HomeBlogWhat Does the Gig Economy Have to Do with High-Speed Internet?

What Does the Gig Economy Have to Do with High-Speed Internet?

July-28th-2022

Summary: The gig economy — a fancy name for side hustles — has never been more popular. But if you’re not part of it, you might be wondering who is. And if you’re already there, you need reliable, high-speed internet that can keep up. We’ve got you covered on every front. Here’s how to find the right plan for you.

Inflation is no joke – and if you’re feeling the pinch, you might have side hustles on your mind. If you’re looking to supplement your income by taking on another job that you can work on from home, you’ll need reliable, high-speed internet that can keep up.

This work is often referred to as the “gig economy.” So let’s dive in and see who is already involved in this workforce and what internet plan you should be looking for to get started.

What is the Gig Economy?

Chances are, you know what the gig economy is even if you didn’t know its formal name. If you‘re into the personal finance sides of Instagram, TikTok, or other platforms, you may have heard it called a side hustle. But, as they say, a rose by any other name…

The gig economy is built on short-term, temporary contracts or freelance work. Instead of a traditional, permanent job, gig workers may have multiple contracts going at once — think 15 hours a week driving for a rideshare company, 5 hours a week coaching, and an additional 20-30 hours a week completing freelance work either on their own or through a larger company like Fivver.

However, some workers have these jobs in addition to traditional 9-5 employment, whether as a way to make ends meet (thanks, inflation) or earn some extra money for something fun.

Gig workers may have more control over their schedules, choosing to take on more or less depending on other obligations, but they also have to deal with more last-minute schedule changes and manage their own time and money. Gig workers typically don’t have traditional benefits (think: retirement savings, health insurance, or paid time off).

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Who is Part of the Gig Economy?

So who are the people taking on these shorter-term jobs? While anyone can be a gig worker, there are some pretty clear divides.

Adults ages 49 or younger are twice as likely to have ever done gig work, compared to adults 50 and older, according to the Pew Research Center. For adults 18-49, Hispanic workers account for 34%, Black workers for 27%, and white workers for 16% of the total. Additionally, workers who do not identify as white are more likely to have earned money through multiple types of gig jobs compared to their white peers (48% compared to 30%).

For what it’s worth, most gig workers do say their experiences working with third-party platforms have been positive — but there are concerns around safety and sexual assault. And since these workers are considered independent contractors, it often means they have fewer options for recourse.

How Can You Start a Side Hustle?

Interested in starting to earn some extra cash? Here’s what you need to join the gig economy.

Choose Your Job

Do you already have a skill that can earn money while working from home? You can sell handmade goods on Etsy, edit papers, code, find a gig on Upwork, and more. Prefer the service industry? Check out ride share services, food delivery, or even catch-all platforms like TaskRabbit.

Regardless of what you choose to pursue, make sure you’re going with a company that has a good reputation. Gig work is in high demand, so beware of scammers. Red flags include things like paying money upfront, pay rates that seem too good to be true, or anything else that gives you a sinking feeling in your gut.

Pie chart showing the different types of jobs you can have as a side hustle

Pro tip: If your employer isn’t already taking out taxes, you’ll need to pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS. Our best advice is to put aside 30% of every paycheck for taxes. It may sting, but it’s better than digging for change in the couch cushions next March.

Get Reliable, High-Speed Internet

Whatever job you choose, we’d bet you’ll need high-speed internet to succeed. Even if you’re delivering food, you’ll need internet to set up your account and stay on top of notifications. And if you’re a fully remote worker? That goes double.

Fiber internet is your best option for staying connected and on top of all your jobs (or hobbies). Prefer to work while streaming music, keeping your smart home connected, and listening to your roommate’s latest gaming addiction from the next room? Fiber will keep up, no sweat.

If you’re in a rural area where fiber isn’t available yet? Check out wireless home internet. It’s faster and more reliable than satellite internet — plus you get to ditch that bulky, expensive equipment. One caveat? It struggles to support jobs that are data-heavy or visual (think: sharing large files, uploading videos, or streaming). If that sounds like you, consider satellite internet. While it’s not as reliable, it can support more data and covers nearly every home in the country.

What Internet Speed Do Freelancers Need?

Like we mentioned above, the type of internet you need depends on the type of work you’re doing. But if you’re curious about what speed you need, there are a few ways to find out. First, use our bandwidth calculator to get a custom estimate for your home.

Or, if you’re looking for something a bit faster, here are some rules of thumb:

Number of Devices*  Activity  Recommended Download Speed
2-4 Surfing the web, email, social media, occasionally streaming 100 Mbps or more 
5-8  Online multiplayer gaming, HD streaming, photo sharing  500 Mbps or more 
More than 9  Working remotely, attending online classes, playing multiplayer games, 4K streaming, multiple smart home devices  800 Mbps or more  

*When counting connected devices in your home, don’t forget about smart home devices. Even if you’re not using the smart capabilities every day, if it’s connected to your network, it requires some extra speed.

If you have a video doorbell and smart thermostat that are always on, your roommate is working remotely, plus you like to stream a background show (why is The Home Edit so relaxing?!) while writing on your laptop for your side hustle… we’d recommend at least 500 Mbps. That may only add up to five devices, but you’re using them for some data-intensive activities. Bonus: a little extra speed will help you avoid any bottlenecks.

Whatever connection makes the most sense for you, we can help make it happen. EarthLink offers the biggest internet network in the U.S. and a variety of options. Even better? We have predictable billing. So whether you’re on a budget or just hate surprises, you know exactly what you’ll pay every month. No surprise rate hikes, no bills that double after your first few months.

Get started online or give our Internet Experts a call today at 866-383-3080.

Michelle Ricker

Michelle Ricker

Michelle Ricker is the Content Marketing Manager for EarthLink. She's an internet expert who loves to break down why connectivity topics are relevant to everyday life. With more than five years of writing experience, she thrives on storytelling and well-placed punctuation. She graduated with her M.A. from the University of Cincinnati but currently lives and works in Atlanta.

See all posts from Michelle Ricker.