What is a Freelancer? (And Why You Should Become One)

In 2020, the crowning year of working from home, becoming a freelancer is the most versatile solution to keeping up with our changing world. 

Whether you’re simply looking to pad your wallet or you’re looking to escape the 9-5 hamster wheel for good, this article will give you the rundown on everything you need to know before you dive into your freelance career.

And if you’re wondering whether or not now is a good time to transition to freelance work… see our previous post on it here. (Spoiler: it’s more profitable and accessible than ever before)

So, what is a freelancer? 

A freelancer can best be defined as a self-employed individual that works on a per-job basis for multiple clients. The major distinction to make here is that unlike a salaried/hourly employee – a freelancer sets the terms for the work provided and the method of providing it. 

What do freelancers do?

The scope of work for freelancing is nearly unlimited. Just about any service provide a business or individual can be offered on a freelance basis. 

What are some of the most in-demand freelancing skills to have in 2020? 

  • Graphic Design
  • Sales
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Writing/Editing
  • Website Development

But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to them. There are a ton of freelance jobs that many wouldn’t expect:

  • Product Photography
  • Voice Overs 
  • Ghostwriting
  • Matchmaking
  • Yoga Instructor

What are the benefits of freelancing? 

The main benefit of freelancing is that you are the curator of your schedule. You get to decide the workload you want to take on, the type of work you do, the clients you want to work with, how you accomplish each project, and your professional standards for revising/editing. 

Being a freelancer also means being able to work anywhere you have a computer/smartphone and an internet connection. With the tools and applications on any modern device, you can become a completely mobile workplace in no time. 

Not to mention, you get to set your own prices. This means that any added skill you learn is potentially an added decimal in your bank account. 

Additionally, the market for freelance work is only growing. No matter your skillset, there is a place on the great wide web that you can market and sell it. 

So what’s the catch? 

What are the downsides of freelancing?

While there are many reasons to jump into freelance work, there are a couple of hard truths. 

For one, when you are employed by a company there are generally things in place: what they do, how they do it, how it pays, and how you fit into it. 

Being a freelancer means you are your own business. And while you can (and should) copy other people’s paths to success, you still have to put in the very real work of starting a business from scratch. 

That means: setting and adhering to your “business hours,” marketing your services, reaching out to prospects, following up on leads and jobs, managing your business financials, and nearly every other aspect to running a functioning business. 

Is it a lot of responsibility? Absolutely! 

But does it pay off? 

In 2019 the Economic Policy Institute found that “the real value of the federal minimum wage has dropped 17% since 2009 and 31% since 1968.” Not only has minimum wage been stagnant for over 10 years, but the value of each dollar earned has dramatically dropped. 

Conversely, according to ZipRecruiter the average annual salary for freelance writers in the United States was $63,488 in 2019. If we applied the traditional 40 hour workweek to this salary (even though freelancers work much less on average) it would be a little over $30 an hour.

Across the board for freelance skills, freelancers on average make more than their hourly counterparts, with 31% of freelancers reporting making more than $75,000 a year

Conclusion

The freelance world is one that is ripe with opportunity and rewards those who truly take on the challenge of being the boss. 

With more control and flexibility than any other job, it’s a no-brainer career path for the highly motivated individual looking to market and profit off of their skills. 

Staggering Numbers: Freelance Work is More Profitable Than Ever Before

Many Americans are saying goodbye for good to the 9-5 – instead aiming to be their own business with freelance work. 

For aspiring freelancers this will be the year that their side hustle became their one way ticket to financial freedom. 

There’s a culmination of data we poured through here to present our case for why freelancing in 2020 is a no-brainer:

  • A majority of… experts… say the US job market will be back to its February level [by] 2022 at the earliest (CNN)
  • Majority of the US workforce will be freelancers by 2027 (Freelancing in America)
  • The U.S. freelance workforce is growing faster than the overall U.S. workforce, outpacing overall U.S. workforce growth at a rate 3x faster since 2014 (Freelancing in America)
  • Amid a global recession, the freelance workforce remains an essential pillar of the U.S. economy: Freelancers contributed $1.2 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy in annual earnings – a 22% increase since 2019 (Freelance Forward)

For years this tide of independent freelancers has been building and 2020 is the perfect storm. As unemployment claims continue to reach all time highs and more businesses close their brick and mortar locations – the demand for online professionals has never been higher. 

This shift is big news for the ecommerce world, which was already on this rise. The numbers are staggering. 99Firm’s Eccomerce Statistics for 2020 asserts some bold projections:

  • By 2040, around 95% of all purchases are expected to be via ecommerce
  • There are expected to be over 2B digital buyers in the world in 2020
  • By 2040, around 95% of all purchases are expected to be via ecommerce

So what does all of this mean for freelance workers? 

If you’re looking to venture out into the freelance world, you can benefit from 1) the plethora of tools and services available to freelancers in recent years and 2) the online market that is not supplying enough freelancers to meet the unprecedented demand. 

As more businesses make the digital move, they will need independent and full time contracted workers to modernize their business and keep up with online trends. Whether you’re getting into copywriting, graphic design, accounting, SEO, or any number of lucrative skill sets – your chances of success have never been higher. 

Are there any other benefits to starting your freelance career today? 

  • Freelancing increases earning potential: Of those who quit their full-time job in order to freelance, 75% say they earn the same or more in pay than when they had a traditional employer (Freelance Forward)
  • Freelance coders and software developers earn up to $1,000 per hour (Freelancing Hacks)
  • Freelance copywriters earn over $250 per hour (Freelancing Hacks)
  • In 2014, Americans spend 1.8 trillion minutes (29.6 billion hours) commuting to work. Remote work can cut commuting times to zero (Nasdaq)
  • There is a burst in demand for people to support customer services as well as ecommerce development, web and mobile design (Freelance Forward)

Conclusion

Freelance work has never been more in demand and has never had this level of social acceptance. 

Without having restrictions on how far you can scale your work – freelance work will not limit your growth with glass ceilings or corporate hoops.

Don’t get left behind in this emerging era of self employment.