What Is Gig Economy
With the destruction to the worldwide economic caused by COVID-19, millions of people has lost their job. Many started to realize that job security has indeed long gone and a single source of income can be a major risk. Gig economy job has become a viable option to help many tide through the pandemic and beyond.
Gig economy refers to a labour market that contains a pool of employees known as gig workers, and have entitled themselves to either freelance or short-term contracts through technology platform companies.
There are three pillars that form the gig economy market:
- Technology platform companies (Eg; Uber and Foodpanda) - A digital platform that connects both independent gig workers and consumers to perform direct transactions such as food delivery and car riding services. In exchange for the accessibility of their platform, companies will earn portions of the job.
- Labour gig workers (Eg; delivery men and drivers) - Individuals who try to earn extra money through labour intensity freelancing jobs that require them to have specific technical skills
- Knowledge gig workers (Eg; social media manager and accountant) - Individuals who try to earn a side income by providing professional services that require various qualifications.
The advancement of digital products and services has helped provide this new short-term or freelancing job opportunities for gig economy workers through the Internet. Since the early 2000s, many technology platforms companies such as Upwork, Uber, TaskRabbit etc. expanded the gig economy sector with websites or gig economy apps that act as a platform to connect consumers and gig workers.
The Benefits of Gig Economy
Flexible Work Schedule
As a gig worker, one of the benefits is having the flexibility to choose project work that does not affect any of your personal commitments, such as family and education. Unlike the mundane 9-5 jobs, you do not always have to sit in front of a desk during working hours and you can work anywhere you want as long as you can access to the gig app and complete the given tasks before the deadline.
Wide Variety of Jobs
Depend on the skills and capabilities, the flexibility of working in various gig jobs could help to diversify the revenue stream of a gig worker. Having said that, gig workers’ earnings tend to be performance base, since the income depends on the number of gig jobs you can complete per month.
So, what are some of the best gig economy jobs in the market now?
1. Virtual Assistant (VA)
Being a VA can mean helping a person whom you never met to open inboxes and reply to emails, scheduling appointments with clients, or creating surveys for customer feedback. So being reliable and organized is crucial for a VA. It is also one of the flexible jobs stay-at-home parents could take up while balancing between parenthood and earn an income from home online. You can search for related job openings on sites like Upwork.
- Average Pay: ~$19 per hour
- Opportunities: Upwork, Freelancer.com, Flexjobs etc.
2. Customer Support
Many employers choose to outsource their live chat customer services to freelancers. They can work from home after attending basic training organized by the hiring company. These job openings are available in most freelancing websites such as Upwork or Freelancer.com.
- Average Pay: ~$14 per hour
- Opportunities: Upwork, Freelancer.com, Flexjobs etc.
If you have a talent in writing stories or enjoy editing content, maybe you can put it to good use and earn extra money as a freelance writer or editor. Many freelancing platforms like Problogger offer relevant job openings for you to sign up.
- Average Pay: ~$24 per hour
- Opportunities: Upwork, Problogger, Freelancer.com, Flexjobs, Guru etc.
4. Social Media Specialist
Many businesses nowadays are willing to outsource their social media platforms for others to manage as they might be too tied up with their daily operation. You are expected to post updates, create Infographics or short video clips to engage with the audience, in a way to help businesses in marketing activities.
- Average Pay: ~$15 per hour
- Opportunities: Upwork, Freelancer.com, Flexjobs, Guru etc.
5. Personal Chef
The job scope of personal chefs is similar to chefs in restaurants, but their working environment tends to be less stressful, and usually, they will prepare meals for a small group of people. The perk of being a personal chef is you have full control of the pricing and earnings for each meal. If your customer loves your cooking, you may also receive recommendations as such, earning extra money from more jobs.
- Average Pay: ~$20 per hour
- Opportunities: Takeachef.com, Hireachef.com etc.
Drivers refer to providing chauffeur service as a ridesharing, private hire or contract base services. Ridesharing is one of the most popular gig economy jobs out there that was popularized by Uber. If you have a license, you can probably work as a rideshare driver even if you don't own a vehicle because rideshare companies nowadays offer car rental service or you could easily rent a car from services like Hyrecar for your ridehsharing gig. Before you get started, you have to comply with any transportation and driving regulations as a private hire driver.
