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Infographic: Evolution of the Gig Economy

Gig economy. Side Hustle. Welcome to the 21st Century workforce. Check out a few ways some of the most popular side gigs have evolved over time.

Evolution of the Gig Economy

People have always found creative ways to turn their skills and passions into income and enhance their ways of life. Here’s a look at some of the most popular “gigs” and how some have evolved over time.

Tutoring: Whether it’s helping a toddler learn math or teaching a teenager how to ace the SAT, tutors have always been in demand – and around since at least the time of Plato and Socrates. 1

Freelancing: From writers to website developers and beyond, the concept of freelancing has been around for hundreds of years. Most of us think of freelancers as self-employed go getters, but the original freelancer appears to date back to a reference in Ivanhoe and a paid army of “free lances.” 2

Network Marketing: The art of selling a product through a network of sales people3 has been around for more than 100 years. If you ever purchased Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, LuLaRoe, or Scentsy – to name a few – then you’ve purchased from a network marketing program. In addition to hosting in-home parties, today’s network marketing consultants leverage the power of social media to build their businesses. Avon Calling: The first Avon “lady” was actually David. H. McConnell, a struggling door-to-door salesman who started selling perfume in 18864. That enterprise eventually morphed into Avon, a company that has sales representatives in more than 100 countries.

Online Marketplaces: All it took was a Labor Day weekend of code writing for Pierre Omidyar to modernize the garage sale. eBay opened up new avenues for individual seller when it debuted in 19955. Since that time, the world of online selling has grown into a billion-dollar industry. Today’s online marketplace includes reselling sites like Amazon and the crafting site Etsy, which came 10 years after eBay and generated nearly $3 billion in gross sales in 20166. One man’s trash… The first item purchased on eBay was a broken laser pointer, proving once again that there’s a market for everything.

Sharing Economy: Ridesharing has only been around for a few years, but it revolutionized the way Americans get from point A to point B and created thousands of gig economy7 jobs along the way. The sharing economy is generally defined as people renting products or services from each other, usually be using technology to connect. People can share everything from rides to rooms. Fun Fact: In 2014, ERIE introduced what is believed to be the first-of-its-kind insurance for rideshare drivers8.

Disclaimer: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Co., Erie Insurance Property & Casualty, Co., Flagship City Insurance Co. and Erie Family Life Insurance Co. (Erie, PA) or Erie Insurance Co. of New York (Rochester, NY). Go to or see your ERIE agent for company licensure and product details.


During National Small Business Week, we take a look back at some of the most common side gigs through the decades. /blog/gig-economy-infographic Erie Insurance

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