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"Get a real job!"
My Dad used to yell that at me all the time. For the most part I have been working contract or freelance jobs since 2010. There have been times when I have taken on a full time job, or went back part time to work at what used to be a comfortable, safe place for me. Yet largely my income has been derived from freelance gigs. And I'm not alone in this, nearly 70 percent of the workforce is contract or freelance based now.
What does this all mean? Well it means that companies no longer want to pay for long term benefits like health insurance and vacation time. That is speculation, not fact based but it stands to reason.
When everything is the same, the companies must be saving money somewhere. With my current gig, I am making more than I did anywhere else I have worked; including places where I was on the management team. The only things I don't get are paid vacation and health insurance.
In the past few months I have been on more trips than I would have been able to go on, if I had a "regular" job. For instance, I decided that I wanted to take a week off and do nothing but write all day, everyday. There were no angry phone calls telling me that I needed to get into work or I was going to be fired for doing a "no call-no show".
In fact, the only emails I got from my gig were routine emails that were sent out to the entire freelance team. Having that freedom saves me from having to take mental health days, or going to the doctors because I'm stressed out. It saves me a lot in medical bills, even if I have to pay for health insurance out of pocket.
Paying for my insurance out of pocket means I get to choose the plan that works best for me, and I make my company jump for my business. It's also worth it because I get to work on things that are important to me. Like being able to work on my writing. Because of my current gig, I have been able to complete a lot of projects that were started but abandoned because of other commitments. This has led me to be able to have yet another source of income.
While most of the people who have "real" jobs, rely on one income source. Those of us in the "gig economy" have several lines of income coming in. Part of it is to protect ourselves if we lose one line, there's another to back us up. The dominant reason though is because we can, we have the time to focus on the things that inspire us. With the inspiration comes ways for us to make money doing what we love. Right now I have my main gig, royalties from books, and I just started with a direct sales business.
That's what the gig economy is. A few different sources of income, no one to call a boss. That is a little facetious, the gig economy is known that way because you don't have a permanent job, per se.
Instead of the typical 9-5, go to a company and work for them for 30 years until you retire, you might sign a contract and work for a company for 30 days and then are done. There is no commitment from either side for a long term relationship. Instead the freelancer goes in, does their job, and then simply moves on. Some see this as very distressing because it does not provide a steady source of income but that is just one facet of a job.
Having a steady source of income might be nice. The freedom to work when I want to work, and rest when I want to rest is even nicer. Never before have I had someone guarantee me any income. I was an hourly employee and was happy to have the job. Now I have the job, still no income promise, but I can do what I want to do.
And that is perfect for me.