Today's ironically 2010s photo brought to you by an impulse to be like every other person who has been in DTLA. Credits to Oleg Gromov.
There has been an amazing initial reach for my volunteer project, and thank you everyone who has shared my post so far. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here . While I’m figuring out how I can better help people in my hometown, I’ve also taken a deeper dive into being part of Generation 1099.
A 1099, if you’re not familiar, refers to an IRS tax form that’s used to report payments to independent contractors. (It reports other types of income, but for the sake of convenience this definition is the most relevant). A business fills this form if it pays more than $600 to a non-employee, such as an attorney, accountant or other person rendering services. Uber drivers, Lyft drivers, freelance writers and outsourced website managers fall under this, too.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics even collected data on non-employee workers this past May, though we still need to wait for the results. Still, the Census Bureau, with tax data from the IRS, found that all industry sectors (Arts, Science and Tech, Health Care, etc.) increased in the number of non-employee workers from 2003 to 2013. According to the Census Bureau, the "Other Services" sector, which includes gigs like pet sitting, gained nearly 1 million nonemployer businesses during that same time period.
And now I'm one of the latest additions to the statistics. I'm living in Southern California, thinking about my family's needs and paying off student debt from one of the most expensive schools in the country. I decided to take on freelance and contracted work just so that I can be financially comfortable. And because I’m still figuring out my own path post journalism school, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to have well-rounded work experience in all things related to digital communications.
For the price of work experience and financial stability, I’m looking at a 60+ hour workweek. I’m personally okay with this because I’m scheduling enough time to sleep and relax. But because I’ve seen this hustle in many other people in my age group, I slightly cringe when people stereotype Millennials as lazy. I’m not the one, after all, who coined the term, “Generation 1099.” Many of my 1099 comrades are out there coding, writing, driving and assisting every day on top of their day jobs.
We are, after all, the generation who grew up believing that we can be anything. Perhaps we love brunch too much and some of us apparently don’t know how to use fabric softener, but we knew the weight of the Great Recession and attended school as the sticker prices for higher education continued to rise. The Pew Research Center says about 15% of Millennials aged 25-35 live at home. Yet if you think about it, it just makes good financial sense. If we have the opportunity to save money while figuring out how to make a living off our varied passions, why wouldn’t we make that choice?
And yes, if you search online there are thousands of articles that give tips on getting a side stream of income. Like this Quartz article addresses so well, there’s more to earning extra cash than getting a rose gold iPhone or guacamole at Chipotle. At its heart, Generation 1099 is comprised of people trying to earn enough income to live. Most young people have limited work experience and professional networks, which leads them to take jobs that are low pay or even outside of their dream industry. This opens a need to find another job to live and hopefully build work experience towards that dream job.
But I'm also aware that not everyone in the gig economy is actually a Millennial. Freelancers can be found at all ages. I once met a woman in her 40s, for instance, who drives for Uber and Lyft to support her son's acting career. And nowadays, there's a significant amount of people who still work past the age of 65. A Forbes article even pointed out that experienced industry professionals have an advantage when it comes to freelancing.
For those of you looking for a second stream of income or ideas on monetizing your side gig, I’ll link a few listicles below. But for all the amount of time I spent looking for jobs on LinkedIn, these were the top three places where I found legitimate jobs/potential freelance positions:
Facebook groups (this is how I got two of my contracted gigs)
Twitter (I interviewed for a company based on a Tweet)
Craigslist (This is where I found my full-time job, which has benefits)
Surprised? Me, too. Yet, what matters is what I’ll be able to list on my profile and that I grow professionally in the process. Even though I’m working so much, I’m hoping that helping my family become financially comfortable will be worth it. There are many reasons why people join Generation 1099, but at the same time, not all of us have much choice.
Things I talked about and more reading: