Can You Recognize a Pyramid Scheme Scam?

Pyramid schemes often look like good moneymakers at first glance, but you’re much more likely to lose money if you participate in one. Before you can avoid pyramid schemes, you need to understand what they are and how they work.
Pyramid schemes are a hierarchical moneymaking system where people at the top of the pyramid recruit underlings to do all of the hard work while the money funnels upward to those at the top. The people at the top can become wealthy, but those under them rarely make money at all. Continue reading Can You Recognize a Pyramid Scheme Scam?

How to Get to a Gig or Temporary Job When You Don’t Have a Car

Bike to work
Bike to work

Whether you’re trying to make it across town to play in a band at a late-night after party or need reliable transport for a part-time morning shift at a seasonal boutique, having a car can feel like a requirement for getting gigs. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options if you’re temporarily or permanently carless.
Continue reading How to Get to a Gig or Temporary Job When You Don’t Have a Car

Should You Start a Side Gig or Focus on Getting a Raise at Work

Photo by @Saigon on Flickr
Photo by @Saigon on Flickr

The decision whether to take on a side gig or focus on getting a raise at work can be a tough one to make. Watching colleagues make more money while you work just as hard or harder can make you think that focusing your limited efforts on getting more from your employer is the best way to go. But seeing friends or neighbors who are working their way out of the rat race by spending their spare time creating their own business makes that possibility seem attractive, too. If your free time is limited, you might have to choose between raise or side gig. Of course, like most things in life, the right path for one person isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone.
Before you decide which path to choose- side business or getting a raise at work- consider these questions:

Continue reading Should You Start a Side Gig or Focus on Getting a Raise at Work

5 Ways to Find New Clients for Your Gigs

The most important part of developing a steady stream of gig income is finding regular clients who will come to you over and over again for your services. Most people who pursue freelance pursuits spend 50% or more of their time looking for work instead of actually working. Here are five of the best ways to find new clients for your gigs.

1- Networking
Networking gets a lot of buzz, but most people do it all wrong. If you’re heading out to networking events and pushing your business card into the hands of everyone in the room after a two-minute conversation that mostly involves “so…what exactly do you do…?”- that’s not going to help. Seriously- when’s the last time you called someone based on their business card information. Looking back through business cards you’ve received- do you even remember meeting half those people? Probably not. Real networking is about making meaningful connections. Talking with one or two people who are genuinely interesting and making plans to get together for coffee or a beer later. Those are the people who will call you when they need what you’re selling- and they’re the people who will refer you if someone asks them “Do you know where I can find a reliable (whatever it is you do)?”

2- Cold Calling
Everyone is terrified of cold calling. We’ll just get that out of the way right now. But the fact of the matter is, cold calling works. When you call enough people, you’re bound to get some gigs. If you’re trying to break into a new industry or starting to expand your gig into a business, you’re going to have to get on the phone at some point and just make those cold calls. (I’ll be doing a post soon about cold calling to help you get better at it- so if you aren’t subscribed yet, you might want to subscribe so you don’t miss that one)

3- Online Advertising
Online advertising can bring in customers when you do it right. There are plenty of options- you can pay to advertise on Google Adsense bars on blogs catering to your field, or you can buy a Facebook ad to capture attention on that site. Create a few different targeted ads and test them out before going all-out with an online advertising campaign.

4- Job Brokers
Job brokers take the hassle out of finding new clients for your gigs, but you’ll make less money going through a broker. Brokers are businesses that hook up freelancers with gigs- they include places like Tutor.com, Odesk, Sitter City, and Elance. If you’re looking for the type of gig listed on these sites, you can register yourself as a worker and either search job listings or wait for someone to approach you. Depending on your specific industry, brokers might take a percentage of your total payment or a specific amount per gig.

5- Think Local
Local advertising is targeted advertising. Put flyers or ads where the people who might hire you hang out. If you’re a trained masseuse, try putting up flyers at a yoga studio or in the local natural health free paper given away at the nearby natural foods store. If you’re interested in tutoring, local schools and libraries are good bets for finding students. An experienced DJ might advertise at wedding expos and events in the city.

Are You Making These 3 Big Mistakes When Looking for Side Gigs?

Everyone makes mistakes (I’ve definitely made my share over the years!) but learning from your mistakes is what helps you move on and get better. Fortunately, with the Web, you can now also learn from *other* people’s mistakes, too, so you don’t have to go through the frustration and embarrassment yourself. With that said, here are 3 of the biggest mistakes people make when searching for a gig to make some extra money.

1- Going after the first flashy gig that comes along.

Trying out a new gig can be fun- and it sometimes pays off- but you should always do your research before trying any new moneymaking scheme. Research both the gig that sounds appealing and a few alternatives, because there may be a better option for your situation than the first one you hear about.

