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Unless you’ve spent the last decade locked inside your closet, you must’ve heard about the growth of the gig economy. But while the term “gig” is relatively new, the idea behind it has been around for quite some time now. That’s because a gig worker is just another name for an independent contractor. In other words – a freelancer.

Now, you’ve probably seen numerous articles or news indicating that becoming a gig worker comes with many advantages. This, plus the constantly growing number of freelance workers, might’ve made you think about whether you should try and join the gig economy yourself. If that’s the case, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to make that decision.

Below, you’ll find a thorough explanation of what the gig economy and a gig worker are. We’ll also show you what you’ll need to become a freelance worker, along with the pros and cons coming with this career path. Read on, and see for yourself whether freelance work is right for you.

Gig Economy

Gig Economy

Gig Economy Explained

Let’s start by defining the gig economy first. In a nutshell, it’s a free market system based on temporary and freelance jobs. Companies hire independent contractors on-demand, offering short-term and flexible contracts, usually via an online platform. Full-time jobs aren’t a part of this market, hence the name “gig,” referring to the musicians’ jargon and describing a job that lasts for a specified period.

As a result, companies gain access to a cheaper, skill-based, and more efficient workforce, which is one of the primary reasons behind the gig economy’s growth in the past few years. Before the pandemic, there were around 57.3 million gig workers in the US, meaning they constituted approximately 36% of the US labor force (Statista). This growth was disrupted by COVID-19, with 52% of temporary workers losing their job due to the crisis.

Still, the gig workforce is only expected to grow from now. It is estimated that by 2023, 52% of US workers will either be gig workers or have been self-employed at some point in their career (MBO Partners).

Gig Economy, Gig Workers

Gig Economy, Gig Workers

Definition of a Gig Worker

In essence, gig workers can also be referred to as independent contractors or freelancers (the term “contingent workers” is also used). These three terms are used interchangeably and mean the same thing – a person who does short-term contract work for one or more clients. Such jobs are called gigs.

The term of the contract is not the only thing that distinguishes gig workers from employees. Besides working short-term, gig economy workers don’t receive any employee benefits, retirement structures, or and don’t have their health insurance covered. They also aren’t eligible to have their taxes automatically withheld, which means they have to pay higher taxes at the end of each year.

As for finding work, gig workers typically use apps and online platforms where businesses post their need for specific jobs. This way, they can find a gig worker ideally suited for the position based on their skill set, experience, and minimum wage. In other words, a gig worker is defined as a person hired to perform a specific job (gig) in a set time.

Gig Economy, Gig Workers

Gig Economy, Gig Workers

Different Types of Gig Workers

Generally speaking, the gig economy opens numerous possibilities for contingent workers. Although primarily associated with tech companies, many gig workers work in other fields. The most common types of gig workers include:

  • Ride-sharing drivers (Uber, Bolt, etc.)
  • Photographers
  • Content writers
  • Tutors
  • Photographers
  • Event planners
  • Graphic designers
  • Developers
  • Marketers
  • And many more…

There’s also a specific gig worker classification based on the contract gig workers are hired, their experience, and the type of services they offer. That being said, when can single out freelancers, marketplace workers, self-employed workers, and online workers:

  • Freelancers: A freelance worker usually refers to a contingent worker who provides specialized services, such as programming, writing, graphic design.
  • Marketplace workers: Marketplace workers secure their employment through a dedicated gig platform. In other words, they are individuals who seek jobs rather than wait for someone to contact them.
  • Self-employed: Although a person who has their own business isn’t technically referred to as a gig worker, any independent work can be considered self-employment. With this in mind, self-employed workers are indeed a part of the gig economy.
  • Online: Online gig workers are typically people who search for their gigs online and then perform them remotely using their computers.

Some of the top gig services for drivers to sign up and earn with are:

Gig Economy, Gig Workers