How to Thrive in the Gig Economy

As people continue to seek freelance jobs and side hustles, the gig economy is bustling. Not only are more people embracing contract or project-based employment, but more employers are seeking out this type of work. According to Zippia, more than 30 percent of Fortune 500 companies report using freelance talent. No matter your career goals, here’s how you could benefit from the gig economy.

What Is Gig Work?

Gig work can take different forms and may be referred to in a variety of ways. For example, it can involve “side hustles,” such as ridesharing and food delivery, which often supplement your income outside of a primary job. It can also include expert freelancing and professional contract services, such as web design, copywriting, and public relations consulting. Basically, gig work is an umbrella term for working as an individual contractor, even if you report to a company or client, often on a temporary or flexible basis.

Pros of Freelance Jobs

Working in the gig economy has plenty of advantages. As your own boss, you can choose which clients you work with and what hours you work. Your client might have some say in how you approach a project or how much you get paid, but ultimately, you don’t have to commit to set hours since you’re not considered a full-time employee.

This flexibility allows you to set your own schedule and work around other commitments, such as caring for a family member or pursuing your degree. Additionally, you might be able to earn a higher per-hour income than a traditional employee if you specialize in a certain field.

Cons of Freelance Jobs

While working for yourself has many perks, it can also have a few downsides. You won’t receive the same benefits as traditional employees, including health insurance and paid vacation or sick days. It’s also up to you to maintain a steady flow of income, which can be challenging when you work on a per-project basis. Many individual contractors experience busy, high-earning seasons and slow, low-income seasons.

How to Succeed in the Gig Economy

Whether you want to pursue gig work for a season or a decade, a few keys to success can help you thrive no matter what skills you bring to the table.

Grow Your Network

If you rely on a consistent stream of projects for your primary source of income, make networking a priority. Having a strong network of employers who are willing to work with you or speak to your performance will help you find jobs in the slower seasons. These individual connections can help you stand out among overcrowded job boards.

Sharpen Your Time Management Skills

No matter your field, clients want high-quality work that fits in their budget. But when they’re juggling many different sources of freelance talent, they also want a person they can count on. One of the best ways to outshine the competition is to be consistently reliable. This means developing good time management skills so you always submit projects by—or before—the deadline.

Take Initiative

Don’t wait for your client to come to you with a problem that needs solving. Instead, identify challenges and surface them with a proposed solution to help secure more work for yourself. For example, say you’re a freelance writer working on an article about taxes. As you’re doing your research, you notice the company’s blog has several outdated articles on the same subject. When you deliver your assigned piece, flag this observation and offer to update the older articles to keep them current. Not only might this lead to another job, but it will also demonstrate your value.

How Azusa Pacific University Can Help You Thrive

APU offers a number of programs that can help students and recent graduates succeed as freelancers. For instance, APU offers courses in entrepreneurship as well as specific gig economy skills, like a certificate in Digital Marketing and Social Media. Additionally, the Center for Career and Community-Engaged Learning provides assistance with resume writing and interviewing skills—both of which are essential for landing freelance clients. APU’s extensive alumni network can also provide valuable resources and connections at any point in your freelancing career.