Make a living in a Gig economy
What is it, this gig economy?
The gig economy is a new globalized workforce economy, where employees are often contemporary, working part-time, often making more money, being more efficient and flexible. It is an economy shifting its full-time employees to outsourcing to mini business, often counting a single person.
In other words, a gig is a job that lasts a certain period of time, often the life of a project or as long as the company has that specific need.
Who works in the gig economy?
Anybody can start working part-time in the gig economy, and slowly shift their attention to full time working from home – or from anywhere, like Hawai or Thailand. But is it really a case, that all these “freelancers” work while having holidays?
No, it is not.
In general, the Gig economy is very profitable for people in countries where living costs are to a certain level, say Zimbabwe, Vietnam, or Macedonia. The skill-required jobs are then paying much more, allowing for sufficient living standards for more expensive countries, like Ukraine, Bulgaria or the Czech Republic.
The problem arises with expensive countries. There, to be able to earn a living, workers are obliged to be masters in their field, and in countries like Norway, Canada, Switzerland or France it starts to be very hard to make a solid living due to international competition.
Why would a company hire French WordPress developer going for $50/hour when can hire the same-skilled guy from Pakistan for $7/hour?
There are sites trying to abuse such workers from all around the world, making people in economically struggling areas to regret this new age of the internet. Read more about the struggle in this article by The Atlantic.
Does the gig economy actually increase efficiency?
Yes, it does. It was proven that being a freelancer, being responsible for your own earnings and being paid in accordance with your skills makes a person more motivated, thus increases his efficiency.
There was a study calculating that ⅕ of the traditional workforce (20%) is redundant due to inefficiencies, time-wasting, and simply not working while being in work, giving a great space for the gig to rise. Often highly qualified gig workers earn more – but since their taxation is on them and doesn’t bother the company, the company’s total cost is smaller while freelancer has a chance to earn more.
As there are tons of work-related laws, every employee must go through training, his contract must be accepted by the law department, his taxes and salaries must go through accounting, and then the company is often responsible for working equipment, and with it related workspace. This all drops away while employing a freelancer, decreasing costs radically.
Will the gig economy last?
Some say yes, some say no. As a matter of fact, it is currently insufficiently regulated industry with very few laws, some of the most strict being in Carolina. Read more about Carolina’s gig laws in this article by Marketwatch, or in this article by FEE – Foundation for Economic Education.
Should we take the gig economy seriously?
Definitely. Whether you are a business owner in some of the more expensive country, and skilled workforce as designers, programmers, or technical maintenance could cost you from $50/hour to rocketing $150/hour, you may get a better deal elsewhere for a fraction of the cost.
Whether you are looking at it from the second side, as a possible freelancer, starting a side hustle can be a welcome side income to your “normal” job.
How to start as a freelancer?
- Register as a freelancer in one of the online international platforms (not Arabic or local). I personally recommend you start with upwork.com. However, if your English is not well versed (and yet you managed to get this far in the article), you can try out one of the local platforms available. For instance, an Arabic platform that has its own market space: https://om.mostaql.com.
- Search on the platform for services that you are willing to offer as a freelancer, and which of course match your skills. You must keep in mind that such platforms offer a wide range of job opportunities from different fields and different levels (beginner to professional). Don’t worry about not having a high degree, you can still register as a high school student (or equivalent) and offer your services.
- Complete your personal and professional profile on the platform. This step is super important, it is your key to attracting potential employers and clients, among the most important factors being professionalism of your profile and your fee per hour.
- Search on online training platforms, such as udemy.com or www.coursera.org, for training programs, in order to develop your skills in your preferred field and become qualified in the virtual workplace. Most of the training programs available last for a very short period of time (not more than one month) and are very affordable. However, if you are not willing to pay then just search for equivalent platforms and suitable programs. My personal recommendation would go definitely for Khan Academy, where I studied programming in JS. The platform is running 100% on donations, and as my courses were free, yet were worth hundreds of dollars, I was willing to give a donation as well. Should you not feel comfortable there, bear in mind that you can on Youtube always create your own learning program, and simply learn there on different topics from different authors.
- If you are not an English speaker, then just search for local platforms offering opportunities suitable for your knowledge and skills. It is important to mention that the University of Hamdan Ben – Mohammad offers professional training programs in Arabic.
- While you train and develop your skills in your preferred field (during one month for example), get used to the platform that you chose, and search for your competitors’ profiles, and accordingly set your fee per hour – a single most important factor based on which you will be filtered in/out.
- Begin by offering your services, but make sure to offer a discounted price on your initial fee, in order to attract more clients. Make sure to always be nice, friendly, and always deliver the best you can, for your will to work and be your best is directly connected to all of these factors. We highly recommend starting by heavily cutting your price. For instance, when I was starting, I did a good deal of projects for free, $5 or for $1,5/hour only to get positive reviews. As time went on and I gathered good reviews, I started increasing prices and getting traction, allowing me to skyrocket prices as well.
- Replying fast is yet another success factor. Often you lose contract by simply not answering immediately. Bear in mind potential client interviews 5-10 freelancers at once, and who doesn’t answer, is out. On a personal note, I still clearly remember the bitterness from potential client with whom I already spend dozens of hours preparing proposal, strategies, and preparations for work, as our deal was nearly closed, and then being ignored as they simply hired someone else due to me not being able to call at 11 pm on Friday night, without previous notice, and me not being home.
- When your working hours are increased, and you build a wide experience on the platform, you will get more and more job offers, thus, you will be able to increase your fee per hour, and later on maybe even develop your own agency.
Should I start with a gig?
It is definitely a worthy consideration to start offering your special skills on the market online. To start it as a side hustle, and perhaps over time replace your full-time job with it, enjoying flexibility and responsibility of your own earnings.
We highly recommend not to just drop everything and run for a gig, but contact your financial advisor who could help you arrange details. From the legal form of your gig to taxes to accounting, to initial calculation if it is worthy for you to start at all.