In 2017, Upwork and Freelancers Union released a comprehensive study of the freelance workforce in the U.S.
They found that 57.3M people freelance, which constitutes 36% of the workforce. Moreover, they expect that freelancers will become the workforce majority by 2027, reaching 86.5M.
Most freelancers don’t like the “gig economy” name that experts use when referring to this type of labor market since freelancing isn’t just a hot trend. It provides many people with a chance to build a successful – and profitable – career.
Here are a few reasons why the freelance market will continue to grow in 2019 – and beyond.
Employers Benefit from Freelancing
Companies are starting to see the importance of outsourcing their workflow to freelancers.
- It’s a simpler way to handle one-off projects. Let’s say that a business wants to build a recognizable online presence gradually. In a scenario like this, management will probably partner with digital marketing agency that will create a custom marketing plan designed with specific end goals in mind. If they’re simply interested in hiring a graphic designer to assist with a rebrand, this is a short-term project where hiring a freelancer with an impressive portfolio and good reviews would make most sense.
- It’s cost-effective. Let’s stick with our digital marketing example. Hiring an in-house marketing team and outsourcing your strategy to an agency can cost a pretty penny. In fact, one report found that a barebones in-house marketing team costs around $68,000 annually, while the total cost of hiring a digital agency comes out to around $72,000. Hiring freelancers is generally more affordable. If you head over to Upwork, you’ll find digital marketing freelancers who charge anywhere from $10 and $100+ per hour. Please just keep in mind that the hourly rate you pay is going to depend on the freelancers experience, knowledge, reviews, and client portfolio. If you’re looking for a true expert, expect to pay for it.
- It provides greater flexibility. Freelancers usually work with one client at a time, meaning that they will dedicate themselves to a client, make immediate changes to meet their needs, and be there for them when they need them the most.
- Freelancing goes beyond geography. Companies now have access to a global talent pool and an opportunity to hire top employees, irrespective of their location.
It’s Easier for Freelancers to Get Noticed
Freelancing knocks down geographic barriers and provides a great deal of flexibility. And as is continues to surge in popularity, it’s easier than ever for freelancers to market themselves, as well as the services they provide.
Here are some of the most popular ways freelancers are marketing themselves in 2019…
- Freelance platforms. Many freelancers use freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr to spread the word about their services. In fact, Upwork has more than 12 million freelancers registered – and counting!
- Savvy freelancers treat LinkedIn as more than an online CV. It’s a place where they can highlight their skills, as well as build relationships with potential clients. Catchy summaries, professional headshots, and relevant endorsements all demonstrate that someone is serious about their freelancing career.
- A personal website. Most freelancers these days have personal websites that tell prospective new clients who they are and what they do. And many choose their personal name as their domain name so that when a client Google’s them, their website is the first thing they see.
New Technologies Simplify Workflow
Ten years ago, working remotely was extremely challenging since the telecommunications infrastructure wasn’t developed enough, and most general office tools weren’t designed for people working outside of an actual office.
As the number of solopreneurs and freelancers has grown, however, new collaborative tools have been developed that connect people in ways never thought possible 10-15 years ago:
- Calendar tools like Google Calendar make it easy to stay on top of meetings and plan activities proactively
- Project management tools like Slack, Trello, Asana, and Basecamp make real-time collaboration quick and seamless
- PayPal and Square make sending – and receiving – payments as simple as pressing a button
- Cloud storage tools like Box andDropboxmake it easy to store and share files, as well as digitally secure them
- Video chat tools like Skype or Zoom give new meaning to the phrase “face-to-face” meetings
The Traditional Approach to Work Has Changed
Several studies have found that most people are only productive for about three hours, out of a standard 8-hour workday. Freelancing is completely redefining how people approach their careers since it affords much more flexibility – and freedom.
- Freelancers are able to pick and choose the projects they want to work on, verses being delegated a laundry-list of tasks from management that they have no interest in working on.
- If they need to take a day off to care for a sick child, or run out to a dr. appointment, there’s not the red-tape of asking HR for permission. There’s better work-life balance, since they control both workflow and obligations.
- They control their destiny. Freelancers can earn as much – or as little – as they desire. It’s all a matter of motivation.
The benefits of freelancing are far too important to ignore, both for employers and for freelancers.
For a freelancer, this means a healthier work-life balance and greater flexibility, as well as the opportunity to expand into different industries and work on a variety of different projects.
For employers, this means access to a larger and more diverse talent pool, as well as decreased overhead and the ability to cherry-pick freelancers for highly-specialized projects (which will ensure the most favorable outcome).