The modern economy is increasingly turning towards gig work. The natural evolution of freelancing, more and more people are taking on temporary jobs that allow them to work when they want to work and at a pace that makes sense for their lifestyles. If you’re looking to rise up in this economy, the ten lessons below will help you to reach your goals.
Take it to the Next Level by Doing the Work
The gig economy is not kind to those who standstill. You’ve got to do a lot more than just check your apps from time to time – you’ve got to learn how to work. According to KForce, this means learning how to be an entrepreneur and keeping that mindset as you book new jobs.
According to Javier Simon, the best way to become a success to keep your eye out for constant work. There are plenty of websites and gig apps out there to provide you with job opportunities, and the most successful freelancers are those who keep working hard.
There’s a reason why people refer to the gig lifestyle as a grind – you’re going to have to keep your head down and keep moving forward, even if you’re only making a little progress at a time. Think of every job as one that is going to help you make progress, even if that’s only enough to pay for your next meal.
The people who really hit the top of the economy are those who have an excellent work ethic. They put it more work than those with 9-to-5 jobs, but they do so in a way that works with their own personalities. These are the people who end up as the real winners of the gig economy.
This isn’t to say that you have to work twelve hours days every day, though. Instead, you just need to learn how to focus on getting work and then getting the job done. Put in your best effort and you’ll end up rising above the rest.
Make Connections and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
The gig economy is set up as a series of solo gigs, but that doesn’t mean that you are alone. When you first get started, you’re going to feel isolated and scared and those feelings will increase when you begin to realize how overwhelming it all can be. Making in the gig-based world often feels like you’re stuck on your own.
If you want to succeed, though, you’ll need to follow the advice of Fastco Works and start to realize that you are part of a far larger and more connected community than you might have ever imagined.
According to the experts at EAB, about forty-two million Americans will be self-employed by 2020. This means that you’re not just on your own in the field – it means that millions are dealing with the same issues that you face every day.
Do what you can to get involved with other workers in the gig economy. Don’t be afraid to join social media groups or to talk to acquaintances who might do similar jobs. There’s a great deal of power in knowing that other people are doing the same things as you.
Above all else, follow the advice of the professionals at
Project Manager and avoid social isolation. Don’t try to do it all yourself – make sure you get in contact with those who know more than you so that you can get good advice.
If you want to succeed in the modern economy, you’re going to need more than just a gig app. You’re going to need a fantastic support system that will help you learn how to make the most of your time and skills. Don’t force yourself to re-invent the wheel when there are already so many great resources out there.
Market Yourself by Knowing What You’re Good At
What are you good at? What makes you worth hiring? More importantly, what makes you more valuable than the million other people competing for your latest gig?
According to Richard Eisenberg, one of the most important things you bring to the table is your personal brand. You need to know what you’re good at so that you can sell yourself as the solution that your potential clients need.
The Harvard Business Review lists having a purpose as one of the most important factors in becoming a successful freelancer. You need to know what you’re good at so that you can figure out exactly what you’re trying to do.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and redefine yourself, but try to spend some time following the advice of Sarah Szczypinski and try to develop your own niche. Your particular skills in one area are what will really help you to stand out.
When you know what you’re good at and you understand exactly what that means, you can better build your personal brand. You can focus on the work that means the most to you and you can become a more successful freelancer. It’s not always easy, but it is one of the best paths to success.
Once you know that you’re on the right path, you can keep redefining what it means to be good at your job. This isn’t just a matter of sticking to a single niche, but a matter of figuring out how to push yourself as a personal brand. Keep learning so that you can really stand out in a crowd.
Learn How to Do it All…
Michelle Jackson at Vice says that one of the best ways to be successful in the gig economy is to diversify your gigs. This means understanding that you are better at some jobs than others, but that taking multiple job types is the best way to keep your bank account healthy.
Realistically, freelancing is a tough thing to start. Traditional employment has a number of safety nets built into it, while gig jobs tend to be a little more risky by their nature. Jeremy Goldman notes that this risk also comes with something very positive – a vast number of opportunities for freelancers.
When you’re first starting out, you want to take as many of those opportunities as possible. Do you still want to focus on your strongest skills and build up your personal brand in that direction? Of course! But developing multiple skill sets is what will help you to continue to get paid.
