Takeaways from the Freelancing in America: 2017 Report

Takeaways from the Freelancing in America: 2017 Report

Planning on shedding your corporate gig for a life of freelancing? A new report by Upwork and Freelancers Union, Freelancing in America: 2017, predicts that the majority (50.9%) of professionals will be freelancers in ten years’ time. That’s a big claim (and one that might not necessarily come to fruition), but it does suggest a major trend toward a new way people are preferring to work: as their own boss.

The report is full of information on the state of freelancing. Here are our big takeaways.

Not All Freelancers Are Millennials

The current percentage of the workforce that is freelancing is sizeable, at 36%. And while freelance workers skew younger (50% are millennials), nearly 28% of workers in their 50s and 60s freelance.

Speaking with Forbes, Michael Ting, Senior Vice President at Hyperwallet, notes that many workers above the age of 50 have found that digital freelance job platforms make it easier to tout the skills they have compared to traditional routes, like word of mouth.

“You’ve now got these tech platforms and marketplaces where you can take a more passive approach—list your profile and talk about what it is you are skilled at and they will connect you with people who will pay you for those services. That’s a very different paradigm. It lowers the barrier for anybody to be able to participate.”

Traditional job hunting requires a conversation to uncover what the employer and prospect want out of the engagement. Online freelance job platforms have provided a space to make those goals clearer before a conversation is initiated. This helps to eliminate any discrepancies about what work is needed by the employer and what kind of payment will be needed by the employee. In a traditional job search, multiple conversations may take place before each party’s goal is clearly understood.

Elaine Pofeldt, author and contributor to Forbes, believes online platforms make freelance work more appealing to those who face age discrimination when applying for traditional jobs. Traditional employers may also fear salary requirements of a senior worker might be too high for their business to afford. Freelance work helps subvert this belief by sharing payment requirements up front.

Working freelance has proved to be a successful way for experienced workers to get around stressful job barriers.

Freelance Workers Are Making Good Money

Breaking another freelancer stereotype, the report notes that nearly two-thirds of freelancers said they make more money now than when traditionally employed. If that has you rethinking your desk job, this statistic might push you out the door: 75% of freelancers said the pay increase happened in the first year of freelancing. To get an idea of how much money freelancers are making, the report notes that 36% are making $75K or more.

According to Diane Elizabeth, a freelance consultant and blogger who spoke with Lifehacker.com, the ability to control your schedule gives you the freedom to take on more work:

“With a full-time job, you do have the advantage of income security — you won’t make less than your salary — but you don’t have the ability to earn significantly more. As a freelancer, you are usually working on a project by project basis—-which means you aren’t really committed to a set number of hours per week. That frees you up to add on more clients and earn significantly more.”

Of course, there are many added costs to working on your own. Without an employer paying for health insurance, technology and other tools they can add up. It’s important to know what those costs will be for you when you’re starting out.

We anticipate that as many new freelancers will be added to the workforce over the next 10 years, coworking space will be more in demand than ever. Determining which type of coworking environment, if any, is best for you is a critical first step to a new office search. You must take your working habits, clientele and desired location into consideration before you commit.

As coworking spaces are trending towards more casual, open environments, the number of spaces with a more traditional, professional office environment are becoming harder to find. If you’re an experienced freelance worker, you understand the need for a professional-looking work environment to host clients. At Avenue Business Center our goal is to maintain the feel of a more traditional work environment by offering quiet, private offices, strategically located at 500 Michigan Avenue.

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