Some 64 million Americans have eschewed the traditional job route — working 9-to-5 for someone else — and instead are embracing gig work. For some it’s full-time, for others, it’s a side hustle. Either way, they’re looking to earn extra cash when and how they want.

What is gig work?

The IRS defines gig jobs as services or goods sold, generally through a website or an app. Do you offer transportation through a ride-share service? Sell your handmade mittens through an online marketplace? You’re a gigger. 

Even if you’re simply renting out your rototiller or tuba on KSL Classifieds, you’re part of the gig economy. Basically, when you independently provide a creative or professional service, it’s considered gig work. And yeah, sorry, the IRS does require you to pay taxes on all those earnings.

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Selling your handmade hats on an online marketplace makes you a gigger.

Why do gig work?

As a gig worker, you’re an independent contractor, which means all the decisions are up to you. You can set your own rates, determine your own prices and plan your own schedule. Best of all, there’s never the fear of a layoff or downsizing. Some of the most popular gig jobs in 2024 include:

  • Ride-share provider
  • Delivery driver for food, packages, groceries, etc.
  • Online tutor
  • Handyman
  • Pet service: walker, groomer, trainer
  • Vacation rental agent: rent out your home on sites such as Airbnb or Vrbo
  • Tasks: furniture assembling, housecleaning, mover, yard worker

Pay can range from $15 to $100 per hour, depending on the job. Keep in mind, most jobs are short-term: one project, a single service or a few consultations. If you want to quit your day job altogether, you may find more gig success by offering multiple types of services. The more you can do, the larger your potential clientele base. 

What could go wrong?

A gig job sounds carefree. You can take off whenever you need; you get the final word. But, there are challenges, too. The obvious one, of course, is the lack of a steady paycheck. And, there’s no company-subsidized health insurance. In a study of 65 gig workers, researchers found the self-employed group constantly worried about finances, even those that were successful. 

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Whether you're a personal trainer or a tutor, you'll need to work when your clients need you.

While setting your own schedule seems ideal, gig work is not for the lazy or disorganized. You’ll need to stay motivated and driven without an authority figure lurking in the background — there are no manager reviews to check on your progress. 

Many who worked from home during the Covid pandemic quickly learned, there can be plenty of distractions when you're not in an office. Staying focused and on task can be challenging as you try to grow your business as a gig worker, particularly if you don’t have a current client.

There’s also a lack of recognition — something most of us crave, if only subconsciously. When you clock out at the end of the day (also a challenge when you’re on your own), you may feel you didn’t accomplish much. And honestly, some days you might not. That can be tough on your psyche.

How do you succeed?

Finding success as a gig worker may take some trial and error, but there are a few habits that many people rely on to keep on track.

Get into a routine

Starting a routine may sound counterintuitive — isn’t that why you left your regular job in the first place? But maintaining one is a proven way to be successful. Just look at all those Olympic athletes and their moms who drove them to the track/rink/pool every single day. A routine doesn’t need to be life sucking; it’s a way to keep yourself on task.

It might include work-related tasks: open emails first, make at least three calls before noon, etc. It could be personal: Take a shower and put on regular work clothes (instead of joggers). Experts suggest having a daily ritual frees your mind from the mundane, so you can have better focus and creativity in your work.

Keep connecting

One benefit of gig working is that you won’t be distracted by coworkers. But being on your own can be a problem, too. No longer do you have someone to inspire you, lift your mood or drive you crazy. It can be isolating and lonely. To counteract that, consciously seek interactions with real people.

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Give yourself a regular routine, even if it's just ditching the sweat pants each morning.

You might meet with peer groups, friends, family members or former colleagues. Keeping your social network open can help you stay motivated. A little encouragement and support can go a long way when you’re feeling worn down. You may also find more clients as you network.

Work during peak hours

If you don’t like working afternoons, it’s probably better to skip the tutoring job. In other words, you’ll need to work when customers need you. While you can set your own hours as a gig worker to some extent, you’ll need to work when your services are in demand.

Give your best self

You don’t need a department manager to tell you if you’re doing well — your lack of returning customers will make it pretty clear if you’re not. Deliver your best service and/or product every time. Positive reviews and referrals are invaluable for a gig worker.

How do you know if you’re successful? 

Your definition of success in a gig job may be different than if you worked in an office. Instead of being about money or promotions, you may need to look inward. 

  • Are you satisfied with what you are accomplishing? 
  • Do you have a purpose? 
  • Do you feel balanced? 
  • Are you confident you made the right choice?

Find your gig

The gig economy is expanding, with new fields and exciting opportunities. You can keep your full-time or part-time job and do your hustle on the side, or you can dive in all the way. Either way, as you pursue your true interests, you’ll have autonomy and the potential for financial gains.

Search opportunities to get your gig going on KSL Jobs, where there are listings for contract, temporary, seasonal and weekend only work. Do you provide a service? List it on our Services page.