The number of freelancers and independent contractors has been growing rapidly in the United States and represent an interesting trend in the American workforce. More and more people are venturing away from traditional full-time, 9-to-5 jobs to work as a freelancer on a project basis.
Who exactly are these freelancers?
- Freelancers or independent contractors are “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, or project- or contract-based work”
- There are approximately 53 million freelancers in the United States, which make up about 34 percent of the American workforce.
- Freelancers add roughly about $715 Billion into the economy.
- Freelancers make up 5 categories:
- Independent Contractors – Most freelancers are also called independent contractors. Independent contract do not hold traditional, full-time employment. Instead, they do freelance or temporary work on a project-to-project basis.
- Moonlighters – Moonlighters have the best of both worlds. They had a traditional, full-time job but also freelance on the side as well.
- Diversified Workers – Diversified workers earn their income from multiple income streams, including part-time employment and freelance projects.
- Temporary Workers – A temporary worker is someone who is working on a single project or for a single client at any given time. However, this position is only temporary.
- Freelance Business Owners – A freelance business owner is someone who is a freelancer and a small business owner at the same time.
Why do people choose to freelance?
There are many reasons why more and more Americans are choosing to freelance over traditional. Here’s why:
- The number one reason why people choose to freelance is income. Since they are not limited to how many projects they take on, they have the potential to earn more. Roughly 77% of freelances said they make the same or more money they did before they started freelancing.
- Many people also freelance because of the flexibility. They are not tied to a office for any period of time. Instead, they can work from anywhere, whenever they want. This promotes work-life balance and generally, a happier workforce.
- Freelancers also enjoy the freedom to do what they want. They have control over what kind of projects to take on, who to work on them with, and how much time to devote. They don’t report to anyone like they do at a traditional job. It allows for much more creative freedom.
Freelancing has it’s drawbacks too.
Of course, freelancing isn’t for everyone. Along with it’s many benefits, they are drawbacks to freelancing as well:
- The biggest drawback to freelancing is unstable (unpredictable) income. With a full-time job, you get a paycheck every two weeks as long as you show up for with. With freelancing, you are only paid for the projects you complete. There may be months when there are less projects and therefore, less income.
- It is difficult to consistently find work. As a freelancer, you are often looking for new projects.While the internet has made it easier and easier to find new jobs, it still takes a time to build a network and a portfolio.
- You could be called into work at the last minute so you have to maintain a flexible schedule.
- You do not get benefits from your employer as a freelancer. Benefits that full-time employees enjoy such as health and dental insurance come out-of-pocket expenses for freelancers. They are also substantially more expensive.
What is the future of freelancing?
Despite the challenges that freelancers face, they are here to stay. In fact, nearly 77% of freelancers says their best days are still ahead for the freelancer job market. There are more and more websites and applications that freelancers can use to help them connect with potential clients, such as Elance and oDesk.
Almost everyone I know is considering becoming a free agent and a freelancer. What about you?