make sure you’re organized. Set up a dedicated work area with minimal distractions. Make it a relaxing space with green houseplants and calming artwork. And keep the screens (TV, gaming consoles, etc.) in another part of the house.

Set firm work hours by determining which hours work best for you, though it may sometimes be necessary to work specific hours if a client needs something completed within a set timeframe. Being a successful gigger depends to a large extent on self-discipline and being motivated to get your work done well and on schedule. Once you’ve completed an assignment for a company, be sure to follow up and stay in touch so they know you’re still available and interested.

Gig-based work offers a degree of freedom and flexibility that can be incredibly liberating, especially if you’re used to being tied to a cubicle eight hours a day. However, it’s not a license to steal — you’re still responsible for pleasing your clients, and retaining them (and getting others) will depend on how well you perform.

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About Anura Guruge

See 'The Blogger' on my blog.

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