Consulting and gig engagements are known more for their flexibility than for their consistency. The gig economy thrives on companies and individuals choosing to work with freelancers, part-time contractors, and consultants who will only hang around for weeks or months at a time. The upside is that you get to dip your hand in a lot of professions and can benefit from the promise of higher incomes at a time. However, since you never know when one gig is going to end and how long the ‘layover’ between that and the next is going to be, you need to learn to manage your earning power and stay relevant at all times. To that end, let’s explore a few pointers;
Choose your skills wisely
There are fields out there that have become so saturated with talent that it is hopeless to expect them to keep growing in a way that favors the workforce. These fields have a next-to-zero probability of raising their rates, so chances are that you will get stuck in a rut. Go for emerging gigs that require specialized, hands-on skills and esoteric knowledge. For instance, there are is a lot more need for cryptographers, translators, and 3D graphic design specialists than there is for, say, freelance writers or plumbers.
Keep tabs on the hours you work
The general rule here, is not to give away you work..
Do not dabble in any professional work where every single hour is not billed. This is because, at the end of the day, your earnings are going to be spread over the course of your work hours, which stretches your per-hour earnings thin and puts you in a bind. Overtime is not a good idea either, because you end up with less money for longer work hours (especially if there is no binding overtime agreement), and don’t even let me get started on the very real potential for burnout.
Diversify your work streams
A lot of freelancers out there choose to focus on a single revenue stream. That is a dangerous way to live because then, you have nowhere to turn to when work in your niche starts to thin out. Even if you essentially work in one profession, make sure that your sources of income are well distributed in that network. You can also identify your strengths and spread them across a number of manageable income streams. If You have piled up a good amount of money over time, think about investing a little in something that won’t take too much of your time but will earn you an income on the side.
Have a plan in place to manage risk
The gig economy exposes you to both legal and income risks. Legal issues such as the provisions in the contracts you sign could put you in a position where there is little, if any, wriggle room. This Limits your chances of getting a few gigs with client B even when still attached to client A. Since you don’t want legal exposure that eats further into your time and money, you need to always have a clear understanding of what you are setting yourself up for before you ink that contract. As for income risks, just have a budget with a saving plan in place and always tuck away about 6 months’ worth of rent and utilities just in case you fall through the cracks
Manage your brand.
Branding is all about perception. You want to keep the outlook of a savvy, modern professional who knows all the nuances in your niche. Focus on developing yourself professionally. Never shy away from any opportunities to learn, and find a way to front yourself as a source of authority in your area of expertise. Keep your brand visible by using the internet in the right way-think blogs, websites, and social media.
Building income in the gig economy is easy, but staying afloat even during lean times is tricky. By Adopting freelance work best practices, you get to diversify your streams while at the same time stashing some financial resources away for when work might become hard to find. Whatever you do, just make sure you stay relevant and flexible enough to cope with the changing tides in the freelancing space.