Trying to make a living in the gig economy isn’t easy. Jobs can come and go in seconds, leaving you scrambling to pay bills. Unlike previous generations, today’s workers no longer have the luxury of working one job for their entire lives; instead, they must plan for an uncertain, tumultuous future. Surviving in the gig economy isn’t easy, especially if you happen to be a part-timer, too. Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it simple? Not in the slightest. Will these tips enable you to get through the tough times unscathed? Only if you follow them regularly!
Plan Three Months in Advance
Planning out for finances is especially critical for freelancers in general. You never quite know when work will disappear, so it’s best to ensure that your finances are mapped out at least three months in advance. Can you support yourself for three months (if necessary) on credit or savings alone? How much would it cost you to do so? What if sudden bills arise? You should have a plan for these unfortunate events; don’t simply assume you’ll be able to find enough work to make money on the spot.
Speaking of planning, a budget is especially crucial for gig-workers. Sudden expenses during downtime can completely dismantle your finances; don’t let them sneak up on you. If you don’t have an emergency savings, you probably aren’t ready to begin freelancing for more than 20 percent of your total work time.
Approach it Like a Business
When you’re working part-time gigs, there’s a tendency to look at it casually rather than professionally. While freedom and relaxation is a big part of why people move to gigs in the first place, don’t assume that the freelance gig life is a one-way ticket to chill city. In reality, the process behind finding and getting gigs takes just as much work as a regular job. If you don’t put the effort in, you won’t make the money you’re trying to make — and your finances will suffer for it. Set aside 5 hours a week or more to handle all of your marketing, communication, and gig-hunting needs and stick with it — even if you happen to be doing particularly well that week.
Watch Your Turnaround Times
It may seem sensible at first; tell clients that you’ll have the work back to them quickly and you’re more likely to win out over the competition. A fast turnaround time certainly is competitive, but be cautious of over-promising. In the gig economy, you will often find yourself working multiple part-time projects; promise to have all the work back for every project quickly and you just might find that you end up exceeding deadlines for multiple projects in the process. When that happens, you’re likely to lose the client and wind up in a worse position than that in which you began. Instead, give reasonable deadlines or turnaround times when asked. It’s fine to explain that you have multiple projects going on at one time — most people who hire freelancers will not only expect this, but have more appreciation of your value. Unless someone wants to pay you a full-time salary, it’s just not worth it to overextend yourself and jeopardize your other projects, too.
The reality is that while the numbers may fluctuate more as a freelancer than as an employee, you face some of the same pitfalls. As an employee, you face layoffs and the potential for being fired. Unemployment may be an option for employees and not freelancers, but there are other ways to make up for lost income.
Try to retain multiple clients so that if you lose one you only lose a portion of your income. Set realistic financial goals and office hours. Always look for more work and better clients. Above all, do your best for each client. You never know when they might refer you to your best gig yet!
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!