Originally a word used by musicians to refer to non-regular shows, “gig” now means jobs that are contractual or project-based. Freelancers work in gigs as they are, by nature, outside the scope defined by the term “employee.”

Although people have been freelancing for decades, it is only through the Internet that this mode of working has become widely recognized. When the pandemic hit, the gig economy became even more prominent as small and large businesses struggled with economic uncertainties. According to the HRCI, several business organizations are already turning to hiring contractual staff in response to difficulties in long-term planning due to COVID-19.

From a certain perspective, the rise of the gig economy is an opportunity for freelance contractors to start growing their businesses. However, freelancers also have to survive amid economic uncertainties to succeed in this new economy.

So, how can a freelancer like you stay afloat in the gig economy long enough to succeed?

Work With What You Love

Working in the gig economy offers many perks, and one of these is freedom. This not only means freedom to choose your hours of work but also the type of work you want to engage in. When you decide to enter the gig economy, you’re opening yourself to thousands of income opportunities. All you need to do is to choose what services you will offer to potential customers or clients.

Common sense will tell you to go for the most lucrative work available. That’s a practical choice. However, you also have to ensure your sense of fulfillment and satisfaction as well. Ask yourself - will you be happy doing that kind of job for a trade?

Since you’re already free to take a pick, why not maximize your satisfaction by choosing the type of job that rewards you not only financially but also emotionally? If you’re happy with your job, you’ll be putting 100% of your creative energy into the undertaking.

A good outcome always means a good income and will build up your reputation in the gig world. Of course, that exceptional outcome is only possible when you dedicate your heart and mind to your work.

Invest In Your Education

As mentioned earlier, you will need to keep your work results in top shape if you want to earn a steady income from the otherwise volatile gig economy. To consistently achieve satisfactory results, you should prioritize investing in your training and education.

Training is essential in keeping your skills and knowledge current. The landscape is constantly changing, especially in the IT sector. Technology keeps on changing; what may be current right now may be considered outdated in a few years. You have to keep brushing up on the knowledge base of your industry to avoid being edged out by newer and fresher talents that enter the gig economy every year.

If you can afford it, you should set aside some money for lessons from websites like LinkedIn Learning, Shaw Academy, Udemy, and many others. There are also free tutorials on YouTube, but you have to search thoroughly to find them. Also, free YouTube tutorials are either incomplete or trimmed down for length, unlike the more structured classes offered by the websites mentioned earlier.

Build a Network of Contacts

When you start a business – and a freelancing gig is a business, not a job – you will need an extensive network of contacts. The main benefit of a network is referrals. When someone you know needs someone like you for a project, that person is likely to refer you for the gig.

This is why productivity and good outcome are essential in the gig economy—your chances of getting referred hinge on these two achievements. Only by building a solid reputation can you grow a network of contacts, and it is your reputation that these professionals will use as a basis to refer you, or even to hire you, for a job!

Before the age of the Internet, the most proven way of building a network is by attending trade fairs. There, you can meet people working in the same niche as you are and people interested in what all of you are doing. In other words, fairs are where you and your competitors can introduce yourselves to your potential customers or clientele. This is where you can also exchange calling cards for future referrals.

Nowadays, you can do digital marketing. The digital age even allows you to market yourself to a broader audience for less than the cost of setting up a display at a trade fair. Your display is your business's Facebook page, where you can upload content related to your business.

In addition, you can also join Facebook groups or connect with people on LinkedIn and engage in discussions with other people in your industry, as well as with your potential clients. This is a great way to establish thought leadership and be recognized by potential customers.

Establish a Routine

Volume is crucial in the gig economy. You know how it works – the more work you have, the more you can earn. Thus, successful gig workers like Uber drivers and DoorDash drivers must be able to maximize their time every day. This is the key to being productive, which means making more money. While it runs counter to the very nature of freelancing, establishing an everyday routine is the key to productivity.

Why is a routine important? It’s because consistently following your routine makes your workflow more efficient, said the Harvard Business Review. You know what to do because you have clear start and finish lines to think about. All you need to focus on is how you consume the time between those two lines. Create a timeframe and workflow, and you’re guaranteed to boost your productivity. You might even find time to look for a side gig that will further increase your income!

If you find that your routine is too repetitive and boring, try to alter it a little without affecting your overall timeframe. For example, instead of a half-hour break in the afternoon, break it down to two 15-minute intervals that you can take at hours of your choosing.

Remember that you don’t want to burn yourself out with a tedious work schedule. After all, a dislike for oppressive workflows is why you chose to take a risk in the gig economy in the first place.

The gig economy will continue to be busy as long as the pandemic remains a real threat to society. This means that there will be countless opportunities for short-term, contractual work. However, the economy is also very competitive, which implies that freelancers have to find ways to stay on top of their competitors to thrive in this working landscape. But, if you keep those four tips in mind, you can guarantee a spot for yourself in the winning circle!