2- Paying money to get a gig.

There’s a saying in freelance writing “The money flows TOWARD the writer” and this applies to other gigs as well. If someone is insisting that you pay cash upfront to get access to a specific gig, run the other way. Paying for information (such as a book about starting a specific type of business) is research, but paying to actually get a gig is a scam.

3- Looking in the wrong places

If you want a specific type of gig, you need to find out where the gatekeepers are for those gigs. Some industries regularly hire freelance workers to complete projects or be part of a larger event, but getting these gigs can seem near impossible unless you know the way in. For example, instead of advertising your tutoring services in the newspaper, where it’s likely to be ignored, look into services like Tutor.com or go directly to schools. If you want to be an extra in a movie, get on a casting list that lets you know when these gigs are available, or seek out mystery shopping companies if you’re searching for that kind of work. In some industries, personal contacts are invaluable, and if you’re starting a service-oriented business, you’ll need to seek out the places where likely customers hang out.

Finding gigs can seem difficult at times, while at other times you might feel overwhelmed with all the possibilities and have trouble narrowing down the best options for you. Keep in mind that living a sweetgig lifestyle is all about versatility and flexibility. You can change your mind- or add an extra gig or two to your work-life portfolio- whenever you feel like it. After developing a healthy on-your-own-terms work style, you’ll become better able to evaluate gigs and find ones that work for you. Like everything good in life, it just takes time.

Getting Your First Gig

Stand out from the crowd and use your talents to land a gig.
Stand out from the crowd and use your talents to land a gig.

Getting your first gig can seem overwhelming when you’ve never tackled outside work before. If all of your work experience has involved sitting in an office or standing around at a restaurant or store waiting for your boss to tell you what to do, then it can be hard to figure out where to start.

Fortunately, getting your first gig doesn’t have to be scary. You don’t have to plan out a whole year’s worth of gigs before you begin, and you don’t have to make a certain amount of money or commit yourself to a specific type of gig. You certainly don’t need to spend a lot of money- or any money at all if you’re starting a gig that requires nothing but your time.

The only thing you need, really, is a willingness to take a step toward controlling your own income- and a desire to make more than what your regular job (or savings) provides.

If you’re nervous about taking on gig-like jobs, start small. Try finding odd jobs on Craigslist or Fiver and jumping right in. Once you’ve experienced what gig-like work is really all about, you might feel more confident about pursuing gigs in the areas you really want to explore.

If you’re a planner at heart, take some time to sketch out the direction you think you want to go, but don’t spend so much time planning that you never actually DO anything. Gigs are about action- and you’ll have to jump in with both feet at some point.

The places you find gigs and the opportunities available to you depend on your local area, specific skills, and the level of competition in your particular niche- but in some cases, just trying a few gigs locally will help you determine these things and help you figure out if what you want to do is feasible in your area. If local conditions aren’t right for your gig interests, you might have to adapt your plans- but there’s almost always *some* way to make extra money related to your interests even if the idea you thought of first isn’t working out.

Whether you’re eager or nervous about getting your first gig, keep in mind that soon you’ll find that living a gig lifestyle comes naturally to you. You’ll probably look back and wonder what took you so long.

What’s the Big Deal About Millennials and Freelance Gigs?

A few months ago, we posted about how gigs are the new lifestyle choice for lots of millennials, and how changes in the way people work has made the gig economy a real force in the workplace. That article Why Gigs Are Extremely Important for Millennials drew a lot of interest, and left many with questions about the phenomena.

Fortunately, plenty of other sites have also weighed in on the link between millennials and the gig economy. Here are some of the things they’ve been saying, which helps clarify how big gigs really are for Generation Y.

According to an article in the New York Times, many Millennials opt to take on multiple gigs because they want both a reliable paycheck and creative freedom. One way members of Generation Y achieve this balance is by opting for a balance of gigs that bring in steady work and gigs that let them pursue a fun career without committing to it full-time.

Forbes predicts the end of the 9-to-5 job as Generation Y increasingly pieces together a life of gigs. According to the article, about 60% of millennials stay in a given job for less than three years, and factors such as making an impact on the world and workplace flexibility beat out salaries and stability when it comes to choosing jobs.

Fast Company calls the Millennials “the first generation of freelance natives”- and the name fits the statistics. The best news from this article is that over 80% of young freelancers are optimistic about their future work opportunities and the lifestyle the gig economy affords them.

Even the government has something to say on the matter, according to Style Weekly. Some officials are starting to wonder how the US economy is going to respond to the gig economy and whether new regulations are needed to protect young people who rely on gigs for their income.

What Qualifies as a Gig?