The skills that you learn as you take on new jobs can be rolled back into your chosen niche. The various types of gigs out there aren’t just good for picking up a few extra dollars, they’re great for teaching you very specific skills that can then be used to differentiate you from the rest of the pack.
Great freelancers have to start out by knowing how to do it all. Make sure that you’re taking diverse gigs so that you can fill up your days and learn more as you go on. In time, you’ll probably start to focus in on a smaller subset of jobs, but you should always keep a number of skills sharp just in case.
The best way to avoid the uncertain nature of the gig economy is to be a master of many skills. You want to be a jack of all trades whenever possible.
…but Learn How to Master One Skill
Some gig workers take the idea of being a jack of all trades but master of none to heart, and that’s fine. These are the people with whom you will compete for lower-level gigs and who will consistently be around when you’re trying new things. Your goal, though, should be to surpass them by also mastering a single skill set.
As Kelly Springs-Kelley says, you want to be able to blow your employers away. That means learning how to get really good at one thing, developing your skills in a way that no one else in your area can quite match.
Think about the world of tech as an example. There are multiple programming languages, so many that everyone who takes on freelance programming gigs needs to be versed in several languages. If you want the jobs that pay particularly well, though, you don’t need to be a master of all of them – you need to be a master of the language the client needs right now.
The truth about the gig economy is that you just don’t have time to master everything. All of your side-hustles are going to be composed of those jobs that you’re competent at, but for which you are never quite going to win an award.
Your main source of income, though, is going to come from those things that you can do better than anyone else. Develop those skills so that you can get the gigs for which others can’t quite qualify. Make yourself indispensable to those who need work done.
Once you know your primary skill, keep sharpening it. Take classes, read the literature, and keep practicing. The gig economy rewards those who are the top of their fields, so make sure that you don’t start to slip just because you start feeling complacent.
Beat by Competition by Getting Ahead of the Technological Curve
The gig economy rests on the back of technological giants. All of the most popular gig providers use specific apps and most workers rely on job boards and apps to get new gigs. If you’re going to be a participant in the economy, you have to become comfortable with technology.
Julia McCoy notes that workers in specific fields tend to benefit when they’re comfortable with the tools of the trade. This often means going out of your way to finding tools that make your job easier and that can help you seem like a miracle worker to your potential employers.
To some degree, getting ahead technologically is just a matter of knowing what’s out there. As you can see in this video, there are plenty of tools that can help you to make more money. You just need to be aware of what’s available.
Beyond the obvious, you also need to know the tools that can help you the most. For some, this means learning how to use scheduling apps to maximize their productivity. For others, it might be as complex as learning how to automate some of your processes so that they can become more efficient.
The most important thing to do, though, is to make sure that you’re not falling behind. One of the best reasons to keep up with other gig workers is to learn about how they are doing their jobs. If there’s a tool that everyone else in your circle uses, you need to figure out why.
Always keep moving forward in the gig world. That’s as applicable to your apps as it is to your skillset. The more work you put into staying ahead of the pack, the more work you’ll end up getting from impressed clients.
Become a Networking Master and Learn How to Keep Your Clients Happy
The gig economy is, at its core, a service economy. You’re going to work for various clients in a number of capacities and your job is not just to do a specific task well – it’s to keep your clients happy.
A happy client isn’t just a paying client – a happy client is a repeat client. The happier your clients, the more likely it is that they’ll request you for future gigs. In fact, you can even make a client happy enough that he or she might start going outside of the usual gig apps to work with you directly.
Clients are, as Lisa McGreevy notes, also an excellent source of referrals. So much of the gig game is made up of networking, and having a good relationship with clients is the best way to prove that you’ve got the goods to everyone else.
There’s a fine line between keeping clients happy and protecting your interests, though. You should absolutely never work for free and you should always value your time. Your relationship with your clients is a business relationship, and you should never forget that.
Learn how to show up on time, to be professional, and to put extra effort into all of your jobs. In time, your clients will notice your effort and begin to think more highly of you. Though you might work harder, you will get rewarded.
