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If you, like me, are part of the gig/creator economy, making your living as a freelancer in the Digital Age, then the constant need to reinvent ourselves is something that you are probably aware of. Right from being versatile and flexible in terms of the gamut of skills, to the need to be adaptable to the ever changing needs of the market for gigs, and including the ability to experiment and take risks, the creator economy is indeed demanding and requires a mindset of innovation. With fast changing technologies and evolving nature of gigs, we must, above all, have to reinvent ourselves, just to stay ahead of the rest.
For instance, I started out as an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) writer, then branched out into ghostwriting, dabbled with academic writing gigs, became a content writer, established myself as a business writer, and now, find myself as a full fledged content creator, with the occasional web journalism opportunities, and the launching of this blog as a way to beat the dwindling returns from gigs, due to the pandemic. Moreover, I became a content creator, with little educational grounding in professional writing, having graduated as a Metallurgical Engineer, and then became an IT (Information Technology) professional, spending a decade with leading IT firms, only to switch to Full Time Freelancing (which by the way, is not an Oxymoron, since the creator economy is home to Millions of those who work part time gigs, full time).
So, you get the drift. The era of specialization and narrow niche jobs is over and what we have now instead, is a thriving community of creators, who are equally at ease with writing, as they are at producing videos, or preparing attractive graphical power point slides and incorporating photographs and other visual accompaniments to the content. Moreover, creators are also those who switch between multiple streams of revenue generating gigs in each sphere, with the writers alone having to be skilled at everything from SEO to using CMS (Content Management Systems) as well as be adept at digital marketing and personal branding to attract clients.
The same goes for other creators who like the YouTube sensations, have to be fluent in all aspects of the end to end value creation chain of the viral videos, having to deal with everything from shooting them, to editing, making background score, and polishing them to look as appealing as possible. Moreover, those who become the much coveted Influencers are those who have the “knack” and the “eye for what makes content viral” and this is where they need to constantly reinvent themselves, to feel the pulse of what makes content “click” with the target audience.
Ask any content creator and they will tell you how demanding clients can be, especially where the need to be “comprehensive” in skill sets and specialized in niches are concerned. While this might seem contradictory, the Gig economy needs us to be both Jack of All Trades, and Master at Some, due to the nature of the gigs up for grabs. Indeed, delivering the whole package of requirements is what counts, rather than being choosy about what one can contribute. Moreover, being a freelancer means being “open” to as many jobs as possible to just keep oneself in the reckoning and this is where versatility, flexibility, and adaptability come to the fore. With no guarantee of an assured income, creators have to be always on the lookout for more opportunities, which is where the above attributes come into play.
Perhaps the most important reason for us creators to reinvent ourselves with each gig is the nature of the technologies and the digital age which by definition, are guided by the Moore’s Law dictum of exponential change. With each month or less, there are more changes to the technologies that drive the digital age, requiring creators to keep reinventing themselves, just to remain in the race, leave alone, besting the competition. While this is not that true for content writers when compared to other creators, I can assure you that content creation on multiple platforms such as Medium, Substack, or Blogs of various hues, is by itself a “race to the bottom” where constant change to the algorithms that drive virality, demanding endless reinvention.
Last, a quick note about how the creator economy has become a Wild West, where the Kool Aid of becoming Influencers is so addictive that nearly everyone and their dog aspires to become one. However, the “bubble” is likely to burst one day, sooner than later, which by some accounts, is already the case with platforms such as Medium, with dwindling payouts for writers, necessitating the hunt for alternatives, which again needs reinvention. To conclude, it does not matter how good you are, since your last gig, article, blog, video, design, or art determines what you are next, which is again a need to be better than the rest with each iteration.
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