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:

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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.

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.