Ideally, your behavior is going to pay off with repeated work and new connections. If you can continue to make your clients happy, you may even be faced with the choice of working for them directly instead of continuing your gigs. No matter what you choose, a happy client will end up being one of your most important resources.
Become More Successful by Being More Flexible
The gig economy is a flexible economy. As Chelsea Rosine says, this is why it works so well for so many people – not every person is meant for the nine-to-five life, and being able to work outside of that structure is incredibly freeing.
As a freelance gig worker, you also need to realize that you have to be flexible with exactly how your work. Is every gig going to be your ideal job? Of course not! Keeping yourself open and available, though, is one of the best ways to ensure that money keeps coming in and that you keep getting hired by new clients.
Your goal early on is to have a broad set of experiences so that you can learn how flexible you can reasonably be with your jobs. You will probably start off your freelance career with a specific set of hours during which you are willing to work, for example, but taking a few jobs on either side of your start/stop times will allow you to figure out how flexible you can be with your time.
This is not to say that you need to be totally open at all times. You absolutely must set limits in the gig economy, otherwise, you’ll run yourself ragged. What it does mean, however, is that you don’t need to dismiss certain jobs out of hand without weighing the benefits.
Be flexible enough to take on new tasks while still being strong enough to resist the allure of money that will cause you long-term issues. If you are willing to step out of your comfort zone from time to time, you will be able to discover more about your own abilities.
Clients love workers who are able to be more flexible, so offer flexibility. This gives you an edge over more rigid freelancers and will ultimately allow you a better chance to establish yourself as a trustworthy and valuable asset.
Dominate the Competition by Building Your Resume
We’ve talked a lot about getting new skills and being willing to take on new jobs, but it’s important to know exactly what that needs to look like for a gig worker. Early on, you’re building skills and hoping to get paid. In time, though, you’ll be working on creating a more impressive resume.
As someone in the gig economy, the hardest thing you’re going to have to do is learn how to stand out in a crowd. Unfortunately, a great college degree isn’t going to be enough to cut it these days. You need to prove that you have the skills your employers want.
Start looking at jobs not just as a way to get paid, but as ways to add to your skillset. If you’re a writer, for example, stretch out and write something new – try a resume or a press release. Once you’re done and you’ve been paid, you can add that particular type of writing to your list of skills on the various gig apps.
As you build your resume, you can start to list yourself as an expert in more areas and start to develop a reputation. You’ll stop just being another person competing for a gig – instead, you’ll be an asset over which others fight.
Your goal should always be at least as impressive on paper as you are in the real world. Clients are always going to look at online profiles before they hire you for a gig, so make sure they have something impressive to read. If you can start to build up an excellent set of skills, you can turn that into the type of resume that will get you the best jobs.
Be Yourself and Become a Star
Finally, you’re going to have to determine how to be an authentic person while participating in this economy. So many people are trying to be everything to everyone that those who stick to their beliefs are the ones who really stand out.
Stop for a moment and think about your goals as a freelance gig worker. Why are you choosing this path instead of standard employment? What makes going through all the trouble of skill development and personal marketing worthwhile?
Once you understand why you’re making this particular choice, you can figure out your boundaries. You should be flexible, of course, but you still need to figure out what you will and will not do. Don’t take the jobs that go against your beliefs and don’t push yourself in ways that will hurt you as a person.
Perhaps the place where this most comes into play is with money. You’ll be tempted to take jobs that you hate just to pay bills, and that’s fine. What you need to avoid, though, is those jobs that are going to hurt you’re future ability to make money.
Simply put, you can’t sell yourself out. Whether that means taking a job for ‘exposure’ (and according to The Guardian, you almost certainly will be asked to do so) or taking a kind of job that’s going to hurt your reputation, you’ve got to know when you are willing to put your foot down.
In time, setting limits and taking yourself seriously really will pay off. Clients will respect you and be more willing to pay you a reasonable rate. If you can avoid being a pushover, you’ll have a much easier time not only dealing with clients but being able to look yourself in the mirror before you head out on your next gig.
Learning how to master the gig economy is as much about knowing yourself as it is about knowing how the economy works. Every item on this list is built around a single goal – helping you to get more meaningful and better-paying work. Take some time to think about these items and then apply what you can to your daily routine – you’ve got what you need to succeed, so get out there and get to work.