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Freelance Trends and Insights

Revisited in 2021: Freelance Trends, and Insights

As cultural and financial changes spread across the globe, it’s expected that these freelance statistics will soon highlight a whole new landscape within the freelancing sphere.

Revisiting the data, we found that 2019, 2020 and even 2021 (so far) have resulted in some significant changes.

Whether that’s down to the pandemic, or due to the rising costs of living, there are multiple factors that contribute to trends popping up.

Freelance Trends and Insights

2019

Regardless, analyzing the information, we found that in 2019 the key freelance trends were:

  • In 2019, freelancers contributed nearly $1trillion in income to the economy
  • 44 million workers were self-employed at some point during 2019.
    Freelance Trends - 44 million workers were self employed
  • 14% relied on self-employment as their primary income in 2019.
  • 60% of freelancers say they started freelancing by choice, up from 53% in 2014.

The freelance growth in 2019 showed the development of technology makes freelancing easier, with over three quarters saying technology has made it easier to find freelance work in an Upwork study.

However, even though nearly a quarter (22%) of self-employed professionals have multiple revenue streams, 59% are more satisfied with predictable pay. In fact, according to Freshbooks data, 35% worry about inconsistent income, whilst a fifth don’t want to lose health benefits.

Looking into further data, career control was the reason behind 40% of Americans opting for freelance life – and in 2019 it is the most cited reason again.

Also Read: Our take on Digital PR in 2022

2020

To see if these improvements and positive elements of freelancing translated into 2020, we looked into the data for 2020. Our analysis revealed that key freelance insights were:

In 2020, Programming And Software Development was the top career in freelancing – with the potential to start charging somewhere around $150 per hour. Social Video Marketing and Web Design And Development were in second and third place in 2020.

2020’s freelance growth highlighted that the percentage of self-employed in the US has grown to 30–40% of the workforce.

2021

We don’t know all the facts for 2021 yet, as the year is still a couple of months from being over. However, using the data available so far, we found some key elements that are important to take note of:

  • The gig economy’s worth in 2021 is estimated at $374 billion.
    Freelance Trends - The gig economy’s worth in 2021 is estimated at $374 billion.
  • August 2021’s figures saw a 0.25 percent fall from the previous month.

Overall from 2019 to now

The lowest number of self-employed in the US was in April 2020, just as the pandemic took hold – recording 8.221 million. This was a 12.29 percent year-over-year decrease.

However, freelance job postings rose 41% to 605,000 in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

This steady growth has been seen across the last three years, however, that doesn’t always mean more money. So what do freelance earnings look like over the last three years?

Key figures of self-employment taxes show a $5,100 increase in the earning amount since 2019, subject to Social Security taxes in 2021. And as of April 11th in 2021, the average self-employment income in the United States is $83,792 a year.

However, self-employment income trends showed us that over a fifth of self-employed professionals have multiple revenue streams.

So with so many different figures floating around, alongside many different streams of income, it’s clear that earnings are difficult to compare and predict.

But are there any clear trends since 2019 when looking at the most popular freelance jobs?

Analyzing the data available to us, we found that the top five jobs within freelance going into 2021 are:

  1. Video Editing and Creation
  2. Social Video Marketing
  3. Freelance Writing
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. Graphic Design

The industry will always be thriving, as long as people need to contract work from others. But what kind of value does freelancing have when analyzing what the future of freelancing could look like?

The measurements of success and growth vary – and this can also be seen in sign up changes across a number of freelance platforms.

According to 99firms – the global freelancing platforms (Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal, Freelancer.com, Guru.com, TaskRabbit, Catalant, etc.) constitute a market projected to reach $9.19 billion by 2027, up from $3.4 billion in 2020.

This growth has even been predicted across the whole of the global gig economy. It has been projected to reach $455 billion by 2023!