The gig economy is defined as the part of the labor market focused on contractual, short-term, and freelance jobs accomplished by individuals working as “solopreneurs”, in direct contrast to full-time employees.
The gig economy originated from the global financial crisis of 2007, which prompted companies to resort to hiring talent for short term projects rather than hiring full-time employees. This move led to unforeseen benefits, including savings on training, office space, and benefits and a greater access to skilled global workers.
However, it was, more so, during the COVID-19 pandemic that gig workers stepped up to fill in the void left by massive layoffs and former office employees forced to work from home (WFH) with little experience in such a work set-up.
With time, even these full-time employees decided to accept gig work as well to augment their income. These dire circumstances brought home the disturbing realization that full-time employment did not guarantee total security, especially during times of crisis.
At present, even though people are saying that it’s time to get back to work in the office, many individuals have enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of WFH and accepting a wide variety of gig work, which allows them to utilize skills that are under-used in their workplaces.
While it’s true that there is a lack of stability in gig work, there are certain skills that can help you to find success. Let’s take a look at the 10 things you need to develop in order to thrive in the gig economy.
1) Always have the motivation to take the initiative and seize opportunities as they come
Gigs come and go. For this reason, you have to possess the motivation to take the initiative without waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Once a gig comes, you should seize it immediately. It usually takes only a matter of seconds before someone else grabs it from you.
2) Practice adaptability and adjustability
No two gigs are the same. You need to learn to adapt and adjust to every opportunity that comes your way. This means, getting rid of old or outdated ways of working. For example, if you’re a former full-time employee, you may have experienced working at a particular pace or doing things in certain ways. Many gigs have strict deadlines, with some even needing to be rushed.
You should change your mindset and get rid of old work habits that may drag you down and develop a new you that can not only handle opportunities, but also help you to maintain your work momentum.
3) Always be open to learning new skills
Skills are vital in a gig economy. If you have a broad skill set, you can grab other work opportunities that are outside of your current niche.
This means, the more projects that you are capable of accomplishing, the more clients you have and the more money you earn. That is why you should be open to learning new skills instead of just relying on those that you presently have.
For example, if you have experience working in a web design agency, you could consider expanding your skill sets in digital marketing. This could lead to more opportunities in future.
Besides new skills,take note that even old skills need to be updated as well. Thankfully, there are a lot of online resources which you can learn from at an affordable cost.
4) Hone your people skills
If you want to get ahead in the gig economy, you need to develop good people skills because you will be in direct contact with your clients and customers.
Perhaps at the start, you may rely on apps to touch base with them, but ultimately, personal engagement is what helps you to secure a good working relationship with people. Not only that, it is these same people who – having seen the quality of work that you do – will promote and market you to their friends and colleagues as well.
5) Practice networking
Direct contact with clients is insufficient if you want to thrive in a gig economy. You need to establish a network of reliable clients and customers if you want to keep those gigs coming in.
A good network is not just about clients/customers. You should also get in touch with people within your field of work or industry. These individuals will not only provide you with valuable advice on how to improve in your chosen industry, but they also can introduce you to others so that you can expand your network.
Whenever possible, network online on LinkedIn or attend meet-ups or events that will give you the opportunity to meet people in your industry.
6) Be motivated when working solo
If you have been working in an office in the past, you may have grown accustomed to getting assistance from your bosses and co-workers. More often than not, this would not be the case in a gig economy.
As a gig worker, you should find the motivation to work on your own and be fully accountable for the work that you do.
Take note though that because of the quick turnover of gigs, you may not have the time to do meticulous quality control like what you did in the office.
Don’t waste time endlessly checking your work.
It is more convenient to be at the lower or mid-range of consistency in quality control, so that you can easily move on to other projects.
7) Be an expert in your niche
In order to survive and thrive in a gig economy, you should be an expert in your chosen niche. You should know the types of services that your clients need.
This will help you to hone existing skills and learn new ones. Always be aware that clients have specific needs and that you have to have the right qualifications and skills to be able to address these needs.
8) Practice good reputation management
Once you have established yourself in your chosen field, you should maintain the good reputation that you have developed. You can do this by encouraging clients and customers to spread the word about you through testimonials and referrals. This would help draw in potential customers, especially in a very crowded gig economy.
9) Develop your personal brand
It is crucial that you and your services stand out in a crowded gig economy. To do so, you need to have a solid and persistent strategy in place for building a personal brand.
You need to push what you can do to potential clients and inform them on what you can do for them. Good personal branding strategies include plugging yourself on LinkedIn and other professional social media platforms.
10) Maintain a gig portfolio
The problem with gigs is that they may be too much, too varied, or you keep on getting the same jobs that you begin to suffer from boredom or burnout. Because of this, you start to lose interest so that even the quality of your work begins to deteriorate.
Maintaining a gig portfolio helps to keep your interest in your work alive by reminding you – and others – of past projects in which you have excelled. In addition, it helps you to keep track of the skills that you have and remind you of others that you would want to further develop.
Bonus Tip: Make it easy for customers to buy from you
One of the ways to increase your revenue in the gig economy is to systemize the services you offer and make it easy for potential customers to buy from you.
This is where having a digital storefront comes in. By clearly listing out the gigs you offer – and their scope of work – you reduce the need to exchange back and forth emails and messages with buyers. And by collecting payment upfront, you avoid having to waste timing with invoicing and chasing after payments.
That leaves you with more time to focus on your freelancing business, giving it an opportunity to grow.
Whether you’re thinking of just starting out in the gig economy or with years of experience under your belt, we certainly hope these 10 tips will help you to thrive in the new age economy.
If you found the tips useful or insightful, drop us a message and let us know!
Donald Chan is the Founder and Head of Content at MarTech Wise and Web Agency Wise, a leading online community for digital marketers, agency professionals, and startup founders. He also runs a portfolio of digital agencies and productised services.