As we delve deeper into the digital age, the global workforce is beginning to see some major trends. For many, going into the office to punch in for a regular 9 to 5 workday is becoming a thing of the past. Many professions allow workers to find independent contractors who will pay them generous sums to do their jobs remotely.
With the pandemic placing restrictions on workers’ mobility, remote work has become more and more attractive, thereby putting further emphasis on freelance work. Many are beginning to see the upsides of freelancing, as it provides flexibility for work hours and allows workers to live wherever they want.
With freelance work becoming increasingly popular, we think that this unique occupation needs some further investigation. In this article, we’re going to provide some key statistics related to freelancing, looking at its growth over the years and other important numbers to understand the full scope of this burgeoning employment sector.
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Key online freelance statistics
Freelancers earn money by contracting their work to different companies without necessarily being tied down to a specific firm. This means that they can often work remotely while contributing to multiple clients at once.
In this section, we’ll be providing some basic statistics about the global freelance workforce, their demographic makeup, and reasons why many choose this type of work in the first place.
- Freelancers represent about 35% of the global workforce
- With a total global workforce of around 3.5 billion, there are about 1.1 billion freelancers around the world.
- There were 57 million freelancers working from home in 2019.
- 75% of freelancers say that they wouldn’t trade their freelancing job for other types of work.
- 68% of freelancers claim to have taken up their work to have more flexibility in their schedules.
- 55% of freelancers still have other full-time jobs.
- 65% of freelancers are male, and 35% female.
- The U.K. alone has over 1.4 million freelancers working today.
Even before the current pandemic, freelancing was touted as one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the world. Businesses saw large increases in freelancers over the past 5 to 6 years in both North America and in other countries.
The growth of freelance work is not expected to slow down, as more and more professionals are seeing it as a viable option for both part-time and full-time work in the long run. This section explores the magnitude of this growth and what it might mean for freelancers going into the future.
- The share of full-time freelancers grew from 17% to 28% from 2014 to 2019.
- Though many started freelancing as a temporary gig, the number of people taking up freelancing long term grew from 18.5 million to 28.5 million since 2014.
- Over the next few years, 52% of the U.S. adult workforce is expected to work in freelance or have otherwise worked as an independent contributor.
- 68% of freelancers claimed to have started working independently in the past five years.
- 64% of freelancers found their respective jobs online.
- Europe experienced a 45% increase in freelancers from 2014 to 2019.
- 48% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by the end of 2020.
- Freelance job postings rose by 41% during the second quarter of 2020 partially due to the current pandemic.
- Overall, the freelance job market grew by over 25% between April to June 2020.
Freelancer earning statistics
The increasing average earnings for freelancers is one of the main components to such monumental growth in its numbers. Whether you’re a skilled professional or not, there’s plenty of markets that freelancers can tap in to earn a hefty sum.
We explore how much freelancers earn in this section, specifically on average hourly wages and how it differs from industry to industry. We’ll also be looking at how average income affects freelancers’ quality of living and any discrepancies in terms of gender.
- Freelancers contribute about $1 trillion to the American economy or about 5% of total GDP.
- 48% of freelancers get paid on a fixed fee, while 29% are paid hourly, and 23% experience a mix of both.
- 60% of freelancers claim they’re able to make more money than they did with their previous jobs.
- The median hourly wage for skilled freelancers was $28.
- For unskilled freelancers, the median hourly wage was $20.
- Freelance writers earn an average of $24 an hour, while the 90th percentile can earn up to $63 an hour.
- Freelance copywriters can earn up to $250 an hour.
- 59% of freelancers claim to be living paycheck to paycheck.
- 25% of freelancers are working in the industry to bring in extra income on top of other jobs.
- 48% of female freelancers make less than $25,000 a year.
- Men are four times as likely than women to earn more than $150,000 in the industry.
Popular freelance jobs
Freelancing is an incredibly versatile function that can fit the business model for many different companies. We’re seeing a variety of different industries employing freelancers on a regular basis.
This section focuses on the most popular freelancing jobs on the current market, identifying trends in employment to pinpoint which companies benefit the most from contracting their work to online professionals.
- The most common type of freelance work is in skilled services, with 45% of freelancers providing programming, marketing, and other consulting services.
- 30% of freelancers sell unskilled services or labor, while another 26% sell goods.
- Over 33% of freelancers get their jobs through referrals.
- Coding and software engineers are in high demand with jobs paying up to $1,000 an hour.
- Freelancers made up almost 75% of the total Arts and Design workforce in 2019.
- 55% of workers in the Entertainment industry are freelancers.
- Freelance graphic designers can earn up to $85 an hour through major freelance websites.
With how much freelancing has grown and the amount of money some professionals are earning, it’s no surprise that almost 33% of Fortune 500 companies turn to freelance sites to outsource their work.
Many freelance professionals find their work by creating profiles on certain freelance websites and connecting with potential clients through these channels. With the proliferation of freelancing in many industries, some of the most popular freelance websites are taking up large portions of the overall market. In this section, we’ll be exploring three of the most popular freelance websites out there – Upwork, Freelance.com, and Fiverr – to gain an understanding of how many people regularly use these services.
- Upwork has over 17 million users.
- Freelance writers can earn up to $24 an hour on Upwork.
- Last quarter, Upwork earned $87.5 million, at about $.15 per share.
- Freelancer.com has over 31 million users.
- The site currently offers over 19,000 jobs.
- Users can choose to work as a freelancer for a handful of industries with over 1,800 different categories for jobs.
- Over 14,000 freelancers are available for work every day.
- Fiverr currently has over 7 million users, with writers, graphic designers, and web developers making up much of the workforce.
- There are over 9,000 graphic designers specializing in logo creation, and over 2,000 in WordPress development.
- There’s a job sold to a freelancer every 4 seconds on Fiverr.
- Over 50 million transactions have taken place on the site.
- The price range for freelance jobs range from $5 to $10,000.
Future of freelancing
As we mentioned before, the pandemic has changed the way businesses, companies, and other organizations view remote work. Freelancers are ahead of the curve, as many are able to do their work from home. Given these trends, the future of freelancing is an interesting topic, especially given how young many freelancers are.
This sector has strong implications for training, proper education, and the demand for specific skills when it comes to hiring freelancers in the future, all of which we’re going to explore in this final section.
- 75% of freelancers claim that their wages remain stable during the pandemic despite the proliferation of remote work and a presumed decreased demand in freelancing.
- Younger generations, ages 18 to 22, are more likely to take up freelancing, representing 52% of all freelance workers.
- 81% of freelancers believe proper business training is important to their work and would like to find opportunities to train as such.
- 59% of freelancers see themselves doing the same type of work in the future.
- 65% of skilled freelancers have taken business-related training to enhance their soft skills.
- 92% of freelancers believe there should be a greater emphasis on soft skills for freelance professionals to be more successful in the future.
Leveraging freelance statistics
This article has highlighted just how prominent freelancing has become for many modern professionals. With companies around the world digitizing many of its functions and extending their outreach through online channels, the possibilities for an even bigger freelance market is certainly on the horizon.
For businesses, this is an opportunity to incorporate freelancers into your business model. Being able to contract certain functions to professionals outside of your network can bring financial benefits, while also improving overall efficiency.
Aspiring freelancers should pay attention to freelancing trends to position themselves in the best possible positions when searching for work opportunities. How you can leverage your skills and availability to potential clients and companies will determine how successful you can be as a freelancer.