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It’s not news anymore that the gig economy has been disrupting and changing traditional working environments. Employees continue to be attracted to the flexibility and freedom associated with side gigs and freelance work, with more than one-third of Americans freelancing in 2018, according to a study by Upwork.

Companies and businesses must be taking notice as well, as freelancers contribute approximately 1.4 trillion dollars to the economy per year, according to a study from 2017. Likewise, 2.18 million out of 18.6 million workers in Canada can be classified as self-employed, according to the data collected by Statistics Canada in 2018.

While flexibility (and extra income!) is a draw for many people, it’s not the only draw. Here are three ways to best utilize the flexibility that comes with a side gig, as well as simultaneously improve your marketability as a freelancer. 

1. Improve your skills

It’s easy to feel stuck at a job; perhaps it’s the lack of growth opportunities, or the shortage of time in a work day to seek those opportunities.

So why should you start doing side gigs? Because it gives you the opportunity to improve your current skills, take extra courses, and even learn new skills. In a study conducted by Flexjobs, 66 per cent of respondents said that they started freelancing to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Having a side-gig is a great way to become experienced enough to transition from a part-time to a full-time career as a freelancer. Staying on top of best practices and making learning a priority will keep you motivated and flexible while freelancing. Also, investing in courses and learning opportunities is a great way to invest in your business (yourself) while avoiding that stagnant feeling that can occur in jobs where you have less control.

2. Stay Marketable

Taking on side gigs and small projects while working a traditional job is a great way to grow your resume and portfolio. Plus, each side gig you take on is a chance to pad your resume with experience and increase your connections and references.

Combining the flexible time that comes with side gigs and the added skill and experience gained from each project can help you perfect your resume, whether you want to get more gigs or set yourself up for future employment opportunities.

The gig economy is growing year by year. According to a study commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, freelancers will form the bulk of American workers by 2027. Also, Online Labour Stats implies that the number of digital side gig jobs in Canada doubled between 2017 and 2018.

3. Find your interests

Depending on your employer, working at a traditional job doesn’t always give you room to explore your interests. Side gigs give you a chance to explore something different and more creative. This can either act as a creative outlet to keep you professionally satisfied or inform bigger decisions regarding your career path.

Side gigs make exploration possible. For example, you can try your hand at designing graphics for t-shirts, while working in a traditional HR role.  Starting with side gigs can not only help you feel more creatively fulfilled on a day to day basis, but they can also help you envision what a full-time career would look like. So this way, you can judge whether it’s right for you.

You can choose gigs from a variety of fields according to your skill set. The options include (but are definitely not limited to) consulting, programming and coding, virtual assistant, graphic design, bookkeeping, data engineer, business analyst, stunt director, colorist, managing analyst, and more. Here’s a list of freelance careers you can choose from. You will be surprised to see some gigs that you didn’t even know existed.

Because side gigs help build your resume, they can provide a smoother transition into a new career path and enable employers to see how you’ve built on your professional experiences to reach your current position.


Conclusion

The benefits of side gigs, such as flexibility and creative freedom, are entirely dependent on what you do with them! Being clear about the goals you have for your freelance work will help you stay motivated and gauge whether side gigs work for you. Even if your goal isn’t to turn a side gig into your full-time job, side gigs can improve your skills, keep you marketable, and help you feel creatively inspired. And, if freelancing is right for you, starting with side gigs can help you transition to a new career path.

This type of flexibility is what side gigs are all about—personalizing your experience and output as a professional. Sound like something you’d like to try? Here are some tips on improving your personal brand before you get into the freelance world.


Sources:

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410002701

https://www.upwork.com/press/2018/10/31/freelancing-in-america-2018/

https://s3.amazonaws.com/fuwt-prod-storage/content/FreelancingInAmericaReport-2017.pdf

https://nation1099.com/freelance-careers-types-freelance-jobs/

https://ilabour.oii.ox.ac.uk/online-labour-index/

https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/biggest-benefits-of-freelancing-according-to-survey-results/

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