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The gig economy is in high gear. What was already a growing sector of the economy has been supercharged by the coronavirus pandemic. 

More and more employers are wondering what the gig economy’s future looks like. They see it scaling, but they also see gig workers struggling with challenges like isolation and lack of fulfillment. 

Growing pains are part of economic change. The good news is, the invisible hand of the market will reward the sectors that can solve them. The future looks bright for these hotspots of the gig economy:

1. Content Marketing

Freelance writers and editors make the content marketing world go ‘round. Thanks to their work, the content marketing industry is set to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2021. That growth is fueled by:

  • Blogging

By maintaining an active blog, you give customers a reason to check back in regularly.
Content like on-site guides and listicles offer useful information for site visitors, boosting your company’s credibility. Blog posts that follow SEO best practices can help put your site in top search spots for relevant keywords, increasing its organic traffic.

  • Social Media

The average person spends hours per day on social media. Social media is a low-cost way to speak straight to your customers. And because social media is exclusively online, you can staff your entire team through the gig economy. Post creation, copywriting, and data analytics are all tasks that can be contracted. 

  • Email Marketing

Don’t let its archaic appearance fool you: Email marketing is still one of the most ROI-positive ways to generate new leads. With millions of people relying on email for personal and business communication, it’s an easy, low-cost way to market your products. Managing an email marketing campaign can be done at any computer, making it a project a gig worker can tackle. 

2. Graphic Design

Another popular area for gig work is graphic design. Designers, as well as support staff like photographers and editors, often work in freelance arrangements.

Depending on the nature of your business, graphic design may not be a service you need every day. If that’s the case, hiring a full-time graphic designer can be costly. Instead, contract out your graphic design work.

Graphic designers and artists are more accustomed to gigs than other professionals. Many of them prefer to work out of their homes because it allows them creative space. Taking projects from multiple different sources helps them keep their skills sharp. 

3. Call Centers

The call center industry is still alive and well, but could it’s likely to see a shake-up following COVID-19. Many lines were overwhelmed, as customers make call after call trying to put their lives in order.

To accommodate the surge in demand, many companies are turning to independent contractors. Even before the pandemic, the sector was growing rapidly. It may double or even triple in the next few years if consumers continue to call at current volumes. 

Rather than build more call centers, companies will use technology to let contractors work remotely. Software is able to record calls to monitor quality and track hours to keep tabs on team members. Lower costs, more accountability, and high demand is likely to make contracted call-center staff the norm from here on out.

4. Web Development

Your website says a lot about your company. A user-friendly, reliable site welcomes visitors and helps them navigate your company’s sales funnel.

Not only do websites take a lot of work to build, but they must also be maintained. Both roles are regularly outsourced to contractors. Gig workers with tech skills can command high rates, which makes it critical to choose them well. 

How can you find low-cost web developers you can trust? Ask for referrals. Talk to existing members of your team and fellow entrepreneurs. If in doubt, get a technical team member to join you on the intro call. 

5. Ridesharing

Traditional taxi companies have been passed up by ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber. They’re popular with gig workers because giving rides requires only a car and a valid driver’s license.

There have been some disputes around whether ridesharing companies are accurately classifying their workers. Although the debate is likely to continue, the ridesharing genie will not be put back in the bottle. 

Expect the ridesharing industry to move into smaller and smaller markets. As car ownership declines, more people will turn to their smartphones to get where they need to go. 

6. Shipping & Delivery 

A good portion of the nation’s truck drivers have been working in the gig economy for years as “owner operators.” That same model is expanding to other delivery workers.

  • Food delivery

Services like Grubhub rely on independent contractors to bring customers’ favorite foods to their front door. On the grocery side, sites like Instacart are seeing order volumes surge.

  • Moving & furniture

Most people do not move every week. Instead of working with companies that employ full-time movers, many are opting to hire independent contractors. This is happening on the store side as well: Instead of keeping movers on the payroll, many appliance and furniture stores are turning to gig workers to help them deliver to customers’ homes. 

  • Waste collection

People with trucks and trailers have long driven around to collect scrap metal, which they can exchange for a profit. Now, “Uber for garbage” companies are springing up to bring everything from glass bottles to car batteries to the appropriate disposal sites. 

7. Accounting

Many certified public accountants are, in fact, gig workers. Rather than work for a single large accounting firm, they choose to crunch numbers for a range of different companies. 

The accounting industry will continue to shift toward the contract side. Because established enterprises typically have internal accountants, expect much of that growth to come from smaller companies working with freelance accountants.

Unlike most of the other industries listed, gig accountants may work seasonally. Around tax season, demand for accounts shoots through the roof. During other times of the year, freelance CPAs may hold other gig roles, such as in the ridesharing or content marketing sectors. 

The Next Stage of Growth

The gig economy’s next stage of growth will come from breadth, not depth. Entrepreneurs will come up with new ways to serve customers more efficiently, and contractors will be a key piece of that puzzle. Don’t wait to get in on it. 

 

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Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. Previously he was the co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online, that was acquired in 2012.

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