Is gig work right for you?

Latest research estimates that over 460,000 people in the UK work in the gig economy. It's certainly an area that has taken off in recent years, due to the obvious key benefit of flexible working. Are you considering joining the country's army of gig workers? Let us help! We're here to tell you everything you need to know about how to find success in the gig economy. 

What is the gig economy?

The same report, based on unpublished data from the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey, defined the “gig economy” as “a way of working based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employer.” Moreover, gig economy workers are identified as people “who trade their time and skills through online platforms (websites or apps), providing a service to a third party as a form of paid employment.”

The future of the gig economy is on the rise. With the increasing demand for better work-life balance and the constant, rapid evolution of technology, it looks like gig work is here to stay. 

Why is it called the gig economy?

Gig doesn't stand for anything in particular – instead, it refers to the one-off “gigs” that a worker picks up (or declines). It's also known as the freelance economy, crowdwork, the flexible labour market, and microtasking. 

Of course, this type of work has its ups and downs like any other. Let's take a look at gig economy advantages and disadvantages. 

Advantages of working in the gig economy

One of the main gig economy benefits is that it's entirely flexible. You can work whenever you like. So, if you want to get home to put the kids to bed, you can. If you'd rather have a lie-in and work later in the day, you can do that too. Need to earn money around attending lectures? You guessed it, gig economy jobs can accommodate that as well. But beyond the obvious advantage of flexible working, what else can gigging offer? 

  • Being your own boss: There's nothing quite like the feeling of working for yourself. You get to make all the decisions, choose work that makes you tick, and control what you do and when. 
  • Increased earning potential: You're in charge of what you earn. That means that if your skills are in demand, you can command a premium; also, if you have a big bill to pay one month, you can choose to work a few extra hours to cover it.
  • Work-life balance: As you can decide your own hours, you can balance work with family, studies, caring responsibilities, or even a full-time job. You're in charge of how you split your personal and professional time. 
  • Travel: Many gig workers can work remotely, so if you fancy being a digital nomad and working from a beach, a new city, or even a local cafe, you have that option at your fingertips. 
  • Choose your clients: If you work in a traditional customer-facing role, it's almost a given that you'll have a notorious customer that no one likes to deal with. You just have to suck it up and deal with them. In the gig economy, you can decline those gigs and focus instead on working with the delightful customers. 
  • Ready-made work: When you take gigs, the work is offered by a digital platform as and when you need it, eliminating a common entrepreneurial problem of perpetually scouring for customers. Someone else has put the hard work into building the tech, advertising, and bringing in customers. You can focus on delivering the service. 

Disadvantages of working in the gig economy

Of course, where there are advantages there are also disadvantages. Let's look at some of the things you'll need to consider before committing to this lifestyle: 

  • Little to no benefits: A traditional employer will provide benefits such as annual leave, sick pay, maternity benefits, pension contributions, and maybe even private healthcare and gym membership. While some gig economy workers are entitled to some statutory benefits, most would still need to account for the financial impact of losing the full benefits that employees enjoy. 
  • Quiet times: With luck, you'll be able to find gig work consistently. However, you'll almost certainly need to accommodate lulls when the work you anticipate just isn't available. Maybe a long-term client has had a change of strategy, businesses are looking to reduce expenses, or other workers get the gigs ahead of you.  
  • Tax: As your own boss, you'll need to submit your own tax returns. If your gigs are in other sectors, like design or driving, for example, this could fall well outside your comfort zone. Are you going to learn a new skill or hire an accountant?
  • Low pay: Hold on – didn't we say increased earning is a benefit? Well yes – but not for everyone. Certainly if you have niche skills or take a lot of gigs you can earn plenty, but many gigs pay minimum wage – or even less!
  • Stress: When work is in short supply, you may find yourself constantly chasing the next gig or competing with other gig workers. That can create stress and lead to burnout and job dissatisfaction. 

Is working in the gig economy right for you?

To find success in the gig economy, you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons and consider whether it will fit with your lifestyle, financial needs, and career aspirations

For example, if you're the main breadwinner for a young family, you may decide that the unpredictable “gig” nature of the work doesn't provide the stability or income you need. On the other hand, if you want to travel independently and see the world, you could find gig work perfect for financing your adventure. 

Gig work is also suitable for those with full-time, permanent roles who want to explore another avenue or take an entrepreneurial route. Rather than risk throwing in a steady job, they're able to take gigs in their spare time, see if there's a market for their idea, or start to build a reputation in a completely unrelated area. If they find success in the gig economy, they can then make that transition away from traditional employment when the time is right. 

