Over the past few years, an increasing number of people have moved away from traditional employment in favor of gig-based work. These freelancers and gig-workers often work remotely, with flexible schedules and varying opportunities to earn money. Success in the gig economy, however, requires a little more than simply showing up and asking for work. It requires enthusiasm, tenacity, discipline, and organization.
How Gig Jobs Typically Work
Although gig or freelance jobs come in many varieties, there are a few standard characteristics. Much like any self-employed work, the job of attracting and securing clients is squarely on your shoulders. Some fields have portals and conduits to help set up a “funnel” of repeat work, but even with the assistance of such tools, if you do not stay on top of prospecting, you will run the risk of your workload drying up.
Once you have a job from a client, you handle the task to completion, then send an invoice and await payment. Unlike working for someone else, you do not get a paycheck.
Necessary Traits for Successful Freelancing
Essentially, you pay yourself out of the money you bring in from your efforts. This system requires diligence and financial organization, as you must set aside money for taxes and cover other expenses, such as health insurance, that an employer normally would offer. And since your work may be sporadic, gig jobs require self-discipline. Your efforts alone will determine how much work you do and how much money you will earn.
There are several important traits required to run a successful business, one of which is a risk-taking attitude. Since there are so many unknowns, those who need job security may not enjoy the rigors of the gig economy. On the other hand, many entrepreneurs believe job security is an illusion to some extent. Large, seemingly stable companies such as General Electric and Amazon lay off employees when necessary. These entrepreneurs would argue that the only secure job is the one that you fully control — as is the case with freelancing.
Another successful trait is a desire for improvement and self-education. The gig economy requires learning new skills from time to time, and those who relish the opportunity to learn new things often excel as a freelancer.
Overall Organization Is Key
In addition to a risk-welcoming, hard-working, and knowledge-thirsty personality, success in the gig economy calls for high-level organizational skills. Your workflow must be scheduled precisely. While freelancing affords opportunities for flexibility, this can be problematic for anyone who does not plan out their day in advance. Poor scheduling will result in late-night scrambling to meet deadlines, rushed work, and lost clients.
One way to make organization easier is to create a separate home office space. Separation is important because your work can suffer from a too-casual approach. If you can, set up a separate office in a spare bedroom or area away from the noise and bustle of your home life.
While there are many quality-of-life benefits associated with working from home, you should also look for opportunities to step out of your home from time to time to connect with other professionals. Many cities and towns have co-working spaces that have low daily rates. Try working and networking from one of these locations once a month or once a week. At the least, it will get you out of your home office and avoid the stagnation that can result from isolation.
The gig economy presents amazing opportunities for those who have the personality and skill to be self-driven for change. Some of these necessary traits are innate, while others can be developed through organization and commitment. If you feel you have what it takes, join the freelancing revolution and make your self-employment dreams come true.