Fifty years ago, the expectation was that you would be in the same job until you retire. Today, 34% of the U.S. workforce are freelancers and that number is expected to reach 43% by 2020.
The shift is being driven by a few different factors.
First, the economy has been slow to recover since the Great Recession that started back in 2007. People have had to figure out how to survive in a terrible job market. But, now that the economy is recovering, people are finding that they prefer the flexibility and independence that comes with being their own boss.
According to Forbes, there are lots of reasons for the projected growth in the freelance lifestyle:
- Workers who enjoy pension plans in private companies in the US have declined alarmingly from 60% in 1982 to a mere 14% today. That’s much less people getting their retirement money and financial security from private US firms.
- Average rental costs increased by 13% in the US and yet median family income went down by 8% from 2000 to 2012. This means less buying power despite increased cost of living.
- According to the popular platform LinkedIn, the average length of time that people are unemployed is more than 25 weeks. This has propelled people looking for jobs into the freelance market.
- A study by two Oxford professors showed that developments in automation and computerization will put approximately 47% of jobs in the US at risk in the next 20 years. This is projected to affect workers in transportation, logistics, office and administration, and production.
Freelancing is an attractive option for people in all stages of life.
For younger workers, it can give you the flexibility to work whatever schedule suits your lifestyle. Older workers may find that they can have more creative control of their careers. Parents, on the other hand, can schedule work times around family needs.
The freedom and flexibility that come with freelancing have numerous benefits to people in all stages of life.
Freelancing is not without drawbacks, however. Getting and keeping clients, meeting deadlines and paying the bills is all on you:
You’ll have to pay your payroll taxes, an additional tax burden above what you pay as an employee of a firm.
With no matching funds from an employer, you’ll have to save for retirement.
You’ll have to purchase and pay for your own health insurance.
How To Succeed As A Freelancer
There are lots of habits you can put into practice if you want to be successful in the gig economy. Here are a few examples:
Maintain a current portfolio so you aren’t scrambling to put together work samples when a potential client asks.
Maintain a website and social media presence so you’ll look like an engaged professional.
Keep your professional business cards handy because you’ll never know when you might meet a potential client.
Always complete work on time as agreed. Your reputation is at stake!
Create contracts so that all terms are known and agreed upon.
Maintain relationships with past clients. They are more likely to give you repeat business and recommend you to other potential clients
Forbes points to the rapid rise of part-time freelancers as a big contribution to the rise of the gig economy. LinkedIn has seen a 100% increase of members adding freelance work to their profiles in the last 5 years.
Says Walker: “This is a way for (professionals) to take matters into their own hands and proactively have more control over their professional lives.”
Even if you have a full-time job, with wage stagnation, chances are you are still struggling. Working part time in the gig economy has become a popular option for many people, supplementing their incomes, giving them real world experience and allowing them the freedom to pursue creative jobs they otherwise might not get to do.
Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart, but it can be a totally liberating experience if you put your mind to it. There are many benefits to the lifestyle and they can really make all the difference in your life. Cutting your commute, for example, could prevent you from having a heart attack or stroke, according to some studies! Learn more about the rise of the gig economy from this infographic!
Inforgraphic by JOBVINE
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.