- Average Pay: ~$15 per hour
- Opportunities: Uber, Lyft, Cabify etc.
7. Content Writer
As a content writer, companies may engage you to write articles such as blogs, website content or descriptions of their product and services. Most of the time, you will have to work with the clients’ content manager so that the message conveys the unique selling point to the target audience. Usually, you tend to work independently as long as deadlines and requirements are met. To build up a portfolio, you can begin either through writing your own blog articles or taking up small gig jobs. Slowly, you will receive more job opportunities to earn extra money.
- Average Pay: ~$17 per hour
- Opportunities: Fiveer, Upwork, Freelancer.com, Guru etc.
Or do you have an amazing story plot running wild in your mind? It might just be another way where you can earn some extra income by writing and publishing your own ebook. You could self-publish an ebook with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.
Tips: As a writer, perhaps you may need some tools to minimize writing errors. Grammarly is one of the popular grammar checking tools. It is an AI powered grammar checker that detects grammatical errors and help you to improve the quality of your article.
Proofreader helps journalists, authors, writers or whoever needs someone to check to through their work before it is published. Understandably, you would need to be affluent with the language or familiar with the trade in order to proofread the content, it could be rather lucrative in certain niche such as legal documents and technical papers.
- Average Pay: ~$22 per hour
- Opportunities: Upwork, Freelancer.com, Guru etc.
To be a transcriber, it requires you listening to audio recordings and typing them into written documents. Transcription jobs typically pay by the audio hour. For every hour of audio you transcribe, you earn a set dollar amount. So, the more audio or the faster you can transcribe, the more you can earn. To increase your productivity, transcription tool such as Transcribe may come in handy.
- Average Pay: ~$16 per hour
- Opportunities : Scribie, TranscribeMe, Guru, Upwork, Freelancer.com, Flexjobs etc.
10. Developer / Programmer
In order to reach customers during the pandemic, many companies face an urgent needs to digitalize their businesses online. In addition, more and more companies are outsourcing or working with freelance developers to build their eCommerce website or mobile apps. If you are good at programming or software development, this would be a good option as such gig economy job is in high demand.
- Average Pay: ~$45 per hour
- Opportunities: Toptal, Upwork, Guru, Freelancer.com, Fiverr etc.
11. Graphic Designer
Graphic design involves a broad spectrum. It could be illustration, logo design, advertisement creatives, social media images etc. Your portfolio plays an important role in getting jobs. But you don't need to reach mastery level before you can start offering your service. You can start from small gigs with competitive pricing to build up your portfolio and reputation while getting paid. You are improving your skills and gaining experience at the same time.
- Average Pay: ~$18 per hour
- Opportunities: Upwork, Guru, Fiverr, 99design etc.
If you like photographing and pretty good at it, you can take up gig job as a photographer for events such as wedding ceremonies, graduations, business functions etc. Professional or commercial photographing gig may command even a higher price. Another way to money money from your photograph is by selling them online through stock photos platform such as Shutterstock.
- Average Pay: ~$17 per hour
- Opportunities: Freelancer.com, TaskRabbit, Tongal, Shutterstock etc.
13. Personal Tutor
Do you love sharing your knowledge with others? If you do, you can consider teaching online courses through online platforms. For instance, if you are proficient in English, you can consider options such as VIPKid. VIPKid is a global education technology company that has 100,000 teachers available to connect with children for English immersion learning online. Other than the benefits of earning extra money, VIPKid classes are conducted based on your availability and teaching materials are provided.
- Average Pay: ~$25 per hour
- Opportunities: Tutor.com, Chegg, Preply, VIPKID etc.
This is probably the oldest and the true gig work. As a handyman, you perform a task with your hand that requires certain skill, such as repairing a leaking roof, installing a heater, fixing up a furniture, opening a lock etc. You may need to invest in specific tools for certain gig work.
