The number of individuals taking on part-time freelance work, on top of their full-time job, is sharply on the rise. According to a recent study by LinkedIn, “side-gigging” (as it tends to be called in the US) is growing more than three times faster than full-time freelancing. Furthermore, the share of users within top professional fields who are undertaking top-up freelance work has more than doubled in the past five years.
There is much evidence to suggest that side-gigging could prove to be one of the biggest work trends in 2017. Largely driven by millennials, it offers individuals the opportunity to take greater control of their working lives, with the prospect of securing complete autonomy in the future. “Side hustles give us creative satisfaction,” says Kimberly Palmer, author of The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life. “It’s thrilling to know that something you create or a skill you have is valuable enough that someone else is willing to pay for it.”
LinkedIn recently surveyed 9,600 of its ProFinder professionals on the subject, who it claims are vetted, qualified and “among the most committed independent workers in a gig economy”. A key finding was that of all the users who list freelance work on their LinkedIn profiles, 20% have a full-time job in addition to their freelance business. So while full-time freelancing dominates, the side-gig model is rapidly catching up. Another interesting discovery was that men are more likely to take on part-time freelance work than women.
It comes as little surprise that millennials are the trendsetters within this space, seemingly using side-gigging as a stepping stone into full-time freelancing. According to a fairly recent report entitled Gen Y and Freelancing, one fifth of UK graduates with first class degrees say they have already chosen to work as a freelancer. Additionally, freelancing is now seen as a highly attractive and lucrative career option by 87% of students with first or second class degrees. Nearly a third (29%) of all graduates say freelancing is part of their career strategy for the next five years. This goes to show that the rising generation are showing greater preference for a healthy work-life balance, independence and higher earning potential.
Side-gigging is no fad and if you think it could work for you, here are a few facts to consider first…
Show me the money!
In the words of Jerry Maguire, side-gigging can be a great way of boosting your monthly earning potential, and it seems safe to assume that this is one of the biggest motivators. A recent survey by Payoneer quizzed more than 23,000 freelancers in over 180 countries on the subject, and found that the average freelancer charges around $21 an hour for their services. So for those able to fit in at least 10 hours of freelance work a week, that equates to an extra $840 a month or more in additional income.
Personal profile and network
If you have the dream to set up your own business, or simply aspire to making a full time living as a freelancer, side-gigging can help you to build your personal brand or profile, and expand your network of contacts. Providing the work doesn’t contravene any of your employment terms, or incur any conflict of interests, part-time freelancing can be a stepping stone, helping to build a portfolio of work and professional endorsements, while also providing the opportunity to hone in the skills and types of work that you would like to be freelancing out.
As Gyanda Sachdeva, director of product management at LinkedIn, writes: “If you’re deliberate about working with the type of clientele that will help push your career where you want it to go, you stand a better shot at gaining the clout—and client rolodex—to become the go-to person within your niche.”
Ten years ago, it would have been inconceivable for a freelancer to access all of the technology and software they might need to work independently. This of course has changed, and nowadays we’re operating in a mobile-first environment where myriad virtual working tools are readily available via apps and easily accessible remote working technology and collaboration platforms. Meeting and travel costs could also have been prohibitive a few years back, but these too have been replaced with reliable and affordable video conferencing software. There’s no longer any stigma or limitations attached to being a remote worker, and in fact it’s increasingly becoming the norm.
Managing accounts is often the bugbear of freelancers, and maybe more so for those part-time as they’re juggling a full time job alongside. According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), the average total time spent on self-assessment is two working days per year, at a cost of £1.7bn to the economy. Almost a quarter of small business owners say they’ve failed to file their accounts on time, and consequently incurred a fine. If you’re someone who struggles to keep on top of your personal accounts, it’s critical to keep on top of invoicing and payments particularly. Although it comes at a price, it might be worth hiring a bookkeeper to help you with your year-end tax return at least.
With many of us no longer content with the 9 to 5, side-gigging can be a sensible and low-risk way of turning freelancing into a full-time career. By taking on work on the side, there’s the opportunity for it to grow organically as you establish your personal reputation and client base, which means there’s no need to give up your salary job until your freelance income is at the point of superseding it. It’s easy to see why side-gigging is becoming the favoured way to break into the world of self employment!