We know you’ve heard about the gig economy, and you may even know people who are participating in it right now.
Although the gig economy pays out millions of dollars a day to people just like you, sometimes it's hard to know if this is the right playground for your next side hustle.
Today we are going to explore this question: is working in the gig economy right for me?
What is the Gig Economy Anyway?
Dictionary.com defines it as an economic sector consisting of part-time, temporary, and freelance jobs.
We believe the gig economy is the collection of online platforms that let workers sell their services directly to consumers on their schedules.
This leads to an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.
Simple enough no?
The beauty of the gig economy is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all opportunity. On the contrary… it's attracting people from all walks of life, regardless of age and circumstance.
Let’s meet some of the players.
Bob is a family man with a job, three kids, and two dogs. But Bob just got the dentist’s bill for his kid’s braces, and he doesn’t know how he’s going to pay for it.
Bob needs help.
Thankfully, Bob is good with his hands and enjoys building and fixing stuff. His friends know that if something is broken, call Bob.
So Bob signed up for TaskRabbit, a popular tasking platform, to offer his handyman services throughout Atlanta. Bob is now making about $30/hour part-time, clocking in about 10 hours per week.
This gives Bob an extra $1,200 a month. Not too shabby!
Sarah is a single mom living in downtown Toronto. Her daughter needs glasses, and they’d like to go on a holiday soon.
Sarah doesn’t have time to take on a second job, but she does have two parking spaces.
Kim has lived in Los Angeles her whole life, and knows every street by heart.
Kim is saving for a long-awaited trip to Europe. She’s got a great sense of direction and her afternoons are free.
Henry doesn’t like people very much, but he loves cars. He just took the plunge and bought a beauty of a car, but the payments are stressing out his budget.
Henry needs help to make that second car payment, so he asks around about part-time jobs. Henry's internet savvy friend Carlos points him to online car-sharing platform Turo, which allows people to rent out their cars.
Dave just graduated from University but hasn’t landed his dream job yet. He’s got student bills that demand attention. Thankfully, he’s got his weekends free, has an excellent knowledge of the city, and a decent vehicle.
Dave signs up for data verification and inspection platform WeGoLook, and spends his spare time acting as someone else's eyes and ears on the ground.
Christy just lost her job, and she’s planning to move back in with her parents for a while. She has no cash, but she’s got a lovely apartment with a great view of the Mississippi river.
After a few Google searches, Christy decided to give home-sharing sites Airbnb and Homeaway a try. After hosting her first couple for a long weekend and getting $560 in return, Christy knew she was on to something.
The Gig Economy: How About You?
Does your life sound anything like Dave's, Christy's, or any of the above examples? Do you also find that there’s too much month left at the end of the budget? Are you struggling to make ends meet?
As you contemplate whether the gig economy is a good fit for you, here are some questions to get you thinking.
- Do I have some spare time?
- Do I like interacting with people, or am I more comfortable on my own?
- Do I have a hobby or a skill that I can monetize? (Think outside-the-box when you answer this one).
- How much money do I need each month to meet my goals?
- Is this going to be my ONLY form of income, or will I do this in addition to my full-time job?
- Am I willing to invest time and effort?
- Do I understand the do-it-yourself implications of the gig economy?
The gig economy isn't for everyone. It requires you to be a self-starter, picking up jobs when they become available instead of spending that free 4 hours binging on Netflix.
Thanks to the digital revolution and mobile technology innovation, it is now easier than ever to become what we like to refer as a micro-entrepreneur. When working in the gig economy you are an entrepreneur because you are a small business owner of sorts.
Whether you rent out your home, monetize a hobby, or leverage skills you have like attention to detail, you are a small business owner. We use micro, because these are gigs rather than full-time employment, so you can work as little or as much as you want. It's totally up to you!
These gig economy platforms have done all the hard work for you. They've developed the website, technology, found customers for you, and will process all payments. How easy is that?
All you need is action. Act now and try out a gig economy platform.
But first, consider a few tips from the WeGoLook team.
Because you are representing yourself in this economy, it’s crucial that you make sure you have all of your bases covered when it comes to insurance and liability. Don’t take unnecessary chances when it comes to your livelihood.
That is, on gig economy platforms where you're monetizing a large asset - such as home or car - make sure you speak with your insurance provider. Or check out our insurance articles on home-sharing and ride-sharing.
It's important that you automatically set aside some of your earnings each month to cover your taxes at the end of the year. The gig economy is work, and as always, governments will want their share!
Wear and Tear on Assets
Even though there are tax breaks available for home-based businesses, you still need to factor in the effects of depreciation on your home or vehicles when considering working in the gig economy.
Healthcare and Security Benefits
Be prepared to provide personal benefits for yourself, such as healthcare insurance (i.e., there are no sick days when you work for yourself), retirement savings, and Unemployment Insurance (UI).
If you have a full-time job and are moonlighting in the gig economy, then this won't apply.
Even with some of the unique considerations of gig economy work, the benefits outweigh the risks. Increased consumer choice, work opportunities, and economic growth are just some of the ways the gig economy is winning favor with its participants.
Participants in the Gig Economy finally have freedom, flexibility, and mobility, and they love being able to work on their terms.
Are you still struggling to decide? Take a free gig economy quiz available at the Casual Capitalist blog to see which platforms suits your lifestyle.
It’s up to you…
- If you are like Bob and you have handyman skills that you can monetize, check out companies like TaskRabbit.
- If you are like Sarah and have extra parking stalls you can rent out, check out companies like JustPark.
- If you are like Kim and you can easily navigate your city to deliver food or packages, check out service companies like DoorDash, Instacart, or Postmates.
- If you are like Henry who has a great vehicle that he can rent out and thereby offset the cost of car ownership, check out Car Sharing companies like Turo or GetAround.
- If you are like Dave and can spend your free time around your city, check out inspection companies like WeGoLook.
- If you are like Christy and you can rent out your personal property to willing travelers, check out Home Sharing companies like Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO.
Good luck, and happy gigging!
WARNING: Finally, there is one more player in this gig economy. His name is Ian, and even though he could use the extra money and has spare time, he’s either too lazy and too afraid to try something new. Don’t follow his example; don’t be like Ian.