While having a steady job was once the ultimate goal for many Americans, these days, more people are embracing the freelance lifestyle. Sometimes referred to as the “gig economy,” this growing population of freelance workers represents a real shift in the conventional workplace. Millennials, in particular, tend to view the increased flexibility and responsibility that comes with freelancing as a huge plus. Companies like it too since it’s often easier and more cost-efficient to hire someone outside the confines of the company itself to perform a specific job. And when you hire a freelancer for an event, you often get a more personal touch that bigger organizations can’t provide.
It’s not surprising, then, that the gig economy continues to increase in popularity. In 2015, nearly 54 million Americans engaged in some kind of independent work, representing more than 33% of the entire national workforce. Some researchers have projected that around half of the entire U.S. working population will be part of the gig economy within the next five years. But as this particular sector of the workforce grows, freelancers will have to become even more creative and more skilled at finding those coveted freelance jobs.
Fortunately, around 86% of American millennials have a smartphone, which will come in handy when searching for gigs. Many freelancers rely on online platforms to apply for jobs and advertise their services. Regardless of the industry, these platforms can help freelance workers make a more consistent living and increase their visibility within a given area.
Freelance wedding photographers may have no shortage of jobs during June (still the most popular wedding month according to the Knot, accounting for 15% of all weddings), but it can be difficult to find clients throughout the year. Thumbtack is a service that actually allows potential clients to find freelancers and request a quote. If you’re interested in the job, you can send your quote, and Thumbtack will also send the client your qualifications, reviews, past work, and contact information.
BestofHands is another popular platform that lets freelancers find jobs and allows people with jobs to find potential applicants. While membership is free, the platform does charge a 15% service fee for completed jobs between posters and workers — which could be a fairly significant amount, depending on the project.
A service called Opportunity is often used for freelancers who are just starting out, as it can help them build their portfolios by generating leads and networks that might be a good match for their skill set. Not only can this allow freelancers to locate potential job opportunities, but it can also help them form relationships with local businesses and make new connections within their area.
For freelancers who want to teach as part of their side hustle, Skillshare may be a great place to start. The service allows professionals to teach online in a variety of areas, including photography, design, business, fashion, film, music, tech, writing, and more. On average, instructors make around $3,000 a year, but Skillshare notes it’s possible for their teachers to make up to $40,000 annually.
Although many of these platforms work best for creative freelancers who can perform at least a portion of their services by digital means, there are even services geared towards freelance accountants and lawyers. This way of making a living may represent new territory for many Americans, and these services may soon become vital, rather than optional, for those in the freelance workforce.