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Book Review

Useful book provides how to’s for succeeding in the “gig economy”

By Ethel Shepard

Thriving in the Gig Economy: How to Capitalize and Compete in the New World of Work

by Marion McGovern
Career Press (2017); paperback $15.99, e-book $9.99.


Thriving in the Gig Economy book coverEveryone has a different reason for becoming an independent wage earner. So why go it alone? The overarching reason most independent contractors or freelancers give is it offers them more control over their lives — more control over their time and finances.

Of course some gig workers simply are people who have failed to find a traditional job they want to accept. But according to research cited in the recently published book Thriving in the Gig Economy, 90 percent of full-time independent workers intentionally made the choice to freelance instead of seek a salaried position.

“Gig Economy” responds to this growing phenomenon by exploring exactly how to be successful as a gig worker. It provides advice about creating your own independent business: a company whose workforce is…you.

The very useful “how-to” portion of the book starts with the basics. It discusses how to identify your talent and how to “brand” yourself. It tells you how to create a positioning statement for yourself, then discusses the all-important issue of establishing your reputation.

Author Marion McGovern is founder and former CEO of M Squared Consulting. She was an early gig economy talent intermediary, helping match talent with tasks.

Ms. McGovern sets the scene by sharing her unique understanding and experience in the shared and on-demand economies. And she explores how the laws of supply and demand are being driven on digital platforms. Readers learn the origins of the word “gig” (a job of uncertain duration) and how companies and business-technology systems are evolving to support this consultant work force.

McGovern draws upon the latest research — research that supports her claim that increasing numbers of people are actually choosing to become freelancers. (Of course for many years the title “freelancer” was used by some people as a way to provide dignity for themselves when they were between jobs and/or working on temporary projects when their main objective was to get a full-time position.)

Meanwhile, McGovern says that competition within this labor group — competition to stand out as a talented “gig” worker — is increasing, which of course creates a more dynamic gig-economy environment and makes more demands on gig workers. She examines workforce data by age group and looks at the most popular channels freelancers use to find work. It’s interesting to note that two quite different demographic groups — millennials and boomers — comprise 70 percent of the gig economy.

According to McGovern, there are more than 44 million people working in the gig economy today. She cites research and independent surveys from McKinsey Global Institute and MBO Global Partners that project these workforce numbers will grow by more than 16 percent by 2021. (Some researchers cite even higher figures in terms of the number of gig workers working today.)

While the research is interesting, I found the chapters with advice on how to set up your own business most valuable. McGovern explains in great detail, yet simple terms, the steps she believes are effective in getting established. She also offers sound practical advice for managing finances as well as for dealing with legal issues confronting solo agents.

Bottom line, this advice can be put to use immediately about everything from developing sales strategies to forging advantageous contract provisions to determining fees.

McGovern believes that as the number of gig workers grows the demands on gig workers to properly manage their businesses also will grow. Securing independent work will involve more than printing a business card and attending networking events. Whether the gig worker is new to the “economy,” or a retiree beginning a second career, or an experienced freelancer, properly managing a gig career will be the key to success, she says.

Here’s the good news: In this excellent book readers are presented with all the information they need to get started and succeed as an independent consultant.


Ethel Sheparda public relations consultant with more than 20 years of experience working with corporations and nonprofits, can be reached at

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