You’ve probably heard about the “gig economy,” or the new flexible, on-demand workforce leveraging digital tools and platforms like Uber, Lyft or Instacart. The number one thing moms want from the new economy is not money necessarily, it’s a flexible schedule that allows us to spend quality time with our offspring!
What you may not realize is that this unique segment of the workforce doesn’t just include the Airbnb and Doordashes of the app world. It’s a giant category that is only getting larger and ranges from freelance and contract consultants to graphic designers and home healthcare workers, and everything in between. In fact, it’s said that up to 30% of the workforce is now on-demand.
For moms of all ages, not just those who are young, it means the potential to earn income and leverage your talent, skills, and experience in a career — with the flexibility to be a mom to your children and family.
For those interested in an on-demand career, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Know The Pros and Cons: There are upsides and downsides to everything and the gig economy is no different. On one hand, new platforms that connect on-demand workers with companies and people looking for help can help you find projects and ensure you get paid. On the other, depending on where you are, the demand might not be enough to provide a stable income. Get familiar with the pros and cons of working in the gig economy before you jump in.
- Know Your Niche: Thousands of people earn a living through freelance, contract, and other on-demand work and it includes a broad range of expertise. It includes rideshare drivers or people who list on Airbnb, but there are also on-demand workers in social marketing, data entry, business or strategy consulting, creative services and so much more. It might be surprising to learn that FlexJobs found that the top 10 industries for freelancers are:
- Computer & IT
- Accounting & Finance
- Customer Service
- Software Development
- Medical & Health
- Project Management
- Research Analyst
- Education & Training
Explore your talent and expertise or the type of work you want to do. Don’t blindly sign up for a bunch of services at once! Find your niche first.
- Know Why You: You must put yourself in the shoes of those doing the choosing and understand what unique skills and value you bring to the table that makes you irresistible. It’s not about simply figuring out how to portray yourself to the outside world; it’s about pinpointing what makes you different, and different enough from your competition. Assess why you are the best choice and what you bring that others do not. Do this before you make an effort to secure on-demand work.
- Know The Ins and Outs: Going freelance makes you a business of one: you become the marketing director, PR representative, accounting lead, research team, and project manager of You, Inc. You’ll also need to evangelize and market yourself and your work. One of the best ways to do this in 2018 and going forward is video. You also might be asked to submit proposals for work, and you’ll be filing taxes differently than when you were a traditional employee. Get familiar with these elements going in.
- Know The Game: The most successful on-demand workers know how to play the game. If they’re using platforms and tools for work, they’ve put time into their profiles and upping their social media. If they’re relying on personal relationships for jobs or pitching themselves to companies, they’re able to communicate their value and strengths. Remember that you are now You, Inc. — and that means having a solid presence, brand, and marketing effort to generate customers.
There are other things to be aware of and take into consideration — the challenges of finding or growing your work, the unique interpersonal relationships that can come as a freelancer, and much more. For a lot of moms, isolation isn’t new but you will have long periods of time at your desk or at home as an on-demand worker. This can be an adjustment, especially if you’re leaving a full-time career at an office or other work environment.
But the rewards can be amazing, and for many freelance, contract and other on-demand workers, the potential and opportunity far outweighs the challenges and risks.
You can order a copy of Olga’s new gig economy book on Amazon here.
Recently featured in Forbes, Fast Company, and Inc. magazine, Olga Mizrahi is an instructor of the Digital Marketing Program for the University of California, Irvine CE. She is a national speaker and marketing expert on personal branding and the gig economy (Airbnb, Museum Store Association, KNX Small Business Summit), a local Southern California business owner, a blogger for entrepreneurs and freelancers at ChunkofChange.com, and a small business columnist for The Long Beach Post. A lifelong advocate of the advancement of women, Olga has served on the board of directors for Women In Business Los Angeles, Standup for the Cure, as well as the California Women’s Conference.