Whether you are an Uber or Lyft driver, have an Etsy or Freelancer.com profile, or just browse relevant Craigslist sections daily, you are part of the gig economy. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 36% of American workers are part of the gig economy, a term that was popularized during the Great Recession. While many do gigs as side hustles, Gen-X members (people in their 40s and early 50s) are the most likely to rely on gigs as their full-time jobs.
Ride share services are a big part of the gig economy. But freelancers - specifically writers, graphic designers, editors, and web designers - must be organized, efficient, and resilient to earn a consistent income for themselves and their families. Independence and ditching the 9 to 5 boss is the main reason many people leave their full-time jobs for the gig economy. The tradeoff is that you must keep yourself motivated and productive without traditional timelines and assignments given to you by someone else.
The most successful independent contractors follows these three cardinal rules.
The most difficult part of being an independent contractor is productivity. Working in your pajamas while watching “The View” or “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed” is one of the benefits of being your own boss. This type of relaxed environment, however, leads to procrastination and ultimately unhappy clients.
A home office makes it feel like you’re at work and places you in that mindset. Buy a comfortable chair and desk, and place them somewhere away from your bedroom or any other area in your home that presents distractions. Those living in small efficiency apartments or with roommates can use office partitions to create a definitive office space. Use office whiteboards for everything from doodling about your accomplishments to daily agendas. Place your coffee maker on a separate platform near your desk.
Take a shower before every day begins, just as you would for a regular job. Wear comfortable clothes that are suitable for public display while working.
Harvard researchers in 2017 wrote about the loneliness epidemic that is fast developing in the global workplace. A vast majority of communications between colleagues and clients are done electronically, even in traditional work settings. Independent contractors are even more prone to feeling lonely and insignificant, which effects productivity.
Dr. Frank McAndrews wrote about the perils of social isolation in 2016. Balanced humans spend much of their days reacting to external stimuli. Monotonous, repetitive days lead to altered states of consciousness and even neurosis. Have lunch with friends or family who are working traditional jobs as much as possible. Attend seminars and other gatherings of like-minded individuals who could potentially act as mentors or just new people in your social network. Take the dog for a walk in the park among other dog owners during the work day.
The idea is to avoid self-absorption and the dark conclusions the human mind draws with no external stimuli.
We’ve all heard the statistics in some form or another. The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times that of retaining an existing one. The probability of an existing customer buying your product or service is 60-70%, but only 5-20% for new customers.
Independent contractors with small client lists should send their regular customers personalized emails at least once every two months. A great excuse to communicate with existing clients without specific cause are holidays. A simple “It’s been a great 2018 and 2019 its going to be even better” email to all existing clients could easily lead to several replies about forthcoming projects. Resolve any and all complaints with existing clients quickly and comprehensively. Offer discounts and free services as remedies for poor service.
The gig economy is growing and will continue providing opportunities for ambitious individuals who want control over their work conditions. Follow the foregoing basic steps to ensure your piece of the pie remains fresh and gainful.