You know it:
You love (or hate) it:
The gig economy.
Google produces the following definition of the gig economy: “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.” While that’s true–the gig economy is full of contract work–it’s so much more.
As a full-time freelance writer, I experience and contribute to the gig economy every day. And while there are drawbacks to working as a freelancer (stay tuned for my next post), at this stage in my life, the pros outweigh the cons.
Here are 5 reasons I love the gig economy:
1. I can feed my creativity when it’s hungry. As a writer and creative, sitting at the same desk day after day isn’t conducive to generating new and innovative ideas. It’s important to feed your creativity. The gig economy lets me go to a coffee shop on Monday, outside on Tuesday afternoon, and the public library on Wednesday. I don’t need consistency to do my best work. In fact, working in different spaces–surrounded by different people (and the most interesting coffee shop conversations)–feeds my creativity. But seriously, I should write a book: Conversations Heard at the Coffee Shop.
2. Work relationships are driven by fit (not obligation). This is hands down one of my favorite observations of the gig economy. Long-term contractor-client relationships are driven by fit, not obligation. If a relationship doesn’t work–after you successfully complete the agreed upon work–you no longer have to work together. And you don’t even have to go through the whole, “I’m giving my two weeks notice today.” Instant nausea. Alternatively, if you think, “Wow. This is a magical partnership.” Presto. You can keep working together!
3. I never have to miss [insert important event] because of work. LinkedIn is full of #unlimitedtimeoff posts. From a self-employment perspective, unlimited time off (or unlimited vacation time) works wonders. I never miss a deadline, but I also never miss important events–weddings, award ceremonies, or dinners. And I’m still on track to hit my yearly income goal. You gotta strike a balance and most (not all) PTO policies get in the way of doing that.
4. I can flex my hours. Flexible work schedules undoubtedly come with pros and cons–especially if you lack self-discipline. (Read more about this in my article, The Single Most Important Secret to Freelance Writing Success.) I work anywhere from 30-50 hours per week (given I’m not on vacation). Accounting for scheduled client calls–I can flex these hours however works best. If I’m up early, I can start working at the crack of dawn. If I want to attend a workshop at 2 PM on a Thursday, I can shift my hours. If I’m cruisin’ and get eight hours of work done in five hours, I can stop working for the day, or more likely, do some extra work.
5. I get to work on different projects with different people. What’s the opposite of monotonous? (Google says ‘interesting.’) That’s how I describe my work. And it’s a creative’s dream. I get to write about everything from public relations for venture capitalists to the power of artificial intelligence in M&A to cover letter writing tips. As someone who is energized by research, data, and continuous learning, the variety of projects is primo.
And no, the gig economy isn’t made up of only sunshine and rainbows (or more appropriately, beer-battered cheese curds and baby animals), but it works for me.
What I perceive as freedom, others see as uncertainty, risk, and subsequent stress.
Though I have to file quarterly taxes, coordinate billing, set rates, create invoices, sign contracts, pitch articles, deal with insurance, save for my own retirement, and pay both the employer and employee tax contributions, somehow, it’s still worth it.
What do you enjoy most about the gig economy? I’d love to hear! Drop me a comment.
Hey, I’m Laura. In October 2016, I quit my job (on purpose) and became a freelance writer (on accident). Now I share my experience as a freelance writer for 20-somethings. Because contrary to popular myth, you don’t have to wait until you’re 50 to become a successful freelance writer. I’m happy you’re here.