I’ve been a freelance designer for 17 years, so I guess I’ve been part of the “gig economy” even before it was the cool Millennial hipster thing to do. But I can’t stand the word “gig”. If being an independent consultant requires me to describe my projects as gigs, then count me out.
Gigs are what struggling bands do in dank old bars. Gigs are what Uber drivers chase on the weekend to supplement their income. Gigs are what Fiverr and Upwork freelancers undercut each other for. Gigs are what your perennially under-achieving high school friend does to stay afloat between jobs.
I’m a professional freelance designer. I don’t do gigs.
I define gig work as temporary or incidental. Short-term, which usually means shallow and low-value. One-off projects you do to earn some cash so you can go looking for something more meaningful.
Nobody aspires to do gigs. They feel like the reluctant next step of someone who hasn’t quite figured out what they want to do with their lives. “I’ll just do this for now until I figure out something better, because it’s easy.”
That’s not a career plan.
Being a freelancer means building your own business. Jumping aimlessly from gig to gig may earn you some money, but it doesn’t aid your business development. Before you take that next gig, think “is this gig going to help me get closer to any of my business goals?” Or, “what value might this project bring me beyond the financial reimbursement?”
Freelancing ≠ Upwork
Ignore the dangerous advice that you can hit it rich on cheap marketplaces. Your ideal clients don't live there.
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