Tips for Freelancers and Gig Workers
Are you looking to make some cash with a second job? Are you intrigued about freelancing and gig-work? Our handy guide to the world of side-hustle will tell you where to find these opportunities and how to succeed as an independent contractor.
Many Canadians today are freelancing for their primary source of income or working in temporary project or task-based jobs, either for personal or professional reasons.
Some prefer the flexibility and independence of freelancing, for some a temporary gig is the only work available, and for others it’s a means to make extra money on the side of their day job.
Once a growing trend, gig work is now its own thriving economy. 20% to 30% of the Canadian workforce is made up of part-time, freelance, contractual, temporary and other contingent workers. 
The ubiquity of technology has changed the way we live, work and play. Work-on-demand apps and social media makes it easy for anyone to connect with consumers in real-time. That gave birth to a sharing economy of flexible, part-time work opportunities. Driving this demand further are companies and businesses looking to trim costs with an agile workforce of as-needed workers. 
In this backdrop, it’s easier than ever to carve your space in the freelance and gig economy, create a source of income doing the work you love, and eventually evolve into a mini entrepreneur.
Benefits of freelancing and part-time jobs
1) Freedom and flexibility: With freelance and part-time jobs you control when and where you want to work, and for whom. You decide your work schedule and earn as much or as little as you can manage.
2) Boost your savings: To clear loan debt, save for a big purchase or to just keep up with regular monthly expenses, freelancing and short-term jobs give many the confidence to pursue their goals when income from the primary job falls short.
3) Opportunity to up-skill: Side-jobs are a great way to transition to a new career. They expose you to the industry you are keen to enter, help you build out your portfolio and enhance your resume with relevant work experience.
4) Segue to permanent employment: If a full-time position is what you’re after, freelancing helps you get a foot in the door, develop connections and serves as a training ground to hone your skills, so when the opportunity arises, you can present yourself as a competitive candidate.
5) Low-entry barrier: People who are unable to access traditional employment opportunities benefit from freelancing and the gig marketplace. The disabled or those with cultural, social or language barriers can find meaningful and well-paying gigs that allow them to work virtually or remotely.
Where can I find freelance and gig work?
Sharing Economy Apps
The gig marketplace is teeming with opportunities for part-time second jobs and on-demand positions. Based on your skills, the reviews you’ve accumulated, and your price, these platforms get you booked for errands, on-demand tasks and same-day services with people in your local area. Popular on-demand gigs are for tasks like
- Cleaning and repairs
- Furniture assembly
- Moving, hauling, heavy lifting
- Yard work and lawn mowing
- Handyman services like plumbing, electrical fixes and painting
- General help with pick up and delivery, flyer distribution, data entry, dog walking, organizing, decluttering, helping at events
Top platforms for sharing economy side-jobs
Ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft have been the go-to option for many to supplement their paychecks with part-time work. You get to fit in driving anytime you want and decide how and when you want to get paid.
Food delivery services like Foodora, Uber Eats, DoorDash, are an easy fit for people who love being active and outdoors and want a flexible gig. You choose your own hours and make money on your own schedule.
Grocery delivery services like Instacart and Inabuggy pay you to be a personal shopper and deliver a customer’s order. You select your hours, and get paid weekly. It’s also a great way to discover new neighbourhoods in a city.
Task-based platforms like TaskRabbit, Handy and AskforTask connect people looking for help around their home with local taskers and independent service professionals. You no longer have to solely rely on Kijiji and Craigslist to offer your services for a few hours as a dog walker or a handyman. Some of the jobs on these platforms command premium wages and your pay is directly deposited to your bank account after the job is completed.
Skill-sharing app Hyr, built specifically for gig economy labour, connects traditional businesses with professionals when they need each other, to fill any shift, at any time. For one-time needs like earning an extra buck over a weekend, Hyr connects you to local businesses in need of help on a short notice.
Caregiving apps connect you to jobs in childcare, tutoring, senior care, pet care, household help and special needs care. Care.com is an online venue for care seekers and caregivers to connect with each other.
Get paid to play with dogs through platforms like Rover, which describes itself as the world’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.
Online Talent Markets
For fixed-term contracts, project-based gigs and freelance work, look at online talent markets to be matched to the right gig. Web-based platforms dedicated to freelancers have transformed how businesses scout for talent and services. It’s like a labour exchange. You bid for contracts or projects posted by clients and get paid right on the site.
