So you want to get started in the gig economy? Before you hit the road, there are ten things to know about working in the gig economy, including gig economy requirements, expenses, and Plan Bs.
Buckle has partnered with Harry Campbell, founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, to provide our Members with the very best tips, tricks, and news to help maximize their income as a rideshare and delivery driver.
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While moonlighting (working outside of a ‘full time job’) has been around for decades, the gig economy, which relies much more on technology than moonlighting ever did, is relatively new.
Compared to the majority of jobs out there, rideshare driving and delivery (outside of pizza and packages) is still a new concept, but a lot of people are drawn to it for various reasons. Some want to be their own boss and set their own schedule. Others need to earn extra on the side to supplement their “regular” income. And others still are bored and looking to keep themselves busy.
No matter your reason, it’s fairly easy to get started in the gig economy. The following are some tips and tricks for getting started and thriving in the gig economy.
1. Get organized and understand requirements
Each gig job is going to have their own requirements and standards you’ll have to meet and follow. For example, if you want to drive for Uber or Lyft, you’ll need a 4-door vehicle within a certain age as well as pass a background check and have a fairly clean driving record.
With delivery, you’ll need reliable transportation but really any two, four wheel, etc vehicle will do. With all of these gig jobs, you’ll likely need access to and understand how to use a mobile device to complete trips and orders. After your vehicle, your phone is your most important tool, so the newer the better.
For ones that require a vehicle for transporting people, it’ll need to pass an inspection annually. You’ll need to understand how much wear and tear you’ll be putting on your vehicle and be ready for regular, as well as unexpected, maintenance. There are cool companies like Rideshare Mechanic that will even offer a virtual inspection!
2. Realize flexibility means you’re in control
While many gig workers say they want control over their schedules and crave the flexibility of gig work, bear in mind that your earnings are largely up to you. If you don’t feel like working for a week, that’s a week of earnings you’re not going to be able to bank on.
Some people are able to set a schedule for themselves and stick to it. Others are easily swayed by the thought of not wanting to go out and work. Know yourself and understand that you’re in charge.
3. Try out new things
A huge benefit of the gig economy is that there are so many different jobs you can consider. You can drive people, deliver packages or food, write, be an assistant, and the list goes on. The sky is truly the limit.
If you’re not sure what you enjoy or if you just love the idea of doing something different every day, the gig economy is your biggest friend. Typically, rideshare is best for extroverts and delivery is best for introverts but check out our detailed comparison of rideshare driving vs delivery.
4. Be aware of actual earning potential and expenses
Every single job out there comes with expenses. You have to pay for gas to get to and from work, or to do the job itself. You have to buy supplies such as extra chargers for your phone, a phone mount for your vehicle, a dash camera, or if you’re doing something non-rideshare related, you may have home office expenses such as upgrading your laptop, buying a printer, ink, paper, etc.
One thing people just starting out in the gig economy don’t always realize is that your earnings, while determined partially by the jobs themselves, are up to you. If you’re willing to go out and do the work—and work smart—you’ll earn more than if you were to just dabble a bit here and there. Understand the bonuses and perks presented to you and make sure you set reasonable expectations on what your earnings can truly be.
To go along with that, each market is different. Your earnings may vary greatly from one platform to another based on its availability in your area. Learn and adjust as needed.
5. Understand taxes and deductions
Typically, people only start thinking about taxes one time each year. As a gig worker, you’re likely not having taxes taken out of your earnings. This means you could potentially owe more than you’ve ever owed before.
It’s beneficial to know how much to set aside for taxes, consider paying them quarterly to stay on top of things, and you need to know what deductions are available to you. Can you deduct mileage? Is it better to take the standard deduction or an itemized deduction? These are questions you’ll need to consider when joining the gig economy.
Quick Tip: Stride Tax is one of our favorite mileage tracking options and best of all, it’s free!
6. Fight burnout
Just like with any job, when you put out 110%, you eventually start to feel it. Understand that burnout is going to happen. Do your best to keep things interesting. Toggle back and forth between a few options if you’re able to keep your days from becoming boring.
7. Know yourself
Only you know yourself, truly. Do you hate interacting with people? Don’t choose a gig job that is heavily customer-oriented. If you smell good food, is it irresistible to you? Maybe stay away from delivering restaurant-ordered food. Do what makes sense for you.
8. Realize it is a real job and ignore the haters
Some people will look down on you for being a gig worker. There are still many people out there who don’t understand, or profess not to understand, how working like this is possible, or legitimate. They view anything other than a daily grind in an office to be unworthy.
It’s a new age. It’s a new era. The world looks different from even just 10 years ago. The gig economy is just as legitimate as being a lawyer or doctor or any other degree-driven career. Just because you didn’t indebt yourself to receive higher education doesn’t mean it’s not a real job and isn’t worth doing. The gig economy can be for everyone. Embrace it!
9. Have a backup plan
This is true whether you’re in the gig economy or have a “regular” 9-5. You need a backup plan. You never know what is going to happen.
You could get deactivated from your favorite platform, you could get let go from a position, the economy could tank and jobs could become scarce. We saw this with the pandemic. Even drivers who still wanted to drive were met with limited income because no one was requesting rides. Always keep a Plan B in mind and in motion.
10. Have fun
Just because it’s a job doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It may take a few days or weeks (maybe even longer) to fully get into the groove of the new work you’re doing, but once you do, things will start flowing and you might even realize this is the most fun you’ve had in your life. And you’re making money doing it!
Harry Campbell is a former Boeing Aerospace Engineer and founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, a blog, podcast and Youtube channel for ridehail drivers and other gig workers and author of, The Rideshare Guide. Over the years, Harry has covered the gig economy industry closely and talked to tens of thousands of drivers and gig workers about their experience on the road.