Getting Started in the Gig Economy

Have you heard of the “gig economy”? Well, you’re living in it. Because the term is somewhat new, there’s still disagreement about what it means, but the consensus seems to be that it’s a description of our current marketplace, in which companies use freelancers and independent contractors more often than full-time employees. Many people speculate that the gig economy has proliferated as a result of digitalization. With the internet, people’s skill-sets have become specialized, allowing them to bid for work that companies post online. By some estimates, 53 million people currently work freelance in the United States. So, if you’re interested in starting your own gig-based business, you may be one of many – and that’s a good thing. Here are some tips and advice to start out and to generate sales to get your business up and running.

How to Get Started

Perhaps the first step in starting a business is identifying what you’re passionate about. If your customer base senses from the get-go that you don’t care enough about what you’re selling to endlessly try to perfect it, then the idea is dead in the water. The downside here is that what you’re passionate about may not be easily translatable into a profit. Also, set goals, and figure out a realistic timetable. By some estimates, it takes 7-10 years for your company to resemble what you had in mind when you quit your job to start it, so make sure that you set goals for yourself and meet those goals going forward. That way, your path won’t seem brutally long, but rather comprised of a series of milestones that you knock out one by one.


Home Business

As a business owner just starting out, one great way to streamline profit is to cut down your overhead. That might mean creating a space where you can work in your home. (Remember, Amazon and Microsoft started out of their founders’ houses.) You don’t have to build an expensive addition to your home to set up a home office (which costs an average of $63,555 in Chicago). Just find a space in your home away from high-traffic areas to minimize distractions. Also, invest in a custom-built desk and/or ergonomic office chair (can be purchased online for only $59.99) to minimize poor posture and joint pain.



Now that you’ve got an idea and an office, how do you turn your cottage industry operation into a booming business? There’s no surefire answer, but some advice on the gig economy holds that it’s best to use freelancers sparingly, especially when you’re starting out. The thought here is that freelance work is temporary or on an as-needed basis, and won’t sustain your company for the long-term. Other people disagree, and will urge you to embrace the gig-based model. Rounding up a cast of freelancers may take time, but some ways to make sure they’re happy with you is to pay on time and set clear terms. Also, give them user profiles so that they feel like they’re part of a community you’ve created.


Once you’re staffed up, start thinking about advertising. A social media consultant might urge you to create a brand that can engage emotionally with a target audience. From there, figure out how to advertise on Twitter or Facebook, or how to perfect an Instagram Story and keep people following you. The more users you have (and the more they share your business), the more revenue you can attract from advertisers, especially if your clientele is loyal. Finally, it’s imperative that you make your platform user-friendly and adaptable, so that your audience feels plugged into the mainframe of your vision.


Image via Unsplash


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