Reading the business section of any newspaper is depressing to say the least; stocks continue on a roller-coaster ride, much of Europe is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, student loan defaults are up, and a drought grips much of the mid-west. I can’t help but be an optimist when I think, is self-employment the answer in our troubled economy?

Now, of course it’s not the be-all, end-all panacea that will turn the economy around and make everything hunky-dory overnight. However, in cities where employment has stagnated, is there a chance where a significant percentage of the population who has struggled with unemployment could turn their finances around by becoming self-employed? Or, maybe it’s really “freelance” that I’m thinking?

Cases in point:

Craigslist for the Average

Craigslist is full of “gigs” that need to be filled, whether a person is skilled enough to design a postcard, balance a checkbook, or repair a sprinkler or completely unskilled but able to walk a dog or clean a house. Fill up your day with gigs that range from $10 an hour (or walk) to a flat rate per project that ranges from a couple of hundred bucks to several thousand (pay does increase with skill). Now Craigslist is full of flaky people, so perhaps it won’t fill up a day’s worth of work on a regular basis, but it’s a good place to start.

Hey, it’s perfectly fine to be “average,” most of us are and we should embrace our “averageness,” but average people also do spectacular things with enough resources.

*Tip: Don’t limit yourself to your own city, search other city “gigs” as well, especially if you are able to complete a “job” online.

Networking for the Talented

Are you a phenomenal cook or baker or fill in the blank? Do you possess a rare skill that friends and family comment on regularly? Offer your “skill” online (like on Craigslist, Guru, and locally) and network with your friends and family to get the word out. Cater your cousin’s office party, offer your photography skills to a friend of a friend’s wedding, train your neighbor’s “hard to train” pet. Create business cards for cheap through an online print house, like VistaPrint, or through your local FedEx Office and market yourself and your skill.

Talented people are all around us (and may even be within you), it’s just a matter of advertising and monetizing that talent.

*Tip: Market yourself professionally – nice business cards, a simple one-page website, a professional voice mail on your cell phone – and you’ll be taken much more seriously, especially by family and friends who you need to help spread the word.

Work With What You Have

Not everyone is resourceful enough to work for themselves. It takes some balls to offer your services and for people to take you seriously. But it could possibly buoy the economy if enough people took control of their financial situation and became the “self-employed.”

What are your thoughts? Could this help a percentage of the population? Would it affect the economy in a positive way?



  1. Smart Military Money Reply

    I’m a big fan of self-employment. When you find a way to work for you, you’re your boss. That’s a double-edged sword. You have to motivate yourself to work, but you set your schedule and goals.

    I imagine measuring the effect of the self-employed population would take some time, or at least it should be measured for a few years to find out if it’s a sustainable means to improving the economy. I’d be interested in seeing if it worked!

    -Christian L.

  2. Lance@MoneyLife&More Reply

    I think for some types of people it is great but there are others that just need a job. You need to be really driven to be able to make it while self empolyed.

  3. I’m a big fan of self-employment but it is not for everybody. It is hard to accept your income can change at any moment or a job can fall through. But I like knowing that I am earning for me…not someone else making millions off of me and other employees.

  4. There are a lot of ways to earn in this time of troubled economy. We just have to be creative and we have to tap our skills to be able to find a field where we can work on.

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