In a 2016 article, Tam Pham — author at The Hustle and one of the first team members of Hustle Con Media — predicted "Within the next four years, 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers who are working for more than one company at any given time."
Pham was not far off the mark.
According to a 2020 report, an estimated 59 million Americans worked as freelancers in the past year — the equivalent of 36% of the nation’s workforce — and the number of US freelancers is continuously growing and expected to surpass 90.1 million by 2028.
A substantial percentage of the labor force started freelancing for the first time at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. And, largely because of the pandemic, employers have been forced to concede that what we work on can be unmarried from where we work.
That means workers with marketable skills have options and can stipulate their own work terms. With freelance work offering income diversification, schedule flexibility and increased productivity — and the declining quality of jobs — it’s not hard to see why freelancing has increased during the pandemic.
In fact, freelancing is growing faster than the traditional workforce.
With all of these people freelancing, how can you stand out and succeed as a freelancer?
Keep reading to find out how you can make sure you're the one getting hired...
You’ve seen the headlines:
“The Freelance Revolution Is Just Getting Started: Key Trends In 2022”
“Should You Go Freelance in 2022?”
“Freelancing in 2022: What Will Happen?”
And my personal favorite:
“70% employers plan to hire freelancers in 2022; here are the top skills they are looking for”
Why all the talk about freelancing lately? Turns out, people don’t like being overworked and underpaid.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center found low pay, lack of opportunity and feeling underappreciated drove millions of people to quit their jobs in 2021. Many of the workers surveyed said they felt “disrespected” at work.
In August of 2021 alone, a record-breaking 4.3 million Americans, or 2.9% of the workforce, quit their jobs according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
At the risk of stating the obvious, things are changing.
"The Great Resignation" is legit, and it is affecting nearly every industry.
The way we work is evolving. Or, as James Rhyu, the Chief Executive Officer of Stride, Inc., writes, "For generations, our jobs have been largely and intimately intertwined with our sense of self. Derek Thompson, a noted writer at The Atlantic, says this is due, in part, to 'workism,' or the idea that work is the “centerpiece of our identity, the focal point of our lives.” Then came the pandemic, and everything we thought we knew about the workplace and our role in it quickly dissolved."
Some of the people who quit their jobs did so because of the issues already mentioned as well as child care issues, limited flexibility of working hours, poor benefits and wanting to relocate. Combine these factors with record inflation and it’s not hard to see why people are quitting their jobs in droves.
And many of those people are looking to freelancing as an alternative from the traditional workplace.
As you may have noticed…
For many different reasons, a large number of people are seeking alternative work opportunities, like freelancing.
Increasingly, people are opting to forgo their regular paycheck and their commute to transition from full-time to freelance.
Consider these statistics from Psychology Today:
If you’re a freelancer, or you’re thinking of becoming one, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good way to make money. The truth is that there are many advantages and disadvantages to freelancing — it really depends on your own circumstances and personality.
The real question you need to ask is, "How much money do you want to make?
Freelancing can be a great way to make money on the side, but it's important to note that this isn't something you can do without putting in some serious effort. You'll need to build up a portfolio of clients who will trust you enough to hire you for jobs, and if you're just starting out, that process can take some time.
The more time and energy you put into the process, the faster your freelance business will grow. And if you're able to market yourself successfully, it's possible that you could earn more money from freelancing than from a full-time job.
There are a few advantages to freelancing.
First, you get to make your own hours and set your own schedule. That means that you have more control over your life. You can work on the things that are important to you when it is most convenient for you.
Secondly, you get to choose the clients and projects you take on. That means you're always working on something relevant to your skills and interests. You don't have to deal with office politics or worrying about what other people think about your work—you can focus on creating something amazing for your client and yourself.
Thirdly, you can work from home or wherever is convenient for you. For many freelancers — count me among them — this is one of the most important benefits of the freelance lifestyle. If you have children, this means that you can be there when they need you. And it’s not just parents who benefit from being able to break up their day in this way. If you want to go to the gym in the middle of the day, no problem! Or if you’re working on something intensely, and want to keep going until it’s finished, again no problem!
These types of flexible work arrangements are attractive to many people — especially those who would like to get out of commuting or who want to be able to be with family more often. And for the person who prefers not to work in a traditional office setting, freelancing provides an alternative that allows them to dictate exactly how their workspace looks and feels. You have complete control over your work environment.
Finally, as a freelancer, you have the ability to earn a higher income than if you had a regular job. A 2015 study by Payoneer found:
Of course freelancing isn’t all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to undertaking a freelance career. One of the disadvantages of freelancing is that there is no guarantee of consistent income, so it can be difficult to pay bills if work dries up.
