Read What’s Hot Around the Web: October 2018

A roundup of independent contractor news and insights

In this installment, we cover the hairy decision of turning down assignments, the truth about whether you’re your own boss in the gig economy, legislation in the works that helps independent contractors, a new book about workforce shift, why logging long hours will wreck your work and your health, and how to nix the negativity of freelance naysayers.

Should you say no to that potential freelance assignment?
Likely you’re freelancing or side-hustling because you’re passionate about what you’re doing, but you’re also probably securing the work to pay the bills and put food on the table. Turning down work may seem scary, but if you’re not choosy about assignments and clients, you might end up with a full plate of low-paying gigs you’re less than excited about with the inability to take on more lucrative work or projects you’d rather be doing. This Fast Company piece gives you a checklist of reasons to turn down gigs and how to bow out gracefully so you don’t burn a bridge.

Who’s the boss? You or the app?
If you’re considering jumping ship from a full-time gig to drive for a rideshare or food delivery app or using one or both of these methods to supplement other forms of income, you might be wondering if you really can be your own boss. This Slate article, from the publication’s “Executive Time” pop-up blog about bosses, offers interviews from various drivers and their takes on the topics of setting hours, accessing support when needed, adhering to rules, and the like.

Will indie contractors finally be able to get a mortgage without pulling hair out?
If you’re self-employed and have applied for a mortgage, you know that securing home financing can be a hassle, and sometimes impossible. Even if you’ve got decent credit, a pretty chunk of assets, and a sizeable down payment at the ready, you may have trouble proving income without W-2 forms, paycheck stubs, or at least two years of 1099s to show for your hard work. This Washington Post write-up discusses a “bipartisan push” for the Self-Employed Mortgage Access Act, which would change how lenders can verify your earning history and your ability to keep on bringing in the dough. If this bill works its way through Capitol Hill to become a law, gig economy workers will have easier access to loans.

Is there a downside to the upside of the gig economy?
Major tech companies have opened doors for the workforce in recent years, especially for anyone looking to work independently. But independent work doesn’t always equate to a better situation, at least that’s what journo Sarah Kessler writes in her new book, Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work. This PBS News Hour segment features an interview with Kessler and her insights on how rideshare companies and other gig economy platforms can foster insecurity just as much as they “create” opportunities. What’s your take on these tech companies? Do you feel empowered as a gig worker or like a cog in the wheel?

Do you know when to put the work away?
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how the topic of working long hours, covered in this BBC piece, applies to independent contractors. (The article addresses gig workers about halfway down.) As freelancers, we tend to work constantly because we don’t have a salaried work week that limits our earning potential. We can earn more if we max out our proverbial plates. Additionally, our clients may reach out to us at all hours, leaving us feeling like we’re “on call.” All of this can have a negative effect on our well-being in addition to the work we’re doing. Without a “closing time” we’ve got to be in charge of when to unplug.

Do you need solutions for dealing with people who downplay freelance?
If you’re an independent contractor, you’ve likely got people like this in your life. They think you sleep in, have oodles of free-time, are available to hang on their days off from their “real jobs,” and can do free favors for them like proof their résumé or design their wedding invite. This Forbes article lets you know you’re not alone in this frustration and offers options for setting boundaries and protecting your time and resources.