Ingram Blog

Gig Economy: Patrons Seeking Nontraditional Work

Gigs are no longer reserved solely for comedians and musicians. Bloggers, vloggers, ridesharing drivers and a host of other nontraditional career opportunities now occupy the space of independent and temporary work. Listen in as we explore the on demand career path and how you can provide resources to your patrons who are already involved or interested in picking up a gig.

Welcome to Two Librarians and A Microphone, a library podcast by Ingram Library Services. Join Ingram's Collection Development Team as they explore trending topics, discuss industry news, and share their expertise on how to build the perfect collection for your community.

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Want to hear more trending topics from our collection development team? Check out episode two: Escapism Reading to Relax and Recharge . Did you catch the last series of our library podcast? Go take a listen!



Some studies say that by 2020 40% of the American workforce will be independent contractors. It's a sure bet that the gig economy is here to stay.

Hello. Thank you for joining me in the first installment of a series of podcasts discussing issues important to public librarians as we continue to try to serve our communities in a world with rapidly shifting needs and circumstances. I’m Beth Reinker, Manager of our Adult Collection Development team here at Ingram. I’m joined today by Becky Walton, who is a Collection Development Librarian for Ingram Library Services.

Today, we’d like to talk about what has become known as the gig economy and how libraries can support patrons who are making their living through nontraditional work. We know why this shift is happening – we see many articles on how increased digital accessibility allows people to work from anywhere, and, to work when they want, if they want. Retirees are finding new sources of income and millennials are absolute zealots for the greater work-life balance that a flexible schedule can provide. But we haven't heard as much about the new skills needed for those who want to thrive in this cultural shift.

Most public librarians view their libraries as community hubs, where our patrons can learn about the world and find popular materials for entertainment. Our world is changing faster and faster, and librarians are continually asking ourselves how libraries can effectively provide those services for their patrons. Today, we’re going to tackle one way libraries are providing those services and positively impacting their communities.

It's worth repeating that government economists estimate that 40% of Americans will be working outside traditional full-time jobs by 2020.

I knew that nontraditional work has been growing in the last few years, but those estimates seemed really high to me. Then, I read a Chicago Tribune article about the subject that says: “There’s this myth that the Gig Economy equals Uber driver…. If you are not a full-time employee in a full-time job, you are part of the Gig Economy.” That really put this concept of the gig economy and how widespread it is into context for me.


Today it’s not uncommon to know people who make their living or supplement their income by selling handmade items on Etsy, driving for ridesharing companies, creating web sites, or walking dogs. And with the proliferation of mobile devices and digital marketplaces, it’s so easy to broadcast the services you have to offer and connect with potential employers.


Bloggers, are great examples of players in the gig economy. Many of them started out just sharing their cleaning and organizing tips and craft ideas on the web. Then, they started selling ads on their sites. Now many of the more popular bloggers have book deals.


Who knew that so many people would want to regularly visit a website about cleaning?! But that’s what’s happening with Clean Mama, otherwise known as Becky Rapinchuk. She started her cleaning and homekeeping blog – – in 2009 and has since published two books: The Organically Clean Home from Adams Media and Simply Clean  from Touchstone.

Jenny Lawson started the Bloggess blog almost ten years ago, sharing both her quirky sense of humor and her struggle with depression. She now has three books under her belt, two of which appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists, and she spends a lot of time on book tours, giving talks to standing-room-only crowds. Beth and I went to her event at the Nashville Public Library when she was touring for Furiously Happy and had such fun. Jenny was very personable, authentic, and relatable.


It’s true! We both love Jenny Lawson. She has created an amazing community of people who follow her blog and interact with each other. One of the things that I love is how much it’s all built around her personality and weird interests that others have grown to love too.


This one is near and dear to my heart, as a chicken owner and lover -- Kathy Shea Mormino, aka The Chicken Chick, has a chicken care blog and two books: The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens and, coming out next June, Lifestyles of the Chicken Famous: The Chicken Chick’s Flock at Home and Play.

Of course, it makes sense that bloggers took their ideas to YouTube and vlogging is now just as popular and the technical skills that the content creators use to create polished and entertaining work is really impressive!

Lilly Singh creates comedic and satirical videos and often acts out the parts of all the characters herself. She promotes positivity, girl power, and being open-minded and loving. If you haven’t already, listen to her read her audiobook How to Be a Bawse; she’s inspirational and funny.

