Money Matters

A beginner’s guide to the gig economy


These days, more and more people are working on a freelance basis, which has created a whole new world of job opportunities, resulting in a gig economy. Let’s break down what a gig economy is and what it may look like if you decide to go down this path.

What is a ‘gig’? And why is it called a gig economy?

The gig economy refers to jobs or ‘gigs’ that are available on a freelance or temporary work basis. Some people join the gig economy with multiple part-time jobs for ultimate flexibility. For example, you could be an Airtasker by day and an Uber driver by night. Others might keep 9-5 jobs, but have a side hustle for some extra cash.

Who works in the gig economy in Australia? And is the gig economy growing?

The gig economy employs people across a range of industries, from food and hospitality to tech and advertising. Side-gig apps facilitate a lot of freelance jobs in Australia, but professional industries are now looking for short-term workers too. According to a 2020 paper by Actuaries Institute, the gig economy workforce in Australia was thought to have as many as 250,000 workers. According to Seek, gig jobs are becoming more popular and these changing work patterns in Australia have even started to affect managerial and executive positions. Some places are recruiting experienced CFOs and CTOs on a short-term basis to help grow their business.

If you’re at uni, student jobs can be super convenient with managers who are usually more comfortable with an ever-shifting timetable. Your uni website could be a great place to look for local casual and part-time gigs.

What are the pros and cons of the gig economy?

Here are some potential pros of the gig economy:

  • Work when you want
  • Set your own rate
  • Monetise niche skills, trades or passions like graphic design, personal training or carpentry
  • Take holidays when it suits you
  • Build up a diverse portfolio of work.

And here are some potential drawbacks of the gig economy:

  • Your income and work may not be stable
  • Tax isn’t withdrawn by employers
  • Super isn’t paid by employers
  • You won’t get benefits like insurance, sick leave and holiday leave.

How to get a gig and the most popular gig economy platforms

Mobile apps help to drive the gig economy. The most common side-gig platforms used by Aussies involve outsourcing everyday tasks, ride sharing and delivering takeaway food. To improve your chances of picking up some work on the side, why not sign up to them all (provided it’s free or cheap to sign-up)? Those seeking more corporate work could reach out to their professional network, make a post on LinkedIn or talk to a recruiter to see what’s out there!

What to consider before entering the gig economy

Gig jobs can be irregular, so having an emergency fund can help you get by in any quiet periods. Also, gig work apps usually run on a ratings system, so trust is key. Some tips could be: earn it by doing quality work, answering emails and calls on time, and solving any issues before you finish the job.

It’s also a good idea to be strategic with your bank accounts. Choose one account for saving, one for committed expenses and one for everyday spending to help you reach your goals faster. At ubank, we offer Spend, Bills and Save accounts with no monthly account fees.