It is actually somewhat stupefying the wide variety of ways the definitions used to describe the Gig Economy are used. As I continue to investigate this I keep coming across the same words but not always used in the same way. There are some basic things that are the same such as being an independent contractor and perhaps a Freelancer yet beyond that it’s almost the author’s personal preferences of how to use them especially the term “gigging”. Some gigging articles don’t even mention freelancing and only focus on the On Demand app aspect of this. If you’re like me finding yourself at the short end of a very long stick requiring you to re-invent yourself to some degree, this can be very confusing leaving you to figure it out for yourself even if it means using these terms for your own personal use. It appears that pre-Uber et al, gigging and freelancing were easily interchangeable especially in consideration of the origins of gigging. Freelancers would have a continuous flow of work or gigs some of which are one offs while others would be repeat business of some degree. When Uber et al entered the picture then this concept began to morph into something else which is when “On Demand” entered the Gigging Vernacular differentiating itself primarily via being app based, a “Tap and Go” sort of activity which is not part of freelancing because it is more connections based mostly through Social Media and referrals.
What’s in a name? Well if used to describe something you do, then your identity is involved such as someone asking you “What do you do for a living?” If you’re only a “W2” then all that’s required is if you are full or part time, where, what, and for how long. If you are a “1099” then things get muddled as that goes from On Demand Giggers to Freelancers to Entrepreneurs and all points in between. You could also be a “W2 Gigger” where you use an On Demand app for additional income or a “W2 Freelancer” using your skills outside of your W2 for additional income. This is referred to as Side Gigging which I will cover in a future post. You could be an On Demand Gigger Freelancer who uses the On Demand app aspect to fill in the blanks when freelancing gets slow. Depending on how you define entrepreneur you could also be a Freelancing Entrepreneur. Yet that gets even more muddled when using the traditional definition of entrepreneur. The Seth Godin quote from the previous post appears to be the best way to delineate Freelancing from Entrepreneur yet that has got some confusions with it due to the “money while you sleep” part of that definition when applying it to the Gig Economy which is why I said that unless you are working on building an empire you would be essentially “entrepreneurial” where a percentage of total income is generated “while you sleep”. This is a very important delineation because by this Seth definition a full blown entrepreneur is not part of the Gig Economy yet his/her business may be such as Uber. The smartest thing to do is to find some aspect of gigging that can be converted to “money while you sleep” which takes the pressure off when the On Demand Gigging or Freelancing gets slow. This too I will be covering in a future post as I read more and more about how On Demand Giggers aren’t all that business savvy such as not claiming business expenses or even tracking them. I’ve read that Uber drivers who do it full time will drive until they earn a minimum level no matter how many hours in a day it takes. If that doesn’t work then you’re short for that week unless you have other income sources. This sort of diminishes the “work whenever you want to” aspect as from my perspective that would be the part time version like what my brother does with Lyft. For him it’s easy extra money and alleviates some boredom so he doesn’t have to do it every week.
Seth states in reference to his definition that it’s important to know the difference between Freelance and Entrepreneur so that you know how your business applies to it from which specific decisions are or are not made yet it isn’t addressing the Gig Economy especially the On Demand Giggers. That doesn’t mean I can’t define it at least for my own personal use. The coolest thing about it all is that once you define it for yourself, you have the absolute freedom in conjunction with your creativity and skills to do any variation of it that fits your needs and can change it at any time.
Here’s what I’ve come up with.
“Gigging” is generic and indicates the ability to change at a moment’s notice in any direction desired. You can be a freelance writer one day and an Internet Marketer the next. You can drive for both Uber and Lyft and even rent out your house with AirBnB or do deliveries (which Uber is also getting into with UberEATS) or handyman or whatever other skill set you may have which doesn’t necessarily have to have an app associated with it. For example, I’m a guitarist so I could start doing musical gigs again if I chose to. Because “gigging” is generic then what’s required is delineation of how that gigging is done. For the Uber et al crowd I’m referring to them as On Demand Giggers or Giggers for short. I had been using Appers but that wasn’t jiving so I changed it. Freelance is as it’s always been which is based on more specific skill sets. For example I’m a Metrics and Reporting Specialist and an Excel Power User. I can freelance with these together or separately because not all metrics programs use Excel. Not everyone is using Excel for metrics. I have some “armchair” business savvy so I’m aware that diversification is essential which is where Entrepreneurial comes into play as I have a goal to create online courses that will be a percentage of my overall income that will support various freelancing or gigging activities.
So there you have it, “The Gig Economy Defined”, sort of, because these are the definitions I’ve settled on that make the most sense to me. If they do for you then feel free to use them. Although this now appears to be settled, as I continue researching all things “Gig Economy” I have to end with the famous infomercial “But wait!! There’s more!!!” because a new employee designation it starting to show up on the horizon.