October is Small Business Month, so it’s the perfect time to acknowledge and celebrate a thriving entrepreneurial trend: the rise of the freelance movement.
In the past decade alone, technology, globalization and economic factors have empowered and inspired workers to leave the corporate world behind and establish their own freelance business.
The freelancing community has grown in size and influence, as white-collar freelancers are becoming a more important economic force that collectively impacts business profitability and reinvents work beyond the traditional 9-to-5 office job.[i]
“In one generation, there will be no employees. Everyone is going be a subcontractor.”
The skilled freelance market has grown to adapt to companies’ temporary needs for talent. The result is an enthusiastic embrace of the entrepreneurial mindset. As one Canadian Business article predicts, “In one generation, there will be no employees. Everyone is going be a subcontractor.”[ii]
Here’s proof of freelancing’s momentum:
- Since the official end of the recession in 2009, freelancing has consistently grown while full-time employment has stagnated.[iii]
- 46.25% of Americans are freelancers in an expanding gig economy and almost half of these workers are Millennials.[iv][v]
- The Government Accountability Office estimates the growth rate at 29% between 2005 and 2015, and projections suggest 40% of U.S. workers could be freelancers by 2020.[vi]
Given the diversity of the non-traditional workforce, I’ll focus this article on freelance professionals who sell business services, such as writers, web developers, graphic designers and marketing strategists.
Why Freelancers are In Demand
Busy executives, entrepreneurs and HR departments tend to hire freelancers to help them achieve their business goals. When companies need new talent but lack the resources to employ full-time employees, freelancers solve the problem by providing short-term, high-quality expertise.
The client-freelancer relationship can be symbiotic. For instance, a high-growth tech company may need a freelancer’s help to execute their marketing strategy and a small financial services company may need to outsource their web development to a freelancer.
“I felt like my ideal job didn’t exist
and I could create it myself.”
~ Freelancer Marie-Helene Di Bennedetto, Moondust SPRL, Belgium
Freelancers tend to attract business clients through word of mouth, former employers and specialized talent-matching platforms, such as Upwork, Hourly Nerd and HackerYou. Freelancing has exploded in popularity and legitimacy to the point that now even professionals like accountants, attorneys and CMOs are choosing to work independently. [vii]
These statistics prove that freelancing is booming and will continue to grow by offering a flexible arrangement for companies and workers alike.
How often (if at all) does your company hire a freelancer?
Lisa Goller is a marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience serving B2B, technology, retail and consumer goods companies. She helps businesses tell their story through irresistible content marketing and strategic communications. Learn more at lisagoller.com
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[i] Fox, Justin. Breaking Down the Freelance Economy. Harvard Business Review. September 4, 2014.
[ii] Hemmadi, Murad. The freelance economy prompts the rise of a new kind of temp agency. Canadian Business. March 16, 2015.
[iii] Internal Revenue Service.
[iv] Handren, Michael. What Your Need to Know About Gig Work: Key Statistics, Demographics & Facts 2023. My Credit Summit. 2023.
[v] Loeffelholz, Tracy. If the Labor Force Were 100 People… Yes! Magazine. Fall 2016.
[vi] Ambrosino, Brandon. The Emotional Toll of Freelancing. Yes! Magazine. Fall 2016.
[vii] Shrader, Brendon. Here’s Why the Freelancer Economy Is On The Rise. Fast Company. August 10, 2015.