The Gig Economy, everything you need to know about it.
The Gig Economy Can Be A Win-Win Situation For Both Workers And The Job Market
Freelance has become the new normal, and both individuals and companies are no longer afraid of making the jump.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the traditional workplace, whose foundations go back to the 1940s, has gone through some pretty striking changes, with everyone wondering about what will unfold to replace the nine-to-five jobs that we are familiar with. The answer is actually very simple, and in fact, it’s not a very new trend either- gig work, also known as side hustles or freelance and contingent work, seems set to be a key part of “the new normal.”
Now, the world is not a stranger to the gig economy. The early creators of the term were actually jazz musicians in 1915, who referred to their performances as “gigs.” The term “gig economy” was coined in 2009 by former The New Yorker editor Tina Brown to describe “a bunch of free-floating projects, consultancies, and part-time bits and pieces, while they transacted in a digital marketplace.” The concept found itself being heavily presented in companies like Uber, Airbnb, and others, and that led to the further growth (and appeal) of the gig economy.
Side hustles were already available in the market prior to 2019; yet, little to no interest was attributed to them as most individuals favored stability over freedom. Back then, most employees preferred to work regular jobs, punching in from 9-to-5, regardless of their productivity, and receiving a paycheck at the end of the month to make ends meet. But then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, which led to the loss of jobs for many, the furlough of others, and the enforcement of working from home for the rest. Stability was no longer rewarding, and employees had to opt for other options to sustain their lives.
This is where gig work came in handy. The newly unemployed and readily available in the job market were able to directly place themselves, furloughed employees hunted temporary jobs to fill them until they return back to work, and employees working from home discovered the flexibility behind having a side hustle. It was a win-win situation for both the job market and the employees. Fast forward to 2021, the gig economy is still on the rise, and there seem to be no turning back. According to a study conducted by Gartner, 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure.
The rise of the gig economy has brought with it new trends to the workplace and the job market at large- here’s a look at just three of them:
1. Work shifts from fixed to flexible
Freedom matters for both sides of the coin, businesses and individuals. These days, both interests of companies and employees align through flexible employment. For instance, businesses considering freelance jobs are taking advantage of hiring contractual on-demand experts for certain roles that are hard to fill in-house. Freelancers are not paid the benefits that a regular employee has, and they are also not subject to strict employment guidelines- they are there for a fixed term, and not forever.
On the other hand, freelancers do not work from 9 to 5, and they hence enjoy a certain degree of flexibility at work. They are there to complete projects/short-term assignments, and their focus is on deliverables rather than time spent, and if they are also employed elsewhere, they appreciate a supplemental income to their regular salary.
2. The growth of on-demand talent platforms
On-demand talent platforms (ODT) are not new to the market. Some are widely known and profitable, and others are struggling to survive. When people moved to mass remote working, many started searching for alternative jobs, just in case a job loss is on the way. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Fiverr, and Upwork flourished, and both companies and talents interacted more. From startups to well-established companies, every business posted job ads, and talents started applying.
The opportunity that such platforms provided through which anyone sitting behind their couch can apply to any job in any part of the world -and get paid through the medium of this platform- is just mind-boggling. The beauty of it is that it is actually simple, and it works. This surge in interest in ODT platforms has been rumored to encourage LinkedIn to launch its own gig marketplace. With LinkedIn boasting of the greatest number of professional users, an ODT platform of its own will allow the side hustle market gain greater accessibility to a larger audience, globally.
3. Hiring for skills and hiring fast
Remember when hiring was subject to many barriers and biases, such as degrees, years of experience, and so on? Today, opportunities that open through certain employment platforms are fully focused on required skills only. Take, for example, a business that creates a job ad on an ODT platform for a web developer with experience in, say, Rust, a programming language.
When receiving the applications, the hiring manager doesn’t care or consider neither the person’s name, race, gender, years of experience, languages, or degrees, but only the experience that this applicant has in coding in Rust, and hire them accordingly. Skills are assets, and this is where individuals now are investing post pandemic. The more valuable skills one has, the better their chances at landing a side hustle for additional financial support.
Adding to that, hiring freelancers removes other obstacles in the hiring process. Employers do not invest more time than needed in the hiring process, and they are also free from certain liabilities of full-time employment, such as benefits, insurance, pension, etc. The same goes for freelancers, who also do not have to study the company when applying and consider all aspects of the job, but simply send their proposals, and share their samples ahead of a potential interview. If both match, contracts are created, and the work starts. Removing layers makes the exercise easier and faster in a market that is rapidly changing.
