The number of independent workers continues to soar in the U.S. According to MBO Partners, there were 64.6 million independent workers in 2022, an increase of 26% from 2021. The number of full-time independent workers increased to 21.6 million, up from 15.3 million in 2019.
Succeeding as an independent contractor, however, can be challenging because it requires understanding a different set of success factors than being a full-time employee. Here are some tips on developing your skill set as an independent contractor and where to turn to if you need help.
Contract for companies with generous payment terms. The time required for companies to pay its bills to contract workers varies from business to business. Investigate a company's policy for paying its contract workers to make sure it's what you're expecting. Remember, cash is king!
Market your services by creating an online portfolio. If being a contract worker is your full-time job, you’ll need to always be looking for your next gig. One great way to market yourself to prospective businesses is to create an online portfolio that showcases the work you can perform. You can choose to build a website using a do-it-yourself service or hire a developer to create a custom website.
Stick to a budget. As a full-time employee, you know the exact date you’ll receive your paycheck and usually the exact dollar amount. As a participant in the gig economy, however, you could earn a bunch of money in one month and hardly any money the following month. Prepare a financial budget so you can use income earned during your good months to cover costs during low income months.
Stay one step ahead of the IRS. Paying taxes is now your responsibility. Participating in the gig economy requires more knowledge about how to meet your tax obligations, so ask for professional help. You can also find more information by visiting the IRS Gig Economy Tax Center.
Get advice from others. Working primarily by yourself can leave you isolated from fellow workers. Join a local group of self-employed workers that meets on a regular basis to network and learn what other workers are doing to be successful.
Remember that you are not alone. The complex nature of tax obligations for contractors can be navigated with professional help.