You’ve heard the term, maybe wondered a bit about it, but what exactly is the gig economy? Better yet, what are the pros and cons of the gig economy? It seems that there must be more pros since almost so many people seem to have that side gig, maybe even a full-time one. So read on to learn about the gig economy. We’ll see where it’s going and how you can get involved.
Let’s define gig economy
We’ve just experienced an unprecedented event in our time – the Covid-19 pandemic. It changed our lives in unforeseeable ways. Some people are still living through this, staying socially distanced and waiting for a vaccine. Others are able to go about their daily lives again. However, besides the devastation and health impacts, the pandemic left us with some other lasting changes, including how we work. One thing that we saw during the pandemic is a shift towards the gig economy. But let’s get a good working definition before we go any further with this.
The gig economy is one where the workforce is made up of contractors, online platform workers, on-call workers, and contract firm workers. This also includes some independent workers and small business owners, like Etsy sellers or independent painters. So from your Uber driver to your Doordash guy, to the kid who mows your lawn, the teacher who tutors your daughter after school, and the accountant across the county who helped with your taxes this year – they’re part of the gig economy. You can see some of them work for a platform while others work for themselves. Other examples are the resume writer you hired from an online platform, or the content writer or the voice artist for your company’s commercial. These are all gig workers, too, and they often work on a contract basis or maybe as independent freelancers on a platform.
The bottom line to the gig economy is it is an expanding part of the workforce, and it allows workers to take things into their own hands. Sounds great, right? Well, it is. But, there are also a few downsides we will take a look at, too. But the numbers show there is something to be said for the gig economy, otherwise, you wouldn’t see the steady rise of it. In fact, over 40% of the workforce in the United States now has nontraditional employer-employee jobs through the gig economy. And the numbers are only growing.
Some stats on the gig economy
We took a look at this great compilation of statistics from Small Biz Genius and found some exciting things related to the gig economy.
- Those with higher degrees enjoy the gig economy – 41% of postgraduates participate in freelance work
- It is expected that by 2027, 50% of the workforce will be part of the gig economy
- During the pandemic, 12% of workers in the US started taking freelance jobs
- 86% of workers in the gig economy see a bright and continuing future in freelancing
This isn’t all there is to say about where the gig economy is going. We also found out that the gig economy is growing at a rate of 3 times faster than the US working population. Another interesting stat is that Millenials make up about one-third of the freelance workforce. This number is expected to continue to grow and the gig economy will continue to rise as well. In fact, over half of freelancers are so happy doing what they are doing now that they say they wouldn’t go back to traditional employment, even for more money.
The pros and cons of the gig economy
So what makes the gig economy so desirable? Why are people so satisfied here? Are there any drawbacks? There’s gotta be, right? Well, sure there’s a downside. Most things have some cons mixed in with the pros. So let’s break it down, and first, take a look at why people are so taken with this new form of work and income generation.
The pros of the gig economy
- Flexibility – One of the biggest pros of the gig economy is flexibility. People love setting their own hours. Whether it’s when you want to drive Door Dash or when you can work on editing a big video project, getting things done on your time is a big part of job satisfaction. Freelancing affords this perk in the gig economy. This is perfect for students, parents, or anyone trying to supplement an income.
- Remote – Many gig economy workers can do their jobs remotely. Take writers, for instance. They can work from anywhere – home, a coffee shop, a vacation … And during the pandemic, they could keep working. Home offices are essential pieces to the gig worker’s work life, but the home office can be as simple as a dining room table and a laptop. In fact, many of these jobs shine during times of social distancing, like meal delivery or personal grocery shoppers.
- Global and local – An interesting part of the gig economy is it’s just as small as it is far-reaching. While the writer can create content for anyone, anywhere in the world on a global scale, customers can also buy a birthday cake from their local home baker rather than a big box store. So, a bit ironically, it enhances the global community at the same time it forges local community ties.
- Passion and fulfillment– We love this one. So many gig workers have begun their gig from a passion. Perhaps they love voicing characters. The perfect gig work could be voiceovers and audiobooks. Not only will they find fulfillment by doing what they love, but they’ll also be making money from it. Many lifelong hobbies are now the full-time jobs of gig workers.
- Work is plentiful – Now with the Internet, it’s not so hard finding remote gigs. Whether you decide on a local platform, like a Facebook marketplace ad or a global platform, like Bunny Studio, if you’re good, there’s work. Also, word of mouth runs strong, so if you are good and have satisfied customers, word will travel and you may find you have more work than you even anticipated.
- Support and community – You may think that you won’t have the support that you would have in a traditional workplace. For instance, who do you go to if you feel harassed by a client? Many platforms, like Etsy, have great assistance and support for their freelancers and take pride in this aspect of their concept. Other gig workers join communities locally or virtually so they have like-minded colleagues to share trials and tribulations with. If you want the support, it’s there for the taking.
- Income – We’ve got to touch on this, right? When you are a gig worker, the money you make is yours. You can set your own rates, negotiate, and earn a pretty good income. You can work a gig to supplement a traditional job, work a couple of gigs, or focus on your one and really be a superstar.
The cons of the gig economy
We’d be amiss if we painted it all sunshine and rainbows. Yes, there are some drawbacks to the gig economy. Let’s take a look…
- Lack of benefits – There are some jobs people take solely for the benefits. Gig work is not one of them. You don’t get the perks of working in a traditional job – no benefits, health insurance, 401k’s, or paid time off. This can be a big deterrent to many people who may otherwise thrive in the gig economy.
- Lack of reliability – Because there often is no commitment, sometimes gig workers can be unreliable. They also see some unreliability with work. Many types of gig work are seasonal, like photographers or college essay writers. If you are a gig worker working with a platform, you don’t really know what will come next. We all know the term here today, gone tomorrow.
- Lack of training and professional development – Often in a traditional setting, your employer provides professional development and training hours. A gig worker has to do this on their own. This could lead to missed opportunities and personal costs. However, there are still venues to get the training you want, though it may be an out-of-pocket cost.
The future of the gig economy
We can see that the gig economy is an exciting place. It’s moving forward and continues to broaden what it offers. Whether the work is done completely independently or through a platform and community, the gig economy looks like it’s here to stay. It may not be the time to make it your only source of income, but you could sure set off on that path if that’s your goal. We see a few keys in being a successful gig worker, and these are:
- Do what you love – Your gig should offer some happiness, enrichment, and fulfillment. And it’s great that you can make money at the same time.
- Find your place – Whether you want to work as a grocery shopper affiliated with a major platform, a translator on Bunny Studio, or a local handyman, knowing where you want to be will lead to your success.
- Hone your skills – If you’ve got a skill, use it. But make sure you consistently put out your best work. The more you can do, the more work you can get. You know how you can rate your Uber driver> Well, strive for those high ratings yourself. People want the best, and if you can be the best, the work will come your way.
So yes, the gig economy is here and it’s probably not going anywhere.
The bottom line
Just as the pandemic changed our lives and taught us how to adapt, we can take this to our professional lives. For some, they have returned to their traditional jobs and are continuing to thrive. For others, they knew it was time for a change. Wherever you are, if you hear the siren’s call of the gig economy, don’t be afraid to answer it. You never know – your dream can manifest within it. Bunny Studio is a great place to start with many creative skills. Check us out and apply to become a pro. The gig economy awaits.