Top considerations before deciding to work in the gig economy are: 

  • Can you meet your income objectives?

  • Do you need consistent income, or will you manage fluctuations?

  • Can you manage without the perks and benefits of traditional employment?

  • Do you need the structure of a traditional job, or will you thrive on the flexibility?

  • Can you accept the initial outlay on equipment (for example, car, laptop, software…)

  • Can you work well independently, or do you need other people around you?

  • Do you have the right skills? Let's look into that further…

Top skills to succeed in the gig economy 

As you might imagine, the gig economy can require a very different skill set to any other kind of employment. Do you have these skills? 

  • Discipline: If you need someone to stand over you cracking a whip before you get to work, the gig economy isn't for you. You need to have the motivation to get on with the job at hand, even on a cold, wet Monday when your mates are getting together to watch a film. 
  • Customer service: Customers are your business! Whether you're aiming for repeat business or just a decent tip, service with a smile is obligatory as a gig worker. 
  • Responsibility: As your own boss, the buck stops with you. Are you the type that's always willing to accept responsibility and solve any problems that arise? If not, you may find certain aspects of gig work challenging. 
  • Willingness to learn: As a gig worker, you'll be learning new skills all the time. Whether it's completing your accounts, understanding new software, or finding innovative ways around problems, you'll need to be open to these development opportunities. 
  • Adaptability: To achieve success in the gig economy, you'll need to adapt quickly to different platforms, different customers, and a whole new way of working. If you're the type to take everything in your stride, you'll thrive. 

Top jobs in the gig economy

So the gig economy sounds interesting, but how can you decide which gigs to pursue? Your success in the gig economy will largely depend on your skills and your interests, but these are some popular gig economy examples you might consider: 


Driving is one of the most popular gigs around and open to pretty much anyone with a driving licence and a car (or bike!). Firms such as Uber and Deliveroo have built multi-million-pound businesses on employing gig workers to chauffeur passengers or make deliveries. 

Pet care

Looking after someone's pet while they're on holiday, or even at the office, is a popular type of gig work for those that love animals and want to work locally. The advantage of this type of gig is that you can build long-term relationships with owners and their pets. 


If you're a whizz with words, you'll find gigs out there for you. From ghost-writing to blogging to copywriting, your talent for transforming the dull to the dynamic could be the key to a more flexible life. While entry-level rates can be very low, you can increase them by building a reputation and securing long-term clients.

How to succeed in the gig economy

Have you decided that working in the gig economy is right for you? Great! These are our top tips to make sure you don't just survive – you thrive! 

Be disciplined

As we said above, discipline is key. Work on finding a routine that works for you, then stick to it. Sure, flexibility is one of the great perks of gig work, but before you break the rules you need to set them. Once you're used to your routine, you're more likely to commit to it. Flexibility doesn't always mean haphazardly doing what you want, when you want – it means working in a rhythm that suits you. Let's face it, you won't earn the money if you're not consistently putting in the legwork. 

Find your tribe 

Gig work can be lonely. You find a customer, do the work, then move onto the next gig with very little chance to build meaningful relationships. Unless you want to go crazy, you'll need to put some effort into engaging with others. Finding your tribe can take many forms – from joining industry groups, to joining in online chat rooms, to casual conversations with others working the same gigs as you. Chatting about work with others in a similar situation can be a great way to let off steam, pick up valuable advice, and get some much-needed social interaction. 

Find a work-life balance

When you're paid by the gig, the temptation is there to do just one more gig… and one more.. and one more… It's reassuring to watch the money flowing in, but remember why you took this road in the first place. Flexibility is great, until you realise that the work-life balance is coming down entirely on the side of work. That routine we spoke about is vital in limiting your work hours, as well as your downtime. 

Adding gig work to your CV

Gig work can be added to your CV just like any other role. You'll need to briefly outline the remit of your role, and follow it with a bulleted list of achievements and successes. 

Choose whichever job title you like, as long as it adequately sums up what you did in a way that supports your future career aspirations. It's up to you how you frame the gig element – you could add the company, such as Uber, as your employer, or alternatively use “freelance” or “self-employed.” 

Embrace gig work for flexibility and work-life balance 

For many people, gig work is a door to freedom. If it's a lifestyle you choose to pursue, we wish you success in the gig economy! With a bit of dedication and focus, it's certainly an alternative to the traditional 9-5. 

Gigging not for you after all? Maybe you can find joy in a traditional full-time role. We can help with that too! Send us your CV for free, expert feedback to ensure you hit the job search ready to slay. 

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