Today, roughly 55 million people, or 35 percent of the labor force in the United States now work in the gig economy. As a WeGoLook Looker, you are a part of this growing population.
As more independent contractors offer rides, short-term rentals, and on-demand labor, interest in the gig economy continues to rise. Although you as a Looker are an expert in your field, it’s important to learn from others in the industry. WeGoLook has canvassed some of these experts to give you actionable insight and tips to help you succeed in the gig economy.
1. Have great pictures of your work and of yourself – Bryan Clayton, CEO of Your Green Pal
“My number one tip for gig workers is to upload the best possible pictures of their work and of themselves to their profiles. Then after you take the best possible pictures, either professionally or with your iPhone, you can get them touched up by a Photoshop professional on Fiverr for five bucks. It's amazing how little effort most gig workers put into professionalizing their online profile.”
2. Have a strong digital presence – Ben Friedman, Cofounder of All Set
“Put your best foot forward (and by “foot,” I mean “digital presence”). This means you should work towards having a professional website and online profile.”
3. Be reliable - Najeeullah Babar, President of InterloperInc.com
“Be reliable! The client doesn't know you very well and if you are remote, they don’t even see you. The client most likely has some trepidation, and if you turn out to be a little unreliable, they are going to bail on you. So, if you say you are going to deliver by Monday, then come hell or high water, you better deliver on Monday.”
4. Keep your expenses organized - Jacob Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Community Tax
“If you're a gig worker, you're really an entrepreneur, not an employee. Therefore, instead of submitting expenses to an employer for reimbursement, you'll claim them as deductions from your taxable income.
“Gig workers who wait until tax season to try to organize their expenses invariably end up kicking themselves because it's a difficult and time-consuming task. Instead, any expense that might be deductible (think supplies, car, travel, home office) should be processed as incurred.
“Write the purpose of the expense on the receipt, use a file system, build a spreadsheet, and/or use a tool like Quickbooks. Come tax time, it will be so much easier to turn these expenses into valuable tax deductions.”
5. Ask for feedback – Deborah Sweeney, CEO of Mycorporation.com
“My number one tip for gig economy workers is to ask for feedback. Great feedback can be used to promote yourself (5-star reviews, excellent value, and great services all encourage potential new buyers). Feedback, if constructive, can also be used to improve your services for the future. Feedback is one of the most valuable tools for improvement and promotion!”
6. Use text messaging in addition to email – Brian Mikes, Betwext.com
“My number one tip for gig workers is to connect with contacts and prospective clients via text message in addition to email. At times emails get lost, buried, or just forgotten. By following up with a text message on your proposals or job opportunities, you can connect quickly to the decision-makers and maybe turn a lost email into a job.”
7. Achieve mastery over the clock - Alex Diamond, Marketing Consultant at Mr. Diamond Marketing
“Gig work is all about beating the clock. This means saving time, and also knowing how long you take to work. You need to know exactly how long you are spending on any task. Use your calendar, a simple planning sheet, or even a specialty app like Toggl to record everything that you do for two weeks. It forces you to see how you are spending your time, and how you can get more done every day.”
8. Prioritize your best clients - Paul Koger - Head Trader and Founder of foxytrades.com
“Find out which clients or projects are bringing in the most income and focus only on completing those. The 80/20 Pareto principle applies to gig work as well. Do your research to locate the 20% of clientele that gets you 80% of your income, and skip or deprioritize the rest.”
9. Choose work you enjoy - Trish McDermott, Vice President of Babierge
“Choose the gig work you enjoy. It's still work, and the more you enjoy it, the more likely you will be to show up and actually earn some money. Do you enjoy being around people, or something more solitary?
“Are you willing to find more business to earn more, or do you prefer to have work or customers delivered to you? With growing opportunities for gig work, ‘gigsters’ can be a little picky about the side hustles that best meet their needs, financial and otherwise.”
10. Time blocking – Bob Clary, Director of Marketing at DevelopIntelligence
“One method we recommend gig workers try is time blocking. This is where they schedule time to work on specific projects for a specific client. This keeps them focused on the task, makes billing time easier (less stopping and starting time trackers), and usually results in greater productivity because of increased focus.”
