I’ve been freelancing for more than 10 years. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of changes. In many ways, the landscape is completely different than it was when I graduated from Syracuse with a journalism degree.
One of the biggest changes, though, is that I’m no longer an anomoly. There are millions of other freelancers out there, making livings as graphic designers, writers, coders, developers, and virtual assistants. There is a great deal of freelance work to be had, and it’s starting to change the way we do business.
Here are some of the ways the freelance economy might change business in the coming years:
Lower Overhead Costs
One of the biggest changes to business coming from the freelance economy is the cost of hiring people to accomplish certain tasks. In many cases, a freelancer costs much less than a “traditional” employee. Think about it: if your business hires a freelancer to take over some of the work, you don’t have to worry about the cost of benefits, your portion of the payroll tax, and you aren’t paying overhead costs for the space and equipment they need.
On top of that, there are a number of websites that make it easy to find inexpensive work. As a writer, I don’t like freelance marketplaces because of how low the prices are. However, I can see where a business owner looking for quick, cheap work would like these resources.
And, even though I charge more than what you find in a freelance marketplace, I can still be a good deal because a business owner doesn’t have to worry about paying all the perks that they have to pay a full-time employee.
If you can turn to crowdsourcing for some of your business needs, you can save a great deal of money.
Expectations of Flexibility
On the flip side, though, the freelance economy is changing the way many of us think of the work day. I don’t work from 9 am to 5 pm. I work when I want, fitting my schedule around my community involvement, raising my son, and other things that I want to do.
Sometimes this means I work on Saturday morning because I spent all day working on a podcast project I enjoy. It usually means that I have to keep up with my email while I’m on vacation. But it also means I can work from anywhere, and that I have the ability to say no to something I don’t want to do.
Because of the new freelance economy and the technology that makes it possible, there are plenty of others who expect to see a degree of freedom and flexibility. I know people who have “real” jobs who are arguing for the ability to come in during odd hours, or telecommute two or three times a week. They want flexibility and freedom because they see that it’s possibe with some jobs, even if they aren’t freelancers.
As technology makes it easier to perform certain tasks remotely, I think we’ll see that the freelance economy influences more than just the army of solopreneurs out there. It will change the expectations almost all worker have.