Flexible schedules, greater work-life balance, and the opportunity to do work on your own terms. Driven by the promise of these benefits, more and more Americans are joining the “gig economy” each day. The gig economy basically describes work done on a part-time or freelance basis, in which you work as an independent contractor instead of a regular employee. Gig workers comprise 35 percent of the U.S. workforce — a number that is expected to climb to 43 percent by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether it’s freelance writing, driving for Uber, selling your clothes on Poshmark, or delivering takeout, gigs can offer a more flexible alternative to a traditional 9–5 position — or provide a source of additional income.
If you’re fascinated by the possibilities of gig work but nervous to take on the risk, read on for our top seven gig economy tips to maximize your opportunities.
1. Tap Into the Latest Apps
Tech-savvy millennials powered the shift to the gig economy — and now, more and more gig-based mobile apps are popping up to meet their needs. When you download Amazon Flex, for example, you can sign up for blocks of time when you’ll be available to make deliveries in your area. With a meal delivery app like Caviar or DoorDash, you can similarly designate your own availability and receive alerts for nearby opportunities. Other popular options include HopSkipDrive, a ridesharing solution for kids; Instacart, a grocery delivery service; and Rover, a pet-sitting company. Chances are, if there is a service people need, you can find a company that’s looking for gig workers.
2. Make a Plan
It helps to map out a list of the potential gigs you’re interested in, as well as the type of schedule you want to work and your goals. How much are you looking to make, and what are you willing to sacrifice? Most gigs come without standard benefits like health insurance or a 401K — and the part-time or short-term nature of the work means that you may have to cobble together several different gigs to round out a decent income.
3. Be Comfortable With Marketing Yourself
Many gig workers find success by working with multiple platforms or companies. In doing so, you can become your own boss — which means you need to promote yourself, either via your chosen platform or your social media account. Interact with your customers, ask for reviews, and accept as many offers of work as possible. Stay up to date on the latest trends in your industry, whether that means taking online classes or perusing trade books.
4. Organize Your Gig Lifestyle
Because your schedule might change from week to week — and your tasks might vary on a daily basis — you’ll want to dedicate a calendar to record each of your gigs. Each task, no matter how small, should be added to your calendar. Set reminders to follow up on your paycheck for each gig.
5. Keep All Records
One of the top gig economy tips is to set aside a portion of your earnings for income tax purposes since the taxes are not automatically withheld as in a traditional employee situation. Calculate how much you’ll need to set aside for taxes — usually around 25 percent to 30 percent of your income. Remember to hold onto receipts and records that you may need for tax time.
6. Prepare for the Unknown
With determination and drive, you can be successful as a gig worker. However, these jobs tend to be less stable, and there may be times when the gigs seem to dry up. Make sure you’re open to the idea of looking for other work opportunities — and that you have fully considered your Plan B if your chosen gig doesn’t work out.
7. Establish a Regular Routine
As freeing as the gig economy sounds, it does require a certain amount of discipline. Each day, you should wake up and get dressed at the same time to set the tone for the day — even if you don’t have any gigs lined up yet. Devote a chunk of time to work on your resume or profile — think of it as self-promotion or branding. Stick to the work schedule you set for yourself as much as you can.
Get Your Finances in Order
At Ovation Credit, we applaud the energy, tenacity, and passion of gig workers. As you put these gig economy tips into action, let us help you make the most of your financial life. Contact us for a free credit consultation today.