Goodbye 9 to 5, and hello whenever to whenever! More and more people are choosing to leave their full-time office jobs to explore how to find work in the gig economy. According to one recent study, over 57 million Americans worked gigs as of 2020. That’s about 35% of the workforce!1 So if you want to create your own schedule, explore your entrepreneurial spirit, or even just supplement your salary, gig work may be right for you.
But where do you start finding gig work? Don’t sweat it. We’re going to teach you the tips for getting high-paying gig work, whether you’re a dog walker, tutor, or computer programmer. Plus, we’ll share how to protect yourself financially on any gig you land. Contractors, freelancers, and side-hustlers unite! We’re about to get gig-y with it.
What is the gig economy?
Unless you’ve been living under a cubicle, you’ve likely noticed that the gig economy is one of the fastest-growing work sectors in the country, making up 5% of the American GDP. That’s over $1 trillion waiting for you to get your share.2
The gig economy is vast and encompasses individuals who work as full-time independent contractors, part-time freelancers, and occasional side hustlers. The full-time business consultant contracting time with major corporations — they’re part of the gig economy. The artist who works as an accountant during the day and sells paintings on Etsy at night — they’re part of the gig economy, too.
When you work gigs, you call the shots. But first, you need to learn how to start your business, market yourself, land jobs, and protect yourself financially. With new technology and growing demand, your next paycheck may only be an app download away. Here are some tips to help you get high-paying gig work.
7 tips to get gig work and grow your side hustle
With over 57 million other Americans competing for gigs, you need to learn how to stand out. Here are 7 tips to get gig work and grow your side hustle.
- Assess your goals: Determine what you want to get out of gig work. A gig can be a part-time income supplement to your day job or a passion project you launch into a full-time career. Decide how much time and effort you want to devote to your gigs. Some require more work than others, but they may also have bigger rewards and paydays.
- Pick a specialization: Identify the skills you have and the ones you want to develop. The secret to getting high-paying gig work is to specialize in something specific. For example, would you trust a dog walker who is also an accountant/social media coordinator/piano teacher to care for your husky puppy? Or would you rather have your pup spend the day with a husky dog training expert? When you specialize, people trust you more and are willing to pay you a higher rate.
- Leverage your network: First, reach out to your family and friends and let them know about the fantastic side hustle you started. Your friends are often your first clients, and they will be able to recommend your services to their networks. Then, leverage your larger social media networks. Use apps to find gig work and take advantage of free marketing services like Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist, and community forums like NextDoor. Finally, identify your ideal customer and target them with your charm and skill (or even a few paid ads).
- Build your reputation: The best way to build your reputation is to provide the best service or product. Make sure to be punctual, follow through on deadlines, and overdeliver. When you complete a job, ask for a friendly review or referral. It can be scary to ask for feedback at first. Just know that any feedback will help you improve and grow your business.
- Update your portfolio: Once things start to take off and you get more gigs, you will need to update your portfolio. A portfolio can be a website, social media page, app profile, or even a flyer. Give your future clients a taste of who you are, what you can offer, how you helped past clients. Including photos of yourself is a great way to make people feel connected to you, and showcasing stats is an effective way to communicate the results you have achieved.
- Increase your rates: Once you’ve honed in on your skills and built a reputation, you can increase your rates. With higher rates, you can take on fewer gigs and have more time to enjoy the freelance lifestyle. Before choosing a gig, know that some gig work comes with set rates that you can’t increase. For example, Uber drivers are limited to the driving rate set by the app. Going out on your own allows you to determine your own pricing but comes with more risks.
- Plan a budget: Freelance work doesn’t come with a set salary like traditional jobs, and many gig workers find themselves without work for longer than they’d like. Mitigate this risk by planning a healthy budget. Contribute to savings accounts and accumulate funds to cover expenses between jobs, retirement planning, and freelancer taxes. (Here’s a pro tip: Freelancers should save around 25% of their income to pay Uncle Sam.)
Where and how to find gig work
Of course, you can find gigs around your local neighborhood. But, you don’t have to limit yourself to the coffee shop bulletin board. With the internet and apps for finding gig work, people are landing jobs all over the world! Here are some of the best places to find gig work. Make sure you complete any necessary profiles before diving in — your profile is your first impression! And remember that beyond apps, you can also run a newspaper ad (yes, they still have these).
For almost any type of gig:
- Gigs Done Right
For driving and delivery gigs:
- Uber Eats
- Grub Hub
For rental gigs:
For professional gigs:
For selling gigs:
- Facebook Marketplace
For educational gigs:
- Chegg Tutors
What gigs pay the highest salaries?
Unlike full-time jobs, gigs don’t pay a set yearly salary. Instead, income varies based on rates paid, hours worked, and gigs landed. For example, the more a rideshare driver drives, the more they earn — putting them in the driver’s seat of their yearly income potential.
One survey found that the average gig worker makes $21 per hour as of 2020.3 However, some freelancers charge more than $100 per hour for their services. Factors including experience, skill, and industry will affect your rates. But when it comes down to it, you determine your salary. So, any gig can be the highest paying gig when you do it right. Can you gig it?
Thimble’s got your gig’s back
When you work for a company, your boss is there to back you up. When you’re a gig worker, you are the boss. Insurance is the most important way to make sure you stay financially protected on the job. Back up your gigs with general liability insurance and professional liability insurance to safeguard yourself and your business from the financial consequences of third-party claims and lawsuits.
Accidents happen more than you think! For example, if you are a dog walker and Fido bites the mail courier, an insurance policy could help cover the expenses associated with the injury. In some cases, clients may not even hire you without proof of insurance — costing you gigs (and money). And if you’re sued, the right insurance will provide for the investigation of claims and your legal defense.
It doesn’t always make sense to have a 24/7 insurance policy in place as a gig worker. Of course, you need coverage, but only when you’re on the job. Cover your gigs by the job, month, or year. Just click “get a quote” or download the Thimble mobile app, answer a quick set of questions, receive your quote, and purchase — all within minutes.