In the ‘olden days’ — that is to say twenty or fifteen years ago, perhaps even ten years ago in some industries — it was perfectly possible to get a job with little or no work experience as long as you had the right paper qualifications. You could learn the job at leisure, take as much as a year or two to fully settle into it, and then work your way up through the hierarchy of the business over the course of your working life. Of course, not everyone would make it all the way to the very top, but for most people achieving the rank of middle-manager was all they needed. Salaries were, if not generous, adequate for the needs of the employee and most people could afford to live reasonably well on the income from a full-time job or two in their household.

Today, we have seen the advent of zero-hour contracts which inflict all the duties and responsibilities of a job on the employee while offering none of the benefits or security. When redundancies and lay-offs are necessary, all too often the time-honoured principle of ‘last in, first out’ is abandoned in favour of booting out employees who have been there the longest. This is sometimes done very cynically as long-standing employees tend to be paid more and have more rights owed to them than newer hires. It is not only cynical, it is also counterproductive as all the expertise and knowledge that the employee has is lost along with the severance of their employment contract.

Rise of the Side Gig

People on zero-hour contracts who might work a full forty-plus hours one week, and only one or two the following week, cannot afford to enjoy their unwanted leisure time. Instead, they have to try and fill that empty time with some kind of activity to fill those hours in a productive way so that they can continue to pay their bills and meet other financial commitments. This has seen the rise of the so-called ‘side gig’. A side gig is an activity that someone does to earn some extra money, while still maintaining a ‘regular’ salaried job. Examples of the kind of work done by those with such a side job include: freelance writing, professional photography, working as a DJ at weddings, birthdays and so on, creating pieces of art, buying and selling various commodities, and any kind of handyman work.

Make it Work for You

If you are in this all-too-common situation and need to find a way to boost your income without losing too much time to the process of finding other jobs: a time-consuming affair that can be horribly unrewarding — spending a whole day unsuccessfully looking for paying jobs can feel like a waste of time and effort and can even lead to depression setting in.

Get the internet to work for you by advertising your services to both businesses and to the individual customers who will gain the most benefit from them. Use social media wisely, creating attractive and humorous posts that will attract a lot of attention – hopefully a decent percentage of which will get in touch to ask for a quote or even use your services, whatever they may be. Once you have a host of regular customers it will become easier to maintain your earnings without needing to put in all that effort to keep attracting new customers. Do pay attention to how many people are using your services, and ensure that you are not relying too much on just one person – should they find another supplier or turn to a different line of business you might find yourself back at square one.

Some things to remember when running any kind of money-making business, no matter what you specialise in: treat your customers well. If a big new customers comes along and offers you a fortune to ditch your current customer base, be very wary. If they will expect you to behave like that to your customers, why would they treat you with any more respect? You might find that their lofty promises come to nothing, leaving you to return to your old regulars, cap in hand and apologising as you beg for your former relationship to be resumed. Bear in mind that one unhappy customers is likely to tell ten people, while a happy customer will perhaps tell only one: this is a sad statistic, but a true one as people like to complain more than they like to spread positive news!

Now, it is not necessarily a bad thing to have more than one income stream, but it can be very tiring, especially while you are just getting started. But instead of living in the past, looking at and regretting how relatively easy earlier generations had it, you can work towards changing the current employment culture. It will only take a few honourable companies, paying their staff fairly and investing in them, for a wider movement towards looking after human resources to take off in the business world.