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Are ‘Gigs’ Really That Great?

Topics: Career Profiles
Being a freelancer is anything but free. Sorry to be a downer, but it's true. If you don't plan for the unexpected, you might be shocked when you overdraw from your bank account or spend way more than 40 hours a week at this job you thought was going to be a breeze. Take stock of the realities of gig life before you make the jump.

Being a freelancer is anything but free. Sorry to be a downer, but it’s true. If you don’t plan for the unexpected, you might be shocked when you overdraw from your bank account or spend way more than 40 hours a week at this job you thought was going to be a breeze. Take stock of the realities of gig life before you make the jump.

gig economy

(Photo Credit: Konrad Lembcke/Flickr)

Costs Add Up

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Besides the upfront costs of setting up a home office, there are plenty of other expenses you’ll need to factor in to your monthly or yearly budget if you’re a freelancer. There are basic needs for a freelancer like physical office space (with desks, chairs, etc.) as well as utilities. If you work from home, you should think about how much your electrical or heating/cooling costs could go up if you’re home more. Other costs include business cards, website building and hosting, and a little thing called health insurance. All that, plus an accountant to help you out on your annual (or quarterly) tax payments, and it’s a lot to keep track of.

Hours All Over the Clock

When your day doesn’t start with the factory horn, and doesn’t end with punching out your timecard, just how do freelance hours work? When you don’t get paid time off for holidays (or for being sick), it might mean you’re doing a lot of work things on days you usually slept in or basted some kind of large bird in the oven. You’ll need to calculate not only how much a vacation flight and hotel might cost, but also what the time off from working will cost you in billable hours, too.

A “Gig” Doesn’t Imply Security

NPR published an article recently about the new “gig economy” and what it means to freelance workers. This “on-demand economy” can be freeing to those who don’t want the drudgery of a traditional 9-to-5, but can also mean saying goodbye to job security. Gigging may be romantic to those of us who fell in love with the lure of the open road (which when you’re working an assortment of gigs, you can take off for on a moment’s notice), but it’s less exciting for people who want to be secure in their paycheck from month to month.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you love having a “gig” vs. a regular job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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