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Say Goodbye To The 9 To 5: How To Master The Gig Economy

From working remotely to having flexible hours, the COVID-19 pandemic has made unprecedented changes in the way we do our jobs. But what’s less obvious — albeit just as significant — are the ways it’s changed the jobs we do.

According to a 2021 study by Edelman Data & Intelligence, freelancers account for 36% of the U.S. workforce. While the number of freelancers remained steady from 2020 to 2021, a higher portion began working skilled freelance jobs as opposed to temporary jobs. In fact, 51% of freelancers in 2021 had post-graduate degrees — a 6% increase from the year prior.

With no included health insurance or 401k, freelancing full-time has a reputation of being a risky way to make a living. In reality, though, this is far from the truth — more people have turned to freelancing for the added ability to work remotely and take ownership of their career.

It’s likely freelancers will only become more prevalent in the years to come. Estimates say that 90.1 million Americans will be freelancing in 2028, which means they’ll make up more than half of the workforce. And it’s not hard to see why – according to the same study by Edelman Data & Intelligence, 44% of freelancers say they make more money than they would in a traditional full-time job. In 2021 alone, freelancers added 1.3 trillion dollars of revenue into the U.S. economy.

So, how do you snag a piece of the pie?

1. Pick a niche

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According to a study done by Iwoca, 65% of small businesses in the U.K. plan to hire a freelancer to scale their business. With that being said, not all skills are considered equal in the gig economy. Web designers for instance are most likely to be hired by 22% of businesses in the U.K., yet data analysts are most likely to be hired by only 9% of businesses.

Here are some other freelance jobs, starting with the highest in demand.

· Accountants

· Social media marketers

· Graphic designers

· Bookkeepers

· Photographers

· Mobile app developers

· Computer programmers

· Web researchers

Once you pick a job, work on specific skills to master. Earlier this year, Upwork reported skills in high-demand by industry.

Tech skills:

· Web design

· WordPress

· Web programming

· JavaScript

· CSS

· HTML

· PHP

· Shopify

· API

· Graphic design

Marketing skills:

· Social media marketing

· Lead generation

· Facebook

· SEO

· B2B marketing

· Instagram

· Marketing strategy

· Social media management

· Email marketing

· Marketing research

Customer service skills:

· Customer service

· Customer support

· Email communication

· Phone support

· Email support

· Communication etiquette

· Online chat support

· Answering product questions

· Data entry

· Administrative support

2. Put yourself out there

A huge advantage of building a career in the digital age is having access to a range of platforms that can help you find your next gig.

Here are a few to check out:

· Fiverr

· Upwork

· Freelancer.com

· Guru

Also take advantage of your social media presence to promote your freelance work. Update your LinkedIn with your resume and a bio and be sure to ask former employers to endorse specific skills on your profile to help you gain more credibility and acquire new clients.

Don’t forget about integrating your other social media platforms with your freelance work, either. While LinkedIn is the most obvious choice when it comes to expanding your clients, other platforms such as TikTok and Instagram can be just as useful – especially if the skills you’re promoting have artistic or visual elements to them.

3. Hone the specifics

Since your profile on social media and freelance sites will likely be clients’ first impression of you, spend time perfecting the details. Yes, it sounds shallow, but in the professional world, how you look matters. LinkedIn accounts with profile photos get 21 times more views and 9 times more connection requests than those without. While this may not seem like a big deal for professionals who use the site casually, when you’re building a list of clients, every click might just lead to new gig.

Clients want to know how you can fill their needs, so be specific when it comes to highlighting the skills and services you offer. What are your qualifications? Degrees? Experience? What specific technology programs are you familiar with? What projects have you worked on and who have you worked for? Take advantage of spaces where you can upload projects from your portfolio or drop the link to your personal website.

4. Keep in touch

At some point, we’ve all been the person who signs an email with “keep in touch” despite knowing very well that we have no plans of reaching out to that person again. But when you can’t pay the bills without clients words “keep in touch” hold a more sincere meaning.

Create a spreadsheet of your clients’ contact information along with notes about the projects they hired you to complete and reach out with a friendly email or seasonal update from time to time. Not only will you keep the relationship going, but when they need someone to update their website or design their family Christmas cards, they’ll think of you first.