Getting Started in the Gig Economy
According to a recent government report, 4.4% of the population of Great Britain has worked in the gig economy in the past 12 months. This may not seem like much, but that is 2.8 million people who have taken control over their working hours and earnings, embracing the freedom and flexibility of freelance and gig-based work. Here’s what you need to know if you are thinking of becoming one of them.
Gig Economy Jobs
Many people are curious about the gig economy but are not sure what they can contribute. Some opt to offer freelance services through online portals like PeoplePerHour, in which you can sell a variety of skills. Popular freelancing skills include writing, editing, design, coding, online research, social media management, and translation.
If you do not feel like you have the skills for these jobs, there is plenty of other work available. Love animals? Dog walking and pet sitting are great examples of gig-style businesses. Were you particularly good at a specific subject at school? There are plenty of tutoring platforms online. Have a bike or a motorbike? Become a delivery courier.
The huge wealth of online freelancing and gig-based platforms available means that it is easier than ever to get started. Each gig-based job works differently though, so it is useful to do your research before signing up.
For instance, bicycle courier jobs are quite easy to get started with (you can be up and running within a couple of days), but there may be upfront costs to signing up. For example, bicycle couriers for popular food delivery services Deliveroo and Uber Eats have to pay £100 and £30 respectively for their basic kit.
For freelancing and skill sharing sites, set-up is often free and straightforward – although some do charge commission per project. You are better off spending some time building a good profile and portfolio on the site, as most of these platforms are highly competitive. A little effort goes a long way to stand out.
Your Online Presence
Online platforms are a great way to get your foot in the door when it comes to freelancing, but if you want to make a career out of it you should be looking to build a brand and an individual online presence.
A website and email with a custom domain (e.g: without a “.wordpress” or “@gmail.com”) address are essential, as they make you seem much more professional. Web builders allow you to put together a sleek-looking website with little to no coding skills, and the cost of domain and hosting can be extremely affordable.
Caveats and Warnings
Be careful when using freelancing platforms, as they are a magnet for scams. Do not accept any work that seems illegitimate or sketchy (mailing parcels on behalf of someone is a common one), and make sure to use a payment release system.
If you want to make a career out of freelancing, you may only want to use these sites to get some experience for your portfolio. For most jobs, you are competing within a global marketplace, including freelancers who can afford to charge much less for their service. You will need a combination of cold-pitching and regular old job hunting on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn to find higher-paying freelance jobs.
It is worth noting that in 2016, Uber lost the right to classify its drivers as self-employed within the UK, which has potentially huge implications for the gig economy. The Guardian reported that cyclists and drivers from several prominent courier companies are trying to achieve the same status, meaning the future of the industry could be very different.
Joining the gig economy is a wonderfully flexible way to increase your income. You can do jobs on the side in your free time, or you can decide to become a remote freelancer with the power to work from anywhere in the world. The gig economy is relatively new and uncertain and may change significantly in the coming years, but it is also filled to the brim with opportunity. Be smart, proactive, and savvy, and you can succeed.
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.co 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.