3 Key Freelancing Trends Set To Explode This Year

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As the world of freelancing continues to rapidly evolve, there are a lot of potential changes on the horizon for freelancers. We’ve already seen data predict that a majority of the US workforce will be freelance by 2027, and that almost two thirds of Americans believe they can quit their jobs and become freelancers. But the story is more than the big numbers. There are a few key freelancing trends stemming from young people, more folks making the jump to full-time freelancing, and even big businesses getting in on the freelancing world. 

More young people are turning to freelancing

More young adults have turned to freelancing since the start of the pandemic. According to a survey, more than half of respondents in the 18-22 age bracket (53%) have freelanced in the past year, and more than a third (33%) started during the pandemic. The study collected data from over 6,000 US-based freelancers over the age of 18. 

According to the US census, there has been a boom in new businesses starting up during the pandemic. From March 2020 to January 2021, there were over 4 million new applications for businesses in the US. Additionally, a survey conducted by Girls With Impact, a nonprofit organization that provides girls resources for launching businesses, found that more than half of Gen Z men and women (53%) expect to be running their own businesses, up from 46% in 2019. With the pandemic putting many in precarious financial situations, young adults might have made up a large number of those starting up new businesses. 

In recent years, many young adults have also taken on side hustles to make some extra money. Henley Business School found that more than a third of young adults aged 18-24 in the UK (34%) had at least one side hustle. With so many side hustles available, and marketplaces making it easier than ever, it’s unsurprising to see more young people take advantage of the wave. 

Full-time freelancing is on the rise

Another key trend to pay attention to is the rise of full-time freelancers entering the market. The number of full-time freelancers increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% in 2019, a trend that continued during the pandemic

According to Upwork, the reason for this increase was schedule flexibility. The data found that almost half (46%) of freelancers agreed that freelancing gave them the necessary flexibility to work because they weren’t able to work for a traditional employer. 

Moreover, over two thirds of respondents freelancing full-time (67%) said that freelancing has prepared them to cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic better than those working traditional jobs. A big contributor for these freelancers was the increase in earning potential compared to their previous jobs. Out of these respondents, 75% said they earned the same or more freelancing, than they did working their old full-time jobs.

The other potential reason for this trend is enjoyment: on average, freelancers like their work more than employees.

Big business is getting in on freelancing

The third trend to pay attention to is the increasing amount of big businesses entering the freelance market. A study conducted by Harvard found that a majority of big businesses (60%) have used freelance platforms to find high skill freelancers, and almost 90% said that finding these freelancers would be an integral part of their strategy moving forward. 

Google is one of the many big companies getting in on the freelance wave. In a document reviewed by the New York Times, it was found that Google employs over 121,000 temporary employees, which is higher than the amount of full-time employees (102,000) they have.

According to a representative at Alphabet, two reasons why big businesses might be hiring more contract workers is because freelancers can provide expertise in areas where companies aren’t familiar, and they can be brought when there are sudden spikes in activity. It’s a driving factor in why many businesses decided to rely on freelancers during the pandemic. Short-term workers gave these businesses a flexible solution during an uncertain time.

As freelancers progress towards a post-pandemic reality, it wouldn’t be surprising to see new trends accelerate. With more people embracing the freelancer revolution, it’s not surprising to see things like more younger people entering the workforce, or more people taking up freelancing full-time. And with more people gaining interest, big businesses are sure to follow.

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