Online Business Lessons From My New Book – Thriving in the Gig Economy

By on December 12, 2018

I am very excited to announce the release of my new book: Thriving in the Gig Economy: Freelancing Online for Tech Professionals and Entrepreneurs.

Thriving in the Gig Economy

As the title suggests, this is a book about selling services online on a freelance basis but it should also have relevance for anyone who is interested in business, in productivity, or even in futurism and the impact of technology on business and economics. If you have enjoyed any of my content on making money online, lifestyle design, staying focused, or persuasion, then you should find something here. And if you’re interested in going freelance, setting up an online business as a web developer, writer or anything else, or just earning a bit of money on the side in the evenings… hopefully it will provide you with the complete blueprint you need to escape the 9-5 and create the lifestyle you want.

You can buy the book on Amazon (UK, US), from Apress directly, from Barnes and Noble, or pretty much anywhere else.

The book also has a forward by Dagogo Altraide of Coldfusion fame, which was awesome of him (he’s writing a book too that looks absolutely fascinating so stay tuned for that), and has a great cover and design put together by my publishers at Apress. I’m pretty darn proud of it to be honest. Darn proud.

To give you a taste of what to expect, I thought I’d share with you some of the best business and productivity tips from the book. Hopefully some of these can help inspire you to get started with your own business, or just to be a little more efficient in what you do currently.

1 The Many Forms of the Gig Economy

The first thing to recognize is that the gig economy takes many forms and the key is getting it to work for you. The term really encompasses any type of work that is completed on a per-job, or per-project basis. This can include working for a company like Uber or Deliveroo, though in those scenarios often the companies hiring have more to gain from the arrangement than the contractors.

In our case then it can mean selling web design, writing, or other skills online. It can also mean selling directly to clients with services such as personal training, coaching, or even gardening – though the term is used less often to describe B2C operations like this. At any rate, because we are going out and finding the work – rather than relying on a single company to provide it – the balance of power is shifted in our favor and we get to control our time and income.

coding working online

You can use the gig economy as your full-time career choice and enjoy the freedom that comes from picking jobs you like and skipping the ones you don’t. You can also get unconventional this way with how you divide your work and time off. For instance, I only gig four days a week which leaves me with one day to work on the Bioneer, books, and other projects.

But it can also be used in many other ways. For instance you can ‘gig’ part time and take on a part time job, or you can gig a little in the evenings in order to bring in extra cash. If you have kids and one of you is forced to take extended leave to look after them, gigging online can be a great way to make up for that lost income while being a full-time Mum or Dad. Of course, it’s ideal if you’re someone who enjoys travelling and you want to work on the road.

digital nomad

Gigging can be used to raise funds to pursue other dream jobs or projects, or to fill out your portfolio and CV. The key then is to identify what you’re good at, what skills you have, and then in what way you are going to sell those skills in order to support the kind of lifestyle that you want. This is our aim and I go into a lot more depth regarding lifestyle design in the book.

2 Packaging Your Service

So, start with the lifestyle you want or your end goals and then design your gigging around that. Know how much you need to earn, what hours you want to work, whether you need to be able to work on the road, and whether you’d rather have lots of clients or just a few steady ones.

Now decide what you’re going to offer and package that service in the way that suits you. You can even offer multiple packages with different pricing tiers. If you’re selling writing services for instance, it’s up to you whether you charge per word, per 500-words, per blog post, per hour, or for a set of blog posts ordered on a recurring monthly basis. Maybe you want to sell a ‘website starter pack’ with 200 blog posts at a discounted rate. Each has its pros and cons and will suit different lifestyles.

Maybe you want to sell a ‘website starter pack’ with 200 blog posts at a discounted rate

Try to agree how many revisions you are going to offer at that price, how much communication is included, whether you provide formatting (or perhaps whether this incurs a slightly steeper fee). The more you outline in your offering, the less confusion there will be, and the more you can fine tune your own workflow.

