The Rise of the Gig Economy: Freelancer vs. an Employee

The Rise of the Gig Economy: Freelancer vs. an Employee

With the exploding gig economy (aka the freelance economy) comes a monumental decision: to freelance or not to freelance.

To many, it might sound like a logical lifestyle choice (if not the only way to go) especially if you look at some of the most famous freelancers out there. But before shrugging off salaried employment altogether, it’s time for a reality check

But first what exactly is the gig economy

But first, what exactly is the gig economy?

The gig economy is a labor market made up of freelance or part-time jobs as opposed to full-time, fixed contracts. Gig workers can encompass a wide range of fields – from driving a taxi or delivery vehicle to editing documents, to technical support, to performing artists. What makes a person part of the gig economy is not their background or chosen field, but rather the fact that they work on a short-term, project basis, rather than as long-term employees of one organization.

It’s also possible to join the gig economy while having a contracted job as an employee. For instance, you might work as a secretary or school teacher and take on a gig-based job like bartending or babysitting in your spare time to help supplement your income. Gig workers often wind up doing a much wider variety of tasks than employees that work full-time for one single company. 

Why is it called the gig economy

Why is it called the gig economy?

Here’s the most fascinating part. The term ‘gig economy’ finds its roots in jazz music. The term ‘gig’ was first coined in 1915 by jazz musicians to refer to their individual performances. It’s a term that’s now used by all genres of musicians, and even non-musicians.

When applied to this modern model of work, the term ‘gig’ is almost synonymous with ‘project’ or ‘flex.’ Essentially, it emphasizes the contained, one-off nature of the task at hand for which the worker – whether they’re a jazz musician, writer, graphic designer, or something else entirely – is hired to complete.

The term ‘gig economy’ finds its roots in jazz music.

Finally, the pros and cons(iderations) of gig work

What are the pros and cons? Let’s take a closer look.

Freelancing Pros

Freelancing Pros:

Sleep In! 

One of the main draws of freelancing work is the fact that you get to choose your own hours. You are your own boss! If you want to sleep in until noon, you can do that. If you want to take the weekend off so you can explore the city, by all means, go for it. As a freelancer, you can actually work during your most productive hours. And, guess what, those hours don’t have to fall in during regular business hours.

You could work in a park, at the library, or in your living room while you’re wearing your pajamas.

A whole new level of flexibility 

Unlike traditional employees, gig workers are free to choose what types of jobs they do and when and where they do them. The ability to work from home helps in balancing work and family schedules and demands.  You are no longer stuck in an office or even in your home. Find a place in which you work best. You could work in a park, at the library, or in your living room while you’re wearing your pajamas.


For people who like to be left alone while they complete an assignment, gig work is ideal. Not hindered by traditional office interruptions like staff meetings and progress reviews, gig economy workers are typically given almost unlimited independence to do their work when and how they think it should be done.


The old office problem of monotony is rare in gig work. There’s little motivation, little variety, and little learning on a daily basis. This isn’t the case with the gig economy. A wide variety of tasks and clients every day keeps the work interesting, helping gig workers be more enthusiastic and creative in their work. Here, you can be the master of how dull or interesting you want your day to be.

As a freelancer, you are able to control your work hours and get paid for extra hours on the clock.

You keep all the profits!

Pay for freelance workers is variable from company to company. Some companies pay gig workers less, while many pay their workers more because they aren’t having to pay benefits in addition to salary. Often they are able to charge hourly rates for their time. This means they are able to control their work hours and get paid for extra hours on the clock. Things like meetings and phone calls in addition to regular work are billable. 

You get to allocate or keep all the profits from your large and small projects and clients. This gives you the freedom to then use that money to improve yourself and expand your business. You no longer have to answer to anyone but your clients and yourself. 

Read More: How To Start A Freelancing Career

Freelancing Cons

Freelancing Cons:


All of the above along with the need to constantly be looking for their next gig and dealing with changes in their current contract can make for increased stress – an undesirable tradeoff to the greater flexibility of gig work.

No benefits 

One of the biggest pluses of full-time employment (and drawbacks of doing gigs) are employer-provided benefits, such as health insurance, sick days, and paid vacation time. A staff job often comes with all these perks, while freelancers must fend for themselves on all counts. Forget about paid holidays (unless you’re able to work on a laptop under a palm tree), or taking sick days, as no company or tech platform will pay you for getting anything done. Every day you don’t work is a day you won’t get paid. I know, this one’s a bummer. 

Every day you don’t work is a day you won’t get paid.

A lot of legwork

When you worked a traditional job, your projects were probably handed to you. But now, you’re the sole person responsible, so that means a lot of legwork on your part.  And that means you have to wear many hats, including marketing, advertising, and sales. So…yes, more stress.


Often freelance workers don’t go into the office and miss on the social elements present there. From parties to regular watercooler talks, gig economy workers may find they spend their day alone, working from home or from a remote site. While this adds flexibility, it can also cause isolation from the other workers and the feeling of being removed or left out.

Read More: Freelance Mistakes You Should Avoid

Before You Go

Earning money through the gig economy may sound like a dream. Gig workers do enjoy great scheduling flexibility and extra income and the freedom to work on something that they are passionate about. Working more flexibly on a job-by-job basis provides a lot of freedom for those that desire it. 

However, the gig economy’s rapid growth has not left much room for people to consider the disadvantages of such setup. Gig workers suffer from relatively low pay, lack of benefits, and increased stress. They also do not have the job security and peace of mind that (some) nine-to-fivers enjoy.  

One thing is for sure: the gig economy is here to stay. So, if you’re planning to be part of it, choosing between the two comes down to weighing the pros and cons and determining what fits your dream lifestyle the best.


Biljana Martinić

Captain of Red Hair Pirates. Song Sommelier. Dragonologist. Talks to animals and they often talk back. Shyness that is criminally vulgar. Bounty hunter. And a nostalgia consultant.

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