Writer and comedian Mamrie Hart has been making audiences laugh since 2011 when she started the You Deserve a Drink YouTube channel. She has also two published books to her credit.

Shane Dawson does a little bit of everything. He started his first YouTube channel in 2008 and has gone on to create more channels, TV show pilots, songs, music videos, podcasts, and two memoirs.


We’ve definitely seen a trend of publishers picking up authors who have already built a following online. When you think about YouTube stars or bloggers who have gone on to build successful publishing careers, it just makes sense. They have a built-in audience before the publisher even starts thinking about publicizing the book. Two that come to my mind are now Food Network stars. The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond started with a blog, and that has grown it into a huge business that includes a tv show, cookbooks, children’s books, merchandise sold by Walmart, and even a restaurant and store.

Another great foodie example is Hannah Hart. She started with My Drunk Kitchen, her wildly popular YouTube web series, and that has grown into multiple books, including her 2016 memoir Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. I recently saw a commercial for her new Food Network Show I Hart Food. Not bad for somebody that started with a webcam video of herself making a grilled cheese with no cheese.


PewDiePie is a Swedish comedian and content producer who got his start in social media by filming himself playing video games and commenting on them. You would be surprised at the number of people who watch videos of someone else playing video games! It’s a good way to get tips and tricks for advancing to the next level and of learning about new video games that are gaining popularity.

Many YouTube celebrities have an egalitarian approach to the platform and collaborate with each other to create new and exciting content. There’s a lot of crossover, with one YouTube personality guest-starring on another one’s video.

In addition to selling ads on YouTube, many successful video creators post their works to YouTube Red, the paid monthly subscription service version of YouTube.


There have been a lot of examples of bloggers or vloggers who went on to get book deals or even TV gigs based on the following that they’ve built,but there are so many other ways to make money as part of the gig economy. 

Earlier, Becky mentioned selling your work on Etsy, and that’s a business that seems approachable for anyone with an idea of a product to make or sell. Even if you can’t be as financially successful as some of the examples we shared, there are opportunities to supplement other income, and libraries can and do offer resources to help patrons as they build these new careers. In fact, there are several new books coming out about this subject. Facebook's Marketplace is no longer just for selling your old couch or kitchen table – there are master craftsmen who will make custom furniture and more.

Independent workers can register with Takl, Task Rabbit, and other providers of an array of services that can range from running errands and writing resumes to building websites, cleaning, and even assembling furniture!

Building on these business examples, libraries can include titles like Starting an Etsy Business for Dummies, Entrepreneur’s Start Your Own Etsy Business, or The Everything Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts Online. There are also some great new books coming out about the gig economy or the concept of building your side hustle into your primary income.

Librarians who want to support patrons seeking nontraditional work should also look for Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days. Guillebeau is a really interesting guy. In addition to being the author of several books and having launched successful business ventures, he hosts a daily podcast called Side Hustle School that has more than 2 million downloads per month! The podcast tells stories of people who have launched successful side hustle businesses. It’s inspiring, and it helps listeners see how vastly different side hustle businesses can be and the different ways people have become successful. His book has been blurbed by Daymond John, Gretchen Rubin, Daniel Pink, and Jon Acuff, and I expect that it will continue to get attention because of his online presence.

If you’re looking for more resources to build your library’s collection of titles to help your patrons embrace the gig economy, we have you covered, if not, we think you should jump on the bandwagon pronto! You can find a list of resources on ipage at Browse/High Interest Categories/Podcast Resources.

Has your library created programs and book displays to support patrons who are pursuing nontraditional work? Have you had a patron share a success story? We’d love to hear about it and feature your program. Tweet us about it @ingramcontent and use #thelibrarylife.

With all this talk about work, our minds drifted to relaxation. We hope you'll join us for our next podcast in the series where we'll talk about why escapism is another trend that you need to be on top of!

If you’re looking for more resources to build your library’s collection of titles to help your patrons embrace the gig economy, we have you covered. You can find a list of resources on Ingram's Library Services ipage.

Has your library created programs to support patrons who are pursuing nontraditional work? Have you had a patron share a success story? We’d love to hear about it and feature your program. Tweet us about it @ingramcontent and use #thelibrarylife.