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Gig Economy Jobs: What Are They and Do They Provide Enough?

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Most interesting conversations I have had often take place after presentations at conferences. Huddled together, usually near the front, the participants come forward to ask questions or seek comments in a one-to-one dialogue and the conversation would range from technical questions about online design to practical ones about compensation and market rates for these projects. Once in a while, I would have participants approaching me to ask about potential job vacancies in my organisation or elsewhere. These questions act as a barometer on the state of employment in Singapore especially among mature professionals who have a good decade or more on their career runway before they retire.

I would treat these questions with special care as the questioners took a lot of courage to ask and it is only right that I respect their privacy as well as their professionalism and expertise. However, I am aware that employability of mature professionals has become an issue in the past 10 years or so, partly due to the high skill levels of the fresh graduates from our educational institutions. The mature professionals, despite their wealth of experience, cannot compete with these fresh graduates as mature professionals in their late 40s or 50s are relatively more expensive to hire. Some of these mature professionals lack the digital skills to engage with technologies sweeping through the enterprise landscape. Of course, besides the mature professionals, there are also young millennials who embark on freelancing as part of their entrepreneurship quest or women who work from home, in order to care for their children or elderly parents.


Are Gig Economy Projects Viable Alternatives?

According to Glassdoor.com, “the term ‘gig economy’ refers to a workforce that’s defined by short-term engagements, temporary contract work and independent contracting.’ These engagements are usually one-off and do not entail employment benefits. Typically, the gig economy workers comprises freelancers, contractors and associates who are engaged to work on short-term projects, rather than work full-time.


If you review the projects posted on websites such as Fiverr.com and freelancer.com, the more popular ones are:


· Website development

· Graphics and design

· Digital Marketing

· Writing and translation

· Mobile app development

· Voice over

· Video and animation

· Music and audio

· Programming and tech


On the other hand, the more popular services offered would be:



To take on gig jobs, you will need to be clear what service you provide (e.g. the type of whiteboard animation), your background details, how fast you can deliver your work, budget or cost of work. Over time, you would have established a track record and this makes you more marketable, provided your clients give you good ratings. See image below for a sample page of the details you need to provide as a service provider.



There are also other interesting projects which never existed until recently. Jobs such as:

· Social media influencer

· Conversational Tree design (to develop chatbots)

· AI or Chatbot Training

· Or even being an online boyfriend (in China)

The global competition is most evident on such platforms where quality and cost are transparent and customer ratings is critical to ensuring an ongoing stream of future projects. Hence, it would appear that gig economy jobs are highly competitive but if the skills are right, the freelancer can garner jobs from all corners of the globe. Scalability is possible if one can form a team to work on more projects.


Case Study: Digital Marketing

Digital marketing projects are interesting because they entail understanding the enterprises’ products and services in an in-depth manner. Digital marketing is underpinned by a strong understanding of the company’s strengths and target market and driven by the strategic goals and mission. Hence, the digital marketer despite being a freelancer, performs a critical role and needs to be accountable to senior management for performance and sales figures.


There are numerous new online marketing, sales and collateral creation tools which have mushroomed in the past few years as clients, users and enterprises move into the mobile space. With online purchasing, the digital marketer can now collect customer behaviour data to inform marketing efforts and resources. Hence, familiarity with these tools is critical to becoming an informed and resourceful digital marketer.


With visualisation tools, the digital marketer can see at which point of the process that the users are engaged and converted. He can decide where to invest the advertising dollar based on the data gathered. This ensures getting a bigger bang for one’s advertising dollar and efforts.


What Should Be Your Next Steps?

Besides digital marketing, there are other gig jobs that you can look at. If you intend to give a go at the gig economy jobs, I strongly suggest that:



Each of the above-mentioned points will take substantial amount of time so do be flexible in that you will learn as you go along. Having a huge dose of humility is crucial to starting any new job. Keep asking and learning.


Summary

We have briefly discussed the rationale for gig economy jobs and possible difficulties related to freelancing roles. Again, these roles are flexible and with that, the income will be unpredictable. Unless you have a strong stomach for risk, being a gig economy worker can be rewarding and resilience-building. Give it a go! You can do it.


If you are interested, check out our 1-day Digital Marketing course, subsidised at $29/participant onwards.


Click here for details.

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