Read What’s Hot Around the Web: August 2018

A roundup of independent contractor news and insights

We’ve curated some of the top topics circulating the web regarding the gig economy. In this installment, we cover the slick moves cities can make to court independent contractors, the complications of navigating freelancing while parenting, how gig economy apps have left some independent workers behind, what Hollywood’s trajectory can teach us about needed protections for the freelance workforce, and statistics surrounding the trend of being your own boss.

Is your city passing muster, or is it time to move?
This Fast Company article throws shade at cities that are trying to woo big companies at a time when the workforce is moving toward a freelance model. The reporter delves into why cities should be making moves to enhance the experiences of independent workers and the entrepreneurs who will likely be contracting with them. Co-working spaces, networking opportunities, startup incubators, and more may be the ticket to attracting residents and spurring the local economy.

Two dilemmas: setting maternity leave & wrangling childcare as a freelancer.
As if you don’t have enough on your plate with a baby on the way… If you’re pregnant and work as an independent contractor, you’re likely thinking about managing temporary time off for giving birth, recovering, and caring for a newborn. This article from The Cut offers insight on how to do that without putting a huge dent in your income—because, as all of us freelancers know, we don’t get paid leave.

Likewise, childcare can be a constant battle for freelancers. For some parents who can’t afford a nanny or daycare, doing freelance work at odd hours or multitasking is their only option to cobble together an income. Summer vacation places an extra burden on these individuals, especially if they are used to getting a litany of tasks done during the school day. This first-person essay on Talk Poverty offers a glimpse at the struggles of a single parent.

The trending gig economy isn’t a boon for everyone.
A New York Times opinion piece by Alex Rosenblat rips into the gig economy for leaving a subset of independent contractors behind: domestic workers. She cites nannies, house cleaners, and elder caregivers as the “original gig workers.” They used to be able to focus solely on the skills and tools necessary for their jobs and rely on word of mouth to secure work. Now, with more and more people turning to apps to find a babysitter, a housekeeper, and the like, these workers need to spend a ton of time online and have access to smartphones and WiFi to stay ahead of the game, if it’s even possible to do so.

Do the early days of Hollywood offer insight into independent work?
This Politico Money Podcast explores the job-hopping of 1930s-era big-screen stars, their lack of benefits, and their absence of protections. As Hollywood grew, organizing efforts stepped in. Podcaster Andrew Hanna discusses how the gig economy can take its cues from history to develop safeguards for freelancers and gig workers.

So how big is the gig economy, really?
According to an article on Recode, the answer to the above question is unknown. The U.S. government really can’t get a handle on the size of the independent workforce. That’s partly because it’s hard to define and measure. The article’s analysis of various study stats suggests the range is pretty broad, anywhere from 4% to 40%.

Your age may play a role in why you’ve chosen to freelance.
This Fortune piece explains the data from studies regarding different generations and the gig economy. If you’re a baby boomer, you may have chosen to become an independent contractor for different reasons (i.e., balancing career and family) than a millennial (i.e., making extra cash), and your fears regarding that choice or the perceived pros and cons will likely be different.

That six-figure income isn’t so far out of reach.
A recent Forbes article analyzes the stats surrounding independent contractors bringing in the coveted six-figure revenue. Right now, one in five freelancers is raking in more than $100K. And the average income for indie workers hovers around $70K. Read up to find out what industries hold the highest earners.