Gig work, side hustles, being an independent contractor or sole proprietorship, call it what you want. Gig work is work found outside the traditional long-term job. It could be a few hours, a day, or a week, but it is generally short term compared to contract positions that one may have while working for a company.
I consider myself a gig worker. I am an actor, door dasher, private voice instructor, temp worker, voice over artist, and will occasionally do other types of work (like dog walking or care taking) once in a blue moon. I support myself off of gig work most of the year. I have had stints where I will work in a restaurant or bar, only to return to gig work again because of my need for flexibility. Some people struggle with deciding if they should leave their normal job and start gigging full time, so here is my list of pros and cons for being a full time gig worker:
You get to be your own boss (mostly)
Usually there is someone to answer to even if you are your own boss, technically. If you’re an illustrator or temp, there’s still someone on the other end giving you instructions. With that being said, there’s no question that most gig work is a lot more lax than a “traditional job.” You run your business, you decide where you work, what your brand is, what your business model is and are in control of mostly everything involving your earnings.
Gig work is almost always reliant on the worker to accept a client (and schedule their work for that client whenever they see fit) or accept a shift that is offered. The schedule offers a lot of choice as to when the gig worker is able to work.
Since jobs are accepted per day or on a short term basis, there is often a lot of variety in what your schedule looks like week to week with gig work. If you need something steady, gig work can potentially offer that too. It just depends on what type of work it is and how structured the worker can make their own schedule.
Control over what jobs you take and when
Don’t want mow Mrs. Johnson’s lawn today? Fine! When you’re the boss, there is no one to answer to. You can decide what jobs you want to take.
Sometimes allows for higher hourly rates and better earning potential
When I work for myself I set my rates at $35 for a 30 minute singing lesson and $30 for a 30 minute creative consultation. If I were going through an agency or business that had me on staff, part of my pay would go to the business that I work for. When I teach singing lessons through another business, I make $13.50 per 30 minute singing lesson because a cut of that $35 dollar lesson goes to the business’s overhead. This is understandable since I am benefiting from working under a trusted company, they are giving me a space to work, finding clients for me, and scheduling those clients for me.
Very little structure and sometimes more uncertainty
As a gig worker, the structure has to come from the worker. No one is making your schedule when you work for yourself. You have to do that on your own and that isn’t something everyone inherently knows how to do. There is uncertainty in any job or industry but gig work requires the gigger to continually find the next gig, so that uncertainty is magnified. And let’s be real, stressing about when your next paycheck is coming is pretty rough.
Taxes have to be managed more by the worker
If you are an independent contractor or sole proprietorship, chances are you will have to put aside 15-30% of your earnings (depending on how much you are making from the gig and what the work is) so that you can put some of that towards your income taxes that are due every year. It takes a little bit more organizational skills than punching in numbers from a couple of forms on Turbo Tax but I manage it myself every year! (Thank god for extensions.)
Running your own business can feel like a lot of pressure
If you’re a gig worker, you are essentially running your own business. You’re doing the marketing, the scheduling, the communicating with clients, you’re job hunting, delegating, and doing the books. Unless you hire someone to do some of these things for you, it’s all you! I have somehow managed to do this over the years but I’m not going to lie it can pile up sometimes and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing at first.
You’re always looking for work
Looking for work constantly has to be my least favorite on this list. To me, this is the suckiest part of gig work. You’re always advertising, counting clients, and making sure you have enough every month. The income can be all over the place since your schedule is irregular. You hope you retain some clients but sometimes people drop off or only need your services once, so you’re always building that roster.
There’s no roadmap
Another fun one. If you’re hopping around from gig to gig, your schedule and lifestyle might look different even to another gig worker who does similar stuff. There are tips and tricks you can take from other workers but there isn’t always a clear step by step process like there is in a traditional job.
The freedom and flexibility of being a gig worker is unmatched, but the stress of managing your own business can be overwhelming. I have gone back and forth throughout my twenties between freelancing and working for someone because it really depends on other lifestyle factors when you’re committing to a job.
If you are interested in a free 30 minute consultation to help you get started with your new gig work driven lifestyle, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this blog post!
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“Baby steps count, as long as you are going forward. You add them all up, and one day you look back and you’ll be surprised at where you might get to.”
— Chris Gardner