Since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, an entirely new economy has sprung up comprised of part-time jobs and online freelancers. In this new gig economy, workers lend their skills to small business owners or leverage everyday resources like their car to build an income away from traditional full-time employment.

Most workers in the gig economy work through online- or mobile platforms. Whether it’s driving for Lyft or Uber or deploying specific skills through a freelance platform like UpWork or Fiverr, gig workers can take on small jobs that they can finish quickly or in their spare time away from work.

If you’re thinking about joining the gig economy, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself first. Your answers to these questions will determine whether the gig economy is right for you.

1.  Do I Prefer Structured Employment?

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Work in the gig economy is anything but structured. It’s up to freelancers to pick their own hours and structure their day. There’s always plenty to do if you’re actively searching for work, but no one is going to order your day or tell you how to get everything done.

2.  What Drives My Satisfaction at Work?

Look back over your own working experience and try to determine what you enjoy about your work. Is it the autonomy of setting your own goals and tasks? Is it something about the work itself? Do you enjoy working quickly or being creative? If you want to find part-time work doing something that you love – but something that it’d be difficult to make a living at – then the gig economy may let you do what you love part-time rather than trying to make a living at a company that focuses on that type of work but comes with lots of other unenjoyable tasks. This is especially true if you lack the formal credentials to get the role you want in a large company.

3.  Am I a Self-Starter?

To be successful in the gig economy, you have to be willing to do everything yourself. No one is going to promote your services, find your clients, or prepare your invoices. Some platforms help with these tasks, but most gig economy jobs require high freelancer input. If there are only certain parts of the process that you enjoy, it may be difficult to succeed as a freelancer.

4.  Do I have an Option?

Many workers join the gig economy because they don’t have other options – they may have been laid off or just graduated and are having trouble finding work. However, it can be very difficult to earn a full-time living in the gig economy. Most buyers are looking for discounted work - especially for some jobs that are viewed as commoditized. In many cases, earnings can work out to less than minimum wage.

While the gig economy can seem daunting, working freelance can be a great way to develop skills in new area, earn extra money, or learn what parts of a process you enjoy. You can do all of these things while working without a boss, setting your own schedule, and being accountable only to yourself. The gig economy may not be a long-term answer, but it’s certainly a helpful learning experience. We hope you like this article from Capstone Financial Planning.

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Steven McMeechan

Steven McMeechan is a strategic marketing and communications specialist with over twenty years’ experience in senior marketing management roles across a range of industries including Information Technology and Financial Services. He works for Capstone Financial Planning and lives in Melbourne Australia.