Freelancing in the Gig Economy

Labor Market Background

The world of work is changing. The Intuit 2020 Report projects that by 2020, 43% of the workforce will be made up of freelancers or independent contractors in the gig economy. Small Business Labs which tracks and forecasts the trends and shifts impacting the future of small business cites the following recent studies as evidence that the gig economy is large and growing:

Pew Research's Gig Work, Online Selling and Home Sharing found that 24% of adult Americans - that about 59 million people - report earning money from the digital 'platform economy' in the past year.

The Federal Reserve Board's Exploring Online and Offline Informal Work found that more than a third - 36 percent- of the U.S. adult population undertook informal paid work activity either as a complement to, or as a substitute for, more traditional and formal work arrangements.

McKinsey's Independent Work: Choice, Necessity and the Gig Economy found 20% to 30% of adult Americans are gig workers.

JP Morgan Chase Institute's Paychecks, Paydays and the Online Platform Economy found that while the number of people joining the online gig economy is slowing, their numbers doubled over the past year.

Big 4 Accounting firm EY's Is The Gig Economy a Fleeting Fad or an Enduring Legacy makes it clear it's the latter. They say by 2020 at least 31 million Americans will be gig workers.

Career Builders Side Gig study found that 29% of employed Americans have side gigs.

Success in Freelancing

As part of the evolution of work in the Gig Economy where 'solopreneurs' can work remotely, several web-based platforms have been created to help people find freelancing work or "gigs." Often, but not always, these platforms cater to particular type of work or industry. Here are some other considerations in researching platforms to showcase your work and find work:

  • Rarely are there free platforms. Some charge a percentage of your earnings; some charge a flat rate, and others charge a subscription fee.
  • Some platforms also help you through the billing and collection process. Others do not.
  • Before establishing a profile or replying to a virtual job posting, it is vital to create a resume or portfolio of your work. Some freelancing platforms allow you to upload a portfolio so potential clients see your work and creative style.
  • Some sites allow freelancers to bid on work. This can become highly competitive with new freelancers often agreeing to work for free to build their portfolio.
  • Many freelancing websites allow former clients to rate your work. In order to get work, sometimes, reducing your rate or fee helps so you can build a portfolio with a variety of work.
  • Research and compare platforms before signing up.

Freelancing is a Business - Treat it Like One

Other than self-motivation and timely completion of work, freelancers need to be fiscally responsible. Investigate the freelancing platforms thoroughly and learn how they make money off your earnings. When your clients pay you, taxes are not withheld since you are an independent contractor. Also, there are no health benefits or retirement/401(k) plans when you work as a freelancer. Establishing a relationship with a tax advisor is wise when working independently. You need to develop a plan to set funds aside to pay taxes, health and other insurance premiums and set money aside for retirement.

Otherwise, freelancing can be exciting and rewarding. The freedom that comes from owning your own business and working remotely is why this is a growing trend.

Free Self-Paced Freelancing Course


Sama School Logo

As part of a self-employment Pathways in the Gig Economy grant awarded to College of the Siskiyous, we are proud to announce a partnership with SamaSchool. SamaSchool is a nonprofit that equips work seekers with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to earn a living wage through independent work. College of the Siskiyous now offers two online introductory courses that will help you succeed as a self-employed freelancer in the gig economy. These 3-5 hour free self-paced courses are:

In-person Freelancing Course

This course covers in-person work categories such as:

  • Tech support
  • Cleaning
  • Babysitting and Childcare
  • Elder caretaking
  • Dog walking
  • Delivery

Remote Freelancing 101

This course helps students with experience or training in high-demand remote work categories such as:

  • Data entry and web search
  • Web design
  • Graphic design
  • Social media marketing
  • Computer programming
  • Admin assistance

To get started in one of these courses:

  1. Navigate to samaschool.org/cccc
  2. When prompted, enter ccc123 as a password
  3. Click on the "enroll now" button for either course
  4. In the window that opens, click the blue “start” button
  5. Enter your first name, last name, email address and community college
  6. Click submit
  7. Enjoy your training!

Freelancing Platforms

The websites below are a partial list of platforms to find virtual work. Note that College of the Siskiyous does not endorse any of the platforms listed below, nor vouch for their business. This is merely a listing for informational purposes.

99 Designs

A platform for freelance designers, 99designs lets you compete in design contests and get feedback as clients choose the best ones. It's a great way for talented designers to prove their talents.

Craigslist

Although most people see Craigslist as just a platform for buying and selling miscellaneous things, it's actually a great source of freelance jobs. You can easily browse for local offerings if you prefer something in-office, or you can search by major cities if you prefer working remotely.

Freelancer

Freelancer allows you to compete with other freelancers in contests to prove your skills. If you're competitive and confident in your expertise, it's a great way to showcase your abilities and attract more clients.

Freelance Writing Gigs

Whether you're a writer, editor, blogger, publisher or any combination of those, Freelance Writing Gigs is a great option for freelancers who have a way with words.

iFreelance

This platform accommodates some of the usual suspects of the freelancing world (writers, editors, coders, etc.) but also features freelance marketers as well. Unlike other sites, iFreelance lets you keep 100 percent of your earnings.

Loconomics

Loconomics uses a member based platform charging a monthly fee for various membership tiers. They charge no commissions and allow no bidding for work. They offer scheduling, marketing, invoicing and client management tools.

PeoplePerHour

This is a great platform, focusing on freelancing for web projects. If you’re a designer, web developer, SEO specialist, etc., PeoplePerHour is definitely worth checking out.

Task Rabbit

This platform is more about getting things done around the house. If your services are more handyman, moving, furniture assembly, installation or yard work, Task Rabbit is the platform you will want to explore.

Toptal

With a distinctly different approach than the other services on this list, Toptal is for seasoned, talented freelancers. Passing Toptal's screening process gives you unparalleled access to meaningful projects with great clients (JPMorgan, Zendesk, Airbnb, etc.) and fair compensation (no low-bid contests). You'll also be able to join the Toptal community for frequent meetups and tech events.

Upwork

With over 1.5 million clients, Upwork (previously oDesk) offers something for every type of freelancer, from Virtual Assistants to Graphic Designers. It accommodates both short- and long-term projects, hourly or per-project work and expert-level and entry-level engagements. Regardless of where you are in your career, Upwork is likely to have something for you.

Zirtual

Work. Life. Balance. Zirtual is for Virtual Assistants who support Entrepreneurs, Professionals, and Small Teams


Contact The Hatchery

Lorinda Meyer
Email: hatchery@siskiyous.edu
Phone: (530) 938-5339