From Side Gigs to Full-time Freelance: The Future of Flexible Work in North America's Workforce
Updated: Oct 30
Ever heard friends chat about their latest side hustle or read an article on someone turning a gig into their main gig? It seems like more and more folks are stepping into this flexible world of work, trading the traditional 9-to-5 for something a tad different. So, what's this "gig economy" everyone's talking about, and why is it gaining so much traction?
Take a moment, settle in with your favourite drink, and let’s explore this evolving landscape of on-demand work. Whether you're just curious or considering a foray into the gig economy, keep reading. There's a lot to unpack, and you might just find the insights you've been seeking.
At its core, the gig economy is a sector of the workforce where short-term contracts or freelance work reign supreme, as opposed to long-term jobs. Picture this: instead of a traditional 9-to-5 job, individuals take on "gigs" or tasks based on demand. According to a 2023 forecast, the global gig economy is poised to reach a whopping $455.2 billion by the end of the year, showcasing a robust growth trajectory with an annual growth rate of 17%.
The narrative gets even more captivating when you realize that nearly a third of US workers now consider gig jobs as their primary source of income. And it doesn't just stop at occasional tasks or weekend hustles. For many, what starts as a side hustle – like graphic design gigs, dog walking, or writing – can blossom into full-time freelancing, replacing or even outearning their previous incomes. As of January 2023, the US alone hosts 9.94 million self-employed individuals, with almost half of gig workers engaged in full-time gigs. And the landscape is only expanding, with projections indicating that by 2023, gig workers will constitute a significant 43% of the workforce. Another interesting little tidbit? It's estimated that by this year, over half of the American workforce will have dabbled in the gig economy in some capacity.
Diving into the realm of gig work comes with its share of advantages and drawbacks. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons accompanied by some telling statistics:
Flexibility and Autonomy
Gig work offers a level of flexibility that's hard to match in traditional employment settings. You get to choose when, where, and how you work. This flexibility is a major draw for 82% of gig workers, who opt for this model chiefly for the liberty it grants.
The gig economy is a playground of diverse job opportunities. Whether it's writing, graphic design, or ride-sharing, there's a gig for almost every skill set. Moreover, having access to numerous gigs through online platforms or agencies helps keep workers off unemployment, thereby reducing the risk of job and income loss.
Gig work fosters a culture of independence. Without a boss breathing down your neck, you're often given a task and left to your own devices to complete it. This level of autonomy not only nurtures creativity but also boosts confidence, as gig workers can manage their tasks in a manner they see fit.
One major downside to gig work is the income inconsistency. Unlike a regular paycheck, gig work earnings can fluctuate significantly from one month to the next, making financial planning a bit of a challenge.
Lack of Job Security
The pandemic underscored the lack of job security in gig work. Over half of gig economy workers reportedly lost their jobs, and an additional 26% experienced a reduction in working hours due to the pandemic's impact.
Absence of Traditional Benefits
Gig workers often miss out on benefits like health insurance, paid leave, and retirement plans which are usually provided in traditional employment settings.
This spectrum of pros and cons paints a vivid picture of the gig economy's landscape. While it offers a level of freedom and a plethora of opportunities, it also comes with financial uncertainties and a lack of conventional job perks. The allure of gig work largely depends on personal circumstances and career priorities, indicating why it's an appealing choice for some, yet a risky venture for others.
But… if you think gig or freelance work might be the path for you, let’s take a look at how you can set yourself up for success with a little example:
Meet Alex, a spirited graphic designer thriving in the gig economy. His journey unveils a roadmap for financial serenity amidst the unpredictable income streams synonymous with gig work. Let's delve into how Alex navigates these financial tides:
Crafting a Gig Friendly Budget
Alex's earnings oscillate between $1,500 and $5,000 a month, averaging around $3,000.
He earmarks $1,800 for non-negotiables like rent, groceries, utilities, and insurance.
Alex adapts his spending habits to the rhythm of his earnings, cutting back on non-essentials during lean months, and saving or indulging a bit during prosperous times.
Building a Rainy Day Fund: With a goal to cushion six months of essential expenses ($10,800), Alex religiously saves 10% of his earnings monthly. This disciplined approach gradually builds a financial safety net against life's unexpected storms (let's face it... this is inevitable).
Investing in Professional Growth
Setting aside a modest $200 monthly, Alex invests in skill-enhancing online courses and indispensable software that elevates his design prowess, opening doors to higher-paying gigs.
Harnessing Financial Tools
Budgeting apps like YNAB and Mint are Alex's financial compass, providing a clear view of his expenses, savings, and investments, helping him stay on course amidst the choppy income seas.
Being his own boss, Alex earmarks 25% of his earnings for taxes. This proactive approach ensures tax season is a breeze, not a thunderstorm.
Quarterly Financial Review
Every quarter, a financial review is on Alex's agenda. He evaluates his budget, savings, and professional investments, making necessary adjustments to align with his evolving financial and career goals. Through a pragmatic lens and disciplined approach, Alex turns the erratic income narrative of gig work into a symphony of financial stability and growth.
So, as you venture into the gig world, remember, with a solid financial plan, the sky's the limit!
The gig economy is stretching its wings far and wide, especially making a mark in developing areas where it now represents up to 12% of the labor market, creating fresh opportunities for women and youth to jump into the workforce12. Over in the United States, there's buzz about "giggers" potentially outpacing traditional workers by 20273. Fast forward to 2023, and a staggering 1.57 billion people are now part of the gig economy, contributing to a projected market size of $500 billion. This shift from freelancing to full-time gig work is not just a local trend but a global shift, changing the way folks across different countries approach and engage in work.
“It’s not a phase, mom.”
The surge of the gig economy is more than a fleeting trend; it's a significant step towards evolving the global work landscape. This move towards flexible, on-demand work isn't just a reaction to the current economic scene; it's a proactive leap towards a more inclusive and adaptable work setup. Platforms like Muve-It are leading this change, showcasing the freedom, flexibility, and opportunities that come with gig work - and how to make the most out of the resources you already have access to!
If you’re interested in dipping your toes into the side-gig world, check out Muve-It - you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain!