The State of the Freelance Economy
The freelance workload
People are attracted to the lifestyle benefits of self-employment. But how chillaxed is freelancing in reality? Do we really have more leisure time than our nine-to-five cousins?
Almost a third of the respondents of The Freelance Industry Report worked more than 40 hours a week, while on Elance, just a fifth shared this result. One in five worked even only 11 - 20 hours. This suggests that online marketplaces are more popular with newbies and part-timers. Established full-timers tend to leave the bidding sites behind.
Motivations for freelancing
What inspires people to join the ranks of the self-employed? These were the top reasons given in the The Freelance Industry Report:
- Follow my passion (23%)
- Be my own boss (13%)
- More freedom and flexibility (8%)
- Downsized or laid off (14%)
One in three respondents identified as “accidental freelancers,” who had found independent work by circumstance rather than choice.
The State of the Freelance Market also asked respondents how and why they started freelancing: Had a full-time job and started freelancing on the side (40%)Laid off or downsized and turned to freelancing as an alternative (21%)Had always been a freelancer (18%)Freelancing temporarily while looking for a full-time job (9%)
Clearly, not all freelancers are lofty idealists. Many of us have taken the self-employed route for more pragmatic reasons.
Both surveys confirmed what we already knew: freelancing puts a smile on your face. The State of the Freelance Market found that 70% of freelancers are happier than when they were working in full-time jobs.
The Freelance Industry Report was even more optimistic. Nine out of 10 respondents claimed to be happier as freelancers. The State of Independence in America, a survey published by MBO Partners in September 2012, found that 86% of freelancers were satisfied with life.
Freelancing gets a bad rap for the perceived lack of job security. But freelancers themselves aren’t too worried. According to the the FIR, 58% of freelancers feel more secure now than they did in their full-time jobs. Only 5% felt strongly that working for an employer is more secure than freelancing.
Indeed, 55% said they would never consider going back to a regular job, regardless of salary. Thirty-six percent said they would consider an offer; only two percent said they would take any opportunity to get out of freelancing.
It only gets better
By all accounts, the future looks bright. Freelancers are working more, earning more, and loving every minute of it. While employees lose sleep over their shrinking job markets, independent workers are enjoying their time in the sun. This could be a very good year to join the freelance revolution.
The 2012 Freelance Industry Report was published in August last year by Ed Gandia of the International Freelancers Academy. Ed surveyed over 1500 freelancers around the world.
The State of the Freelance Market was published the following month by Elance, one of the biggest online marketplaces for freelance jobs. Over 3000 service providers took part in the study.