Exploring Opportunities Within the Gig Economy

Is the Gig Economy a fit for me? This is a question worth considering, with opportunities expanding on a daily basis and relatively small barrier for entry. A recent McKinsey study showed that up to 162 million people, or 20-30% of the working-age population in Europe and the United States engage in some form of independent work. For the purpose of this article, the gig economy refers to projects and tasks that are performed or rentals that are offered independently and on-demand. Everything from rentals of your living spaces and belongings to performing general tasks and completing complex projects is available.

How do you figure out if the gig economy presents opportunities that are a good fit for you? Here’s brief guide to help you out.

What services, belongings, or skills do I have available?

The first thing to consider is where can you potentially offer solutions to others. I recommend writing out a list. Start with the more general guides like, if you have living space available at certain dates and times and narrow it down to specialties that fewer people can offer based on prior work experience or schooling. Examples include photo editing, website design and data analysis.  

Am I interested in additional opportunities to provide these services?

The second point to consider is if you are willing to provide these services. Some people are comfortable offering their apartment for a temporary rental and others are not. Others may prefer doing house cleaning in-person, or coding online. It depends on what you are comfortable with. Uber and Lyft require both a vehicle and your time in-person, Airbnb requires a living space for rent or sharing and Topcoder requires time online. The best fit for you depends on which areas you are most comfortable with.

What’s in it for me?

The final consideration is, if it is worth your involvement. The primary motivation can be money, but there may be other reasons to be a part of the gig economy. Consider if there are opportunities to learn new skills you are interested in, meet new people or have a more flexible schedule. Gigs offer a chance to supplement income if you have a full time job or may be combined with others for a flexible work schedule.

How do I get started?

Take a realistic consideration of the benefits and risks. There are no set hours to project-based work, so it allows for a lot of freedom of involvement. It may be best to begin gradually without quitting your current job or leaving school. If additional freedom to pursue other activities, careers or passions without set hours is your goal, then multiple project-based platforms may be a strong fit. If supplemental income to a career with set hours is your goal, then it may be best to start on one platform.

How do I know if Topcoder is the platform for me?

Topcoder is a leader in crowdsourcing solutions and providing learning opportunities (in addition to monetary gains) for those interested in making the most out of the gig economy. We have a community of over 1.1 million designers, developers, and data scientists. There are opportunities to get paid by working on real world problems for various industry front-runners, learn new skills and become recognized within the community.

Get paid to solve problems

Work on design, development, and data science projects for real-world customers. Topcoder Community members compete to deliver the best solutions and win prize money.

Earn recognition

Earn a Topcoder rating, show off your achievements, and get recognition from peers as well as customers. A high Topcoder rating can help you land your next dream job.

Learn and practice

Hone your skills in the technologies employers are looking for. You’ll find practice problems, fun challenges, and educational content on trending technologies from Swift to IBM Watson.

Network and connect

Meet and collaborate with like-minded peers from around the world. Work with top companies on interesting projects, and share tips and discuss trends with fellow community members.