So, you’re convinced that you need to get a gig to make some extra cash, but you aren’t sure exactly what qualifies as a gig. Everyone seems to have different answers- you’ll likely hear things like “The IRS considers it a hobby if you make less than $600 a year” or “Gigs are typically unpaid.” You might even hear things like “Gigs are scams” and “It’s impossible to make money online” and “If you don’t have a job, you’re a screwup.”

But we don’t like that kind of talk around here…that’s PESSIMIST talk… and frankly, the people who sit around pooh-poohing all of your ideas about making a little extra money are likely the same ones who are sitting around making nothing more than what their boss at their job decides to let them make.

At Sweetgigs, we know better. Gigs are moneymakers that fit your needs and lifestyle. If that includes making a few extra dollars a week to support your music download addiction or a few hundred dollars a day to support your family- then you’re doing it right. As simple as that. As long as it works for you.

Gigs often skirt the realm of self-employment, although they don’t have to. Seasonal part-time work at your local bookstore can be a gig. So can regular web design work for a local firm that you do in your off hours. See, that’s the thing about a gig… it can be what you want. The important thing is that you are in control. You can decide to start or stop when you want to. You can decide whether you want to pursue one gig and turn it into your primary source of income or flit from gig to gig figuring out what things you like to do best. When it comes right down to it- gigs are about freedom. That’s what’s so great about them.

Tell us about any gigs you’ve had – especially the more unusual ones- in the comments!

How I Got Started with a Sweetgig Lifestyle

Once upon a time, I wasn’t a Sweetie, living off the money I earned through gigs. In the past, I have held jobs- sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for years at a time, but they were never truly satisfying… and I always wondered if I was missing out on something by being stuck in an office for 40 hours a week.

I came upon this lifestyle slowly, but it began in college when a friend casually mentioned that he was paying his way through university with money he earned writing for a small magazine aimed at tabletop gamers. A lightbulb went off and I started to notice that there were other paths in life than the typical 9-to-5 one that everyone else seemed to be on. I made it my goal to one day work in a way that let me set my own schedule- and gigs seemed the way to do that.

Over the years, I honed my skills and abilities with little gigs, including mystery shopping, writing, selling handmade items, voice acting, and a variety of other little temporary cash-generators. As I got better at some, I shifted my schedule to dedicate more time to those things (and I let others slip to the wayside as I lost interest). By the time I was ready to take some time off for maternity leave in 2010, I was also ready to tell my employer that I wouldn’t be coming back after having the baby. I was living the gig lifestyle – so I didn’t need to leave my baby and go back to the workplace unless I wanted to. Even better,  I’ve got enough different gigs that I can weather the inevitable changes in the economy without having to worry about being able to survive if my company goes under. (a common worry many of my friends have whenever a new round of layoffs or business closures comes along) Because I do a bunch of different things and am not tied to a single company I rely on for all of my income, I can simply shift my focus to one skill set or another if something drastic happens.

Obviously, not everyone wants to follow the full-time gig path, but I figured I’d share my story to show that it is, indeed, possible to do so. I know a lot of people think that you can’t survive without a full-time job and an official employer, but these days, that’s just not true anymore.

PS- Here at Sweetgigs, we’re going to start profiling a different moneymaking opportunity every Friday, so make sure you bookmark us to get the latest posts and keep updated on the latest gig ideas.

 

Gigs Are the New Work Lifestyle

In the modern world a 9 to 5 job just doesn’t cut it anymore. In fact you might have noticed that two or three 9-to-5 jobs aren’t enough to get by nowadays, especially if you have a family to support, debt to pay off, or a hope of someday retiring. That’s where gigs come in.

Gigs are little things you do to make extra cash between paychecks or sometimes instead of paychecks. Traditionally, the term came from music gigs, a one-time booking a band got to play for a crowd, but it’s expanded into being any kind of part-time, temp, or one-off work outside of a traditional job. A gig can be as simple as a hobby that you’ve turned into a money maker, or it can be an elaborate second career that you do in your off hours. Some people turn their gig into a full time pursuit, while others pursue multiple side gigs simultaneously. You might opt to work your gig for a few hours each month, or a few hours everyday. Simply put, a gig is what you make it.

So if a gig is a side venture you do during your down time, what exactly is a sweetgig lifestyle? Ideally, a sweetgig lifestyle is a way to maximize your potential for making money without having to rely on your employer for your entire existence. You don’t have to quit your job to have gigs, although it’s perfectly fine if you choose to go that route. The real point of having a side gig or two is that you know you’ll be OK if a sudden loss of income or unexpected expense throws your budget for a loop. That’s not the only benefit of course. You’ll also gain confidence and a healthy sense of accomplishment as you turn your skills and hobbies into gigs does that help you lead the kind of life you’ve always wanted to.