Millennials and Gen Z have taken the gig economy to a new level. Most individuals between the ages of 25-40 have one or more side hustles. But baby boomers and Gen Xers are not far behind. According to Zippia, the average age of employed entrepreneurs is around 44 years.
A side hustle refers to a part-time job that you do in addition to your regular job. For older people, the objective of having a side hustle may be to supplement income or keep oneself busy after retirement. Let's look at how senior citizens can join the gig economy.
The History of the Gig Economy
The term "gig" is not new. It was first used in the early 1910s by jazz musicians to refer to one-off performances. Most indie bands adopted the term when getting chances to play at local clubs and bars. Later, it was accepted in other fields beyond music referring to freelance jobs like writing, graphic design, and more.
In the early 2000s, the internet revolutionized the idea of side hustles. Companies like Amazon contracted individuals to perform certain tasks which robots could not execute but didn't require full-time employees.
By the end of 2010s, more companies like Uber and AirBnB opened new opportunities for side hustles. But what is the extent of the gig economy, and how can you be part of it as a senior?
How to Join the Gig Economy as a Senior
Statista projects that the gig economy in the US will be worth more than $450 billion by the end of 2023. This statistic shows that there is ample opportunity to join the gig economy.
Identify a Skillset or Passion
The first step to joining the gig economy is to identify a skill that you’re good at doing or passionate about. This could include writing, tutoring, photography, coding, accounting, etc. You can also take up a job that requires physical activity, like gardening or deliveries.
Explore Freelance Platforms
Once you’ve identified your skill, the next step is to explore freelance platforms. With these platforms, you can find gigs related to your skill set and apply for them. Once accepted, you should sign an agreement and invoice the payment.
Examples of these platforms are Fiverr, TaskRabbit, UpWork, and Nextdoor — but there are dozens more. A quick google search for “freelancer sites” or “side hustles platforms” will open up the world of gigs to you.
Set Up a Strong Digital Presence
To stay ahead of the competition, you should create a strong digital presence. If you don’t already have a profile on LinkedIn, now would be the time to set one up. Job search sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and more would be great places to create a profile as well. There are countless job posts looking for contract players, which would be something you’d want to investigate.
If you have a blog or website, which you probably should, that also can be used to enhance your digital presence. You can post examples of your work for potential clients to peruse.
What Seniors Can Borrow from Millennials and Gen Z
Most times, it’s what millennials can learn from seniors. But when it comes to side hustles, there are a few things that you can borrow from the younger generation.
Embrace the Technology
You must embrace technology to thrive in the gig economy. At first, the thought of learning new tech may seem daunting, but like every challenge we face in life, take it one step at a time.
Most side hustles require basic internet skills to succeed. Therefore, you should keep open tabs on platforms like social media, digital marketing, and general internet skills.
Embrace the Change.
You need to welcome these new ideas and skills you’re learning. Most seniors are conservative when it comes to how they do things. In a world that already experiencing changes in finance, communication, and how we interact, older generations must learn to adjust and embrace change.
Taxes, Payments & Invoices
Another hurdle that sometimes scares off people, of all generations, is the questions surrounding invoicing clients, how to receive payments and how to file taxes when earning money from these side hustle endeavors.
For taxes, you think of yourself as self-employed. You should pay estimated taxes every quarter and file your tax returns accordingly. Also, ensure you are up to date with the latest changes in tax laws for side hustles. Speak with a tax professional about your state and federal tax considerations on any income you receive.
For payment and invoicing, there are several online platforms you can use to create digital invoices. Most of these platforms are free and will suffice to invoice your customers. When it comes to payment, you can accept cash or non-cash methods. Paypal, Western Union, Skrill, Payoneer, and Wise are some methods you can use for international payments.
The gig economy is here to stay; there is no better time to get a side hustle. As a member of an older generation, if you embrace technology and changes to find gigs that suit your skillset and passion, you will not be disappointed.
There are countless opportunities where a person with years of experience, having a breadth of knowledge, and a passion to learn can shine.