How To Get A Foothold In The Gig Economy: A Guide To Freelancing

Gig-based businesses are short-term or part-time careers, and they are booming across the U.S. as people find they can make quite a bit of extra money on the side or go into work for themselves. While it’s not for everyone -- gig work takes a lot of tenacity, patience and problem-solving ability -- many people have found success in various forms of freelancing. The key is to do your research before getting started, especially since there may be other entrepreneurs nearby who are willing to work just as hard as you to get their own business off the ground. Knowing what the demand is for your product or service is essential. 

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It’s also important to know where your strengths lie. There are many ways to make extra money, but if you have a special skill or talent, you’ll stand out from the rest of the pack. Setting up a website, creating a social media presence, getting organized with contracts and taxes and developing online store can increase your visibility and help you garner customers right away. 

Here are a few tips on how to get started in the gig economy.

Decide what you want to do

While it’s possible to try a few things to see what you like best, it’s a good idea to start out with only a few paths narrowed down. If you’re interested in writing online, think about your goals. Are you interested in journalism, or would movie reviews be more in your wheelhouse? Being a freelance writer requires a lot of patience and tenacity simply because there are so many publishers out there, and they all have different needs and practices. The same is true for artists and other creative jobs; everyone wants something different. Understanding exactly what is expected of you as a business owner is especially important to understand if you’re thinking of making your side gig a career. Click here for other personality traits common in many business owners, and that may be required of you when running your own company. 

Take a class

You might be thinking of getting into the gig economy because you’re already skilled at a particular task and want to monetize it. Even if you have some knowledge on a subject, it can’t hurt to gain some more. Consider taking a class to learn as much as you can, either about the trade you want to practice or about business itself.

Do some research

It’s always a good idea to do some research where your business is concerned. Whether you want to amp up your income or start your own company, you’ll need to know what the competition is like, both in your area and online. Not only that, but it will be helpful to know how much other, similar businesses are charging for the same services and what their business model is. 

Get organized

As a freelancer, you will need to send contracts and invoices. If you are a photographer, graphic artist or consultant, you should consider each transaction as a partnership with your client. Luckily, you do not need to take crash course in contract law. Websites provide templates for you to download to ensure that you are paid on time. 

Freelancers also will need stay on top of filing quarterly taxes: April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15. Be sure to put some money aside to cover the self-employment taxes from a 1099-MISC form that each client must provide to you. Follow up with clients who do not include the form to you with billing.

Get online

No matter what you have to offer, you’ll want to have an online presence so your clients can easily find you and spread the word about your business. Starting a website is one step; having social media accounts is the next. Social media can make or break your business, depending on what it is, so create accounts across several platforms and keep them updated daily so that customers can stay in touch with you.

Establish a routine

Working for yourself may be the American dream, but it’s much more difficult to do than many people imagine. It takes a lot of dedication and self-control, so it’s important to establish a routine that will help you stay on track each day. Read on here for more tips.

Working in the gig economy can be hugely satisfying, but it can also be a lot of hard work. Make sure you have support from friends and family and remember to take care of yourself in order to reduce stress and anxiety. 


Lucy Reed, Gigmine