More and more people, especially among the younger generation, are marching out of the fixed salary and routine of their offices and into the unstructured work and life of contract work in the gig economy. Sometimes it’s a bold, intentional step into the unknown, and sometimes people are forced into it. There are countless opportunities out there, but the gig economy is also full of pitfalls and challenges.
Whether you survive on temporary, contract work, or you’re supplementing your primary income with a side hustle, you’re trying to find the best opportunities available. Your time is valuable, and it can take some careful thought to put the pieces together and build a successful career out of the parts available to you through the gig economy.
Opportunities: What’s Out There
Flexible hours and independence are big draws for individuals considering trying to make it outside of a full-time job, but you still need to find people that will pay you. If you have or you’re able to cultivate technology skills with coding, hacking, bitcoin or other top technologies, finding high-paying freelance work will be no problem. Blogging or becoming a marketing influencer on Instagram can also be lucrative if you’re able to establish the following and the professional relationships necessary. Along with freelance writing and editing, all of these options require certain knowledge areas or skill sets.
Other common options include working with a rideshare application like Uber or Lyft or selling your labor with other practical skills you may have like painting or plumbing. Working with rideshare apps can be easy to get into with consistent work, depending on where you’re living. Providing contract labor for landscaping or repairs can be very rewarding, but it takes time to find clients and build a reputation.
As delivery options for restaurants, grocery stores, and more pop up everywhere, there will always be delivery people needed, and that can be an easy and straightforward way to earn some extra cash and support yourself. Renting out a property, whether through long-term leases or short-term programs like Airbnb, is also an excellent source of income for a lot of people, although the hours of work it requires isn’t always up to you. Many freelancers also get a bartender license or find some other kind of part-time jobs that fit their schedule to supplement their income and fill in gaps.
The biggest challenge for people making their living in the gig economy may be maintaining discipline and getting work done without having a manager or another authority to set schedules and provide assignments with deadlines. Motivation is a tricky animal when it depends on you to make every decision, from when to get up and when to work to when to look for the next assignment. It takes vigilance and determination to keep moving forward and not lose your momentum.
Many freelancers find it helpful to cultivate particular spaces and practices that help them focus on work and keeping up their productivity. A private office or some other area set aside solely for work can help you to focus and minimize distractions. And as excited as you may be to escape the strict schedules of an office environment, productive freelancers design their routines and take them seriously. Routine builds habits, and habits can keep us productive and stop us from going totally off track.
Ideally, however, the driving factor that will give you the energy to keep it up and stay productive will be the better part of your work. Now that you’re free of the corporate workstyle, you can be selective about the work you do. Happy and prosperous individuals in the gig economy can find gigs that are meaningful to them, and that provides motivation.
Planning for the Future
When you first cut the cord and start on your own, you may focus above all else on just getting by, on earning enough to keep yourself afloat while you get established. Once you’ve started to find clients and get a regular stream of income, however, it’s crucial you don’t get too comfortable too quick. Some of the most significant benefits of full-time employment with a larger company are the long-term perks: insurance and retirement. If you’re going to support yourself in the long-term, you need to start saving and making plans to fill these needs as soon as you have the chance.