11. Setting goals - John Liston, Manager, Strategy, and Operations at All Set
“From my perspective, the number one recommendation I would give to an aspiring gig economy worker would be to set goals for their gig economy work and then track their progress against those goals. I do not just mean setting a financial target for earnings, but also a desired outcome in terms of career and business development.
“Gig economy workers typically fall into two buckets. First there are part-time workers simply looking to supplement their incomes. For these people, it's important to track the ROI on their time investment and stay abreast of the different technology solutions available for them to find customers.
“The second bucket consists of workers who would like to start as gig economy workers, but would be willing to transition to full-time as a small business owner if they are able to get traction for their services. This bucket needs to be especially careful with their goals and tracking as they need to avoid trading time that would be better invested in building a brand for short-term hourly wages.
“This group should also act like an independent business from the start with business cards, a professional email, and other small touches that will allow them to grow a brand through word of mouth down the road.”
12. Keep a regular schedule - Rob Swystun, Business Communications Specialist
“My tip for gig workers is to keep a regular schedule. It doesn't have to be regular business hours, although that helps if you're offering a service that corresponds to businesses that are open during those hours. Regardless of what times you make yourself available, be consistent and avoid only working when you feel like it.
“As a small business communications consultant, I keep a regular schedule that corresponds to regular business hours because I offer a B2B service and my clients know that I'm available during their regular hours, which helps me maintain client relationships.
“If you're an Uber driver or something that isn't dependent on business hours, still try to keep a regular schedule. This will help you look at it as more of a job than just a gig. Go to work at the same time each day, know what days you're taking off, and stick to the schedule you've made for yourself. The best part of being a gig worker is that your schedule is flexible, but you shouldn't take too much advantage of that or your schedule will become sporadic.”
13. Budgets aren’t just for money - Grant Stanley, UX Designer at Bric
“Budget time to sell. Too often freelancers and gig workers focus solely on doing the work. Then, once the project is over they are left with nothing to do. Instead, gig workers need to budget X number of hours a week to network and develop new customers. Personally, I budget 8 hours a week to developing new customers.”
14. Stay flexible and prompt! Lori Rassas, Career Coach
“I have learned that the key to success is to always remember that the gigs you are going after are not about you—it’s about what you can do for the person looking to hire you. It’s called the “on-demand” marketplace for a reason—because people want what they want and they want it now.
“Employers turn to the gig economy because they want to get the work done quickly and without any of the other hassles that may come with the hiring of a regular employes. You need to respond quickly, adapt to any changes, and get the work completed on time and, better yet, before it’s due.
“All a prospective employer wants to know is (a) do you have the skills that they’re looking for and (b) if they hire you, can you hit the ground running and get the job done?”
15. Target your niche - Melissa MacDonald, Owner of Sweet Spot Marketing
“My number one tip for gig workers is to target a specific niche. The biggest mistake I see gig workers make is trying to appeal to every client by offering numerous services.
“For example, when I started freelancing, I made the mistake of offering more than just Etsy - exclusive services, but I only landed about 40% of the jobs I applied for. Then I narrowed my niche to be Etsy specific, and my job success on Upwork now converts at a surprising 90%.
“Target a specific niche, only offer services in that niche, and notice your conversion and income surge.”
16. Networking - Daniel Moran, Full-Time DJ
“My best advice is to grab lunch or coffee with at least one person in your industry per week. Over time you run out of people you already know, which forces you to develop relationships with those on the periphery of your network. The more you do this, the more gigs get passed your way when folks are either double booked or are not quite as good a fit for the job as you are.”
Although being a gig worker has its benefits and challenges, this expert advice may just help you become even more effective. You’re the boss, but that means you are almost entirely responsible for all aspects of your small business. You can work when you want, but still need to earn an income. By networking, setting goals, keeping track of your finances, blocking time, and implementing some of the great tips above, you will help ensure your effectiveness as a Looker and gig worker.