Welcome to the Hustle Economy

April 20, 2016

12:43 pm

Gone are the days of the typical 9-to-5. If you speak with most workers in the economy, especially Millennials, they aren’t stopping with just one job. We’re now entering what many are calling the hustle economy – workers adding freelancing and side hustles to their resume.

Part of that comes from an economy that is as uncertain as it is thriving with individuals creating their own opportunities. But is this hustle economy really the best response for a generation of workers looking for more professional fulfillment?

The Start of the Hustle Economy

How exactly did the hustle economy come about? Well, some point to the instability of the traditional economy. Since 2008, unemployment in the U.S. has climbed significantly. And although the numbers are not decreasing, there’s still a deficit of stable 9-to-5 jobs that most people can count on.

For creative individuals, freelancing has always been a viable option for making more money on the side of a full-time job. But it’s gained in popularity, especially for Millennials. Upwork has completed a study that looks at freelancing trends over the last year, which shows that “freelancers are a critical sector of the U.S. labor force: approaching 54 million Americans—over one-third of all U.S. workers— have done freelance work in the past year”.

Following Digital Monoliths

Digital trends and technology has also played a role in our shifting ideas of what our careers need to look like. Sites that focus on massive content creation, such as BuzzFeed, are dominating the digital space, but even they are not immune to the effects of labor instability.

Recently, many companies have been experiencing decreasing in ad revenue and traffic – essential keys to securing funds to further their digital presence. Some are questioning if this marks the end of the digital bubble, and what the next step would be for those in the hustle economy.

In my opinion, if the “digital bubble” were to burst, it would just push more folks to embrace the hustle economy. The emphasis, however, would shift from where it is now. Instead of focusing on quantity – grabbing at jobs to fill the need to support oneself – the next step for the hustle economy is to move towards customization; allowing workers to figure out their own strengths and using them to fill a need for consumers should be the focus. It may be optimistic, but the huge growth of entrepreneurship and startup culture signals that the hustle economy can work, if done correctly.

In short, the best way to approach the hustle economy is to use the same rules we’ve always been following – do good work, commit to producing quality over quantity, and be brave enough to take that leap.

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she's using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she's not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color. Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.