Freelancing is Booming: Here’s How and Why
In today’s article, we will be discussing why so many people are choosing to freelance as a flexible career. This is part of a larger series of articles on how to become an effective and profitable freelancer. Our ultimate goal is to help you increase your financial flexibility in life and help new freelancers attract more clients. If you’d like to digest all of these articles at once, stay tuned for our comprehensive eBook that contains all the material in one easily accessible format. Happy freelancing everyone!
Ah, the life of a freelancer! A few years back people would laugh when I told them I didn’t have a regular job. I don’t blame them. I was the only freelancer they knew. These days, however, they no longer give me weird looks when I mention this detail. That’s because, at this particular moment, freelancers are no longer few and far between. And I’m making more than most of my friends and still have time to pick up my kids and go for a leisurely mid-day run! Almost everyone‘s doing some type of freelance work. It’s like a cult. The “cult of the side hustle.” If I ever start a band, that’s what it’ll be called. Badass. But, this cult involves no cool-aid, just delicious and actionable statistics. So, should you consider freelancing? Yes! It’s a great opportunity for most to make some serious side income. Although it’s not for everyone, you should still at least consider it; it’s why you’re reading this anyway right?
Freelancing: Stats Never Lie
In May 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released some pretty interesting data. It shows that 15.5 million Americans were self-employed in 2015. In 2014, there were 14 million of them. In 2016, the number is even higher, and by 2020, 60 million people will have become part of the freelance economy. A new study shows us that the ‘gig economy,’ or ‘freelance economy,’ or whatever you want to call it, is a trillion dollar industry. The annual survey titled The State of Independence reveals that freelancers make quite a considerable contribution to the U.S. economy too. And, since the freelance market has been growing exponentially, it comes as no surprise that the nationwide revenue from freelancing since 2011 has gone up by 26%. According to the above report, “Over 40% of the U.S. adult workforce works or has worked as an Independent at some point in their lives.” Another survey, Freelancing in America, makes it pretty clear that the average American has also been spending more time freelancing over the past year. The weekly number of hours has gone up from 15 to 18.6 hours over the last 12 months. And that’s not all! When taking a look at the reports, it becomes clear that in the U.S. there are actually more freelancers than individuals who are solely self-employed. So, we’re talking about 19.3 million independent contractors and 2.5 million freelancers – that’s 21.8 million in all – compared to 14.6 million self-employed people. To say this is interesting would be an understatement. In fact, if we were to include all types of freelancers in our calculations we’d conclude that no less than 53.7 million Americans workers freelanced last year.
It’s Easy to Fall in Love With Being a Freelancer
This is, without a doubt, proof that people are indeed keen on freelancing. And with good reason. Not having a boss breathe down your neck all day, making your own schedule, and being able to work in your pajamas! Or you can go naked; it’s up to you. It’s so obvious! The word itself ‘freelancer’ starts with ‘free.’ So, obviously, freedom is an important part of freelancing too. Come to think of it, it’s probably the most important part of it all.
Freedom. It’s Always Worth it!
Think about it… The freedom to work whenever you want. Does your kid have a baseball game on Thursday at 4 PM? Well, you can complete your work in the evening. Or, you can schedule nothing for that day. You can still work nine to five, but in a more relaxed way. You can work in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening or at night. Or you can alternate, because guess what? There’s no boss to answer to. I personally work best in the morning and love getting up early. My day starts at 5 am with a coffee, pushups to get the blood flowing, and a quick 10-minute review of my tasks. I then spend a few hours chipping away at my most important task of the day until my beautiful daughters wake up. Then, it’s Cheerio time! It’s about the freedom to work wherever you want. In the bedroom. In the kitchen. At that table with a nice view in your favorite café. Or lounging by the pool, or at the beach! The freedom to work however you want. In a suit. In your pajamas. In a tracksuit. With a mug of coffee next to you. A cuppa tea. Or, some cupcakes. The freedom to work with whomever you want. As opposed to traditional jobs, freelancing allows you to choose your clients. And you know what this means? Less stress and more opportunities to collaborate with awesome people from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds. The freedom to work however much you want. To make as much money as you want. One of the biggest perks of being a freelancer is not having a minimum number of hours that you must work every week or every month. Remember, the average hours spent freelancing a week was 18! It’s true that if you’re a full-time freelancer, you may have to make a certain sum in order to, well, survive and enjoy life. But at the same time, there’s no limit to how much time you spend working, and at the same time, to how much money you can make. You’d be amazed at the amount of times I, and others like me, were able to double our prices overnight because we had developed and nourished a solid track record of clients and referrals. But more on this later. Ultimately, freelancing gives you the freedom to be creative. To be audacious, to pursue your own interests, without having one or more of your superiors tell you to play it safe for the sake of the company. Again, it’s your choice what projects you take on.
Potential Downsides of Freelancing
All that said, being an independent contractor is not always a bed of roses. Especially when you’re just getting started. The solution for beginners is to not quit your day job at first. Start freelancing on the side, pick up a few jobs and clients, get a feel for your freelance niche, and then once you’re able to fully replace your income, then cut the cubical chain. This is what is aptly referred to as being a ‘chicken entrepreneur,’ and there’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, it’s how most successful entrepreneurs got their start. They were savvy enough to know that cutting dependable income early in their journey was a dumb idea. So they worked two jobs; their 9-5, and the freelancing gig. First of all, remember that getting off the ground on your own can be extremely difficult. Given, a lot of successful independent contractors exist out there, but none of them has had it easy. In fact, if you ask any freelancer out there what the most difficult thing during their first few months was, they’re all going to give you the same answer: finding clients and securing contracts. And they’re absolutely correct. I mean, almost every gig out there calls for experience. So how are you supposed to get contracts if you don’t have any? If you want to freelance, you have to get used to this sort of uncertainty. There’s always that risk of a client terminating a contract without prior notice or the work simply drying up. But there are strategies to avoid this, and we will get into them later on in this book. With the strategies given to you here at The Casual Capitalist and contained in this freelancing series, you will be setting yourself up to become a profitable freelancer in a matter of 12 months.
Easily Motivated, or Not?
Motivating yourself is another essential part of freelancing. You’re now completely on your own. Not having a schedule and a boss to answer to is great. But still, you have to admit that having a boss, schedules, and deadlines is quite effective at incentivizing productivity. If you work from home, you need to get yourself going. There’s no time for procrastination, especially now that there’s no clear distinction between work time and free time. At the same time, keep in mind that freelancing can be a lonely road at times. Socializing is easy at the office, but at home, you’ll probably miss your workmates. Even Chad, who always talks about his weekend exploits! There is always a solution, if you are eager enough to find it. You don’t have to isolate yourself. The Casual Capitalist has begun to roll out an invite-only freelancing hangout on Slack. This group is for freelancers of all stripes looking to connect with other freelancers, ask questions, pass on jobs, and share industry news. If you’d like to join this water cooler, email me your details, and why you’d like to join. Anyway, where were we? Oh ya…
Don’t Quit Your Job Just Yet!
Are you cut out for this lifestyle? Good question! As I noted before, please don’t quit your day job before you’ve given freelancing a try on your evenings and weekends. If you’re unsure about freelancing in general, the best advice is to try it while still holding your day job. In fact, this is how most people transition from a traditional professional life to an independent one. Ready? You’re about to get THE BEST education in all of Al Gore’s internet on how to start out as a freelancer. But first, we need to choose what type of services you’ll offer. Stay tuned next week for our next article on the various types of freelance jobs and how to choose your niche.