Gig work is currently revolutionizing jobs. Freelance has become the new normal, and both individuals and companies are no longer afraid of making the jump. While this article sheds light on major trends impacted by this model, a lot is still left to be discovered, and many aspects need to be explored, including the legislation around gig economy, freelancer benefits, knowledge transfer, freelancer growth, and training and development needs.
Even though the current benefits of the gig economy outweigh its problems, it is a matter of time before we will know whether it is here to stay for the long term, and whether it will replace the traditional workplace, or simply just move along in parallel with it.
Jana Haounji is a seasoned recruiter with diversified experience across different industries, fast-moving and slow-paced, from retail, construction, academia, non-governmental organizations, and recently, startups. She is passionate about human relations, and striving when building connections. Throughout her career, she managed to streamline the recruitment life-cycle in companies she worked at and implemented industry-specific best practices.
Jana is a certified HR professional by the Society for Human Resource Management, and she also holds a master’s degree in business administration. Her areas of expertise are in digital recruitment, interviews, and HR in the workplace.
How the Rise of the Gig Economy Influences the Workforce
Today, many working professionals leave behind the security of their 9-to-5 work for the flexibility offered by the gig economy. You have witnessed the rising numbers of people joining freelance or doing gig work in the past decade. Working at your preferred time and place are enticing incentives for the gig economy.
Contrary to popular belief, the gig economy is nothing new. This working concept has existed since businesses started hiring temporary or seasonal workers. Today, the gig economy refers to the segment of the workforce involved in freelance, contractual or part-time employment instead of the traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Examples of gig workers include freelance writers, online tutors, digital marketing specialists, web developers, cybersecurity specialists and many more.
The rise of the gig economy
Gig jobs might not be a new concept, but it has become popular among the younger generation over the years. The pandemic further amplified its popularity since the current health crisis disrupted many businesses and altered the course of many companies.
You can trace the rise of the gig economy to the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. It greatly affected many traditional businesses, which resulted in either their decline or completely altering the nature of their business. Consequently, many people turned to freelance or contract work to survive the financial crisis, which is happening again amidst the pandemic.
However, even before the pandemic, many Americans are already shifting to the gig economy. In 2017, an estimated 55 million Americans were part of the gig economy, or 36% of the workforce. A CNBC report in February 2020 stated that the number of gig workers surged by 15% since 2010. That is about six million more workers involved in the gig economy than in 2010.
The growth of the gig economy
You might be wondering why numerous workers are shifting from traditional work to the gig economy. In my opinion, two factors significantly influence the growth of the gig economy.
One is the workers’ shift of preference. A 9-to-5 job is no longer the dream job of many workers, especially the younger generation. Traditional employment has lost its luster. More individuals are looking for work that offers flexibility, allowing them to select their schedule. They no longer want to be stuck at an office desk for at least eight hours a day. That is why more and more workers are enticed to join the gig economy.
The dream job for many individuals today is working on their laptops while traveling the world. Digital nomads are individuals who use new technologies to do their work in a nomadic fashion. About 36% of them are doing freelance work for multiple companies. Since they are remote workers, they do their work not in office spaces, but instead in coffee shops, public libraries, in front of the beach or recreational vehicles. They can usually spend several months in one location then move to another one.
The second is the internet. You could assume that the rise of the gig economy is connected to the rise of the internet. New digital technologies did not only alter the business landscape, but also reshaped how people do their work. The internet made it possible to do your work and earn a living anywhere without requiring you to report physically to work. About 50 years ago, such a scenario was unimaginable, but the pandemic highlighted that work is no longer tied to office spaces. People can perform their work remotely.
A recent online survey of working professionals revealed that about 30% of them would opt to quit their job if they must return to the office in the post-pandemic scenario. The survey also revealed that flexibility on where to work would become an integral part of any employment deal. Companies not inclined to make such offerings could make them unattractive to prospective employees and experience difficulties in employee retention.
The gig economy and the workforce
Many companies need to recognize that the future of work will revolve more around the gig economy. It is not only a trend in the United States, but it is also happening in other parts of the world.
The growth of the gig economy will significantly benefit many workers today by offering new work opportunities and multiple sources of income since gig workers can work on several gigs simultaneously. Gig workers can invest more time acquiring new skills than traditional workers because they can take low-intensity jobs while learning additional skills. On the other hand, the drawback would be a lower retirement benefit than those in traditional employment.
The gig economy also allows companies to get workers who specialize in niche skills such as IT and marketing. Hiring highly experienced workers with niche skills would be costly for companies. That is why it would be advantageous for many businesses to acquire the services of freelancers with niche skills because companies can get the same skills with a lower overhead cost.
