There’s no argument today’s job market is tough. However, while an unforeseen virus quickly charged through the global economy, one element of the workforce still managed to flourish during 2020 lock-down– freelancers. This kept many asking; What is the future of freelancing?
With remote work developing into the ‘new norm’, COVID-19 undoubtedly accelerated the global freelance movement which found freelancers quickly sweeping in to fill the job gaps left by the rapidly spreading virus. But is the current freelancing boom caused by the pandemic just a temporary phenomenon? Certainly not and in fact, it’s here to stay because freelancing is the future.
Let’s first dive deeper into how the pandemic impacted the freelance industry and then cover the reasons why freelancing is indeed the future of work.
How the Coronavirus Reshaped the Freelance Industry
While some freelancers experienced a sudden drop in demand earlier in 2020, our findings, which analyzed global freelance demand back in the first half of 2020, proved that the gig-economy has indeed bounced back. This was mainly a result of more companies continuing to seek talented and flexible freelance workers, even during an economic crisis.
Furthermore, in July 2020, leading freelance marketplace, Upwork reported that more than 59 million Americans performed freelance work in the past year, a healthy 22% increase since 2019. When full-time employment quickly dwindled, the freelance industry picked up steam. Contracted employees were forced to work remotely, an environment in which freelancers already knew how to adapt to.
Why Freelancing is the Future of Work and is Here to Stay
Due to the pandemic, many professionals are now looking into freelancing to make a living and are taking advantage of the flexible lifestyle the gig-economy offers. In fact, a recent study by global freelance platform Fiverr reported that 68% of remote workers are interested in freelancing as a result of the crisis.
But the rise in remote professionals going freelance was basically predictable. As the global economy came to a halt, companies around the world were forced to let go of millions of employees from their full-time jobs and workers had to find additional ways to earn income and from home, and temporary gigs offered just that.
In addition, communication tools like Slack and Zoom provided a more flexible work environment, proving that almost any job could be done by anyone that has access to virtual communication tools.
What is the future of freelancing?
With that said, here’s why even after the pandemic, freelancing will continue to flourish.
1. Attractive Earning Potential
One of the many upsides that come with freelancing is the ability to charge your own rates and enjoy a more rewarding career. Freelancing can also offer greater flexibility and a better work-life balance, offering a higher level of lifestyle satisfaction. This is demonstrated in our 2020 Freelancer Income Report in which an average of 4 out 5 global freelancers stated they feel more satisfied with their way of living as a full-time freelancer.
Let’s just say that if you consider yourself self-disciplined, with excellent time management skills and know how to source for clients, freelancing can indeed offer you a very gratifying career.
Furthermore, Upwork’s recent Freelance Forward: 2020 report found that 75% of those who quit their full-time job during the pandemic in order to freelance earn just about the same or more when they were working for a traditional employer. And if after years of freelancing leads you to a more comfortable life financially, it can also be a good way to transition into retirement.
2. Fast Adaptation to Changes in the Workforce
As mentioned earlier, freelancers were able to adapt quicker than most of the workforce during the initial hit of the virus. Working from a home office was nothing new for freelancers, in fact, 83% of freelancers do the majority of their work from their homes. Therefore, during the peak of the pandemic, freelancers already knew how to effectively work remotely and keep communication open virtually, especially those who work for clients overseas, juggling different time zones.
Moreover, those who were freelancing before the pandemic, as in those who were running their own business or building themselves a brand, were already familiar with quick onboarding for new incoming projects and tasks and were accustomed to moving between clients. With freelancing, comes change, meaning you becomes less vulnerable to any surprises that may come your way while working.
3. Freelancers Are Their Own Brand
One of the things we quickly learned from the COVID-19 pandemic was that even contracted employees working at their 9-to-5 jobs for many years were still vulnerable to being laid off. While none of us truly thought we’d ever live through such a health crisis, one thing is for sure – no job is completely secure.
Freelancers on the other hand, despite many being hit hard during the initial spread of the virus, were able to bounce back and still have control over their own brand. At the end of the day, nothing can really take your brand away, as it’s your own equity. However, during unprecedented times like these, it is up to you to know how to market yourself and let your audience know the value you can offer.
4. Freelancing Boosts Skills & Training
Without a doubt, freelancing is a profession that can easily provide you with the opportunity to hone new skills and enhance current ones. With a plethora of online learning platforms, such as Coursera, Udemy and LinkedIn Learning offering courses on the most in-demand skills, it’s easier than ever to pick up a new trade and generate income.
As we all know, skill requirements change every few years, but the skills that will always be needed are adaptability, curiosity and learning. These are core elements of what freelancers need in order to succeed.
5. Demand Will Only Continue to Grow
If this pandemic taught us one thing, it’s the fact that people can do just about anything, from anywhere, as long as they own a laptop and have a decent internet connection. We’re already seeing how companies of all sizes not only want to work with freelancers, but also rely on them. There’s been a major surge in demand for people to work in areas such as online customer service, IT, administrative, SEO and marketing, web developments and more, all providing endless opportunities.
The Future of Freelancing Remains Promising
Not only did 2020 force us to give up on handshakes and hugs, but also to reconsider our careers. But change is constant, whether it’s brought upon by a wide-spread global virus or a market crash, we’ll always need to adapt and learn new skills.
With that said, the future of work is here, and it will only go upwards. There’s no turning back.
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