In today’s digital economy, the traditional employer/employee relationship is disappearing. The overwhelming trend is toward a new gig economy – defined by TechTarget as “An environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.” For some, the gig economy has replaced reliable permanent employment with inconsistent temporary labor. For others, it poses a major opportunity to supplement your income or even become your own boss.
Some professions have always included “gigs” as part of the economy. Full-time graphic designers, for example, have been taking jobs on the side for as long as the profession has existed and many people in artistic trades, such as carpentry or interior decorating, begin their careers with gigs while maintaining a full-time job elsewhere.
Today, contract labor has pervaded just about every industry there is. There are many causes for this, including:
- Mobile workforce: Thanks to the internet, a lot more jobs can be performed remotely, which has caused the link between “job” and “location” to diminish. Employers gain the benefit of hiring the best person for a given job out of a potentially global pool of candidates, and employees gain the flexibility to work from home, travel without missing work, and have more control over their own schedules.
- Automation: As software and roboticization grow more sophisticated, the total labor required to keep a business running decreases. Many businesses have responded by shifting away from salaried employees in favor of part-time workers and contractors hired to complete specific, temporary tasks.
- Career satisfaction: The gig economy is also driven by choice. Coming out of the great recession, many people no longer believe in the “job security” promise of salaried employment, instead opting to diversify their income streams. Self-driven work also allows people to pursue career paths that align more closely with their interests and values.
Presently, the average worker does not (yet) participate in the gig economy, however LinkedIn predicts that by the year 2020, 40 percent of American workers will be employed as independent contractors. Gig-based work is now more accessible and navigable than ever, so even those comfortable in their day job can take advantage of the gig economy to supplement their income, build new skills, and explore new career directions.
Jobs in the gig economy can take almost any form. As contract work becomes more common, more and more industries will increasingly be hiring freelancers. There are innumerable ways to categorize and subcategorize the gig economy, but here’s a primer to help you figure out which kind of “gig” is right for you:
The age of the app has ushered in what is known as the sharing economy: a subset of the gig economy which refers specifically to offering the use of something you own to others. As the most often publicized form of the gig economy, the sharing economy is exemplified by platforms such as Uber, which allows you to share your vehicle by driving customers to their destinations, and AirBnB, which allows you to share your home or apartment with travelers who need a place to sleep. These services don’t typically require any special skills and are therefore a very popular introduction to the gig economy for people who need some extra cash.
For labor that requires more specialized skills, gigs have always been a big part of the job. Artists, designers, editors, and tradespeople are no strangers to the gig economy, but contemporary platforms such as Upwork, Elance, and TaskRabbit have allowed people with specialized skills, and those searching for workers with those skills, to connect more easily than ever.
The digital age has also made it easier than ever for content producers to monetize their creative passions. Musicians, bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers now have many tools allowing them to get paid for their content. YouTube, for example, pays popular producers per view, and musicians can sell through Bandcamp and earn royalties through Spotify. Podcasters can sell airtime to advertisers, and bloggers can earn money through affiliate marketing. However, the latest boon to content producers is the success of Patreon: a platform which allows producers to connect with “patrons”. This platform allows fans to commit to a long-term payment plan in exchange for exclusive perks, either by paying on a regular schedule or paying a small amount every time the producer releases a new podcast/video/song/etc. So the content producer gets a more predictable stream of income while the fans get access to unique bonus content and other incentives, a win-win!
Affiliate marketing is a well-established revenue stream in the digital age. This gig involves an affiliate who promotes the products sold by a business, for example by blogging about them, writing product reviews, or releasing a shopping guide for niche interests, and the affiliate also provides a link for readers to purchase that product. The business then pays the affiliate a commission for every sale they helped to generate, in a commission-based system.
The gig economy has allowed skilled workers around the world to do what they love, increase their income, and free themselves from the nine to five job. If you’re ready to take on that passion project and make money doing it, now is the time!
Do you know that Payza has its own Referral Program? Get your start in the gig economy by helping people sign up for their free Payza Account. Once they reach a certain amount of transactions, you’ll earn $5 USD for your first 10 referrals and $10 USD for every referral after that! Learn how to get started by reading this handy guide: Learn How to Profit from the Payza Referral Program.
Join the millions of businesses and individuals around the world that use the Payza payment platform to supplement their income and to get paid for their gigs. Do you have experience with the gig economy? Let other readers know by leaving a comment below.