The gig economy can help workers and businesses stay afloat even during recessions. Workers can take multiple gigs at any point, while companies can save more from lower overhead costs.
Like jazz musicians who earn their living through gigs, workers in the gig economy must continue to hone their craft. They should know that they need to keep practicing and perfecting their craft to achieve sustained success. They need to remain relevant in their field as the future of work will revolve around the gig economy.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
How Entrepreneurs Should Think About Hiring In the Gig Economy
The gig economy is here to stay. Here’s how entrepreneurs need to think about hiring in this new atmosphere.
The so-called “gig economy” is here to stay. It is not a temporary, limited phenomenon, and it neither started nor ends with ride sharing. Instead, it is a universal development of the job market that will eventually affect all industries. As such, entrepreneurs should consider what this development means for their hiring and strategy decisions.
A universal development
Some 20 years ago, I worked in web systems development. At that time, a few brave souls tried spreading their wings and worked as self-employed coding consultants. Selling their expertise as hourly subcontractors, they were brought in by software development firms when a project required more hands on keyboards than were available in-house.
Today, the structure of the software development industry is quite different. Its methods are more standardized and the processes more mature. Now, rather than an oddity, self-employed architects, coders and designers are a common occurrence. In other words, while there are still opportunities for full-time employment, the profession has become much more gig-oriented.
Ride sharing was a much faster change, going from top-down taxi companies to private drivers working their own hours for Uber or Lyft. That being said, it is the same development. Industries and firms fall apart over time. This development is natural is here to stay.
Industries and firms fall apart in time
We have become used to seeing firms as core to the market, and this is for good reason. But while there are firms, they are transient phenomena. Long-lasting firms often have to reinvent themselves to stay in business. IBM, for example, started out manufacturing machines, moved into calculators, then computers, and then finally went on to consulting.
This is a perfectly natural development. Economically speaking, the firm is a temporary solution. As I argue in my book The Problem of Production: A New Theory of the Firm, the firm allows for implementing new production beyond what can be created through simple contracting. In other words, firms do what markets cannot. However, markets eventually catch up with the firm, subsuming it.
The same is true for whole industries — born from a novel innovation, competitors emerge and break down into more specialized firms, supporting the core innovation. While this process can take decades or even centuries, the pace of change seems to steadily increase. In the market there are few, if any, constants.
How to think about hiring
What this means is that entrepreneurs should expect it to get both easier and cheaper to outsource functions. This, in turn, means the relative cost of doing things in-house will increase. As an entrepreneur, it is important to recognize that this is the overall trend and incorporate this knowledge into the firm’s strategy. It should also be recognized in how the startup deals with hiring. Here are three rules of thumb to consider:
1. Delay hiring as long as you can
This is already standard practice in startups, since hiring is expensive and the cashflow situation is tenuous. But there is good reason to hold off on hiring unless necessary, even if there is enough cashflow to afford it. Consider the state of your industry: Is it in a growth phase, and are competitors and partners expected to grow or shed employees? There is a risk that hiring means biting off more than you can chew. This is especially the case in mature, standardized industries.
2. Consider outsourcing
Entrepreneurs tend to avoid outsourcing because it is costly. Costs should be avoided, but not at the expense of flexibility. Outsourcing means it is much easier to adjust the scale of production to changes, so the additional expense can be part of a cost-cutting strategy. It all depends on what you expect from your industry — if firms are likely to shed employees, hiring may turn out a disaster.
3. Focus on your core competency
It is common for entrepreneurs to want to keep things in-house to be able to control their operations. But you probably do not have a full-time bookkeeper or CPA on staff. Why? Because bookkeeping is now a standard service offered competitively in the market.It used to be done in-house, and businesses were reluctant to outsource this service because the information is so sensitive. The same will soon be true about I.T. departments. What else will become standard market services? The best way to avoid expanding into the wrong place is to focus on your core competency — where your startup creates value.
Considering the nature of the marketplace, the gig economy is not new. It is just a new name for a development that was always underway, but it is now augmented by modern and highly effective information technology. Entrepreneurs should recognize that every firm is a solution and that it’s subject to a common lifecycle. Doing so helps when formulating strategies and making decisions in the startup.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Here’s How This Copywriter Went From Earning $5 to $50 an Hour on Fiverr
A few simple moves can set you apart from other service providers and help your bottom line.
