Gig Economy Misconceptions

A number of myths about contract work and the freelance lifestyle that have existed for decades somehow persist today. Most of them are outdated – ancient, really – and likely failed to reflect a more nuanced reality of independent contracting even at a time when there was more truth to them. These gig economy misconceptions have cast doubt and held back some workers who might otherwise be interested in exploring a world of freelance opportunities.

So in an effort to ease their minds, we’ll identify a few of the tallest tales told about contract work and explain why they simply don’t hold up against the light of (to)day:

Myth No. 1: Freelancing is for workers who can’t land a perm job

Was it ever true? Probably not. But among the primary gig economy misconceptions is that workers have no choice but to freelance today. It could not be more wrong. A recent survey of gig workers found that 94 percent consider themselves to be forever freelancers, and only 4 percent view contract work as part-time employment until they find full-time employment. Some people simply prefer the flexibility of the freelance lifestyle over an office environment and daily commute.

Myth No. 2: Contract work is mostly for the semi-retired

More outdated bunk. Although the aforementioned survey found that 29 percent of employed Baby Boomers (ages 55 and up) do work as freelancers, it also suggests that the younger the worker, the more likely they are to engage in the gig economy. In fact, more than half of Gen Z workers (ages 18-22) are freelancers. Contract work can make for the perfect transition for late-career professionals to ease out of a staff gig and into retirement. But with so many opportunities available and the benefits of freelancing being more apparent than ever, contract work is only growing in popularity with every passing generation.

Myth No. 3: It’s impossible to make a stable living as a freelancer

A significant portion of freelancers are located in foreign countries with lower market-based wages. That’s why the most common hourly rate among freelancers, according to Bonsai, is $20 or less. But focus for a moment on the second- and third-highest rates: No. 2 is $60-80 per hour. Sound tempting? Wait until you hear No. 3: $120-140. Not every contract worker makes this kind of dough, of course, but these numbers demonstrate that striking a healthy life/work balance and making a comfortable living isn’t just a pipe dream.

Myth No. 4.: Freelance work isn’t sustainable over a career

Some workers who are curious about freelancing fear fluctuations in the marketplace. They worry about potential gaps between projects and the stress of chasing gigs in between. It could be that contract work isn’t for them. But for anyone who doesn’t like to get bogged down, who enjoys new challenges and learning new competencies, contracting is a viable path – and now more than ever. Andre Lee, co-founder of Noumena Partners, a social-finance platform for freelancers to grow their business and level up their finances, writes in Entrepreneur that independent contractors must use this unique moment “to organize themselves as a business and utilize all of the tools and partnerships available” in order to strengthen their freelance business for leaner times. But by building your network, filling your toolbox and providing quality work on a consistent basis, there’s no reason you can’t make the gig economy work for you as long as you’d like.

Interested in joining the gig economy? Be part of PeopleCaddie’s talent cloud by contacting us.

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