On May 1, 2013 I quit my job and never looked back. Since then I’ve been a full-time freelancing solopreneur who’s running a business from…well, just about anywhere.
The economy is changing. The millenial generation has a different financial outlook and job perspective than the generations before us. And I’m not the only one who sees the changes and is embracing them.
The Lateral Freelancer: How to Make a Living in the Share Economy
What is the Share Economy? It’s a world where we all have access to shared goods, technology, data and talents. Thanks to the power of many, we as individuals can do much more than we could on our own.
So how can you take advantage of the Share Economy and build a money-making business? Saul of Hearts shares his insight in his latest ebook.
The Biggest Takeaway
The first thing you need to determine is what kind of skills you have and what kind of work you want to do. But as a lateral freelancer you don’t have to limit yourself — anything goes!
Business are cutting down on full-time employees, and instead opting for temporary, part-time or contract workers. This means there are limitless opportunities popping up everyday!
Saul explains how you can be your own agent, book your own gigs, and make money by renting out the assets you already have — like your car, your spare bedroom or even equipment you own.
He breaks down multiple service-based sites (like Taskrabbit, Airbnb) and how you can use them to create a money-making business. And the best news? You’ll never get bored doing this “job”.
Then he shares his own secrets, tips and tricks so you can start making your own career and inventing your own lifestyle.
My generation had it easy. We got to ‘find’ a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to ‘invent’ a job. — Economist Thomas Friedman (as quoted in The Lateral Freelancer)
I highly recommend all freelancers, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders to read this book. It’s less than 100 pages and you can start making money immediately by putting his ideas into practice!
Q&A with Saul of Hearts
1. What inspired you to get into the world of online businesses and change the way you think about this economy?
I grew up in a self-employed family (my parents owned/operated a dry-cleaning business), but I knew that running a location-based business wasn’t for me. I expected to be a writer, or work in the film industry. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and the economy crashed that I was forced to look at things a little differently.
I did a lot of traveling and soul-searching. I was inspired by the “Gift Economy” at Burning Man, and by the Time Banks and co-operative arrangements in houses that I lived in and visited. It was a combination of these things that helped me decide to choose self-employment over a traditional career.
2. What exactly is a Lateral Freelancer and how can they make money in the Share Economy?
I consider a Lateral Freelancer to be anyone who uses multiple skills and income streams to make a living. That can mean picking up odd jobs on TaskRabbit, building up a freelancing career (such as video editing or yoga instruction), starting an online business, or any combination of the above.
I’ve found that “Share Economy” sites like TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Lyft, Vayable, and Zaarly allow people to find work in new ways. Whether you enjoy cooking, babysitting, dogsitting, giving tours, offering rides, or hosting guests, these sites allow you to make money doing things that you like to do and would probably be doing anyway.
You can connect with clients directly, rent out assets you already have, and pick up short-term gigs to make it through rough patches. And you can dabble in new fields without sacrificing your main sources of income.
3. Have you ever had a real job? Or have you always been interested in the freedom of freelancing in the Share Economy to make an income?
That depends on how you define a “real” job. My part-time job delivering organic vegetables is pretty traditional, but even for that job I’m paid as an independent contractor and can more or less set my own schedule.
I also spent a few months working for the U.S. Census back in 2010, which was definitely a more structured environment than I was used to. The thing is, I’d been taking these kinds of jobs out of necessity, and I thought they made my resume look weak and unfocused.
It wasn’t until I learned about the Share Economy that I realized there were a lot of people like me — that plenty of people were disenchanted with the traditional system, and that my diverse experiences actually made me more employable, not less. Once I knew this kind of lifestyle was possible, there was no turning back.
4. You talk about dabbling in multiple areas and expanding your talents, not just focusing on one niche. What are the pros/cons you’ve discovered from this approach?
The biggest con for me is finding the time to focus on all of my interests. While I think it’s a lot easier to pick up a new skill than we’re taught to believe (say, 20 hours vs. 10,000 hours), it can be difficult to switch from one mindset to the next. It’s been hard to me to start up a yoga practice when I spend so much of my time in my car or at my computer.
On the plus side, there’s no one telling me I have to start teaching yoga right away. I can always return to it next year, or the year after that, once my other projects settle down.
Having offerings in a variety of disciplines (such as an e-book, an instructional video, or a music album) means that even if one thing doesn’t make me a whole lot of money, the combination of several income streams does.
5. Do you struggle with having inconsistent income, and the month-to-month living? What are some ways you overcome this?
I don’t struggle with income so much as I struggle with expenses. I’m still paying off student loans and debt from my first few years out of college. If I had started this lifestyle right after graduating, I think I would have been able to save up and live as comfortably as my fully-employed friends. It was my search for a real job — my focus on only working in the field I trained for – that set me behind.
I thought that if I traveled, or visited friends in a different city, it would be impossible to try and make money until I got back home. Now, I know that I can pick up gigs on the road, or offer services virtually.
That’s why it’s so important to me to reach other college grads and let them know that even if they plan to find a full-time job in the long run, they can use the Share Economy to find short-term gigs and avoid getting into too much debt in the meantime.
A traditional career is no longer a guarantee of stability. — Saul of Hearts
6. Where do you see our economy going? Will this type of work become the norm in the future?
I think that we’ve reached a point where a lot of people are dissatisfied with their jobs, and the prospect of freelancing is more and more alluring. Even people who don’t participate in the Share Economy are embracing ideas like minimialism, realizing that you don’t need to own a lot of stuff to be happy and fulfilled.
That said, we need to make sure that our regulations keep up with the times. It can be hard for freelancers to buy health insurance out-of-pocket, or ensure that they’re paid fairly for their work. Some industries want to crack down on services like Lyft or Airbnb, which cut into the traditional taxi and hotel markets.
The best way to support this kind of lifestyle is to become a part of it. Pay for goods and services from individuals, rather than corporations. Use car- or bike-sharing services when you travel. The more people who start using these markets, the more likely they are to remain competitive and drive broader social change.
7. What’s one of the best/most fun jobs you’ve done (or currently do)?
I find myself really fascinated by subscription box services. I’ve had the chance to work with two here in LA: Lootcrate, which ships “geek and gamer” items, and Tonx, which shops coffee, every few weeks. It’s fun to work with the same crew once or twice per month and see how the companies grow. It’s given me an inside look at this kind of business model.
I’m also really enjoying my new consulting business, in which I help people package their skills in off-beat and interesting ways. I had a friend who was struggling to make it as a freelance videographer.
Now, instead of chasing low-paying gigs, he’s decided to launch a business making acting reels, which allows him more freedom and control over his projects.
Read Saul’s ebook in The Book Club
The Lateral Freelancer was so good, that we chose to read it for our next book in The Careful Cents Club. The discussion starts on Monday, September 9, 2013 and will continue throughout the month. Since this ebook is short (yet very valuable) you still have time to read it in one sitting.
If you’d like to join in the fun, and read the book with us, click here to join The Club.
To connect with Saul, find him on his blog or on Twitter.
Or click here to purchase his book!
Thanks for taking time to answer my questions, Saul. And thank you for sharing your unique perspective on freelancing!