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Most of us have been conditioned to think of work as something we do on behalf of someone else. We’re also taught to define success as how well we perform in those circumstances and whether the work we do pleases an employer. Unfortunately, for many people, that’s an artificial and restrictive way to spend 40 hours or more a week. And pleasing an employer is a subjective matter — you can meet the objectives of your position and still not satisfy a supervisor who has specific ideas about how you should work, how you should dress, and how you should interact with others. If that describes your situation, or if you just want to make a change and try something new, the gig economy could be just what the doctor ordered.
The Gig Economy
For a prospective contractor/freelancer, the gig economy is an opportunity to make a fresh start doing something you enjoy. If you’re not sure if it’s a viable alternative, consider that 57 million Americans are involved in the gig economy in some capacity. That’s roughly one-third of the country’s entire workforce, and those numbers are growing.
In other words, America’s gig economy is booming. It’s a good time to make the transition if you’ve had enough of the traditional, eight-to-five grinder because a growing number of companies have embraced the benefits of engaging experienced professionals on an ad hoc basis. However, it’s not like switching jobs — there are things you need to know to make it work.
Go with What You Know
Offer a service you know well and enjoy doing. For example, if you’re a writer or a designer, it’s probably not a great idea to start a landscaping business or become a financial consultant unless you have a background in those areas. The beauty of the gig economy is that you can take on work you want to do and work hours you want to work, so it’s a welcome change from being vulnerable to a demanding supervisor. Think about the niche you can create for yourself by offering a service in which you excel. The more you can specialize and differentiate yourself from competitors, the more you’ll stand out to potential clients.
Open for Business
You’ll need to let everyone know you’re open for business and make clear what you offer. Create profiles on freelance sites like Upwork that pair giggers with suitable opportunities. If you don’t already have a website, you’ll need one that’s professional and engaging. Remember, this will be your online identity, so consider having it done by a professional website designer.
Post samples of past work and provide a description of what you do and how you can help potential clients. Let former clients and colleagues know that you’re going into business as a contractor — they may be able to hook you up with work opportunities.
Entering the gig economy means you’re on your own — no one’s going to stand over your shoulder and ask about your progress. Getting work done on time and according to your customer’s expectations is on you, so make sure you’re organized. Set up a dedicated work area with minimal distractions. Make it a relaxing space with green houseplants and calming artwork. And keep the screens (TV, gaming consoles, etc.) in another part of the house.
Set firm work hours by determining which hours work best for you, though it may sometimes be necessary to work specific hours if a client needs something completed within a set timeframe. Being a successful gigger depends to a large extent on self-discipline and being motivated to get your work done well and on schedule. Once you’ve completed an assignment for a company, be sure to follow up and stay in touch so they know you’re still available and interested.
Gig-based work offers a degree of freedom and flexibility that can be incredibly liberating, especially if you’re used to being tied to a cubicle eight hours a day. However, it’s not a license to steal — you’re still responsible for pleasing your clients, and retaining them (and getting others) will depend on how well you perform.
That said, for the at least the last 25-years or more I have been using, at a minimum, Microsoft Word on a daily basis (other than when I am travelling). Most days I would use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There was also a period of about 10-years when I used FrontPage on a fairly regular basis. And I have to confess I have taught Microsoft Office classes! Plus, I, alas, use Windows — though there was a time I was a devout Apple fanatic. Then, in 1997 I had to start using PowerPoint on Windows for some of my consulting work. At that time I had 6 Macs in the house. I had to go out and get a Windows 95 PC — for PowerPoint. Within 11-months I had multiple PCs and I was giving away my Macs.
But, I always try to avoid using new MS products.
That was the case with OneDrive. I am a heavy Google Drive user and have been for years.
But, I resisted OneDrive.
But, a couple of days ago I have to start rethinking my MS plans because, ALAS, I am planning to get a new PC with Windows 10. OneDrive is very much a part of Windows 10. I noticed that THOUGH I was not using it, my MS Office applications, e.g., Word, had me logged onto OneDrive.
So, two-days ago I decided to use OneDrive. It is really no different to Google Drive. So, there was no learning curve to speak of. Yes, it is easier to backup my Office files directly to OneDrive without having to upload them, manually, to Google Drive. NO, I do not believe in auto-backup. No siree. I like to have control,
Anywho … So far, so good. I am even impressed. It is easy enough to use and quite convenient.
So this is exciting, but we have to keep it in perspective.
It has now been over 10-years — YES, 10-years — since we have had a NEW dwarf planet. There is politics here and possibly even some second-thoughts and regrets, Maybe they were hasty in coming up with the classification ‘dwarf planet’. Minor planet and trans-Neptunian object (TNO) might have sufficed.
But, I will keep you posted.
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