Not to mention, you're technically self-employed, so you'll have to pay quarterly estimated taxes. Plus, freelancers have to "sell" their services and find clients who will pay them to do projects for them. And that doesn't happen automatically. That means you may have to develop skills (sales, project management, client management) that you didn’t need as an employee. And, as a freelancer, there's no one else to blame if a project goes sideways.
Freelancing can be a great way to earn money, but you need to know what you're doing and how to protect yourself.
Even though I’ve been a freelancer for well over a decade, I still get asked the same questions. And one of the most frequent is: “With so many people going freelance, is freelancing even worth it?”
My answer is a resounding “Yes!” Even though freelancing has become more competitive over recently, there are more opportunities than ever.
First, more and more companies are outsourcing work.
Companies have realized that they can get work done faster and at lower costs by outsourcing it. For instance, rather than paying full-time employees benefits and health insurance as well as hiring an HR manager and an accountant to manage payroll, companies can simply pay freelancers for the work they do.
This also means that there's more work for freelancers.
And the best part is that this increase in freelance work is not a temporary thing. As people go mobile, they're also starting to work from home a lot more. This is a trend that's expected to continue for decades.
Freelancing offers flexibility and balance in a way that many young people value. The genie is out of the bottle when it comes to people reporting to factories and offices as a default setting for work. The factors that led to that kind of workplace are gone, and they aren't coming back.
The irony is that the reasons for this shift were not foreseen by any of the big forces that pushed for it. The big corporations didn't want decentralization; they wanted economies of scale and lower labor costs. The big unions didn't want it; they wanted more rank-and-file members, who were easier to organize in giant factories than at small workplaces. The government didn't want it; the private sector was supposed to be the engine of economic growth, and making it harder for the private sector to grow would only weaken the economy. And most individuals did not want it; if you'd asked people in 1960 what they wanted, almost all would have said "more security."
But now no one really wants to go back to an era when everything was centralized and everyone had job security. People today like having more choices. They like being able to get a different job if they don't like their current one, or working on their own if they don't like working for someone else.
Finally, technology makes it easier than ever to work from home.
There are more freelance marketplaces than ever before (This post from Jacob Share lists more than 90 of them!) with LinkedIn even throwing their hat in the ring with the announcement of their Service Marketplace.
A few years ago, the main freelance platform was Upwork. Today, you can find work on Fiverr, PeoplePerHour and many other freelance platforms. In fact, there are so many websites where you can find freelance gigs that most freelancers don't even know them all! That's how competitive it is.
Not to mention other tech services and tools like payout solutions and platforms to manage your freelance business.
You're probably aware that as demand for freelancers continues to increase, so does the competition. To be honest, it can become a little overwhelming if you attempt to “break into” the freelance market without being on top of things.
But if you're willing to work hard and hustle and put in long hours, there are three reasons why now is the perfect time to launch your freelance career.
There are 4.95 people online today — that’s 62.5% of the world's total population — and by 2030, that number will grow to 7.5 billion. That means that there are more potential clients to pitch than ever before. And many of these new people who have come online for the first time will have disposable income for the first time in their lives. They'll need help with everything from writing to coding to marketing - so if you're willing to put in the work and learn a specific skill, it will be easier for you to build a career as a freelancer now than ever before.
Plus, it’s easier to reach people who need your help than ever before. And there are more tools to help you deliver your products and services than ever before.
Bottom line: It's easier than ever to work remotely and the number of people who can pay you for your services online has grown exponentially.
It's never been easier to actually start a freelance business. You don't need an LLC or a DBA or any other type of legal structure - all you need is a computer and an internet connection and you can start pitching work right away. It's still important to get insurance and protect yourself against lawsuits, but you don't need any licenses or special certifications (depending on your industry), you don't need an accountant, lawyer or a note from the principal -- you can just get started!
Practically anyone can start freelancing in their spare time and make some extra money using only the smartphones in their pockets. This has made freelancing much more accessible and appealing for people who might want to get into it but don't want to go all in at first.
The barrier of entry is lower than ever before.
Freelancing gives you the freedom to choose the projects that interest you most and decide how much time you want to devote to your practice.
Freelancing offers flexibility in many ways: You can design your own schedule, take time off when you need it and even work from anywhere in the world.
As a full-time freelancer, there is no one standing over you telling you what to do each day. When you set your own schedule you have more control and more opportunity to find a work-life balance.
Maybe you’re a night owl who used to work a 9-5? Well, now you can take advantage of your most productive time and work with exciting companies… in the middle of the night!
To fully understand how to become an in-demand freelancer in 2022, you need context and perspective. You need to know what freelance jobs exist out there, what technology will be important and which opportunities you should pursue. Here are three ways to become an in-demand freelancer this year.
There are tons of blog posts and YouTube videos out there advising you to “chase your passion” but my advice is to find a marketable skill and learn how to sell it.
