Embracing the Gig Economy

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I don’t mean to date myself or anything, but back in the day “gig” was a term used by my musician friends who were playing a Saturday night show downtown at a little bar I know called Drink Beam ‘Til You Puke. (Ahem… *coughs*)

Not anymore, my friends. Not anymore.

There’s a whole lot of hoopla surrounding the word “gig” nowadays, and especially around the concept of the Gig Economy.

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find millions of articles about it. Politicians are flying in experts to talk about it as they gear up for elections. Money mags are writing about it. Labor leaders are worried that the gig economy “threatens to undermine the very foundation upon which middle-class America was built.” Well…to quote Clark W. Griswold, “Hallelujah, holy shit… Where’s the Tylenol.” The middle-class is already in cousin Eddie’s proverbial shitter, isn’t it, folks?

Suffice it to say, the word “gig” means a whole lot more than hangovers, hot pho and lost bras. (*who? me?*)

What Exactly is the Gig Economy?

Put simply, the gig economy speaks to “freelance work.”

But, according to Google, there’s another definition: “A job, especially one that is temporary or that has an uncertain future.”

Sounds scary, no?


As a Visionary Business Coach I suppose you could say that I help folks move from the crumbling middle-class to set up shop in the gig economy and to live a work-life that curls their ever-lovin’ toes.

I myself have been part of the gig economy since 2003. And… I’ve had my fair share of scary worst-case scenario moments as I’ve waited for new gigs to show up. I’ve imagined myself “living in a van down by the river” and “eating a steady diet of government cheese.”  I’ve panicked and freaked out, and even considered one of those tiny houses that are all the rage at the moment. (That is, until I looked at my beloved bookcases, and slapped my own self with my first American edition of Animal Farm.)

I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t have to be so scary, even through the ebbs and flows, and ups and downs. Because here’s the thing… none of my corporate jobs lasted forever. Even when I thought I had a certain future, it was a myth. Life is chaotic and ever-changing. There are no guarantees.

So… what if we were to wholly embrace the gig economy on a much deeper level? What if we were to consider gigs nestled within the gig economy? What if we said YES to temporary?

What would that look like for you?

How Can You Be Part of the Gig Economy?

  • First, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, people. All of the memories, tools, adventures and experiences you’ve had thus far in your life can come into play when considering what gigs you might offer to the world. We have a tendency to look at all of our past careers as “back then” or “over.” But I believe that all these seemingly disparate paths we’ve taken in our lives can coalesce into a big, beautiful lake of awesome that our clients can bathe in. (*eww*) These paths and experiences are what make us uniquely us. Un-copy-able. And these are the services that only we can offer in our own unique ways.
  • Second, you don’t have to quit your day job. Yet. In fact, I recommend that you offer up gigs in your down time until you have a steady flow of clients or customers. Unless, of course, you have a billion dollar nest egg and are set financially to soar off on your own with nary a care in the world.
  • Third, consider gigs within gigs. Let’s say your main gig is Life Coach. (Make no mistake, Life Coaches are a huge part of the Gig Economy.) Your clients, humans first of course, are also “gigs.” Meaning they aren’t likely to be with you until the end of time. If you’re a decent coach, in fact, they’ll be off and running and successful sooner rather than later, and you’ll likely never see them again. That’s sad to say when you grow to really enjoy working with them, but that’s your job. So… underneath the main gig of Life Coach, what are some other gigs you can offer? VIP weekends? Retreats? eCourses? Books? Group programs? Stuff outside of the box? Make a list of every single thing you love. Don’t leave a single thing out. And begin to look for patterns and start to imagine how these things might pool together into a gig only you can offer.
  • Fourth, understand deeply that everything is temporary. Even our cushy corporate jobs may be outsourced to squids at the bottom of the Atlantic. They are the smartest invertebrates, you know. The thing is… you never know. So… when you’re building a business within the gig economy, it’s important to fully embrace the temporary. You’ve gotta become zen, and Buddha, and non-attached, and all that shiz. You have to release one client who’s thriving to make room for a new client who’s ready to thrive. It’s ever-flowing, ever-changing, and awesome. An added bonus? You’ll likely never be bored.
  • Fifth, for crap’s sake, make sure you LOVE what you’re offering. Money is a great motivation. I adore money, and I firmly believe money is just a form of energy. But… often, if that’s the only motivation behind a gig, it won’t land and take root. I’ve found it to be more true that when I do something I’m absolutely, joyously in love with, that the money then follows.

In Thoreau’s words: “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” Then create a gig or two or three out of it. You can even make gig soup.

What say you? What gigs might you offer up in the world? And, if you’re already neck-deep in the Gig Economy, how’s it going? Have you considered any gigs within your gig?

For my visual peeps out there:


2 replies
  1. jill
    jill says:

    Currently living the gig-to-gig dream. Love the lifestyle – but the only way I know how to navigate the in-between times…is to just keep making stuff, keep making happiness, carving out the road, keep taking a machete to the jungle.
    Would love to know what you do on the low days when you’re trying to dig out a little more from your soul and you need a spark??

    • Melanie Bates
      Melanie Bates says:


      I truly think you answered your own question in many ways. How do you deal with the low days? “Keep making stuff, keep making happiness, carving out the road…” I think we often feel like it’s not okay to feel low, but I think we move through the lows by allowing ourselves to feel them fully. Then… keep making stuff, keep making happiness, take a nap, engage in self-care. Do something fun totally unrelated. The thing is, you’re a master of playing, Jill. More than anyone I know. As Martha Beck would say, “rest until you feel like playing, and play until you feel like resting.”

      xoxo & so much love,


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