ANDERSON — A key feature of the gig economy, many experts say, is its flexibility in terms of allowing participants to earn either a full or supplementary income.
On a smaller scale, one local resident is finding an outlet to profit from her hobby of restoring and creating unique furnishings and home decor.
Hilary May of Anderson splits her time between serving as a social media specialist for an accounting firm and her Etsy business that sells products like stove top covers, door signs and other decorations. After working a few jobs as an administrative assistant, she says she began to reconsider her passions after she became more involved with her hobby.
“I realized I was a creative person rather than an administrative person,” she said.
Cutting the cord on her full-time job brought her some anxiety, she added, but once she became convinced starting her own business would be viable, she received plenty of support along the way.
“You just have to have courage to know that if you are the personality that doesn’t fit in the 9 to 5 (world), that there are opportunities out there,” May said. “If you have the courage to take that leap, I truly believe doors will be open for people.”
As more workers choose to engage in the gig economy, ideas for putting them to work are becoming more creative — and more technology-based.
In 2014, Marc Gorlin founded Roadie, a collaborative delivery service that aims to capitalize on what he says is more than 4 billion cubic feet of excess capacity in the nearly 250 million vehicles that move from place to place every day.
“I wondered, what if we put all that wasted space to good use?” he said.
The company pays drivers to deliver merchandise — anything from cupcakes to furniture — to destinations near places to which they’re already traveling. It’s an economical solution for companies and individuals looking to save on shipping costs, and it provides an avenue for drivers to earn extra cash.
“Utilizing vehicles that are already on the road is better for the environment, and it allows existing drivers to make money doing what they’re doing and help the environment at the same time,” Gorlin said.
Another platform is putting a new twist on the old adage that word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Drum Technologies, an Atlanta-based software company, uses an app to allow people to share offers and recommend products and services. The service connects business owners to gig contractors who can promote offers, merchandise or other items and earn commission while providing new customer leads.
“Advertising is often a lot of guesswork,” said Drum co-founder Troy Deus. “We were noticing there was this emergence of the gig economy, but traditional gig economy jobs eat up a lot of your time, you’re not really learning a new skill. So we said, what if we provide a platform where anybody could be a salesman for any business?”
Launched in September with more than $10 million in startup capital, Drum is focusing most of its marketing efforts in Atlanta and New York City, but Deus said as more people become familiar with the platform, plans include expanding the business model to other locales including Indiana.
“We think there are a lot of people who are willing to promote those businesses and refer those businesses to others as the opportunity presents itself,” Deus said.