A Photog’s Guide to the Gig Economy

image via azcentral.com

image via azcentral.com

Had you shown me a glimpse of my current life a few years ago I would have never believed it. I thought I was destined to the eternal damnation of a career that made me miserable. I’m finding now that it wasn’t the housing industry that I disliked. It was more the corporate America heavy stance we take as leasing agents and property managers. Now that I am working on the other side of the fence in housing whereby I educate landlords about Fair Housing and the benefits of not being an absentee landlord,  I have a more positively adjusted view.

I digress. The point is, I now have three jobs that are all completely different yet somehow related. In my volunteer work I help with economic development, in my other jobs I sell healthcare IT software and work to promote local small business owners.  Working in the gig economy has taught me a few things:

  1. Never underestimate the power of a promise.  If you say you are going to deliver something on Tuesday you better do it on Monday. Build yourself in a couple of days for the unexpected.
  2. You are only as good as your previous work.  Why? Some would say that it is because your reputation will proceed you. Which is true, but I think it’s more nuanced than that… I think you will carry the baggage of letting someone down to your next project, especially if you did not do everything in your power to fix it or own up to it. It is likely to grate on your self-esteem and threaten to sabotage your next project.
  3. Be careful with whom you associate.  Bringing someone on to help you means that they are part of your reputation.  If they are late, or get sloshed, or act snarky or are dressed inappropriately, guess what? So are you.
  4. Take control of your work. This means taking credit for your work and ensuring the person you are working for does the same. It also means that if you decide to release a draft be sure that it is read only or set up in a way to track changes! If someone starts to modify your work you lose control over the final result and lose track of which version is the newest version.
  5. Don’t be afraid to work “in the mail room” or for free.  If you are switching careers, working for free gives you an amazing 360 view of the organization, the work and whether it is worth your time pursuing.
  6. Educate yourself, relentlessly.  Read books, subscribe to online content, go to school.  The wonderful thing about continuing education is that you can find so many sources FOR FREE! I like Coursera (coursera.org) and edX (edX).
  7. Find your backbone.  Stand up for what you believe in especially in the ethical arena.
  8. Find your sense of humor and humility. If you make a mistake own it, learn from it and move along.
  9. DO NOT work for someone who does not respect you, or your work.  If they do not respect your work upfront, they will not respect you during the life of the project.
  10. Maintain and work your network; keep up with colleagues from previous jobs.
  11. My favorite lesson – know what is going on in your area.  Civic engagement enriches your life simply by participating in the democratic process.  The dual benefit?  If you are working with, say a start-up business, think about the benefit you provide to your client by knowing what is going on in your area.
  12. Learn the difference between work that you can not do because of your current skill set/time constraints and work that you can do but it scares the bejesus out of you.
  13. Do the work that scares the bejesus out of you.  THIS is your growth moment.

I’d love to hear about your growth moment!