Freelancing: More Legitimate than Ever

Paul Cypert
January 30, 2023

Chances are, if you’ve been thinking about starting a freelancing career or working as a freelancer for a while, you have been asked by friends or family members when you plan to get full-time employment.

Though freelancing has exploded in popularity in recent years, many still see it as a lower-tier career choice than becoming a doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. 

But this is outdated thinking. Freelancing is every bit as vital and viable as traditional job roles. Thanks to technological developments and changes in workers’ values, there’s been a rapid shift in who enters the freelance market and the types of jobs they’re working. 

Today, freelancing isn’t something you do while waiting for a “real offer” to come around. It’s become an aspirational job for many. Now, you’ll often hear about someone working an office job in order to secure a future role as a freelancer. 

The Freelancing industry has shifted from something you’d have to figure out on your own to something supported by freelancer networks using cutting-edge technology. Thanks to developments in freelancer networks like ours, you can enjoy many perks that one would previously miss out on when freelancing. For example, you now enjoy access to a dedicated network of freelancing professionals and account managers that share with you and help foster your career growth. 

How many freelancers are out there?

Female freelancers in a co-working space

You’ve no doubt heard anecdotal reports of freelancing growth in recent years.

The small increases in the sector were ramped up during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, and almost every news source has run some type of story on the shift in how Americans are working. But a look at the data paints an even more dramatic picture. The current freelance statistics show an explosion and upsurge that will cause long-term transformation in the American labor market. 

Over one-third of America’s entire labor force did freelance work in 2020, contributing over $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy. That’s over 5% of America’s total GDP. 

The freelance economy has been booming since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since 2019, freelancing has increased by almost 25%, with more than 2 million people choosing freelance work over traditional jobs. 

The number of freelancers working full-time has nearly doubled since 2014, with more than 28% of Americans opting for full-time freelance work. The demand to hire freelancers is definitely huge!

Seeking the benefits of a freelance career

Male freelancers talking in a co-working space

Fewer workers choose freelancing out of necessity. They opt for it because of the perks available compared to working traditional jobs. Some of the benefits of independent work are obvious to most, but as the industry is growing, it’s bringing substantial changes and help in areas one wouldn’t expect as well.

Freedom to live the life you want

One of the biggest draws for many is the freedom associated with freelance work. 84% of surveyed freelancers claim that it allows them to live the life they want. 

Ability to work anywhere

Having the freedom to work wherever and whenever you want is another significant draw. With changes in technology, it’s possible to attend a meeting in Seattle from the beaches of Thailand. Surprisingly, most freelancers typically choose the comfort of their own homes over the beaches, though. 

Be your own boss

Having control over your work is one of the most significant reasons people turn to freelance work. If something doesn’t interest you and you don’t see the benefit, you can shift your focus to a new company or project. 66% of freelancers say that being their own boss is the biggest reason they choose freelance work. Hiring managers in both large multinationals and small businesses are also noticing this trend, with many looking for full-time freelancers to fill skill gaps in the global workforce.

Potential for more pay

You’d think that freelancers would make less than in traditional jobs. You get the freedom to work where you want and be your own boss. Surely, there must be a trade-off in salaries? But actually, this isn’t the case. 60% of freelancers make more than they did in their traditional jobs, and 70% earn more than traditional workers in similar roles.

In most cases, they enjoy increased benefits and freedoms in addition to a higher average salary. 

The fact is the lifestyle of traditional employees is becoming less appealing to those who have had a taste of gig work. When you can make more on an hourly basis on online freelancing platforms and perform work of your choosing, job security doesn’t mean as much.

Avoid financial and time costs

With gas prices on a sharp rise, many are choosing remote work to save on commuting costs. Key freelance statistics show that 15% of self-employed workers say that gas prices are a big reason they choose freelance work. Those savings are on top of time saved sitting in commutes. For many, that’s a chance to fill the time they would have spent commuting with exercise, personal study, or other ways of improving their quality of life. 

A boundaryless career

Man working freelance at a beach restaurant

Freelance work for those in developing countries has created opportunities for anyone with the right skills to get paid well for what they are good at.

Research conducted by the ILO shows that the number of freelancers in countries such as India and Brazil is growing exponentially. The study suggests that job flexibility, the ability to work independently, and the chance to increase their yearly earnings are all driving factors for self employed individuals from developing countries.

Skilled work is on the rise

When many think of the “gig economy,” they think of delivery services or non-skilled jobs. This is far from the truth. The US workforce alone adds thousands of new freelancers to its ranks weekly.

In fact, more than half of all workers with post-graduate degrees work freelance roles. These workers know their worth and value their personal time and choose to follow a different path to maximize their potential. 

While some freelancers love the freedom to work remotely and explore various subjects and topics, a growing number are opting to niche into a specialized field. Often, an independent contractor might find an area that fits them better and where multiple clients require their services. Over time, this helps them become more sought-after, allowing them to command higher prices for their expertise. Companies, especially those in creative industries, seek specialized freelancers to fill high-end business needs

This shift in the quality and expertise of the work delivered by freelance workers is helping change the perception of what’s possible outside of the traditional office. 

Types of freelance industries

Over half of all freelancers provide skilled services crucial to how a business operates in the modern world. Any job that requires a computer can feasibly be done off-site, opening up a raft of opportunities for independent contractors and remote workers with relevant technical skills.

Here are just a few roles where the freelance workforce is growing every day:

  • Computer Programming
  • IT tech Support
  • Digital Marketing
  • Business Consulting
  • Freelance Writers
  • Web design
  • Software development
  • Business Management
  • Real Estate
  • Translator
  • Video Editor
  • Data Analyst
  • Online Tutor/Tech Trainer
  • Search Engine Optimization

Thankfully, the times are changing

Perceptions change with time and exposure. Initially, online dating was seen as something for an extreme fringe group. Now, it’s widely accepted and the most common way relationships are formed.

Similarly, freelancing is gaining legitimacy. 

With more freelancers working in various roles worldwide commanding good pay, reports are surfacing that perceptions of their work are improving.

Over 60% of surveyed freelancers reported a more positive reception of their career choice from peers and viewed freelancing as a solid career path.  

This is exciting news for anyone who has been on the fringes looking in and maybe thought that freelancing wasn’t as respectable as a traditional 9-5 job. 

The time to get into freelance work is now

Woman doing web design on a computer

Freelancing offers a world of opportunities. But like any new growth industry, it’s better to get started before the rush, so you don’t miss out. Almost 60% of non-freelancers say they are considering freelancing in the future. 

Whether you choose to strike out on your own or join an outsourcing company is entirely up to you. However, if you choose the latter, you may not need to spend hours hunting for jobs and pitching to clients, as often, these companies have account managers who can do that for you. There are other online marketplaces that take a hands-off approach as well.

The best piece of advice is to get started early while you still can. Begin your freelancing career today. Whether you’re looking at starting a career as a freelance writer, designer, developer, or software engineer, to name a few, the possibilities are endless. Even if you just need some extra working hours to boost your bank account, are looking for like-minded people in a freelance network, or need to replace your full-time job completely, Quickly Hire has the flexible options and support you need to get started today. 

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