State of Freelancing 2015, Part 2: The Segments, Demographics, and Challenges
In the first part of this two-part series, we covered the growth around the world in the freelance industry as more people discover the benefits of working for themselves, setting their own schedules, finding more interesting work and gaining a better work-life balance on their terms.
Which Type of Freelancer are You?
The more than 53 million freelancers that now work in the U.S. have become so diverse that our State of Freelancing 2015 Industry Report has put them in five different categories. The percentages listed don’t add up to an even 100% in the studies that have been conducted, indicating that many people listed themselves as working in more than one category:
- 40% are freelancers
- 27% are moonlighters, meaning they have a regular day job and do freelance work on the side for extra money or as the precursor to transitioning to a full-time freelancer
- 18% are diversified workers, meaning they do a little bit of everything
- 10% are temporary workers, opting to work on a project by project basis when something comes up
- 27% are freelance business owners, which means they have put a formal framework to their business and may even have grown as much to have hired others to work on projects
Types of Freelance Careers
While it’s possible to freelance in almost every type of business service category, the most freelancers can be found in creative services, consisting of 42.3% of the total group, according to Credit Donkey. Creative services includes writers, graphic designers, and photographers.
The next largest group is operational support at 30.5%. This group has those that specialize in data entry as well as virtual assistants.
It makes the most sense that these types of freelancing careers are the largest given the ability to access tools and share the type of work produced so easily online.
The Gender Line in Freelancing
The 2012 Freelance Industry Report also found that the majority of freelancers are women (71.1%) while just 28.9% are men. It makes sense that this new career path has been taken up by so many women because they recognize that they can enjoy the best of both worlds and wear multiple hats as Business Owner, Mom, and Wife. It ticks so many boxes, including saving money on childcare and other expenses while providing a second income that helps the family on many levels.
Kudos to Technology for Making This All Possible
According to the Edelman Berland survey, the majority of these freelancers (69%) stated that they realize that technology, including the Internet and Social Media, changed the career game for them and made finding work easier and essentially created their jobs for them.
Prior to the introduction of technology, which opened up companies to the idea of hiring a virtual staff, the idea of freelancing was simply that – an idea. Now, it’s a reality that many are so appreciative they have, versus having to be a 9-to-5 employee.
There is Some Small Print with This Career
Even those that praise their freelance career will tell you that there are challenges to address along the way. These challenges include finding affordable health insurance as a self-employed person, which can be a significant cost and one that you must carry given recent laws that require you to do so. This can be handled by shopping around for health insurance because there are more options to choose from and a system in place that can deliver those plans that work within your income.
Another critical issue is how to get out of the money-for-time cycle, which leads many to realize they are working all the time out of fear that the future workflow won’t deliver enough to cover the bills. While it is easy to get in the trap of take the work while you can get it, you can still turn work down or suggest different deadlines to provide a more manageable schedule that still earns you what you need and want to make. Even something like changing your rates can take you out of the money-for-time cycle.
Other challenges are staying motivated throughout the day, combatting isolation, and growing beyond a one-person business. All of these are minor issues that can be solved with various tactics, including setting a schedule, using the flex time to socialize with friends or family, and considering the use of temporary help when the workflow gets too much.
The Bottom Line on Freelancing
Despite these challenges, all the freelancers I know will tell you that they wouldn’t trade this career for anything. On so many levels, the benefits outweigh what are minor issues most of which can be solved fairly easily.
As more people figure out that a freelancing career is profitable and sustainable, it will be interesting to see what the next decade brings for these masters of their own destiny.
Read Part 1: