What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “freelance”?
Perhaps you think of someone who works from the comfort of their home with their laptop and smartphone nearby. And, how could you not? This is a reality for freelancers in the 21st century, thanks to digitalization. And this is a good thing.
The fact is, freelancing has been around for centuries.
References to the word “freelancer” date back to the early 19th century. Thomas N. Brown first used the term in The Life and Times of Hugh Miller (1809). In his book, Ivanhoe, written in 1819, Sir Walter Scott referred to it in 1820. As it appears in the book;
“I offered Richard the service of my freelancers, and he refused them: I will take them to Hull, seize the navigation and embark for Flanders; thanks to the turmoil of the times, a man of action will always find a job.
However, as we know, freelancing really picked up steam in the 21st. In 2017, Upwork reported that the growth of the freelance workforce is accelerating and has outpaced overall US workforce growth by 3 times since 2014. Freelancing was also expected to be on the way to represent the majority of the American workforce by 2027.
And then you know what happened in 2020. In the wake of the pandemic, the freelance revolution has now truly arrived. It is currently predicted that by 2028 there will be over 90 million freelancers in the United States alone, more than half of the entire workforce.
Why Freelancers Have More Options Than Ever Before
So why has freelance work become so popular that it’s considered the future of work? Well, here’s why.
As technology advances, freelancing will become more common. For this reason, a wide variety of workers, skills and jobs are available. Typically, technical skills are needed first, followed by creative skills.
It’s nearly impossible for businesses today to meet all of their technology needs with just a few employees or just one. To solve specific problems, they have to rely on temporary workers. In addition, freelancers evolve with technological advancements.
In addition to what the World Economic Forum calls an “acceleration in the adoption of new technologies”, automation has exposed a rapidly growing skills gap in the areas of artificial intelligence, encryption, big data, of the Internet of Things and non-human technologies. robotics.
Roles that require these specialized skills are difficult to fill for many companies. In addition to hurting productivity, it also adds financial stress. Are self-employment and the future of the workforce significantly different?
As companies struggle to find qualified staff, they increasingly rely on contractors to complete tasks that require specialized skills. Data analysts, big data experts, AI and machine learning specialists, software engineers, and IT security analysts will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. The availability of contract work creates many opportunities for freelancers with these skills to take on contract work to fill gaps and choose which companies to work with and how they spend their time.
Freelancing is growing in other industries.
At the same time, freelancing isn’t just for the creative industries anymore, according to Hayden Brown, president and CEO of freelancing platform Upwork.
“It’s also in all types of businesses,” Brown said. fast business. “We serve 30% of Fortune 100 companies. They’re using freelance talent in newer ways and family-owned stores. Small businesses realize that this is a workforce they can draw on. This affects all sectors of the economy, [and] all types of skills,” says Brown.
“Freelancers are in high demand in almost every skill area that can be performed in front of a computer.”
People choose to become independent.
Achieving a better work-life balance is the number one reason people choose to freelance, according to a FlexJobs survey. Seventy percent of respondents said their desire to be independent is linked to finding a better “rhythm” between their career and personal goals.
But wait. There is more.
- Additionally, 62% of survey respondents said flexible working hours were an important factor in their decision to become self-employed.
- It was also found that 56% of respondents said the freedom to work on their own terms is a great reason to go freelance.
- The ability to work anywhere and move without fear of losing your job is highly valued by 55% of respondents.
- 46% of people said they want to select their own projects.
- 45% of respondents said family responsibilities were the main reason they were self-employed.
- 38% of respondents said they wanted to stop commuting to work, both in terms of time and money.
- Among the respondents, 36% indicated that increasing productivity was their main reason for doing freelance work.
- The FlexJobs survey found that 35% of people are willing to freelance to save time and be more efficient.
- 30% cited avoiding office politics and distractions as the main reason for becoming independent.
Stimulation of creativity and deeper talent pool.
Freelancers have many opportunities to develop their creative skills. Access to diverse cultures and approaches for all fields is facilitated by exposure to international markets and various industries. Freelancers can thus adapt their activities and projects to different markets, thereby expanding their business.
Likewise, employers can tap into a deeper, more innovative and diverse talent pool. The best of all? They can do it anywhere.
Unlike a full-time or in-house team, employers can save money by hiring freelancers as needed. For example, they can outsource a web designer or IT specialist when building their website or troubleshooting. As a result, they can spend that money on other aspects of the business.
On the other hand, the freelance lifestyle allows freelancers to save money by not having to travel to work or buying clothes, meals, etc. expensive. Also, most freelancers only need internet access and a computer.
Moreover, starting as a freelancer is very affordable. For the first few months, you may just need to log on to freelance websites and platforms and pay for your internet service. When it comes to marketing, you can access social media for free.
Hybrid and remote working is here to stay.
Finally, the hybrid and the remote aren’t going anywhere even as the world returns to some normality. In fact, by changing their talent model to include both full-time and freelance employees, 90% of companies surveyed predict they will gain a competitive advantage in the future.
Also, unlike in the past, workers nowadays have more freedom to live where they want while still having access to various job opportunities. Additionally, a number of non-technical workers such as marketing consultants, insurance brokers, and financial workers are asking for permanent work-from-home opportunities.
Additionally, it is estimated that 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days a month by 2025. With more remote work opportunities, more people will turn to freelancing.
How to Land Your Next Indie Gig
Make no mistake, freelance work is growing. And, it’s never been easier to land a freelance job.
While you can go the tried-and-true route with referrals from friends, family, and colleagues, it can also be beneficial to join trade or industry associations where you can meet others who share your interests.
More convenient, however, you can use social media. First, of course, there’s LinkedIn. By joining groups, creating links and posting content on their platform, you could reach potential contacts. You can also search for freelance jobs on Facebook and Twitter.
And, you should definitely tap into the hundreds of freelance job websites. There’s Upwork, FlexJobs, Freelancer, Indeed, and Fiverr for general freelance work.
But there are also niche markets.
- Contena and Freelance Writing Gigs for writers.
- For designers, there are 99 Designs and Behance.
- Developers should check out Codeable.
- The Creative Loft is perfect for photographers.
- What about traders? Remotive and People Per Hour are worth exploring.
- If you’re in sales, check out ZipRecruiter or CommissionCrowd.
- Belay is a sold choice for virtual assistants.
- Customer support jobs can be found on We work remotely
One last tip. Whatever your field, you must have your own website. These days, you can easily do it yourself for just a few dollars. But the investment is worth it, as it gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills as a freelancer.
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; pexels; Thank you!
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