Freelancers Like Work More Than Employees, Says FlexJobs Study

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As the pandemic pushes more people into freelancing, it seems the draw is pulling educated people more than ever. Over two million people have made the leap into freelancing since the pandemic began and total earnings for freelancers have topped $1.2 trillion. Now, a new survey by FlexJobs sheds light on who these new freelancers are and what they like about the freelancing world. 

To start, it seems freelancers enjoy work more than employees. FlexJobs survey of 1,200 freelancers, from side-hustlers to full-timers, found that 65% say they enjoy working. Among the general working population, that number drops to 55%.

Further, 58% of freelancers are optimistic for the future. In contrast, 22% were neutral and 20% pessimistic. This surge in positivity is likely due to the fact that about half of freelancers (49%) report their earnings have stayed roughly the same or even gone up during the pandemic. This finding is consistent with another study by Upwork that found 75% of freelancers are earning the same or more as they were pre-pandemic.

“Freelance workers can help tremendously during times when companies’ operating budgets may be impacted and future revenue seems uncertain,” said Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO at FlexJobs, in a press release.

Another interesting note for the FlexJobs survey is who makes up their base. The platform surveyed users primarily through its newsletter and social media. The results found that a greater percentage of freelancers (36%) have advanced degrees compared to the overall working population (29%). This is consistent with findings that more educated and higher income individuals are going into freelancing, following suit with big companies making more freelance hiring commitments.

It’s not only about the money

Consistent with other studies on why people go into freelancing, balance is critical. A whopping 89% of freelancers say that work-life balance is the top reason they got into the freelance space. Further, 50% say they don’t want commute stress (though increasing remote work adoption will spread this benefit to more people). From there, 45% say time savings is a big win of freelancing. 

When thinking about the office, though, freelancers definitely have some nostalgia. As much as they like balance, 73% report missing social interactions with colleagues. Despite a strong majority saying they miss socializing, though, 32% say they don’t miss anything about the office.

Top freelance job categories for 2021 according to FlexJobs

Analyzing over 3,400 job postings on FlexJobs, the platform identified fifteen categories where businesses are looking for the most freelancers:

  1. Computer & IT
  2. Accounting & Finance
  3. Administrative 
  4. Project Management
  5. Customer Service
  6. Healthcare
  7. Writing & Editing
  8. Education & Training
  9. Marketing 
  10. HR & Recruiting 
  11. Bookkeeping
  12. Therapy
  13. Graphic Design
  14. Data Entry
  15. Mortgage & Real Estate

Seeing job postings during a pandemic may not be the best indicator of future demand, though.

With automation and the move to remote work, many administrative, data entry, or bookkeeping roles could become obsolete. That said, removing a full-time role does not necessarily mean fewer freelance opportunities. Often, automation and remote work does not remove a job entirely. Instead, technology can replace much of the work done. As a result, a full-time role may not be necessary. However, a company may choose to hire a freelancer for a smaller scope of work. With that in mind, a freelancer could still build a business (or freelance inbound funnel) based on doing similar work for multiple clients.

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