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10 Days You Will Need the Gig Economy

Stuff Happens. That's When You Want Choices.

The gig economy gets tepid publicity, yet it continues to recruit more of the workforce, 34 percent in 2016 and climbing.

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy consists of project work, conducted by short-term contract, to provide specific deliverables on near-term deadlines. Most commonly, the sellers find buyers online from across the country, sometimes even worldwide. Typically the online site matches contractors (that's you) with assignments (those are the projects you want), handles collection through milestones, and promptly pays the seller, minus a commission.

Gig economy contracting eliminates the three most detested aspects of self-employment in services: finding a willing buyer with a project and a budget, selling personal services to a stranger, and collecting when the job is done.

Getting this drudgery out of the way explains why more than 53 million Americans participate in the gig economy. Why do so many people choose full- or part-time self-employment over a traditional job?

They found a better offer and took it, that’s why.

For some, life changed and brought them to a hard realization.

Here are the 10 most common days that cause people to consider the gig economy:

1. The day you’re an at-home mom or dad, your kids are finally in school, and you decide you want part-time work to transition back into your profession.

A Pew study shows 45 percent of the people who do contract work online do it to control their personal schedule. Moms are the best example of individuals who must control their work schedule. Even though you serve clients, you are the boss of your time, your place of work, and what you do.

2. The day you are commuting and realize how many hours of your life you’ll spend on this highway.

You can see these Massachusetts highways highlighted in red every morning and evening on Google maps. They sound like a bad football count: “90, 95, 24, 3, Furnace Brook!”

The average Massachusetts commute is 28 minutes each way—that’s 56 minutes every good day.

Commuting takes you more than 250 hours each year, a lot more than you get in vacation time.

A little voice in your head says, “You can build an entire new career for yourself much faster than anyone will build a wider highway for you.”

No one will dig a subway stop at your house, run a rail link for you to downtown, or open a new airport near you. One day you realize—what am I waiting for?

3. The day you realize you want more personal and financial growth than any boss will give you.

The gig economy offers you self-employment doing the work you choose for clients and companies who buy their accomplishments by the job. You can keep the mark-up on your work, and online lets you sell direct, on your terms.

4. The day after your boss says “You’re fired!”

OMG, your bosses and higher management made the decision for you.

You realize, “this wasn’t as secure as I thought.”

A transfer, an out-of-town move, or re-assignment to a Dragon Boss is the kind of shock that opens people’s eyes.

5. The day you realize that by freelancing you’ll make twice as much money, maybe much more, in less time.

The math of a successful gig economy income is clear: realistically you are already working 2,000 billable hours each year. If you are currently employed making $50,000 this year, your gross pay rate is $25 per hour, plus non-cash benefits. (If you make more money you can buy just the benefits you want, so that’s a gain for you.)

The value-added trick is to double or triple your billing rate to $50 or $75. Many Massachusetts professionals and specialists can command these rates for projects. Now pair your target rate with a service you can deliver in bite-sized projects by looking through online platforms to find initial buyers.

If you work 1500 hours at $60 per hour with no commute, you come out with $90,000 gross! That’s $40,000 more gross income, while saving 750 hours of combined commuting and work time.

6. The day you realize, as a student, that you have fresh technical, analytic or media skills people want right now.

In 2016, 23 percent of gig platform users were students. Students often excel at work like programming, video, math analysis, and research of all types.

As a student, you don’t have savings or much of a resume, you just offer to do the work and complete it well and on time. What you keep becomes your savings.

Every project you do as a student adds references, experience and boosts your income.

7. The day you are retired and want part-time income from work nearby.

It’s amazing how many nominally “retired” individuals want to keep working, and do. The number is so big there’s actually a work force category called “retired and working.”

That’s wise for seniors, given the Federal Reserve’s plan to inflate away their savings at 2 percent per year, and the still-higher inflation rates for healthcare and other services retired people routinely need.

Older workers have terrific skills and experience. Participating in the gig economy pays well and allows them to control their schedules.

8. The day you want to try a new occupation to see if you like it.

What starts as an interest becomes a hobby, then you realize, “I can make actual money doing this!”

9. The day you have an idea for a service business and need to find your first client.

New ideas are great, but they are better when someone wants to buy them. That’s when you need a first client. Online gig economy platforms like Upwork and Freelancer for office skills, Nomad for doctors, Fiverr for graphic designers and creatives, and dozens more are great tools (please see graphic attached) for finding first jobs. And first jobs often lead to follow-up assignments, too.

10. The day you realize there are no employers requiring your skills within driving distance of your home.

This happens! Massachusetts has some geographically concentrated industries, such as biotech inside Routes 95/128. Big name employers are moving to the Seaport.

However, if you live far out Routes 2, 3, or 90, maybe you can’t physically commute to where your prospective employers are. What then?

Gig economy, here you come, working right where you are.

Massachusetts has a lot of employed people who experience days like these 10. The gig economy will continue to grow because it specifically offers everyone better pay, faster growth and personal flexibility.

The gig economy is about advancing your personal career with better choices--your work, your pay, your schedule, your accomplishments, your work-life balance.

Personal testimony as a recovering commuter: After several thousand trips I realized Route 2 would never change. To get control of my time I’d need to change my work.

Many people come to similar realizations, which change the most-committed W-2 employee’s mind.

In the gig economy you have the freedom to make the best choices for you!


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