15. Food Delivery
Similar to the cab-hailing services, food delivery is another avenue you can earn extra money during your spare time. As food delivery personnel, you are responsible for delivering orders to consumers on a timely basis. Most of the food delivery platforms allow consumers to rate the services, and to earn higher income, you have to maintain your ratings.
16. Parcel Delivery
There are delivery platform companies that allow you to earn extra money just by delivering parcels, on your own schedule. If you do not own a vehicle, the company will offer vans for rent at a lower price rate. Some of the companies will offer financial benefits such as insurance and fuel discounts. Before you start your delivery job, training will be provided in guiding you the procedures on handling the parcels safely otherwise penalties are implied.
- Average Pay: ~$12 per hour
- Opportunities: Shipt, Roadie etc.
17. Pet Sitter
Can’t resist the “cuteness” brought by little furballs and love interacting with them? If you don’t have any allergies to cats or dogs, you can sign yourself up to become a pet sitter to play with the pet and earn extra money at the same time!
- Average Pay: ~$14 per hour
- Opportunities: Rover, Wag etc.
Babysitting may sound like an easy job, but do you know that some employers will prefer to hire first aid trained babysitters? While this gig job allows you to manage your work schedule flexibly, it can also nature you to become a patient and organized individual. You can search for job openings among your social circle, job posting websites or even reaching out to your past clients.
- Average Pay: ~$13 per hour
- Opportunities: Care.com, UrbanSitter, SitterCity etc.
19. Grocery Shopper
Being a grocery shopper requires you to go into the store, find the items on a shopping list, purchase the items and deliver them to your customer. It is not much difference from buying grocery for yourself except you're buying for another person now. It may require more communication with your customers if you can't find an item or need further clarification on the shopping list.
- Average Pay: ~$12 per hour
- Opportunities: Instacart etc.
20. Paid Surveys Respondent
Most brands and companies want to understand consumers’ reactions towards their products or services. In exchange for your time and honest thoughts on a product or service, they will reward survey respondents with incentives for participating in paid surveys as a token of appreciation.
- Average Pay: ~$1 - $5 per survey
- Opportunities: PointClub, Opinion Outpost, Nielsen, PineCone Research etc.
Where To Find Gig Economy Jobs
If you have no clue on how to get customers or look for gig jobs, you could leverage on some of the established gig economy platforms.
Fiverr was started in 2010 and is famously known for engaging digital services offered by freelance workers for as little as $5. The platform has over 100 service categories and tens of thousands of users from over 190 countries. To get started, gig workers just create a free profile with their listed expertise and then create the services they want to offer, known as "Gigs". Gig workers could also upsell their gig or provide customized offers to the customers. Fiverr allows gig workers to keep 100% of their revenue while charging the buyer a fee.
Freelancer.com is the world's largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace, connecting over 52 millions employers and freelancers globally from over 247 countries, regions, and territories. It has a wide variety of freelance work categories and anyone can open a Freelancer account, regardless what experience level you are in. It could be a good starting point for inexperienced freelancer to to get simple, lower-paying jobs for building a portfolio or for short-term freelance job. Freelancer.com takes a percentage of a gig worker's earnings base on the job type and how much is the earning.
Upwork is the entity after the merger of Elance and oDesk. It is one of the largest freelance marketplace due to its wide variety of gig jobs at different levels. Upwork helps gig workers to find one-off gigs and long-term contracts in a variety of industries, including design, development, accounting, marketing, writing, customer service, and more. Gig worker can create a free profile on the platform and Upwork will help to match gig job opportunities through its AI-powered algorithm. Upwork also provides the tools to manage every aspect of the job such as time-tracking, messaging, invoicing, payment etc. For these, Upwork takes a percentage of the gig worker's earning as fee.
Guru strive to be the premier platform where professionals go to connect, collaborate, and get work done. They targets at experienced talents and professionals rather than entry-level freelancers in few key categories, namely programming & development, design & art, writing & translation, administration & secretarial, sales & marketing, business & finance, engineering & architecture, education & training, and legal. Gig workers can create a free profile and search for suitable gig job. A free account is charged 9% fee on the job and limit to only 10 bids/month. To unlock additional features and bid for more jobs, gig workers can signup paid monthly subscription plans that range from $11.95 to $49.95.
