By Stephanie Humphrey
According to some statistics, gig work has increased by over 30% in 2020 and contributed $1.2 trillion to the US economy. But if you’ve been thinking about earning extra bucks driving for Uber, delivering food for Instacart, or renting out an available space on Airbnb, here are some things to consider:
• You are now a small business owner: While you won’t necessarily need to create an LLC to work for DoorDash, you will have new responsibilities as an independent contractor. You will have to keep track of your taxable income/expenses and prepare for filing a tax return, and you may also need to acquire or increase the amount of insurance you have on your car or home. You’ll also have to consider how you will manage your healthcare insurance on your own as well. The IRS has a section dedicated to information about gig workers at www.irs.gov/businesses/gig-economy-tax-center.
• You may not have as much flexibility as you think: The ability to create your own schedule is one of the primary reasons most people choose gig work, but there are some caveats. Platforms like Uber can penalize drivers who turn down too many rides or aren’t logged into the app for a specific amount of time. Apps may also have limits on how much you can work at one time as well, which could restrict your income when you need it the most. Creatives who use platforms like Fiverr or Upwork could see a lot of their free time taken up with the marketing of their services or responding to inquiries. Depending on how much money you’re trying to make, your “side hustle” could quickly turn into more work than your full-time job.
• You will need to be proficient with technology: A lot of gig work can be found on app or online platforms, which has enabled greater access for more people looking for employment – but you need to know how to use the tools of the trade to take advantage of the work. Some platforms may also pay gig workers via online payment tools like PayPal. You could be navigating registration, setup, and work assignment/management on a complicated website, and at a minimum you’ll need an email address to apply for any type of online employment. The good news is that most if not all these things can be done on a smartphone with an internet connection, but you want to make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with how a particular platform operates and that you’re comfortable with how to navigate on it.
The allure of working as much (or as little) as you want along with the promise of additional income from a side gig are attractive reasons to consider gig work. But before you quit your day job, make sure you’ve done your homework!
Stephanie Humphrey is a former engineer turned Tech-Life Expert and author. She is a contributor to ‘Good Morning America’ and Fox 29’s ‘Good Day Philadelphia’. You can find Stephanie all around the web @TechLifeSteph and get her book “Don’t Let Your Digital Footprint Kick You in the Butt!” on Amazon.