The freedom to set your own schedule, be your own boss, and do what you enjoy — what’s not to love about working in the gig economy? While these benefits are real, going solo isn’t entirely a walk in the park. Working as a freelancer or side gigger requires specific skills and assets that an office job doesn’t. If you’re going to make it in the gig economy, these are four things you need to have:
When you’re starting out in the gig economy, the work doesn’t come to you — you have to go out and find it. But if you develop a network, word will get out and, over time, clients will start knocking on your door. Cultivate connections with other independent workers and small business owners and don’t be afraid to ask clients to tell their friends about your services and leave positive reviews online.
As an independent worker there’s no one holding you to deadlines or quality-checking your work. It’s completely up to you to make sure the work gets done, and gets done well. There are a lot of freelancers and side giggers out there, and if your clients don’t like the way you do business, they’ll spend their money somewhere else.
Being a freelancer or side gigger can also mean working in unconventional spaces. Sustaining productivity is challenging in the face of constant distraction. Self-motivation and discipline are key for keeping yourself on task.
Somewhere to Work
Loitering at coffee shops gets expensive and library seating is rarely comfortable enough for a full day’s work. So where do you set up shop when you don’t have an office to report to? If your work is computer-centric, you have two main options: rented office space or a home office.
Private office space is expensive (can cost up to $575 a month or more depending on your location), so many freelancers and side giggers opt for shared workspaces instead. Also known as coworking spaces, shared workspaces charge monthly membership fees for access to desk space and a WiFi connection, along with amenities like coffee, snacks, and networking events. In coworking spaces you’re typically sharing an open-plan office with dozens of other people, so you need to be able to cope with background noise if you go this route.
Home offices are great if you need a little more peace and quiet while you work. A home workspace can be anything from your kitchen table to a dedicated office, but if you plan on spending several days a week working from home, it’s best to carve out a separate workspace to minimize distractions. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you can hire a carpenter or handyman to come in and build out the space for you. This could include a custom desk, a cord organizer, shelves, and cabinets for your office. Hiring a handyman in Washington, DC, will likely cost you $205 – $832, depending on the scale of the work.
A dedicated home office also lets you take a home office deduction when you file your taxes. Learn what it takes to qualify for a home office deduction at Money Talks News.
The time comes in every freelancer’s career when she has to chase a client down for payment. According to Freelancers Union, 71 percent of freelancers have experienced trouble getting paid at least once in their career. The average loss? $6,000. That’s no drop in the bucket, which is why you need a strategy for getting paid without burning bridges.
The key to collecting payment from a client who’s gone silent is having set payment terms and politely, but firmly following up when they aren’t adhered to. If the first reminder doesn’t work, increase the firmness of your request but remain professional and polite. While there’s always a chance someone will refuse to pay, communication usually does the trick. For more tips on chasing down payment, check out this nonpayment advice from Shopify.
Working in the gig economy isn’t the easiest path. However, when you cultivate the right skills and the right connections, it can be an incredibly rewarding one. Before you set out to become a freelance worker or side gigger, make sure you have these four things in your toolbox.
Article by: Lucy Reed, Owner/Blogger/Developer of Gigmine.co
Image via Unsplash