Freelancing as a long-term viable career option is becoming more widely accepted.
With an estimated 55 Million Americans taking advantage of contract work, that translates to 35% of the total workforce. And that number isn’t likely to decrease, according to a recent study conducted by UpWork and the Freelancers Union*. They define Freelancers as “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project or contract-based work” and estimate that the number has grown by 2 million since 2014.
With that many fleeing the cubicles of Corporate America, it’s no wonder that an entire cottage industry designed to support them has sprung up. From infrastructure such as business telephone services that mimic a traditional company phone tree, to co-working spaces that offer the perks of an office, including an address, conference room and private office space, a freelancer can look like a one-person boutique or a 50 person agency, depending on their preference.
It’s also no wonder that freelancing professionals report a higher level of satisfaction, with 79% of survey respondents saying they felt respected, empowered and excited to start each day. Texas Freelancers have reported to the Texas Freelance Association that they’re able to enjoy a better work-life balance by breaking for a movie mid-day, practicing yoga or playing with their pets to alleviate stress. By having project-based work they’re able to set their own schedule and meet deadlines resulting in increased productivity, rather than simply putting in a requisite number of hours.
Finding gigs has also never been easier. Technology and the advent of websites like UpWork, Freelancer.com and Indeed all index hundreds of remote, telecommute and contract jobs from around the globe. 77% of UpWork’s survey respondents say they have used these avenues to find work and 66% say that they’ve increased the number of projects they’ve landed in the last year with the help of technology.
This is good news for employers as well. With a lush talent pool and the ability to find and pay for the best of the best, they have less overhead, since they only pay for the hours they need and aren’t responsible for taxes or benefits.
There are drawbacks, of course. Self-employed professionals are responsible for paying their own taxes and finding their own health care. Often health insurance isn’t as affordable as a company plan or offers less coverage. Finding work can also be feast or famine, and the holidays in particular can be a money stretch with many companies holding off until the New Year to start projects with a fresh budget. Other times, client demands can stack up, and being the salesperson, accountant, project manager and the sole employee can be daunting.
UpWork’s study seems to indicate, however, that the state of freelancing in 2016 is vibrant, healthy and on the rise.
*Source: UpWorks State of Freelancing 2016