When we were growing up, we used the term “gig” in the context of musicians – so and so is doing a gig tonight at such and such a club. In fact, the term was first coined by jazz musicians.

Though the meaning of the word has not really changed, the context in which it is used in the 21st century leads us to think it has.

It morphed over the years through “temp” agencies until the 1990s, then we saw the birth of platforms like Upwork, and now AirBnB and Uber are part of our everyday vocabulary.

Another Way of Referring to Freelance Work

The gig economy still refers to part-time or freelance work, but now it applies more specifically to platforms on the Internet that facilitate linking part-time workers with people wanting work done.

When I wrote my book, someone in another part of the world designed my cover. I never met her; I simply sent her the picture I wanted to use with the wording and some book covers I liked.

Within 24 hours, samples flew into my email, and we negotiated online from there. The link was facilitated by a platform called Fiverr. This is a classic example of how the gig economy works.

I have recently joined a coaching platform called Valueneurs. Though the app is designed in South Africa, where I live, and most of the start-up marketing is being done in and around Cape Town, the plan is to go global because there are no barriers to entry in the English-speaking world.

These are the opportunities that this economy opens up for entrepreneurs wanting to work flexibly in their retirement.

You Do Need to Weigh Up the Pros and Cons

The good news for those of us wanting to work flexibly in our retirement is this: the gig economy offers opportunity.

But as with most things there are negatives. It is important to weigh the pros and cons for your specific situation.

Pros

  • The hours are flexible and you can, in many instances, dictate how long you will work.
  • Age is not a factor. If you can do the job, no-one will ask your age.
  • You can take the jobs you want and ignore those you are not interested in, provided you can afford to take the knock in income.
  • In most cases, the platform will do the marketing for you.
  • In some cases, you can work almost anonymously with clients from all around the globe, as I did with my designer on Fiverr.

Cons

  • There are no minimum wages and overtime benefits.
  • No access to employee benefits such as healthcare, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation funds.
  • There will be no employer’s contribution to social security or health insurance.
  • In some cases, you will be vulnerable to exploitation. The most well known example is with the Uber drivers.

Gigs Are Changing the World

However, as I write, the gig economy is re-shaping the law in many countries, hoping to reverse some of the cons listed. Many of us re-entering the work market after official retirement are often not eligible for these benefits anyway, so are they really cons for retirees?

It is estimated that by 2027, in the US alone, 60% of workers will be independent professionals. That’s quite a number!

Seeing that joining the gig economy offers the opportunity to set up a small business and work flexible hours without anyone asking your age, I do feel that 60+ entrepreneurs can take advantage of it.

What do you know about the gig economy? Have you engaged in ‘gigs’? What’s your experience with freelance platforms? Please share with the community!

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