According to the latest data from Upwork and the Freelancers Union the freelance economy boasts more than 57 million workers. Forbes reports this is up 8% over 2014, and is only projected to grow.
The freelance workforce is growing at three times the rate of the traditional workforce, and freelancers are predicted to make up the majority of the American labor force by 2027.
If you’re contemplating going freelance, consider some of the reasons now is an ideal time to make the leap.
The Market Has Shifted
Freelancers are more in demand than ever before. Not only do small businesses need contract work, but corporations also hire freelancers.
Work done by non-traditional employees is expected to increase by 179% over the next 10 years, according to the 2018 Future Workforce HR Report released by Upwork.
Nearly half of companies currently use freelancers, and 9/10 hiring managers prefer hiring freelancers rather than making a temporary hire.
Companies can hire freelancers without making any long-term commitments and without offering a traditional benefits package.
Freelancers also possess the needed skills for the job, reducing any potential training time. Whether businesses need help designing a logo or writing a marketing plan, they don’t need to recruit a full-time employee and then train them to do the job. They can hire a freelancer from anywhere in the world.
With qualified workers hard to find, companies will continue to turn to freelancers to fill the void. More than half of HR managers used freelancers last year, and 57% expect to use freelance workers in the next 10 years, according to Upwork.
Before the rise of gig economy, companies were largely limited to local talent. That’s not the case anymore.
Freelance Work Offers Potential For More Money
A 9-to-5 job provides security of a steady paycheck, but there’s also a cap on that pay.
As a freelancer, the chances are slim that you’ll lose every income source all at once. If you lose a client, you find another to replace the income. And since you set your rates, clients, and the work you choose, there’s technically no limit to your earning potential.
Since launching her social media marketing freelance business in February, Ellen Yin, a Corvallis, Oregon-based freelancer, is earning significantly more than she did at her corporate job.
“Quitting my job without having something already lined up was a huge risk, but I decided no amount of money or false security was more valuable than my happiness, my dreams, and doing purposeful work,” Yin says. “Stepping out as my own boss has led me to more than double my corporate income, and experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like frequent traveling.”
Self-made millionaires have multiple income streams, and about half of the world’s millionaires own their own businesses. If you’re looking to do what you love and build wealth, freelancing is a viable way to make it happen. And the better you get at managing your freelance business, the more income you can bring in.
Many freelancing opportunities can pay upwards of $100 per hour. Professionals who work in artificial intelligence, for example, earn around $115 per hour, according to research from FitSmallBusiness. Freelancers who work in niche industries such as blockchain and robotics bring in more than $77 per hour.
When it comes to freelance wages, there are still strides to make, though—especially for women.
Female freelancers are paid a third less than men, according to a HoneyBook study. In general, women earn about 81% of what men earn; in creative fields, women make only 62% of what their male counterparts earn.
Technology Has Made Freelancing Easier Than Ever
Technology is one of the biggest drivers in the growth of freelancing. Online freelancing platforms are transforming the way freelancers work. Many sites, such as Upwork and CloudPeeps, allow workers to showcase portfolios, browse projects, pitch potential clients and receive proposals.
More than 3/4 of freelancers say technology has made it easier to find work.
With a laptop and a good WiFi connection, freelancers can perform everything from web design to app development for clients anywhere in the world.
Technology also streamlines the tedious tasks such as invoicing clients and tracking hours. Freelancers can track and log miles on their phone and bill clients directly from an app.
QuickBooks Self-Employed helps you send invoices, track expenses, track mileage, and save receipts from your smartphone. Try it free for 30 days.
Once freelancers connect with clients, it’s simple to become part of a virtual team. They can see clients face-to-face via Skype or send a quick message via Slack or Google Hangouts.
The workforce is shifting. Businesses are seeing the value that freelancers bring, and workers are seeing the opportunity freelancing offers over a traditional career.
Whether you have recently branched out on your own or you’re about to make the leap, now is an exciting time to be a freelancer.
Still on the fence about freelancing? Consider what author Timothy Ferriss writes in The 4-Hour Workweek.
“Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect.
“‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.”