Like it has most facets of life, the internet is shifting our approach to work; in particular, employment-based websites and mobile apps are changing the way many workers locate and perform jobs. Increasingly accessible digital marketplaces are giving rise to a so-called “gig-economy” in which employees are conscripted on-demand, often digitally, to complete independent projects or tasks.

Since the gig economy (and the “gig” itself) lacks a formal definition, it can be confusing to pin down exactly what is meant when analysts espouse the hype surrounding America’s growing gig workforce. Take a look at this brief description of the gig workforce, as well as its pros, cons, and methods for carving out a niche in the gig economy.

The Gig Workforce

Gig workers are spread across the entire labor force. Their characteristic factor is less to do with their job description than the form in which that job is awarded, namely, as a gig: a task or series of tasks completed on demand and over a fixed time period.

A 2016 study by the Mckinsey Global Institute found that around 27% of all US workers are self-employed or do temporary work, with 13% relying on gigs as a primary income source, and 14% using gigs to supplement traditional employment with on-the-side cash.

Pros of Gig Work

The ability to work at a convenient hour is a prime perk of working the gig economy. As opposed to the set-in-stone scheduling typical of traditional employment, gigs are completed according to workers’ availability and preference. Additional perks include the ability to engage in a wide variety of tasks and the freedom to accept and refuse jobs in accordance with workers’ personal passions.

Cons of Gig Work

Perhaps the main point of dissuasion which turns would-be freelancers from the gig economy is the fact that finding enough work to sustain a living is often difficult, or even impossible. Employment inconsistency is a reality for the vast majority of gig workers—one that they must accept and adapt to. Most gig workers are also ineligible to receive health insurance premiums and other employment-based benefits, such as paid time off.

Getting Gigs

The first step in earning a gig is identifying any specialized skills, experience, or other talents you possess which can be monetized. If you can perform a particular service admirably, there will almost certainly be someone, somewhere willing to pay you to do so, and you only need to connect with them. This can be done using online platforms, such as third party websites or apps designed to link workers with job offers; some platforms are even tailored to suit a specific professional field. Actually securing a gig is the most difficult milestone by far, but with patience, tenacity and the will to learn, any professional can build a portfolio of completed work impressive enough to win multiple future offers.