The rise of technology has created an entire subset of the jobs market entitled “the gig economy.” According to a recent Gallup poll, 36% of US workers have a gig work arrangement in some capacity, and the percentage is only increasing. But what does this actually mean? And how can you take advantage of it? Prior to the advent of the sharing economy, on-demand workforce platforms such as Uber or Instacart, this term might have only been related to freelance workers. Now? It encompasses a whole, whole lot more.

At its most basic, in-a-nutshell explanation, gig work refers to any non-standard work agreement where short-term jobs occur. You render a service, you are paid, and this transaction marks the end of the exchange between both parties. This is “gig work,” or services rendered by an independent contractor or freelancer.

Now, your “side hustle” or general willingness to work can be monetized in a number of ways. Below, we’ll guide you through some tips and tricks to help you navigate this modern working world and how to win more gig work.

Best practices for building & growing your gigs

You want to start making money on the side. Your full-time job is great, but you need the extra cash, and a raise isn’t likely in the near future. How can you get a piece of that $1.4 trillion dollars swirling in the gig economy? Below are some industry-tested tips to help you not only get started in freelance work but to get noticed and grow your business.

Pick a lane – For those getting a PhD, the joke goes, “piled higher and deeper” The same applies here—identify the skills you currently have and the ones you’d like to develop. When starting out, commit to one, maybe two freelance avenues and try to position yourself as a specialist within that area. Whether that’s becoming one of the 5-star rated Uber drivers, whose car offers free gum, water, and mini-disco ball dance parties, or being a Fiverr artist who specializes in children’s watercolors… go deeper, not wider.

Build a body of work – This, of course, depends on the nature of the gigs you are looking for or the freelance business you’re attempting to build. Whether that’s a website, a physical portfolio, a list of recommendation letters, or endorsements from prior clients—always give your potential clients something to reference when determining whether or not to hire you for part-time jobs.

Get noticed – Be zealous. Being aggressively proactive when trying to land gigs will only work to your benefit. Take advantage of all the free marketing services out there like social media, Craigslist, and freelancer’s forums in your localized communities on NextDoor or Reddit. Research the market you’re in as well as the ones you want to be in, identify your ideal customer profile—and then target them. Know your rates so you can communicate them quickly and clearly to potential clients.

Have a plan – Think short-term and long-term. Maybe you’ve just had a second child, and it’s early in the year. You want them to have the best Christmas possible come December, so you start your side work to earn extra money immediately. Come the holidays, you’ve saved appropriately, and your child’s face lights up from the gifts under the tree. However, if that meant being an Uber driver at night, the moment you stop, the money stops coming in. Think of your long-term independent work trajectory but balance it with short-term goals.

Pro Tip: If your on-demand services are only relevant to those in a geographically specific area (labor work, contracting, manufacturing shifts, etc.), make sure the gigs you’re after are within the area you live. You don’t want to agree to a 2-hour commute because you know of a single construction site needing experienced forklift drivers.

Gig work: How to set yourself up for success

With an expected 43% of Americans having side gigs, it’s important to set yourself apart from other freelancers and create good habits from the get-go.

Establish a routine – Whether it’s a dedicated working space, calling 6 potential clients before 10am, or doing the hardest tasks first every day—find a rhythm and stick to it.

Be punctual – Be that college kid who sits first row in class while on the job. Go the extra mile and do so with a smile on your face. Your clients will love you for it and refer you to others. If you’re working shifts for a larger company, treat it like it’s your own business because, technically, it is.

Have savings – Freelance work is not guaranteed like traditional jobs, and many gig workers find themselves without work for longer than they’d like. This is one of the primary downsides of the gig economy. Mitigate this anxiety by building a bulwark of 6-months worth of expenses in cash so you can weather the storms. And don’t neglect to save for retirement should you go freelance full-time. That 15% of each paycheck will pay dividends when you’re 65.

Manage your time effectively – People often find that this is the best part of participating in the gig economy or freelance work: the ability to have a flexible schedule and set your own hours. Make sure you enforce a work-life balance. You can get burnt out from working too much and uninspired by working too little, so create healthy structures for yourself.

Places to look & the different kinds of gig work

There are many, many ways to start your search. And it’s all up to you and what kind of on-demand jobs you want. There are on-demand platforms, local community forums, newspaper classifieds, and online marketplaces all tailored to your specific skill set. Below, we’ll detail just a small few of the larger, well-known places to start your search.

For general gigs, check out these online marketplaces:

  • Craigslist
  • Gigs Done Right
  • Workpop

If you have a vehicle check out:

  • Uber or UberEats
  • Lyft
  • Postmates, Grub Hub
  • Instacart
  • TaskRabbit
  • Picking up scooters via Bird and Lime

For homeowners, see:

  • Airbnb
  • VRBO

For the artistically inclined:

  • Etsy
  • Fiverr
  • eBay

Winning more work: insurance

As you’re constantly in and out of jobs, dealing with various clients, and trying to expand your network, your workday is inherently risky. Things can (and do) go wrong. You know this and clients know this. That’s why proof of insurance is often a requirement before a contract is signed. Not only does having a business insurance policy help show potential clients you’re ready and serious, it helps protect your business.

With a general liability insurance and professional liability insurance policy, you can help protect yourself and your business from third-party claims. From third-party property damage or personal injury to a client suing you for negligence, business insurance insurance can help protect you from the many things that can go awry.

Insurance per gig vs. per year

As a gig worker, it doesn’t always make sense to have a 24/7 insurance policy in place. You need coverage—but only when you’re on the job. Thimble’s on-demand business insurance works for your schedule and can be purchased in less than 60 seconds for the same day. Choose from an hourly, daily, or monthly policy, so only pay for insurance during the exact time you’re working. With Thimble you can focus less on the risks and more on finding more jobs and growing your business.

Thimble: insurance that works when you do, in your hands, on your terms.