I spent 672 days and one morning doing the same thing each and every day. I would leave at 6:30 in the morning, half-asleep, endure a 15-mile commute that somehow took an hour or more and pull into the too-small parking lot attached to a gray, square building. I would manage to make it to my tiny cubicle, tripping over the omnipresent gray carpet flecked with orange and would repeatedly squirt eye drops in my eyes to help battle the effect of the constant fluorescent lighting. It occurred to me that this is what people did every day for thirty to fifty years until they retired, and the thought made me want to run screaming from the nondescript building. Despite knowing that this is how the majority of people lived their lives, it made no sense to me; there had to be a better way.
I spent day 673 thinking of how to change this. I considered all of the craziest options and what I am good at doing. And with that day as the turning point, I started the process of transitioning into the gig economy. Since that time, I have made a living working for myself. While I primarily write, I do other things, such as house-sitting or listing items on eBay, to earn extra money and keep things interesting. I have managed to build a full-time income that exceeds what I made in my office job, and all I need is my laptop. While taking on “gigs” makes me sound like an 80’s hairband bassist, those gigs add up to a seriously lucrative income.
While joining the task-based economy is not for everyone, it is a growing trend people are turning to as an alternative to traditional employment. Some earn extra money to pay down debt or bulk up their savings and others are combining gigs to earn a full-time income and get the flexibility they want. They can be nimble and adjust their schedules as needed to pursue their passions while still making money.
What Is The Gig Economy?
A gig is a project or task that you are assigned to handle. It can be a one-time thing or an ongoing relationship. However, you are not an employee of the organization or individual; you are an independent contractor or helper and are really your own boss.
Gigs are not anything new—babysitting, dog walking and car detailing are all forms of gigs that have been around for years. The reason why the trend is booming is because of the prevalence and ease of apps that connect workers to customers, such as Uber or Shipt. Instead of marketing and handling their own outreach, freelancers can tap into an established brand and have customers waiting for them, making it easier to get started working independently.
How To Make An Income With Gig Employment
Some fields are a more natural fit for tasked-based employment than others. On-demand work, one-off assignments and recurring projects all work well in this sort of arrangement. These are areas where gig work can be the most successful:
1. Graphic Design
Whether you create gorgeous brochures or slick websites, graphic designers can make a steady income working for themselves. While sites like UpWork and Fiverr can connect you to clients, most find they can make more money by going it alone and reaching out to potential customers themselves.
Web developers, app creators and programmers are often called on to build a company’s new website or bring an idea for an app to life. This is typically a one-off project, so developers usually need to scout for new clients continually.
Writers can make a living from anywhere, as long as they have a laptop and internet. Just like graphic design, some platforms exist to connect writers to clients, but independent writers can command much higher rates.
Hobbyist photographers can make extra money—or even turn it into a full-time business, doing photo shoots for weddings or corporate events. Many also make steady passive income by posting their photos on stock photography sites like Shutterstock; they collect a fee every time someone downloads the photo for commercial use.
As an alternative to cabs and limousine services, Uber and Lyft provide gig workers with a way to make money by driving people to their destinations. You can choose whenever you want to work without a set schedule. If you live in a tourist area or a college-town, you can make especially make good money at night or on the weekends.
For many, the most dreaded weekly chore is grocery shopping. Services like Shipt address this by having contractors handle the shopping; once they finished collecting all of your items, they drop them off right at the customer’s front door. If you do not mind navigating the aisles, Shipt shoppers make a good base income and also receive tips.
One of the most passive forms of the gig economy is offering rooms for rent to vacationers, such as through Airbnb. You can rent out a room in your home or an in-law suite however many days a year you like (depending on your state’s rules and legislation) for additional income.
Gig work is well-suited for people who want more independence and variety in their lives. If you crave autonomy and the ability to be more spontaneous, the risk of an uncertain income can be worth it. By researching different options that fit your skill set, you can find a way to make a living by incorporating various gigs into your routine and give yourself more freedom.