Top freelance jobs in demand
The fastest moving freelance jobs pertain to specific professional skills like:
- Content Writing
- API Development
- Web and Mobile Development
- Search Engine Marketing
- Data Mining
- 2D Animation
Some jobs and professional skills are consistently trending on freelancing platforms, for example:
- Accountants and Bookkeepers
- Lawyers and Paralegals
- Production talent like videographers, video editors, photographers, animators etc
- Administrative support
- Customer service
- Sales and marketing
Those who are just getting started will find it easy to locate clients interested in their specific skills through these freelancing platforms:
Upwork – Create a profile highlighting your skills, work history, and portfolio and submit your proposal directly to businesses across multiple industries that are posting jobs on Upwork. You can work anywhere in the world and Upwork manages all invoices and payments. Joining upwork is free, but freelancers are charged a service fee, which is a percentage of your earnings that range from $20% for the first $500 you bill to 5% for total billings that exceed $10,000.
Fiverr – This platform connects businesses with freelancers that offer digital services, which they call gigs, across 200 categories like graphic design, digital marketing, programming, video and animation. Sign up on Fiverr for free, create your ‘seller profile’ showcasing your talent. It even gives you the option to add a video about yourself. Clients who purchase your service or gig pay Fiverr in advance, and you receive 80% of the total order value. The rest is retained by Fiverr as a service fee.
Freelancer.com – They call themselves the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace by total number of users and jobs posted. Jobs are posted in over 1000 areas that include popular gigs like website development, marketing, copywriting to the diverse needs like astrophysics, aerospace, engineering and manufacturing.
Toptal – This is an exclusive network of the top freelance software developers, designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers in the world. They have a rigorous screening process that selects only the top 3% of freelance talent from all over the world.
Apart from the ease of finding work on these online platforms they also gather reviews and feedback from clients, helping you earn recurring work from your clients, and build your reputation as top talent.
Want even more inspiration? Check out the Savvy New Canadians blog for over 70 ways to make money on the side.
How to succeed as a freelancer and gig worker
In the sharing economy, people share their under-utilized skills, time or resources on an online marketplace for a price. Making money from your skill or your possessions turns you into a business, and being in business requires you to operate like one. So, before you commence your search for part-time or freelance work, consider these challenges of working in the gig economy that require you to pull up your socks and plan ahead for.
Plan for income uncertainty
Some freelance jobs are seasonal, while others depend on the client’s ongoing needs. Your income as a freelancer will definitely fluctuate throughout the year. You need to create a business plan to guide and forecast your finances. This is essential to ensure you stay afloat even in the lean periods.
Even if you’re working for a few hours a week, you should consider yourself a self-employed business. A business plan will give you measurable goals to expand your services.
Make an assessment of the number of hours you plan to work, the clients you have on hand, the fees you will charge, and your probable expenses. It’ll give you a big picture view of your potential freelance income and make you aware about any probable shortfall. A business plan is a realistic outline of your expectations and likely outcomes.
Self-employed individuals and freelancers can manage their finances through bookkeeping and accounting software for a small fee.
No employee benefits for self-employed workers
Know that gig workers and contractors do not enjoy the benefits that come with a full-time role. There is no concept of sick leave or unemployment insurance. And you need to get a private health insurance and make your own CPP (Canada Pension Plan) contributions towards saving for your retirement.
Taxes apply to freelancing income
Income from a side job or a freelance assignment must be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Always keep a detailed record of your income and expenses related to your self-employed business to make it easier for you at tax time.
Separate your business and personal finances
Record-keeping, accounting, filing taxes, and applying for loans can become a complicated matter if your freelancing income and personal finances are mixed up. If your freelance or gig job requires you to spend money on fuel, stationary, equipment, and other such needs, you should account them as business expenses, allowing you to earn certain tax deductions. With a business bank account you have greater visibility of your cash flow and maintain a clear separation between business and personal spending.
When you register or incorporate a business with Ownr, Get money back on opening an RBC business bank account within 60 days of registering or incorporating your business with Ownr. Learn more about the RBC refund offer here.
If your sharing business or freelancing gig has evolved into something big, maybe you need to turn it into a business. Ownr offers the simplest and most convenient way to register or incorporate your business and build your brand .
If you have questions about how Ownr can help you register or incorporate a business, or any of our promotions, give our customer success team a call at 1-800-766-6302. You can also reach us at [email protected]. We’re available from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m – 5 p.m EST.
You also have the option to book a free 30-minute information session to ask all your questions 1:1 with a member of our customer success team. Schedule a session here.