If you’ve been freelancing (or thinking about freelancing) for some time, you’ve likely heard about the so-called gig economy, in which businesses and everyday people hire independent contractors — also known as freelancers — for temporary jobs. In fact, the Inuit 2020 Report (from the company behind QuickBooks, Mint and MyCorporation.com, among other subsidiaries) found that 40 percent of American workers will be independent contractors by 2020.
For businesses and everyday people, the gig economy allows them to save money. For freelancers, on the other hand, it provides a greater pool of opportunities; more freedom to control their time and income (when you work more, you often make more); and the ability to design a lifestyle based on how they want to live their day-to-day (not how society says you should live it).
It’s a win-win situation.
In addition to the more obvious gig economy opportunities like Uber, Task Rabbit, Thumbtack, Postmates and Handy — as well as the freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.com — here are three opportunities I leverage to bring in some extra income every month:
1. Sign up for LinkedIn ProFinder
Generally, I’m not a proponent of freelance marketplaces because of the laws of supply and demand. When supply is high and therefore demand is low, prices decrease, which is exactly what happens on these platforms: a high supply of freelancers competing for a relatively lower demand of projects, which forces the competing freelancers to decrease their rates if they want to submit a winning proposal. Competing on price, especially with people in other countries who can afford to charge significantly less, is never a winning proposition.
With LinkedIn ProFinder, however, the dynamics are different, since LinkedIn only allows up to five offers per RFP. So, yes, you’re still competing with other freelancers — but only as much as four at a time, which increases your chances of winning the RFP. And, as a cherry on top, LinkedIn ProFinder is location-exclusive, meaning you’re only competing with local freelancers. This way, you don’t have to worry about competing with people in other countries who can leverage currency exchanges to undercut your offer.
2. Develop a Strong Personal Brand
While my primary freelance services center around digital marketing and personal branding, I also dabble in freelance writing. This doesn’t mean I’m a freelance writer by trade, because I’m not; it simply means I’ve taken the time to document my freelance experiences from day one by writing (for free) literally hundreds of blog posts on LinkedIn and Medium, as well as on other sites like Freelancers Union. One of these articles eventually landed in the lap of someone at a content marketing firm, who approached me about writing for one of their clients.
Whether you can write, photograph, make videos or design graphics, the point is to use your content of choice to build a strong personal brand. It’s not necessarily something you’ll get paid for today, but it will certainly put you in a position to make some extra money tomorrow.
3. Teach Others What You Know
Many freelancers aren’t as confident as they should be about who they are and what they know (professionally speaking), but the truth is: There are tons of other people out there who would love to know what they know, based on the expertise they’ve developed and the experiences they’ve cultivated.
With that in mind, you can leverage your knowledge and experiences to create and sell online courses on platforms like Udemy, or host your own course (to make even more money) like I do using a do-it-yourself platform like Teachable.
Your main gig doesn’t have to be your only gig, and that doesn’t have to mean stretching yourself too thin by working 18 of the day’s 24 hours. Alternative revenue streams as a freelancer often means enhancing your skills, your brand and your reach. If you learn how to play the gig economy, you could just win big.