Putting her hopes and dreams into the gig economy, Jordyn Roe packed her bags and left her home in North Carolina to see if the independent lifestyle would work for her. The plan was to complete her yoga-teacher training in Koh Yao Noi, Thailand and complete meaningful work exchanges while finding a way to do something that offered value to people.
Now, let’s zoom into some details. Jordyn did not have an established client base. She also left in November 2019 — unaware, like the rest of the world, that a pandemic was about to disrupt her travel and business plans. Travelling was going well; copywriting, however, wasn’t. Most of Jordyn’s time went towards writing pitches to clients on freelance platforms, but without credibility and ratings, it was hard to beat the competition. So her only option was to negotiate the price.
She picked up writing projects about meditation and personal development — a yoga practitioner and reiki master herself, Jordyn had a wealth of knowledge to share on the topic. However, the competitive market wasn’t working in her favor. An article that would take her six hours to write, including the pitching time and all the revisions, would pay $30 at the very best.
Running out of patience and cash, Jordyn needed a quick solution. Coincidentally, countries started shutting borders, so now she truly had no way back to her past life.
Finding a new niche
Her then-partner noticed that Jordyn had a beautiful soothing voice — perfect for meditations. Before leaving the U.S., Jordyn never considered her clean American accent to be an asset, but she had a very strong inner drive to try new work that would make an impact on the world.
She discovered that Fiverr had a whole section dedicated to lifestyle gigs. You can order things such as spell castings or tarot readings. Guided meditations were a rising sub-niche in voiceover gigs. The math was easy: “Articles and blog posts” niche on Fiverr offered over 53,000 gigs. However, under “guided meditation” there were fewer than 250.
Building the rating
After failing to compete with thousands of copywriters, she recognized that in the gig economy, profile ratings are everything. Her new career started with careful research of the niche and Fiverr rating algorithms.
Jordyn discovered a few articles and Reddit threads suggesting quick ways to build up her Fiverr rating profile, such as exchanging social likes for profile likes, asking people to save her gig into their lists and other “manual” tactics to get her new gig to appear in relevant searches. This took about three days of meticulously gathering “likes.”
Second, the profile rating was heavily influenced by the time it took to respond to potential customers. However, because she was living in Southeast Asia and her customers were ordering from Europe and North America, she needed to win in a different way.
Fiverr is known for being a place where many users hide their true identities, and overall trust levels on the platform are low. Jordyn decided to address that from day one. She chose to create her gig under her real name with her real photo in her profile, and she even included a video of herself in a professional studio that she rented. Her total investment in this new career added up to about $250: $200 for a professional microphone to use for voice-overs and $50 to hire a music recording studio to help her video introduction stand out.
Investing in building profile “likes” and showing her real self proved to be the right strategy. After launching the gig, it took off instantly. All she had to do was deliver great work and get those positive customer reviews.
As a voiceover artist, she could finally cover her travel expenses in Thailand, where the pandemic kept her. While six hours spent winning a copywriting contract and writing an article with revisions could earn Jordyn as little as $30, she can now make double that in under an hour, which is how long it takes her to complete her average order.
Her gig now comes on top of the searches in the “guided meditation” section on Fiverr, which guarantees a steady flow of orders.
Here are Jordyn’s top tips for making it in the gig economy.
Look for a unique niche and get specific
Competing against a few hundred voice-over artists was a completely different ballgame than competing against tens of thousands of copywriters. Even there, she specialized in a guided meditation and built her reputation in that specific niche before listing a few more gigs on her profile.
You can game the rating first, then focus on the quality of the service
It seems as if you need to have some social proof even before you score your first order. Jordyn gamed it by collecting “likes” on her profile, which helped the algorithm favor her gig and allowed her to get first orders where she could demonstrate the quality and earn the ratings.
Make the initial offer look cheap and take advantage of upsells
Her own gig is priced at under $5, yet the average order is anywhere between $50 and $80. But here’s the trick: The initial order is for 100 words of recording. Scriptwriting, longer recordings and special requests are how she hits her higher average.
Transparency is a good idea
Jordyn uses her real name and a video to help her stand out from the crowd of others who hide their identities behind avatars. Jordyn says that many clients really respect that and even credit her work on their websites. This helps her build authority outside of the platform so that one day she can launch her own website and receive orders directly.
By zeroing in on a niche service, accumulating ratings and offering low prices with upsells in mind, you too can take advantage of this growing and lucrative gig-economy sector.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
3 Ways to Harness the Power of LinkedIn for Your Gig Career
Confidence is growing and businesses are coming back to life after more than a year of struggle. Hiring is in full swing, and B2B gig workers are competing for project-based work. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. workers have been freelancing during the pandemic, an increase of 2 million since 2019. More than 40 percent of all white-collar workers fall into the gig category, with significant increases across roles such as IT analyst, project manager, marketing manager and data engineer. While the growth is good for those considering a gig career, more gig workers mean more competition for you.
