Owning our own business has loomed brightly in our imaginations us for generations. Probably, there were even a few enterprising cavemen and cavewomen selling “the wheel and fire” to their amazed cave-friends. But until recently, the dream of working for yourself, either as a business owner or as a freelance contractor, has seemed incredibly out of reach for the average person for a number of reasons including (but not limited to):
Start up tech companies are now making it easier than ever for you to promote and sell your skills online. Once called “the sharing economy” but now called the gig economy, there are numerous ways you can make a good living working online, either for yourself by starting your own business or by working for someone else. A gig can be loosely defined as work that’s done on a contract basis. It’s not a job – usually you’re working for a company or individual on a contract basis.
But the upside is that you can set your own hours, your own rates, and in some cases even work from your own home. You can get gigs often in traditional work assignments as: administrative assistants, accountants, coding, design, and more are now being done from the convenience of home.
Usually you can turn in your work either by email, an online drive like Google Drive, or in some cases the gig app or service may have their own secure FTP (online drive) which can be accessed only by service users.
Want to work for yourself but don’t want to sit in front of the computer all day? There are tons of other types of online work services. You just sign up with them and they help you market yourself and find assignments. Delivery / drivers can use: Deliv, Sidecar, Lyft, and Uber among others. Are you a maker? Go to a website like Etsy and sell your jewelry, clothing, and other merchandise online. Meanwhile, Honor.com specializes in home companions and caregivers.
Or, you can sign up on a multi-purpose gig site like TaskRabbit that lets you advertise services for just about anything you can imagine: housecleaning, moving services, or even keeping someone’s place in line for concert tickets (yes, people make money doing that!)
To maximize your earning potential, sign up with as many gig opportunity provider services as you want. You can offer lower rates on one, higher rates on another to see what the market will bear. You can always lower your rates if you’re not getting enough assignments.
Avoid taking on too many projects at one time or accepting projects you can’t successfully complete. Most of gig opportunity platforms have a social component. Too many bad reviews on a platform may find it difficult for you to get quality assignments in the future.
Taxes are always a challenging part of being self-employed. To protect yourself, take a class on self-employment laws in your city and state. One place to start is MEDA SF, a local nonprofit that offers financial training including workshops revolving around self-employment and tax issues.
Don’t forget to check out your local Small Business Administration (SBA) website for information. They often offer free workshops on marketing, taxes, and other small business topics.
Want to learn how you can be a part of the burgeoning gig economy? Success Center SF is having a“Gig Opportunity Fair” this September 23, 2015 from 4-7 at the Westbay Conference Center, 1290 Fillmore St, San Francisco CA. This event is totally free to the public. Not only will you get a chance to meet with representatives from many of the companies mentioned and others, we’re also presenting workshops and resource providers to help you get the skills and training you need to be successful. MEDA SF will be there discussing financial literacy issues as a 1099 employee. Bay Area Video Coalition, another nonprofit, offers training courses in fields that lend themselves to the gig economy, like programming, production coordination, video and design.
by Merrie Triplett