The gig economy is a great way to beef up your savings or plan ahead, while you still have the comfort of a regular paycheck. But keeping your gig work as a side hustle also forces you to compromise. If your freelancing career represents your future, you’ve got to be able to grab it without dropping the ball. Here’s how to know you’re ready to go full-time in the gig economy.
1. You Have a Good Grasp on Your Industry
No one could have predicted that the housing industry was going to go bust as badly as it did. Well, maybe, they could. But you certainly would not have wanted to be a mortgage broker just starting out circa 2006.
Sometimes, markets fail and industries collapse. What you thought was a guarantee turned out to be a publication with a third of the subscribers it had 10 years ago. Instead of breaking out your childhood Magic 8-Ball and asking ethereal questions, it’s time to do some hard research. Make sure:
- You know where the money is
- You can do the work that’s needed
- You’re not going to get stuck in a niche that’s already turning obsolete
Future-proofing your job is the only way to ensure your long-term income, without the predictability of a regular paycheck.
2. You Can Make Enough Money
Speaking of regular paychecks, getting rid of one may be the hardest step. About 40 percent of gig workers make more than $100,000 annually. That seems like an impressive number. But it’s worth keeping in mind that according to the same survey, less than 20 percent of freelancers are gigging it full-time.
Taking the last step toward full-time gig-work demands a ruthless attention to your budget. Figure out exactly what you need to keep your bills paid. Determine if your current freelancing income can manage it. Remember that if you lose benefits like health insurance, you need to budget for them, too.
If you can’t make it work, it’s worth trying to find a job that offers you a transition. Shifting to part-time employment may help you better establish your freelancing career without completely eliminating your access to predictable income.
3. You Don’t Need to Work 24/7
Once you go beyond the confines of a traditional office work environment, you may find a lot of freedom. You might also face the horrifying realization that you’re living in a gilded cage. For a lot of people, taking the opportunity to work anytime easily translates into working all the time. This isn’t sustainable.
You need a balance of work and play. If you’re relying on online marketplace platforms for most of your work, you may quickly discover that adding too many hours to your schedule corresponds to a decrease in your effective hourly rate. Confirm that you can create the delicate balance between work you need to do to survive and projects worth doing.
4. You Understand What Motivates You
There’s a reason that many corporations have been pushing back against remote work, and it’s mostly tied to productivity. Paradoxically, this might be the biggest reason to consider full-time freelancing in the first place: No more cookie-cutter employment policies.
But there’s a grain of truth in every assumption, and you need to see how it applies to you. Maybe the motivation to get it done as soon as possible, without a boss’s implied schedule, will help you set to work more quickly. Or perhaps you find the thrill of the ticking clock the best way to prioritize your workload. Make sure you know where your productivity lies, so you can find it consistently.
5. You Can Set Aside Time (and Money) for Professional Development
The gig economy can either promote growth or hinder it, depending on what you do. There’s no company to make you go to that boring conference that you feel is 90 percent irrelevant to your career. But there’s also no company travel budget to pay for the ones you want.
Keeping your skills and experience relevant is key to staying on top of a dynamic industry. If you need to block out a few hours each week, a day each month or a week every year to do it, verify that you can. Losing out on future income because you’re too tied to paying work may work in the moment, but cause problems over time.
Millions of gig workers find opportunities through an online marketplace platform like WriterAccess. Here’s how to get started.
Holly S has over a decade of experience writing in the fields of communication, journalism and history. She obtained a master’s degree in a writing-intensive discipline and possesses years of academic, professional and non-profit experience in editing and arranging for distribution the written works of herself and others. As a professional writer, she has written hundreds of articles and blog posts on topics including technology, finance, home and garden, health and wellness, food and beverage, travel, and education. She has a campy wit and writes well in a variety of voices, from professional to humorous. She has built an extensive understanding of SEO and content marketing tactics to ensure that her writing will reach prospective readers in the right demographics.