3 Process Fix

In the book I talk about increasing focus and productivity by creating the right working environment and even using flow hacks. I also discuss using technology and software as a ‘force multiplier’ to help you produce more work with the same amount of effort.

But one of my favorite strategies comes from my wife’s work. The ‘process fix’ means looking at any routine process that you use in your workflow and finding ways to make it more efficient.

process fixes

For instance, I used to write a blog post, then proof read it, then upload it to WordPress and add the formatting and images. Now I instead do the proof read at the same time as formatting and adding images – essentially removing one of the steps and thereby saving myself up to 10-20 minutes per blog post. Seeing as I’m getting paid per job that represents a rather huge increase in my overall salary.

(In the book I also talk about how to negotiate higher rates – even a tiny increase ‘per word’ can translate to huge ‘pay rises’ that you’d never accomplish in traditional employment.)

Look at each stage in your workflow in depth and ask if it could be made more efficient.

4 Communication Overhead

One way that almost any business can be made more efficient is to cut down on communication overhead. This is a term I got from The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. It means the amount of time (and therefore money) that is wasted on unnecessary emails and Skype calls. I advise avoiding clients that are intent on having long Skype meetings to discuss small orders, and trying to keep email chatter to a minimum wherever possible.

communication overhead

In fact, I actually personally choose to use agents as intermediaries to cut down on this fuss. They take a cut of my profits, but they also find me the work and handle all complaints, negotiations etc. That means I can just focus on work and avoid wasting mental energy.

5 Go-To Market

The go-to market technique, simply means finding where people who want your services are likely to congregate. For web design, copywriting, video editing, coding and more, it is common to find work from sites like UpWork and Freelancer. Problem is that you’re competing with a lot of other professionals here, and you’re going to be forced to work to that website’s guidelines – often to your detriment.

So, ask instead: where do the people you’re selling to hang out? What do they read? It could be a subreddit, it could be a forum, it could be an industry magazine. Maybe it means working with an influencer in that niche and getting them to give you a shout-out. I sell most of my services via a webmaster forum and via agencies. This is free, it’s simple, and it has provided me with steady work now for 8 years.

I give plenty more tips on where to find work of all kinds in the book.

6 Know Your Worth

Building a basic website using WordPress is an incredibly easy task that would take about a day for anyone with moderate tech skills at most. Nevertheless, big companies will pay thousands of dollars for this work, because they don’t know any different. If you try and sell them a web design for less, they will presume you are offering an inferior product and they’ll likely pass you over to choose the more expensive option!

Point is that it doesn’t matter if your skill seems ‘easy’ – it’s the knowledge gap and the value that they get out of it that should determine what you’re charging.

7 Become a Superstar

That said, if you try and sell your skills to a big corporation, you’re probably still going to be passed up in favour of more established and ‘stuffy’ businesses. Thus you’ll be forced to go after the small fry and compete with

As an individual, what can you do to fix this situation? The answer is to become an online ‘superstar’ and to build your own personal brand. You do this by taking on high profile jobs to build an amazing portfolio, and you do it by filling out your CV by continuing to learn and train yourself. You can also create a blog or vlog where you discuss your skills.

work online book

Try to imagine the procurement department discussing your merits versus the web design company, or programming agency that you’re competing with. If you’re just some guy or gal from UpWork then you’re not going to compete with a professional outfit. But if you’ve worked on projects for Google and Facebook, if you’ve built your own highly successful app, if you’ve authored books, and if you’ve got your own coding blog with an audience of hundreds of thousands – suddenly you’re a contender.

Closing Comments

So, if you found any of these tips helpful or interesting then you should get a lot of value out of the book. There I go into much more depth regarding how to set-up a business, how to transition safely from regular work, and how to build a resilient business that provides stable and growing income. I also go into some depth regarding the market forces that gave birth to the gig economy, and how it is likely to evolve and grow in exciting ways in the future. The short version: this type of work is becoming increasingly common and so by figuring out your place in the gig economy now, you can gain the upper hand on the competition.

 

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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