Whether you call it a side hustle or a side gig, “the gig economy” has grown into a social trend. People are working for themselves, or at least doing work for corporations on their own terms. Like most social trends, the gig economy has grown its own niche online. Some of these, like YouTubers who share their experiences doing gig work with the goal of inspiring and helping others, are useful. Others are not so helpful, and may actually be a waste of your time and the money you have set aside to invest in your side gig.
Joining “side hustle/gig” groups on Facebook
Billed as a place to gain inspiration and advice from those who have been there, most of these groups are completely useless. Screening questions are not geared toward finding out what each person’s goal for their side gig might be, and if they have found a side gig that actually helped them reach the goal. And while this is helpful for welcoming those who are still searching or struggling, it also allows anybody to jump on, declare themselves a great success, and dispense advice to others.
I posted to one group asking what non-driving side hustles people had found success in. A few people told me what amazing business people they were with few to no details. One man informed me that it was “dangerous” to ask what others succeeded in doing, and to ask myself what I would like to do in my spare time instead. Anyone who has so much as read a single sound business advice article can tell you that’s wrong. Doing the work you love regardless of whether or not it makes money is a fine approach if we’re talking about work that is your passion and your calling. If you’re just doing something to supplement your income, fund a goal, or make some spare cash…a side gig…. you do indeed want to find something that people are actually paying others to do. Getting paid is the whole point of having a side hustle.
Paying for courses.
Paying for courses is an excellent idea if the course teaches you a new skill, or helps you strengthen a skill that you can use in your side gig. If you’re a guitarist and music teacher as your career, and you want to start selling music memorabilia online as a side hustle, taking a course in sales might be useful. Someone who works in landscaping and poetry and wants to go outside of that and offer virtual assistant services on the side might find an office skills refresher course helpful.
The courses you want to avoid are the “How to be a great gig worker” or “How I made a million dollars with my side hustle, and you can too…” for only a “small investment in yourself” offerings. More often than not, students quickly learn that their teacher’s most lucrative side gig is convincing naive people they need to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to learn how to do gig work, when they could gain the same knowledge for free by reading books and web pages and watching the many free videos with similar content posted online.
If you have a website for your solo career, band, novels, poetry collection, or your last exhibit of paintings, photos, or sculptures, you may have gotten one or more of these yourself. Somebody you have never heard of before, who has absolutely no connection to you whatsoever, has happened upon your page and just “knows” they are the writer who can grow your traffic by a thousand per cent. Or perhaps they have written an article in their niche subject, and want to work out a deal with you to add it to your page.
These are “cold emails,” and are a popular way for people either building a career or a side gig as a freelance writer, copywriter, photographer, or editor to market their services. But “popular” does not always equal “quality,” and most people who would purchase content from a freelancer find them obnoxious. If you want to reach out to potential clients, take the time to learn who in your community might actually want to pay for the service you are offering, and write them an original, personal email or message rather than just “blasting” a collection of people with your copied and pasted pitch.
Working your side gig all day, every day.
Traditional American beliefs about work include the assertion that the longer and harder you work, the more you earn, and the better you do at the job. At one time in our history, this may have been true, at least for the people who were given the full opportunity to do the work and keep all the money they earned, treated fairly, and respected as workers. In the gig economy, devoting all your time and energy to the work can be counterproductive.
Gig work by definition earns money on a project by project or piece by piece basis. If nobody is buying, you are better off putting the work aside and coming back to it when there is more demand than you are letting other things slide while you sit and wait for business to pick up.
Driving for Uber can earn some people so much money they replace their steady job’s paycheck with it. But those people earn money by being available when there is the most need for rides, and accepting as many clients who need rides as they can. They don’t do it by logging in and sitting there for eight hours on a day when nobody needs a ride.
As we continue to see more and more people turn to gig work, we are going to see the “how to succeed” articles, videos, and other content increase along with it. Some of this may be sound advice, and a sound investment in your side work. But just like any type of work, there will be plenty of misleading information out there too.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com