As a freelance writer, there’s no shortage of opportunities for me to churn out content for $50 an article. I can write about the latest in fashion, beauty, or careers. My resume doesn’t matter as long as I can string two sentences together. And even that doesn’t matter. They edit my work.

I should be happy because content writing isn’t completely automated. Not yet, anyway. It’s managed by marketing agencies who work as the outsourced service providers to many of world’s largest media companies. Those firms buy my skills as a contractor, and it’s easy to become a third- or sometimes even fourth-party contractor to the most significant news outlets in the world.

But as a 1099 who earns $50 a pop, that means I’m making $25 an article. I’d make just as much with tips at Waffle House for the same time.

Now, my skills are in demand. I make more than $50. There is a point when the numbers don’t compute and being a freelancer isn’t worth my time. It’s a “new math” where there’s added complexity of people and attitudes.

Do I like you? Are you trying to boss me? Is this a real job you’re trying to do on the cheap?

Hiring a contractor when it should be a full-time job is the one that sticks in my craw. If you use the word “onboarding,” or you micromanage anything besides my work productivity, it’s a job. There’s always some level of orientation at any new endeavor. Human contact is required for any project. If there’s ever a meeting on my calendar to discuss anything except the next assignment and how much it pays, I’m not interested.

The gig economy is excellent for companies who view human labor as a roadblock to profitability. But here’s the secret they don’t know: it’s turning workers into entrepreneurs. I’m no longer just putting chicken in the bucket for the man, and neither are you. Whether we know it, we’re building business plans and creating mission statements that give us MBAs from the school of hard knocks. 

We aren’t going to business school while building a business because it’s fun. We’re doing this to survive.

One Response to The Gig Economy Turns Workers Into Entrepreneurs
  1. Martin Snyder

    Our singular health care system distorts every aspect of the economy- especially the relationship of W2 and 1099 workers. I suspect that if we get Medicare for All or Medicare @ age 55, it will substantially slow the “gig economy” down and create many more W2 jobs.