My Guide To Gigging
I was reading an Observer article this week, apparently only 25% of adult Americans now work a full-time job. They’ve called this new way of working multiple jobs ‘gigging’.
Almost ten years ago I discovered the idea of ‘multiple streams of income’ (the olden days version of gigging) and I’ve never looked back. During the last ten years I’ve; bought and sold craft supplies, affiliate marketed a variety of products and services, marketed small businesses, earned royalty income from books, sold online courses, provided life and business coaching, sold advertising on blogs, worked as an ambassador for big brands, sold freelance writing services – and that’s just the income streams I can remember!
For me it was a conscious choice and one that has afforded me the freedom and independence I desired, but it looks like it has become a necessity for many.
I wonder if this is the way the world of work is going. Will the majority of us now be creating our own income streams with a mix of employed and self employed incomes?
Whether it’s your choice to work like this, or whether you feel you have no choice, there are a few things I’ve learned over the last ten years which may be helpful. I often have to remind myself of them to stay on track!
It’s not easy
Let’s just get that out of the way. If you think working for yourself is easy, think again. You need to have a varied and wide ranging skill set, but beyond that, you need to have resilience. You will want to give up. When you feel like that you need to be able to push past the feeling and draw on the support network around you and your own resilience to continue.
Understand your skill set
You need to have a good understanding of; what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, what other people/businesses require and will pay for – and where the crossover point is between all of these things.
Understand how to monetise your skill set
There may be a dozen ways to monetise each of your skills. Sometimes you need to think beyond the obvious. The key to successful ‘gigging’ is diversification; to have several income streams that either rely on different skills or different types of income, or in an ideal world both. I currently monetise my marketing skills, my passion for food, my love of parenting, and my knowledge of Edinburgh. I also leverage the networks and relationships I have built up over the years.
Switch on your inner opportunity spotter
To be successfully self employed you need to be able to spot the opportunities so you can move in and create new income streams as they come up. Being first in a couple of industries has helped me create a couple of cash cows over the years, these have really helped when other income streams have been struggling.
Maintain good networks and relationships
You never know when you will need to reconnect with someone you’ve met over the years to facilitate on a new project. Maintain positive relationships and do all you can to help others and they will be there to help you when you need it.
Develop a basic knowledge of marketing
Being self employed you generally need to market yourself or your products or services on a daily basis. Learn the basics of good marketing and then develop your own personalised way of doing it.
Develop good systems to organise yourself
Organisation is key when you have half a dozen income streams and potentially several clients within each of them. I use Google docs, spreadsheets and my own email flagging system to ensure I stay on track across all projects. There are tons of tools and apps out there, my advice would be to experiment but don’t over complicate. Keep it simple.
Practise self discipline
A few people have said to me that they couldn’t be self employed as they’d be tempted to just watch TV all day. I suppose that never really occurs to me as I think of that as being unemployed rather than self employed! 98% of the time I do exactly what I’m supposed to do, what I like is that during the 2% of the time I don’t feel like it, I don’t have have to do it.
Understand the principles of supply and demand and act accordingly
Your time and skills are the product, you need to be able to efficiently maximise both to make the most amount of money in the time you have available. If demand is high, you can charge more. Keep a close eye on your prices and adjust accordingly.
Creating the perfect blend of work happens incrementally
There will always be tasks you have to do that you enjoy less than others. There is no such thing as perfect whether you’re self employed or employed. It is something to strive towards though. Initially I did almost anything to earn money (one of my early gigs was reviewing poker sites!), as you get your income streams going and you have a cash cow or two, you can start to be a bit more picky and focus on the income streams and clients you enjoy most.
Manage your money
Your income will fluctuate. There are lots of thing you can do, for example creating recurring incomes and setting up retainers with clients, but it will still fluctuate and you need to be prepared for that. It’s a both a positive and negative thing.
Grow your emergency fund
To manage the fluctuations and protect your lifestyle, when the going is good, grow an emergency fund that will even out the lean periods.
Periodically consider what or who will pay you in five years time
Keep one eye on today, and the other on the future. You should always be spending a percentage of your time working on income streams for the future.
Seek out the cash cows and take care of them
A cash cow is an income stream that provides you value for less effort required than what you get back for it. It’s these income streams that free up the time to invest in the speculative future income streams. Find them. Develop them. Look after them. They are what will look after you when it all goes to shit and you need to rebuild!
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