One of our favorite radio programs, NPR's On Point Radio, had an interesting show last week on side hustles (gigs).
The Necessity of the Millennial Side Hustle described side hustles as:
Everybody has to hustle in this economy. For many Millennials, the hustle that matters - that gets the love, that stokes the dreams, that gets the last bills paid - is the “side hustle.” The side hustle is the extra job, the after-hours passion, the freelance gig after work that brings in a few more bucks and – if you’re lucky – holds out the promise of a bigger, better, more exciting career ahead. It’s a second job, and maybe more than that.
The impetus for the show was the Quartz article Millennials are obsessed with side hustles because they’re all we’ve got.
The article's focus is on side gigs done for reasons other than just to make more money. Key quote:
The side hustle offers something worth much more than money: A hedge against feeling stuck and dull and cheated by life.
These are mostly side gigs used to pursue a passion, build a business, or done just for the sake of doing something enjoyable. Key quote:
The sheer range of side hustles suggests there’s more in play than money. There are the well known app-based gigs, like Uber and TaskRabbit. You’ve got the day job with a freelance extension–the full-time graphic designer who also has her own clients.
Then there’s what you might ungenerously call the side hustle as self-promotion, which covers some yoga teachers and life coaches, though by no means all. Next along the line is the side hustle as self-delusion, i.e. spending years on some (doomed) artistic effort that will make the world care and understand, at last!
If that sounds harsh, well, I should know. Last year, writing for the internet earned me a grand total of $415 before taxes ...
As usual, On Point did an excellent job covering the topic.
But they left out one important point. A key reason there are more side gigs is it's much easier than in the past to have one.
The Internet and online, on-demand talent and product marketplaces have created new, low friction, highly flexible opportunities for people to pursue side gigs.
It's easy to get started with on-demand work and it's not tied to a schedule. Workers can start and stop when they want, they can work the hours they want, and they can work the amount they want.
Not only does this work provide schedule flexibility, on-demand marketplaces also provide artists, feelancers and others pursuing a passion an efficient way of accessing customers.
Just think about how much easier it is to have a side gig making and selling crafts thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy.
Data from the Intuit On-Demand Workforce study (see chart below) illustrates many of the non-monetary reasons people are doing side gigs using these online marketplaces.
See the study presentation for more details and other reasons people are working in the online, on-demand economy.