Upwork and Freelancers Union recently released the results of their 2016 Freelancing in America survey. This was the third year they’ve interviewed 6,000 workers about the state of freelancing.
Here are the four major takeaways from this year’s survey:
1) Freelancing is growing fast
This year, 55 million workers identified as freelancers. Freelancers make up 35% of the working population! The number of freelancers increased by 2 million in the last 2 years. At this rate, we can expect around 60 million freelancers by the end of the decade.
Where are they finding clients?
Half of the freelancers polled find jobs online with 50% finding clients within three days of searching. Two-thirds say that the portion of work they found online increased from last year. Most freelancers agreed that having a diverse portfolio of clients was better than having one large client.
2) Freelancers are making good money
This year freelancing contributed an estimated $1 trillion dollars to the economy!
This number was boosted by an uptick in client work. In fact, half of the freelancers polled saw increased demand for their services in the past year. These freelancers also expect their income to increase from 2015.
Incomes are increasing because freelancers are starting to charge what they’re worth. Nearly half of the freelancers raised their rates in the past year and more than half plan to raise them next year.
Are full-time workers doing better income-wise?
Not really. The majority of freelancers who left a full-time job reported they were making more than their previous salary within a year.
3) Freelancing is more attractive than a traditional job
This year, 63% of freelancers say they started by choice instead of necessity, up from 54% in 2014. Freelancing is moving away from being something that you do between jobs and becoming something that you choose as a career.
A majority of people, 79%, said that freelancing was more enjoyable than their previous jobs. The reasons cited were greater flexibility and freedom. Full-time freelancers report feeling engaged, respected, accomplished, empowered and free.
Freelancers didn’t have to put in as much time as full-time workers to feel those benefits; most freelancers only worked 36 hours per week and reported that they had enough client work.
Half of freelancers polled said there was no amount of money that would make them go back to a traditional job.
4) Freelancing is becoming more widely accepted
63% of respondents felt that the attitude around freelancing as a career was becoming more positive and 84% of freelancers think the best days are ahead.
What does all this mean for the future of freelancing?
A continued shift in the perception of freelancing is a great thing for freelancers! The more mainstream freelancing becomes the more companies and entrepreneurs will be willing to work with freelancers. In addition, the more rights freelancers can hope to be granted in future legislation.
Freelancing is experiencing a golden age. The conditions are perfect to succeed on your own terms as a freelancer.
If you’re interested in getting started, check out my post on what you need to know about making the leap into freelancing.