How to Middleman the Gig Economy
4 years ago · 4 minute read
Want a new side hustle but can’t seem to find the right thing?
Well, we have an idea you’re going to absolutely love.
It’s a unique approach to side gigs that may help you get out of your rut and start making some more money.
We call it “middle manning the gig economy.”
WTF does “middle manning” a side gig mean?
Here’s a true story from one of our Opt Out crew that will demonstrate it.
Mike Kamo worked in the family business selling cars right out of school. He spent 8 years working nights and weekends and climbing his way to a managerial role. But these days, he’s far from the world of car lots and long weekends.
While Mike has an awesome story of how he went from car dealer to a leader in the digital marketing world, when he visited the studio he told us the perfect “middle man” story.
It goes back to when he was just breaking free from the car business and needed a side hustle to make some money.
Infographics? I can sell those.
So back then, Mike’s mentor in marketing was doing well building his own brand using infographics. (What’s an infographic? Here’a quick explainer.)
Mike noticed how successful they were, and asked to create one for a client. Not long after, he had more clients asking him to create infographics for their companies. He charged several thousand dollars each to create these infographics.
But, here’s the thing: Mike isn’t a graphics wiz. In fact, he just hired a contractor on Upwork to create it for him. Yup. He paid a few hundred bucks for someone to do the work, and then charged his clients thousands for the finished product.
He was just a middleman.
That’s what we call middle manning the gig economy. You find a simple service or product people want and are already paying for. You advertise yourself as a provider. You get the business. And you outsource the work to someone else.
You simply have to charge more for your service than you pay the other person. That’s kinda business 101, right?
But in the context of side hustles, it’s a fresh idea. You want a side hustle but don’t know what to do. You don’t have to have a specific skill? Just find your angle on marketing someone elses skills. Middle man it!
Other Ways to Middleman
Of course, you can do this even better if you have the skill to do the thing you middleman.
There’s a DJ that Dana met in Bali who does events as a DJ, but he also takes customers that hire him to DJ, and then he outsources the DJ work to other DJ’s and he keeps a portion of the fee. People do this with catering, videography for weddings, and even event management.
Whether the gig is digital like Mike’s infographic, or analog like the DJ, you don’t have to do all of the work. You just have to get the customer and be sure you have others who can fulfill the work requirements for you.
Take our main Opt Out lady Jazmin. Jaz does cool graphics and knows how to use Photoshop.
But, if she wants to do corporate logos for companies at $50 per design, she may never make enough money. A logo might take her five hours, and then she’s only making $10/hr. What can she do instead?
Sell $50 logos, and then have someone on Fiverr do logos for five bucks. She makes $45 on that and it may take her an hour of coordination and customer service. That’s 4 times the income per hour of her time.
You can sell on the same platforms you source from
For digital work, you can even do this directly on the very platforms where you are getting your workers. There are people who offer services on Upwork, and then use a different Upwork vendor to fulfill the job.
How is that possible?
It’s all about communication. You are going to leverage what you do well: communication, project management, understanding your customer’s needs.
Then, you have the work done by someone who might be super skilled at graphics or writing who may live in the Philippines, India or Russia. Those folks might be great at the work, but horrible at communication.
So, you are adding value for what you make, and providing a service that customers may not even know they need.
The next step you should take
If you’re into this ideas, what’s a good next step for you?
Look for what is in demand on those platforms. Look for analog opportunities like teaching, coaching, tutoring, catering, photo, video, DJ, event coordinating, handyman work, and more. Just about anything is on the table. Focus on something you think you can 1.) sell easily (because you understand it well); 2.) manage (adding value); 3.) complete (getting it done and getting paid).
Take a look at Fiverr and Upwork. What tasks/skills/requests are high ranked? What appear to be common themes? Look for types of services that have fewer providers with high star ratings. That means a possible gap in quality that you can fill.
We love the side hustle as much as anyone. But, we really want to push people to rethink what a side gig is and be sure they are spending their time doing what’s right for them.
We’ve got a free workshop to help you with this and other side gig ideas.
If you want early access, you can sign up and attend right here.