The employment market used to focus primarily on traditional 9 to 5 salaried jobs. That was the ultimate achievement for working adults. However, over the past few years, an increasing number of people have started to explore self-employment too. Gallup reported in 2014 that 29 percent of the global workforce fell under this category.
Several factors have facilitated the rise of the gig economy and its general appeal to people worldwide. Uber, considered as one of the pioneers in this space, has been successful in showing first-hand how people could be part of the gig economy and how it could apply to a cross-section of businesses as well.
To many designers, freelancing is not a foreign or new concept. In the context of the gig economy however, the use of technology has made it easier to create a centralized space to bring clients and service providers together.
The Benefits of the Gig Economy
The most cited benefit is that you have the flexibility to take on work you want, when you want to. As such, work-life balance becomes easier to achieve. You can also choose when to work on the brief. This ensures you design during your most productive days or time of the day, rather than forcing you to do creative tasks when you are uninspired. Since you are at liberty to pick and choose your projects, you also have access to a wider variety of projects. You can then gain experience in many different areas and industries. These opportunities help you broaden your horizons and grow as a designer. With this , you can position yourself as a much more desirable candidate than someone who has only worked for a single company over a period of time.
Why Designers Can Win Big in the Gig Economy
The creative industry is suited for the gig economy. These projects typically require skills that a machine cannot do (at least for now) and a lot of the work available can be location-independent.
“Workers who possess strong technical, management, leadership, or creative abilities are best positioned to take advantage of the opportunity to create a working life that incorporates flexibility, autonomy, and meaning.” Diana Mulcahy, "Who Wins in the Gig Economy and Who Loses ", Harvard Business Review
Due to the breadth of clients you could be working for, you are in a position to gain insights into the design skills that businesses are looking for the most. Working on gigs also provides you with the unique opportunity to monitor and watch trends so that you can adapt to the changing market ... first.
Whether you agree or disagree that the gig economy will increase in importance, we want to share with you how you can get the most out of this landscape as a designer. Success in the gig economy doesn't happen automatically or easily. You need to gig proof yourself as a freelance designer so you can get the most out of this marketplace which is constantly evolving. Many people, both traditionally and self-employed, are paying a lot of attention to the way gigs could work for their lives and careers. You're facing an increasingly crowded space and stiff competition. If you don't future proof yourself and start doing the things that you should have done yesterday, you will fall by the wayside.
There are hundreds of thousands of graphic and website designers around the world. What makes you different from anyone else working to get a gig? Your branding and marketing needs to tell the story of the areas you specialize in, how you help your clients achieve success through your designs, and why you're the best choice.
The first step comes from taking a critical look at your own website and marketing materials. Many designers neglect their web presence on account of not having the time to polish it into a top notch destination. However, the way you handle your designs says a lot to potential clients.
Put 110 percent into everything from your online profile to your avator or logo. You're not just showcasing what you can do through your portfolio. Make sure every part of your online presence conveys the value you bring to each gig and why you're the must-have option compared to other designers.
You need a strong understanding of your personal capacity and your available resources. For example, when you find a new gig you need to take a hard look at your schedule before accepting it. Booking yourself from morning to night might sounds great on paper, but it's a sure-fire way to decrease the quality of service and facilitate your burn out. Build wiggle room into your schedule until you have a good grasp of your productive periods each week.
Use a time tracking app or plugin to learn how long it takes to finish tasks. You can look for ways to increase your efficiency in certain areas. You can use software to automate repetitive duties and reach out to your professional network to bring in specialized expertise and additional help as needed.
Get started on implementing these gig-proofing strategies, so you're ready to take full advantage of the gig economy's potential.
Set Yourself Up For Success
The gig economy has a lot of potential, but it's not an easy path. You face a lot of competition and hardship, particularly if you're moving from a full-time job into full time freelancing. The most important thing you can do is make a commitment to yourself and your business, yes business.
Being a good designer is not the only part to whether you excel in this different employment environment. Your work ethics and the ability to do quality work on time are critical skills to bring with you. You don't get established in a new platform overnight. Study what other designers are doing and constantly look for ways to improve what you're doing.
Most importantly, the gig economy offers you an excellent opportunity to grow your skills. So Carpet Diem!