In the United States, nearly 14 million self-employed people work from home. A majority of these are mums that are trying to balance two lives while generating income for the family. Today’s digital global economies have opened the door to new opportunities in the form of e-commerce. Social media and dedicated work sites have created a “gig economy” that lets the work-at-home parent have the best of both worlds.

What is a Gig Economy?

gigTake freelancing and drop it onto Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest and you have the foundations of a gig economy. A worker in this model is an independent contractor that secures short-term tasks for pay or trade. In a gig economy, you might work in independent sales like those you see in Amway, or you might work on one project for a month and be done. Because of the impact of the internet on this new way of working, you’ll initially reach out to prospective customers via the web. There is a high likelihood that you could work with clients for a year and never see their faces. A gig economy lives almost entirely online so clean up your social media feeds before you start pitching for jobs.

Characteristics of a Gig-preneur

Because of the digitization of this workplace, the gig entrepreneur must be okay with computers and more than okay with social media. Even if you use a micro-job site like Fiverr, it is Facebook that will ultimately land you the job since this is your public face in an electronic world. Social media is also the place where you will get to write about yourself, something that every entrepreneur needs to do. Your business and your skills have to be something that you love to discuss. Self-promotion is a valuable skill for any entrepreneur. At that level, the gig-preneur has the same characteristics as an entrepreneur: motivation, versatility and creativity. Just because your job tasks change every two weeks does not make you any less of an entrepreneur. You are a small business owner where your business is you.

Gigs That Make Money

There are several databases out there that are devoted to connecting the freelance minded with those in need. Guru is an excellent one with an extensive network and wide-ranging list of categories. It also has its own payment system, requiring the payer to deposit money in an escrow account. That way you are reasonably assured that you will not be stiffed on a job completed. If you have a product to sell then look at Etsy for handcrafted items and Amazon for those that tend to be mass produced.

The Bartering Gig

Not everything in a gig economy generates cash. Some involve barter-based transactions: the digital equivalent to wearing a “will work for food” sign, but it does have some benefits. The typical barter gig is a product review where the company sends you the product and you write about it in several different places. This process usually begins with a pitch from you and will require a substantial social network footprint to make it worth the company’s while. If done right, holiday presents can be obtained for free and your grocery bill can be cut in half with coupons for a good review.

Working from home image by ShutterStock.

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Last Update: Thursday, 29th September 2016