In the past couple of years, you may have read about the ‘Gig Economy.’

The Gig Economy is defined as a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.

In fact, many people are enjoying career as ‘gig’ employees as opposed to working in a traditional 9-5 work role. In addition to the work flexibility and the desire for more autonomy as a gig employee, professionals have been able to replace their full-time salary as gig employees.
A recent McKinsey report found that 75 percent of surveyed gig consultants were making more or the same amount of money than they did in their previous traditional roles.

I hear regularly from professionals who hustle to identify new gig opportunities, even using AH Jobs List and other job boards as opportunities to find contract and project work. In fact, employers have become more and more open minded to hiring part-time project employees and consultants as opposed to full-time employees; many small to mid-size companies simply can’t justify the expense of on-boarding full-time professionals.

What to think about as a ‘gig’ employee

First off, despite the media hype, gig employees are not simply Uber or Lyft drivers. There’s a wide variety of professionals who have made substantial livings as free-lance project employees.

When considering joining the ranks of free-lance gig professionals, you have to first consider how much to charge. Remember, as a free-lance employee, you have to consider the taxes you will have to pay, potential health insurance costs, retirement savings and day-to-day business and travel expenses as well.

This may seem daunting at first, but, in reality, employers who need experienced, professional assistance won’t shy away from compensating free-lance professionals and, in fact, in the long run, you will be saving the employer money.

The other thing to consider is how your freelance work is structured.

Many freelance professionals work on a short-term project basis or in other words, are asked to consult or work on a one-time project. Others are hired on a lengthier retainer basis, where they are paid on an annual contract and a month-to-month fee is paid for a pre-defined average number of hours. For example you might agree to a contract that pays you $3000 per-month for 30 hours of work per-month ($100 per-hour). Some months, you might only work 15 hours, others you might work 50 hours. But the benefit is that the employer has a committed freelancer that is available to assist when needed and you have a guaranteed stream of revenue.

I’ve known professional freelancers who have identified niche industries (real estate, automobile sales, hospitality and others) and have established several annual retainer arrangements with different companies within these industries. One pr/marketing freelancer in particular balances 9 different retainer contracts at $3000 per-month. They are able to sub-contract some work (web, graphic design, brochure development, etc.) to other freelancers when needed. As you can see, this type of work can be extremely lucrative.

Being a freelance employee requires a great amount of salesmanship, networking and patience; establishing yourself doesn’t happen overnight. In future articles, I’ll discuss the ‘gig hustle’ and ways to keep a pipeline of new gigs flowing your way as well as how to market yourself as a freelance contractor and create a business development plan for yourself.

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