The economy is changing, and while the typical 9-to-5 jobs persist, more and more work is shifting to the gig economy.
The gig economy is full of freelancers and independent contractors working flexible or temporary jobs, with their work often powered by a mobile app or online platform.
According to ADP research, over the past decade, gig work has increased by 15%. While the earning potential of this work can be equal to that of a traditional W-2 employee, the app Steady, used to connect workers to gig opportunities, found that the average gig worker brings home approximately $624 a month.
The growth of the Internet and the mobility of workers have led many individuals to seek new ways to obtain extra income as they hustle to make ends meet. It also happens that these jobs offer a work schedule that fits a more demanding life. Statista, a data collection and analysis firm, reports that over half of gig workers work between 11 and 30 hours weekly.
For employees, the flexible schedule lets them work when and for however long they want, maximizing their efficiency and increasing their income as needed. In return, customers receive convenient service that not only makes modern life more comfortable, but also makes services often quicker and set at an affordable price.
Businesses then have the freedom to hire the best talent on an as-needed basis while reducing their physical workspace. Because many gig services employ based on their consumer demand, businesses can increase and decrease staff with ease.
Jefferson City has seen an increase in mobile and web-based services, and the community has taken full advantage of these new opportunities.
For two years, Alyssa Gortney has been a personal shopper for Instacart. This service sends its shoppers to area grocery stores on behalf of the customer.
“You download the Instacart app, find the store you want, and choose the items you want and how much of the item you want,” Alyssa says. “Usually, it’s same-day [delivery].”
Alyssa says she spends most of her time at Aldi and Hy-Vee, but makes trips to Schnucks and Gerbes as well. No matter the store, she feels proud knowing she is providing a valuable service to some of our area’s most vulnerable citizens.
“The most rewarding thing I’ve found is being able to provide a service to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get out,” she says.
Looking for a flexible job on top of her primary career, Robin Binkley started delivering for DoorDash, a service that allows customers to order meals or groceries to their house from area businesses.
“I have a full-time job, so I was looking for something that I could do and not have set hours,“ Robin says.
Robin has been serving with DoorDash for the past year, which fits right in with her view of helping others. “All of a sudden, someone can hand you your dinner,” she says. “It takes the stress off elderly people and single [parents].”
Robin also finds the service easy for anyone to start using. She says: “They would go online — either phone or computer — and sign up and look at the different restaurants, and that’s how you start. For most people, it’s pretty straightforward.”
As a freelance artist, Adrienne Luther has been showcasing her talents while working her own schedule for the past five years.
“I do a lot of freelance illustration, portraiture, graphic design — a lot of what I offer is logos and marketing materials for startups, entrepreneur ventures, and small businesses,” Adrienne says.
What started in high school working at The Art Bazaar in Jefferson City became Adrienne’s field of study in college.
“Over time, I started charging and signing on clients for hourly work. I was just pushing the van to get it rolling and can now drive it pretty smoothly without losing steam.”
Adrienne’s favorite part of freelancing is connecting with clients and pitching ideas.
“As a young adult, it has been interesting finding my footing in life while at the same time controlling my schedule and having the flexibility of shaping how I want my work week to look. We were able to go to Europe and continue to make an
income while exploring.”
Driving for Lyft since 2018, Jennifer Sapp has found a way to earn the income she needs to complete her education.
Lyft is a ride-hailing service that allows customers to connect with verified drivers on the road to transport them to their chosen destination. This ride service is on-demand, with each trip set up via a mobile app.
“When you get on the Lyft app and go to hail a ride, it’s very user-friendly,” Jennifer says. “It keeps you informed of exactly who is coming to get you, what they’re driving, and exactly how long it will take them to get to you.”
For someone like Jennifer, who considers herself an extreme extrovert, driving for Lyft also lets her share what she loves about Jefferson City with visitors.
“I love conversing with people and helping tourists get around town, taking people to the capitol [for instance],” she says. “I get to tell them about local places to eat. [I enjoy] getting to interact with my community in a more intimate setting.”
Renting out rooms in their house is part of Jamie and Tara Varner’s weekly routine. Since 2016, they have been welcoming world travelers to Missouri’s capital city.
Airbnb upended the hotel market by allowing the average person to rent a room or their whole property to guests looking for overnight accommodations. Booking is simple for just about anyone.
“They would use the [Airbnb] desktop version or app and . . . they can plug in the dates, times, number of guests, and if we’re a fit, we show up in their search,” Tara says.
As the agency owner at Farmers Insurance – Varner Agency, Tara had some initial doubts, but Airbnb makes it easy to manage her home with protection.
“If you book [reservations] through the app, it automatically covers for damages up to $1 million that the guest may cause [and] calculates taxes and usage fees.”
But meeting new people is the greatest benefit Tara sees with Airbnb.
“[For] the vast majority of guests that stay with us, it’s a sense of community. I have a sign over both rooms that says ‘enter as strangers, leave as friends’ and [most] who stay with us do.”
If you’re inspired to join the over 57 million Americans in the gig economy, you’ll want to consider your skills, abilities, and available time. With the variety of services on the market, you can join existing workers as independent contractors and work on demand. If venturing on your own as a freelancer is more in line with your dreams, you’ll want to be knowledgeable of contracts and vendors and make sure your online brand represents you.
With demand ever-growing, the gig economy could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.