Changes in working patterns have seen remote and freelance work gaining in popularity in recent years. With the reality of widespread COVID-caused job losses, the Gig Economy – ad hoc work outside of regular employment – has become the chief source of income for more people than ever before. And although many of these new freelancers are struggling with their forced circumstances, there are good reasons why others are taking to them like a duck to water.
Benefits of the Gig Economy
While working in the Gig Economy can be stressful, once you’ve learned the ropes and established yourself, there’s a lot to like. Three fifths of freelancers are in it by choice.
Working your own hours is an obvious benefit; there’s no such thing as the 9-5 (or 8-6) in the Gig Economy. And how you use that fact is up to you: some people work less, others add extra hours to their day jobs to put aside some spare cash. For those with young families, the flexibility of freelancing is a huge draw. Alongside that, you won’t need to spend time in the office, with all the politics, obnoxious co-workers and terrible coffee that are so often the price of doing business.
Avoiding the commute is another big one: given that many employees in traditional jobs spend upwards of an hour each way on their daily commute, this is a really attractive perk. Sometimes the Gig Economy commute is no further than the kitchen or office in the spare room.
Of course, there’s no reason you have to work from home. For many jobs, anywhere with an internet connection is sufficient. That gives you options – from spending time at a local coffee shop to becoming a digital nomad and working your way around the world in style.
Ten Gig Economy jobs you can start right now
There’s a good chance you’re already qualified for a job in the Gig Economy. Most people have skills of one kind or another they can monetise. While the list is endless, here are some of the roles in which you stand a good chance of getting started immediately:
- Software development
- Graphic design and illustration
- Copywriting and content creation
- Photography/videography and editing skills
- Customer service (online or telephone)
- Digital marketing
- Social media roles
- Project management
Ten tips for making more money with your skills in the Gig Economy
Getting started in the Gig Economy can be daunting, but once you find your feet you’ll appreciate the biggest gains are to be made by working smarter, not harder:
- Carve out a niche. When you’re one of few people who can deliver an in-demand skill, pay rates start to rise disproportionately.
- Hunt for lower fees. Securing a 1-3% pay bump might be as simple as finding a platform with lower membership/commission fees.
- Ask for a rise. Test the market’s appetite for your skills by increasing your rates. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what ‘normal’ pay can be.
- Broaden your horizons (and skills). Add new strings to your bow. Whether they’re related or unrelated to your core competencies, it’s smart to diversify.
- Invest in yourself (wisely). Courses to gain new skills, contacts and opportunities can be extremely valuable, but there are others that are simply a waste of time and money. Do your research, check the feedback, and choose carefully.
- Go direct (cautiously). If you’ve established an ongoing relationship of trust with a particular employer, it may make sense to work together directly, outside of the freelancer website. This is often against the terms and conditions, and carries other risks, so weigh the pros and cons before you go down this route.
- Go global. Some sites deal only with one country, others literally open a world of opportunities.
- Crypto freelancing. A new generation of blockchain and cryptocurrency freelancer sites like LaborX facilitate global freelancing, paying in borderless and efficient crypto.
- Put some crypto aside. If you know what you’re doing, you can invest in bitcoin and crypto as you work, potentially multiplying your earnings – though it pays to understand the risks too.
- Learn to love tax laws. You can often offset everyday expenses (electricity, computer hardware, heating, rent, etc) against tax if you work from home, since these are usually legitimate business expenses for freelancers. Find out the rules for your jurisdiction and don’t overlook this as a way of reducing your outgoings.
Five high-paying Gig Economy websites
All freelancer websites are not created equal. Some tend to pay better than others. On the other hand, certain websites have a more active market for work, so you’re more likely to pick up a job, even if the pay isn’t as good. Which sites you register for will depend on several factors, including your location, the type of work you’re looking for, potentially where you live, and more. Some of the best include:
- Upwork. A perennial favourite in the Gig Economy. Upwork’s 12 million freelancers collectively earn over $1 billion per year, with the highest-paying roles being front-end developers and content creators.
- Fiverr. While Fiverr once paid just $5 per gig, it’s now far more flexible – as well as being one of the most popular Gig Economy sites in the world.
- LaborX. A popular venue for blockchain and other jobs in the tech sector. All payments are made in crypto.
- Freelancer. This site has a huge number of jobs, as well as a thriving community of freelancers.
- Indeed. One for both freelancers and regular job-hunters – if you’re uncertain if you want to stick with the Gig Economy, why not check out both?
As 2021 rolls around, freelancing doesn’t look like it’s going out of style any time soon. Being ahead of the curve in the Gig Economy looks like being a wise move.