There is nothing wrong with chasing your passion but it rarely pays the bills, especially in the early days. Look for skills that are in high demand but in short supply.
You don't have to be good at everything—just one or two things. Get really good at those things and get known for them by marketing those skills on social media, through email campaigns, or by collaborating with other freelancers so you can cross-promote each other's work.
One of the most important ways to differentiate yourself is to make sure you're excellent at what you do. Work hard, commit yourself fully to your work and the pursuit of excellence, and don't settle for anything less than stellar results.
Maybe you’ll choose to specialize in working with a certain type of client (nonprofits, for example). Or, perhaps you plan to carve out a niche for yourself offering a high-demand skill.
Another way to stand out is by expanding your skill set. The more skills you have, the more valuable you become—and the more likely it is that companies will come looking for you when they need someone with your particular expertise.
You could start by reading up on news pertaining to your industry and then demonstrating that knowledge in your communications with clients. For example, if a client is a restaurant owner and there has recently been controversy about minimum wage laws or health inspections, you could bring those issues up and show that you've been paying attention to what's going on in the food service world. By demonstrating that kind of expertise, you're showing potential clients that you're a serious professional who knows what they're talking about.
No matter what kind of work you do, the ability to learn new skills is a fundamentally important part of being an in-demand freelancer.
The job market is constantly changing, so it's important to have the ability to learn new skills on the fly. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you pick up new skills.
This can help you to continue to meet the demands of clients as technology and other factors change, and it will also help you branch out into new opportunities if your current field begins to dry up.
In fact, there was a very fascinating study that was done a couple of years back which showed that freelance workers upskill themselves 50% more than full-time employees.
Freelance work is becoming ever more popular, with estimates claiming that freelancers will make up the majority of the workforce in the US by 2027. This shift is down to two major factors: the growth of the gig economy and the rise of remote working.
As a result, it’s important to look ahead and consider where these trends are taking us. Here are our predictions for what lies ahead for freelance work and how it will impact you.
We’ll see the number of people who choose to freelance continue to rise
The popularity of freelancing is easy to understand: It offers flexibility, freedom and control over every aspect of your career. But just as it has changed our working lives, freelancing is set for further evolution – creating even greater opportunities for independent professionals everywhere.
With technology fuelling an increasingly interconnected world, it’s never been easier to create a brand that reaches customers anywhere on the planet. And with this increase in opportunity comes an increased demand for talent that can deliver on these expectations. Freelancers will become an ever more attractive option for businesses looking to get their products and services out there, so expect demand for freelance services to explode over the coming years. According to Zippia:
More companies will turn to freelancers to get work done
Freelancers used to be seen as the poor cousin of in-house talent. Companies used freelancers to fill in resource gaps or for projects that could wait a few weeks. Companies would rather hire an employee than a freelancer because employees give them a sense of control and reliability.
But things have changed over the years. Freelancers are now as good as full-time employees, if not better at times. Many companies now prefer hiring freelancers over full-time employees because they are more cost-effective and reliable.
“As the nature of the workforce becomes more fluid, more businesses are realizing the value of a flexible resource they can call upon when needed,” said Robert Clarkson, chief revenue officer at Payoneer.
Freelancers will adapt to trends like automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML)
55% of American freelancers are worried about how automation — a term used to describe an increase in automatic procedures and a decrease in human input — will affect their livelihood. Conversely, only 29% of non-freelancers have the same concern.
In the next few years, freelancers will need to adapt to trends like automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning.
As these technologies continue to develop, they will make a huge impact on how the work of freelancers is defined. In order to remain competitive in the future job market, freelancers will have to learn how to work alongside these new tools, and in some cases, may even have to create them themselves.
Freelancers who take the time now to learn about these innovations, and begin applying them in their own work, are sure to be more successful when the time comes for them to enter the job market fully.
Freelancing is the way of the future and you need to keep up with it in order to make it big. If you want to stand out and succeed as a freelancer, Predictions for freelancers in 2022 will help you understand what it takes to succeed in 2022 and beyond so that you won’t have to worry about making money again!
Whether you want to work from home to spend more time with your kids or you want the freedom and flexibility of being able to work from anywhere in the world, I can confidently say that freelancing is possible for you—and Predictions for freelancers in 2022 dives even deeper into the current state of freelancing, which trends you can expect to see in 2022 and beyond, and also how you can continue to be successful in 2022. You can even download a PDF version of the guide!
There has never been a better time to start (or grow) a freelance business.
If you're willing to put in the work, as long as you follow some of the advice above, you'll be well on your way to enjoying a successful freelance career. And don't be afraid to share this advice with any other would-be freelancers you know who might benefit from it. Think of this article as a gift from one freelancer to another.