Remember how the word “gig” used to be associated with musicians who were hired to play for an event? Well, it has now made its way to mean any kind of employment on a temporary basis –freelancers, part-time hires and project-based workers part of a growing trend known as “the gig economy”.
How people earn money has changed dramatically over the past decade, thanks to new social networking sites and disruption to certain industries. To get some insight on the gig economy, we talked to Tomas O’Farrell, co-founder of Workana, a freelance marketplace that connects digital talent including developers, graphic designers, digital marketers, and content writers with companies such as SMEs, mid-market companies or even larger enterprises.
Here’s what Tomas has to say about becoming a gig worker.
You become the “Master of Your Own Fate”
Sounds extensive, doesn’t it? But when we asked him what the main objective of the gig economy is, Tomas says it’s to “provide workers with independence.” According to Tomas, the main idea behind the gig economy is to allow workers to choose their own career development. “For example, you get to choose the clients you work with, what you want to do, what sort of skills you want to focus on, and maybe even what country you want to live in. Say you have new kids, you have a family. In the beginning, it’s very challenging and you need to be there for your family but you don’t really want to disappear from the world of work. So you can work 10 hours a week instead of a full zero. Or maybe it’s the opposite, where you want to buy a new house and you decide to work 80 hours a week. These decisions are up to you.”
Larger corporations are making the most of gig workers too!
If you feel like you’re missing out on working in the corporate world by being a gig worker, good news – you won’t have to. These days, many big companies are making the most out of the gig economy too. “We work with many large companies and what happens is that they see the value in it,” says Tomas. “They’re feeling the challenges of the full-time employment model where there are many positions they’re not able to fill.” Tomas continues to explain that because of it, more big companies are becoming more open to hiring freelancers.
In Workana, Tomas explains that they go through a process to create a plan to see how their client companies can start working with freelance talent. “If we do our job correctly and we source the right candidates, the results are always there.”
You’ll need to develop some very necessary soft skills
It goes without saying that to be a gig worker, you’ll need the technical skills to provide your service. If you’re working as a freelance English copywriter, you need to be a good content writer with a high level command of English and grammar. If you’re working as a part-time graphic designer, you need to be fluent in using designing software.
But what people don’t usually realise that when entering the gig economy you need to have certain soft skills too. As Tomas explains, “You need to be able to sell yourself, be good at setting a price for your services, and learn how to negotiate with your clients.”
On top of it all, you also need to be very good at project management. Says Tomas, “If you have four or five clients, and you promised them four or five different deadlines, what are the things you need to ensure to meet your deadlines?”
There’s more: “If you become more successful and you want to hire people to help with your workload and join your team, how do you recruit? How do you manage your employee? How do you deal with your clients when something goes wrong in a project? All projects have something that goes wrong,” says Tomas.
With all the skills you need to develop, Tomas says “the soft skills are at least as, or even more important, than your hard skills.”
And if you’re still not convinced, you can think about it again later!
We asked Tomas if he has any advice for those interested in becoming a gig worker. His answer? “Give it a try!”
Of course, dipping your toes in a brand new gig pool may come with some uncertainties. But so does everything else when you’re trying something new. It may be quite difficult to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life after getting out of school when you’re 18 years old. You may not understand what you will like doing 10 or 20 years down the line. As an "unexpected side benefit" of the rise of the gig economy, says Tomas, it’s a lot easier to do and try out new areas of your career later on in life.
So if you’re unsure about joining the gig economy now, that’s alright. Just think about it later!
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash.