Freelancing and the Gig Economy. Viable option for graduates?

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So over the past couple weeks, I have really been looking at the gig economy and testing the viability for recent graduates like me. With my course coming to an end and full time employment opportunities becoming more scarce, I have really been exploring different options that I can pursue that will afford me to the opportunity to do something that I love to do. 

As a freelancer on Upwork, I love the opportunity to work with different individuals around the world and also the ability to engage in different projects and different industry. When I joined this industry, I had two things in mind: 

1. An ability to really earn additional income 

2. An ability for me to learn, grow and connect with others around the world. 

I have always had a passion for helping others and this was a way I was able to contribute to helping others achieve their goals. However, since lately I have not been able to achieve any of the things listed above. There has been a huge decline in the number of gigs I have been getting, plus as a freelancer, I have made minimal leaps in terms of growth, connecting and helping others. This has left me trying to fill a void.

So this morning I found and interesting article on Entrepreneur.com which speaks to the difference between and entrepreneur and a freelancer. I always thought of myself as an entrepreneur. But seems as I was just a freelancer. As I read the article, there was a link to watch an interview with Seth Godin. 

As I listened to the interview, I found three insights from what Seth Godin said why freelancers would probably want to transition into becoming entrepreneurs.  

Related: Necessity Driven Entrepreneurs and the Gig Economy

1. Freelancers get paid for their work. As a freelancer, you are paid when you work. At times, you might work for a week without a project. You have to ensure you build a pipeline of gigs to help offset slow periods.

2. Freelancers are trading their time for money:  Freelancers are constantly trading their time for money. Entrepreneurs on the other hand use other people's money to build a business bigger than themselves so that they can get paid when they sleep. As a freelancer, you are constrained to the number of hours you have available. You have to make a decision to trade time for money. This time traded includes time for your family, vacation time or even to sleep. You are always looking at the opportunity cost time spent. 

3. The market for average freelancers is saturated. Seth Godin highlighted the challenge that average freelancers face is there is always someone out there who can be cheaper. However, there is a market for exceptional freelancers. If you are thinking of being a freelancer, you have to be a top rated, exceptional freelancer that is a master at your craft. 

But as I reflect more on the interview and what Seth Godin said this point really resonated with me:

Freelancers get paid for their work. If you're a freelance copywriter, you get paid when you work. Entrepreneurs use other people's money to build a business bigger than themselves so that they can get paid when they sleep.

The key difference for me about what he said lies in the entrepreneur's ability to create a business system that allows it to function on its own. An entrepreneur is able to create a system in which he is able to automate certain processes and also get create a team to assist him in realizing his dream. 

Freelancing has made a huge impact in my life in terms of my mindset and really challenging the status quo of having to work in a 9-5 job but freelancing after a while might still leave a void once you are not pursuing your own dream. At some point, you too will want to start your own venture. Freelancing as a recent graduate can be the necessary bridge to help you on the road to being an entrepreneur or an employee. 

 I leave with you these quotes:

“If you don't build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” Tony Gaskin Jnr.

 “If I take myself out of the equation, does the business still work?” If the answer is “Yes,” you are an entrepreneur" -  Daniel Dipiazza

Kaniel Ellis

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