Flexjobs is paid job search site for hand-screened flexible and remote jobs (work from home jobs) since 2007. Each of the job and company on Flexjobs have been hand-screened for legitimacy, professionalism, and work flexibility. That means that job seekers can skip the hours of research yourself, simply use FlexJobs to find all of the best quality flexible job listings waiting for you. You'll need to subscribe to a paid membership in order to access the full job listings and the subscription also comes with other features such as free skills testing that help you increase the chances of being hired. Flexjobs offers a 30-days satisfaction money back guarantee.
TaskRabbit is a service platform that connects people who need help with odd jobs and errands with local people or handyman who have the time and skills to do them, such as cleaning, moving, furniture assembly, home repairs, running errands and more. Gig workers can create an account and apply to be a Tasker to bid on jobs on TaskRabbit. Once the verification is done and a $25 registration fee is paid, Tasker can start to select jobs through the TaskRabbit smartphone app.
Toptal is an exclusive network of the world's top talent such as software developers, designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers. Toptal's rigorous screening process identifies experts in their domains and typically only 3% of Toptal’s (thousands of) applicants make it through the application process. Due to its rigorous vetting process, Toptal’s talents are well-positioned to receive competitive rates for their services. Toptal doesn’t charge its talents any fees but instead marks up a talent's rate for its clients.
Although Craigslist, as a classified marketplace, is unlike the above mentioned newer gig platforms, it still offers much opportunities for gig workers. There is a section on Craiglist that dedicates for Gig jobs. However, gig workers will be responsible for verifying the legitimacy of the jobs and bear any risk associated with the job.
Tips For Working in Gig Economy
There are obvious advantages to be part of the gig economy. If you are considering it, be mindful that discipline and resilience are essential qualities to be successful in it. As a gig worker, you need to be committed to the job and ensure that tasks are accomplished to meet the expectation. Many gig job platforms encourage customers to leave ratings and reviews for the gig worker so that others can make better decisions. Like a business, you should build up your reputation progressively and avoid delivering hasty work to avoid negative reviews that will impacts your income.
Do Proper Accounting For Your Gig Income
Think of your gig job as a mini business and you're independent contractor. Like all businesses, you’ll need to have proper accounting to keep track of your revenue, expenses and pay taxes. Also like a business, if you spend money related to your business activity — for example, tools for your handyman gigs, new camera lens for your photographing gigs — you can subtract those expenses from your earnings as business expenses so you will pay less in taxes. You could also use a separate checking account just for your gig jobs so your gig's income could be separated from your full-time job income and personal expenses.
Save For The Rainy Days
Unlike a permanent part-time or full-time job in traditional employment, gig jobs doesn’t guarantee a fixed income and it could be quite unpredictable. Since earning potential from gig job varies, it’s best to be conservative on the cashflow from gig income and save whatever you could in good months to cushion for bad months. As an independent contractor, you may also need to invest in your own health insurance if the gig platform doesn't cover it for you.
Diversify Your Gigs
Some gigs are seasonal and others are unpredictable all year round. That’s why it is a good idea to have multiple streams of income from different gigs. For example, you could do ridesharing as your main gig job since there is demand all year round while take up grocery shopping gigs during the weekends, or do photographing gigs during graduation period. Having multiple gigs also allow you to switch between gigs, whenever you don’t feel like doing one, you can switch to another.
Grow Your Personal Brand
For knowledge gig workers, create your own website to feature your portfolio or upload your past work to some free platforms such as Linkedin for professional or dribbble.com for designer so that your prospective customers can know your capabilities and reach out to you easily. It works as your personal marketing channel and help referral to share your services too!
Gig economy jobs offers real, legitimate source of income for people. It's an expanding sector and brings serious income potential. Those listed in this article are just some options that you can consider for a career change or tap on to earn extra cash. More and more traditional jobs may slowly become part of the gig economy in the future. Keep your options open and look out for opportunities in the gig economy.
Comment and share your experiences with the rest of the community members on your gig economy jobs!