What Is The Online Gig Economy And Who Is Working On It?

The online gig economy can be defined as: the online labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term job commitments vs. permanent jobs. Contractors or freelancers offer their services or products and accept clients independently and on their own terms: they are their own boss.

The New and Favored Way for Many

While the way traditional recruiters are listing job descriptions is slowly getting out of hand with highly unrealistic requirements, literally everyone with even just one single skill can dip his toe into the online gig economy.

Some gig workers choose to brand themselves as a Personal Brand, or create a package of services that’s unique for them. Others purely sell their expertise for what it is, and offer their work on various platforms or their own website.

There’s the possibility to build a fully supportive income from working online gigs only, and there’s the potential to exceed an average income by far. On the other hand, for many employed 9-to-5-ers, an online side hustle is a way to supplement their income and not be entirely dependent on the company they work for on their dayjob.

The growth and development of the gig economy has been accelerating in the past decade and the options for creating new streams of income are endless. This sounds very attractive to many because, who doesn’t want to be their own boss, have a lot of freedom regarding time and location, and no real requirements to enter.

Who Works in the Online Gig Economy?

Do a little browsing online and you will learn that millions of (semi-)professionals offer their products and services online: different types of consultants, coaches, teachers, designers, engineers, artists, organizers, marketeers and creatives belong to this group.

The online gig economy is the digital equivalent of what we would call a good old freelancer or self-employed professional in the analogue world. Another way to say it is that gig workers are independent contractors.

People like Uber drivers fall into the gig category as well, where each accepted ride could be considered a gig, and one of the characteristics of their work is that their pay highly varies. They stand with one foot in the online world where they use the app to get clients, and they have the other foot on the gas in the offline world. The same goes for handymen and delivery services.

There’s no geographical- or age limit to start as an online gig worker, providing you have access to the internet. However, the younger generations are adapting this work- and lifestyle the fastest, as many of them tend to value their sense of freedom more than earlier generations. On top of that, making a living online is more natural for them than for the older generations who grew up without internet and related technology.

To give you a better insight, we summarize the results of a study* done with 8000 US and European participants:

The study showed us that 44% of the participants in the online gig economy depend on this as their primary income. For 56% it’s supplemental income, although of the 56%, 40% say it’s their prefered way of generating income.

Flexibility, Creativity and Responsibility

Successfully done gig work comes with a high level of freedom, but requires an extraordinary level of flexibility, creativity and responsibility. If you’re someone that likes to hide behind others for mistakes, this might not be for you. You have to be able to hold yourself highly accountable to get up in the morning, work on marketing and sales, and deliver your services exceeding the expectations of clients. You’ll often find yourself in need of creative ways to present yourself, innovate, sell and execute your work. Prepare for this to work out amazing on some days, but on other days it will be hard. Responsibility is also required in the mundane parts of life: no one arranges your insurances, savings and accounting for you, so watch out for not getting sloppy on that part.

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