It can help to have some leverage. LinkedIn was a new social-media network when I started my gig career in 2004. One of my clients recommended it to me, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. There are 61 million senior-level influencers and over 40 million decision-makers on LinkedIn alone. All it takes is one connection — a single spark — to create the right opportunity.
It took nine years for me to realize the value of LinkedIn for generating revenue. But in 2013, I began using the platform to find potential clients and build a network of over 1,000 connections. Since then, I’ve earned $700,000 from LinkedIn alone.
The one thing I know for sure is that the longer you wait to get started, the longer it will take to see a return. Here’s how I leveraged the power of LinkedIn to earn significant revenue and build my B2B business from the ground up.
Step one: Maximize your presence
It all starts here. There are plenty of articles online about how to create a robust LinkedIn profile. Using the right language and knowing which options to toggle on can help connections find you and help you stand out to potential clients. Carefully building out my LinkedIn profile earned me dozens of writing projects, a six-figure leadership position and a lucrative business partnership.
Pro tip: Toggle on the career advice option. I didn’t have a mentor early in my career, and I’m sure I made choices that I could have avoided had someone been in my corner showing me the ropes and directing me along the way. Maybe you didn’t either, but none of us goes it alone. Teachers, family members, colleagues, friends, even neighbors who’ve pitched in to help — you owe it to them to pay it forward. That’s the best reason I can give you for being open to career advice. The second best? You never know when you’ll make a connection that will turn into a future client.
Step two: Be proactive about connecting
Search for the people with whom you want to connect by location, title, industry, company name, seniority level and always, always connect for a reason, and never without a note. That means you should resist the temptation to send a connection request via the LinkedIn app on your smart phone — there’s no option for sending a note along with your request via the app, but by the time you find that out, it’s too late. A major fault in the app, but worth keeping in mind.
Beyond searching outright for those you want to connect with, reach out to the people who write or share content you find helpful, or engage with your own content on LinkedIn. I don’t know about you, but the people I want in my network are those who are active and engaged.
That doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to someone with a short note saying that you’d like to connect and thought it might be helpful for him or her to have a (your title here) in his or her network. The first time I did this was in 2013. My request was accepted, albeit the response wasn’t what I hoped: “We don’t have a need for that right now, but thanks.”
We both left it at that, but occasionally, I sent him a relevant article. A few months later, he reached out again, this time to set up a meeting. A few days after that meeting, I had a signed contract in hand for a project, which led to two more projects. I turned a “not right now” response into a two-year, $20,000+ revenue relationship by being patient and focusing on adding value.
Pro tip: Share relevant content from brands you hope to work with before you connect. In fact, if you can find the writer of the content, it’s a good idea to tag him or her in your post to give him or her credit — this also increases the odds that he or she will notice you and share the post with his or her own network. In order to tag someone on LinkedIn, you’ll need to be connected — a great reason to send a request!
“Hi (name), I came across your article on (publication) and found it (helpful, interesting, thought provoking, etc.). I’d like to share it with my network — would you mind connecting with me here so I can @mention you for proper credit?”
Step three: Pay attention to your feed
Being active on LinkedIn doesn’t mean only logging onto the platform to write a post or check for messages. Take the time to scroll through your feed and look for posts that could lead to work. I do this every chance I get, from waiting in the drive-thru line to pick up prescriptions to sitting on hold. In 2016, I came across a post looking to fill a full-time position. I wasn’t looking for a job, but I messaged my connection anyway and let them know I could help fill the gap until they found the perfect candidate. That led to a three-year working relationship and multiple long-term projects.
Pro tip: LinkedIn isn’t the only place to amplify your personal brand and find new business. New platforms, like Mogul, are focused on diversity and allow gig workers and entrepreneurs to create a professional profile and discover business opportunities. And social-media groups are becoming a destination for uncovering potential opportunities.
Whether you focus on LinkedIn, a new platform or a social-media group, if you want to draw the attention of potential clients — turn opportunity into revenue — show up, speak up and add value.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
How to fix the gig economy – BBC Newsnight
The Gig Economy Explained in One Minute: Definition, Job Examples (Uber, Fiverr, Freelancer), etc.
What is the ‘gig’ economy? | FT Comment
The Gig Economy: WTF? Precarity and Work under Neoliberalism | Tom Nicholas
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Facebook: Lebanon Magazine