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Working the Gig Economy

Moonlighting, i.e. working a second job outside of your main one, was once frowned upon. As recent as 2016 people were making the argument that having a second job (or “side hustle”) could ruin your career and make you untrustworthy.

Oh, how times have changed. The modern gig economy is growing, and people are making it work for them. “Freelancer” used to primarily refer to people in creative fields. Now options exist for almost any background to pick up a gig here and there—or make freelance their whole career.

Whether it’s because you need some extra money or you don’t want a cubicle nine-to-five job, the gig economy has options for you. Here are some tips if you want to explore your options for a side gig:

  1. Find something that fits you — There are gig options for everything from crafting to driving to grocery shopping. Some options will more easily work around your schedule and be better suited to your lifestyle. Find these jobs. The whole point of the gig economy is to make your jobs work for you.

  1. Invest in your gig — A clean car can go a long way for Uber and Lyft drivers; so can good photos of your crafts sold on websites like Etsy. One thing to remember with the gig economy is that you’re not the only person piecing together a few jobs. Standing out from the crowd with a few unique touches can go a long way to helping you earn extra money.

  1. Manage your time — One of the great things about the gig economy is working when you want to. But that can also be one of the worst things about it. Make sure you stick to a schedule that makes your hard work profitable. When you’re acting as your own boss, holding yourself accountable to work can be difficult. Set a strict schedule or set goals to make sure you don’t waste your time.

  1. Sell yourself — Transitioning into a more traditional job from a gig can be easy. It can even be a great point on your resume if you frame it right. Finding entry-level jobs can be difficult at times. Being able to demonstrate that you can manage your time and have the ambition to do what it takes to get by are huge selling points these days.

  1. Be careful — Some gigs may still get you in trouble with your primary employer if you have one. Watch out for gigs that could be a conflict of interest, like doing work for a competitor. Also, be sure to keep up your performance at all your jobs and don’t use one company’s resources to perform outside jobs. It never hurts to double check your employer’s policies.

The times when it used to be considered a faux pas to take a side job are in the past. Too many people are making it work as their primary source of income for anyone to look down on it anymore. Even more people are taking short-term gigs to fill gaps in pay or help them afford the lifestyle they want.

If it’s something you think you want to explore, take your time and check out what’s available in your area. Ride-sharing probably gets the most attention, but there’s something out there for everyone if you look around a bit.