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Navigating the gig economy: finding success as a freelancer

Navigating the gig economy: finding success as a freelancer

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Navigating the gig economy: finding success as a freelancer

Gig work is a leading form of self-employment and an option more people are turning to. That doesn't mean it's saturated though! In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Virginia's 2015 self-employment rate was less than half that of the national average. If you're considering gig work, follow these tips for success.

Find your niche

The gig economy is large and varied. The first step is to decide what kind of gig work you'll do. Assess your skill set and determine what kind of gig work you're best suited for.

Develop a business strategy

Consider how customers will find you. There are platforms specifically for gig work, but they usually take a cut. If you want potential clients listed in one place, it may be worth it. There may be other restrictions like price and client interaction. Alternatively, social media, a website, networking, and referrals are all good options.

Determine your financial goals

It's important to know how much money you need to make every month so you can make sure you meet those goals. Be sure to factor in taxes, expenses, the platform's cut if you use one, and a little cushion.

Create a realistic work schedule

Many people starting out in freelancing still have a 9-5 or other obligations. You'll need to know when and for how long you can work to know what jobs to take and when. Also, know how long the work takes you so you know if you can complete it on time.

Decide on a fee structure

Generally, there are two options: Hourly or flat rate, both with pros and cons. Hourly ensures you're paid for your time but depending on how quickly you work, it may not accurately compensate you. Flat rate work allows you to set your price but if the client asks for changes or extras, you may spend more time than intended.

Also, if you're short on time but have strict financial goals, you may want to charge more to ensure you meet them. The exact method or combination will depend on your specific circumstances.


Everyone's unique and no strategy is universal. As you go, you'll learn and find what works best for you. If you take these factors into consideration, you'll have a good foundation on which to build.


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