Why the Future of Work is Freelancing in 2020

October 23, 2020

Digital trends are pushing freelancing to become the new norm of work. Will you join?

Freelancing is at an all time high, for good reason.

59 million Americans freelanced in 2020, 6 million more than in 2014, according to Upwork’s 7th annual freelancing report.

Every generation of Americans is freelancing. The youngest ones (Gen Z and Millenials), who will become the leaders of the future, lead the trend: almost 50% of 18-38 year olds freelanced this year.

More and more people are shifting away from traditional employment and here’s why.

What we’ll cover for you:

  1. Why is freelancing so popular anyway?
  2. Digital trends: the passion economy
  3. Digital trends: accessible education
  4. Conclusion: the future of work

Whether you already freelance or are wondering if you should try it, stay tuned for a new era for self-employed work on the rise. You can lead it.

1. Why is freelancing so popular anyway?

What do you freelancers love about their job? Here are some of the main reasons.

Note: there are different types of freelancing, each with their own pros and cons, and people have different reasons for choosing to freelance. Most of the advantages outlined below apply to all, but some are optimized for those freelancing full-time.

You Are Your Own Boss

Imagine this. You choose when you work, where you work, and the kind of work you do. Set your own pay, determine whom you work with. Embracing these flexibilities, you unlock your full creative and productive potential, learn skills through hands-on experience, and start running an independent business.

Sound too good to be true? If you feel this way, then freelancing might be a great fit for you.

Hours

Say goodbye to required 9-5 hours, arriving late to the office, and sludging through afternoon slumps. If a midday power nap, gym session, or outing with friends will boost your energy and help productivity later, go for it.

Set your own working hours. In freelancing, you are in charge of your projects. As long as you accomplish the tasks you need to do, when you do them doesn’t matter. Unless, of course, you need to meet with a client at a scheduled time of day.

Location

Since most freelance work can be done remotely, you can pick or create the best environment that suits your business needs and productivity habits. If you’re most productive at night in your room with rock music blaring through your speakers, then by all means reap the benefits of that environment!

Man doing freelance work at his home desk and computer
Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

Working from home is a popular choice. Save time and money by not needing to commute anywhere. Run your business right from your room, kitchen, office, etc. This lifestyle is especially convenient in the COVID-19-driven trends toward remote work.

Clients

A traditional employee may be stuck with a frustrating coworker or boss for the duration of employment at the company. As a freelancer, you have a say in whom you work with and how long you work with them when you decide to work with clients.

Yes, they have to want to work with you, but you also have to want to work with them, and you have the power to say no. Here’s a helpful guide on how to spot the bad (and the good) clients every time.

You also get to decide how you work with clients, such as creating one business package for all client types or creating client-specific packages.

Note: getting leads, sealing deals, and building long-lasting relationships with clients are part of a two-way process that is crucial to succeeding as a freelancer in any industry. Navigating the client process can be challenging when you’re just starting out, but luckily there are helpful client management tools and tips available, including Queue’s all-in-one platform, which streamlines the whole client process so you don’t have to worry.

Income

As a freelancer, you can set your own prices based on your value, costs, and other relevant factors. If you’re worried about undercharging you services or don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered in this quick pricing for profit guide

You may even earn more than you would at a traditional job. According to Upwork, in 2020, 3 in 10 people quit working for an employer to do freelancing full-time, and 65% of those earn more now compared to when they were employees. The majority achieved this in under half a year. Other studies describe a similar income increase potential.

Work

Do what you want! One of the biggest advantages of freelancing is that you choose the kind of work you do, so it can be much more exciting and fulfilling than an assigned corporate job. 

With the freedom to choose what you do, and when and how you do it, you may find yourself more creative and productive than ever.

Freelance projects can also be great practice for developing new skills, whether they’re technical like front-end web development or “soft skills” like effective communication or business management. Learning by doing – AKA “experiential learning” – is extremely effective and may even revolutionize traditional education systems.

Note: to get your first paycheck, you need to start with some skills or knowledge that offer value. If you’re an amateur in the field you want to work in, start learning now. Even seasoned freelancers keep on learning to stay on top of their field, improve their services, increase value for clients, and build more credibility. Constant learning pays off, and with the internet, you can easily access a plethora of online learning resources and platforms to kickstart your self-education.

Your Happiness and Well-Being

Recent research shows that freelancers are less negatively impacted by COVID-19 than non-freelancers are across all areas of well-being in question: overall well-being, overall lifestyle, mental health, and economic/financial well-being.

A 2016 survey by the McKinsey Global Institute also found that respondents who actively chose the independent work lifestyle felt notably happier with their careers and lifestyle than people with traditional jobs.

As your own boss, it’s easier to find chances to practice self-care, spend more time with family, go on that hike… do whatever brightens your mood and keeps you in your best state. 

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Furthermore, if your freelance work consistently excites you, then a boring 9-5 job would clearly lose in terms of emotional satisfaction.

The advantages of freelancing are too compelling to ignore, especially in the pandemic-constrained rhythms of today.

These benefits are particularly maximized for full-time freelancers who are doing work they are passionate about.

This is not to say freelancing is always glamorous. Being your own boss comes with many challenges. However, shifts in the modern work landscape provide new opportunities to conquer some of these challenges and succeed on your own.

2. Digital trends: the passion economy

It’s easier now than ever before to start a business from your passion and thrive thanks to the internet.

Out with the Old…

Gig Economy

The “gig economy” is a popular way to describe the freelancing work sphere, where each work project you gain with a client is a temporary “gig.” The pain point is that your income depends directly on whether or not you’re able to find new jobs to do. Surviving paycheck to paycheck can be very stressful.

Economies of Scale

Economies of scale still dominate the business landscape. Large companies and scaling startups alike strive to achieve one main goal: increase production, lower costs. Efficiency is the holy grail.

These economic paradigms aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (the “gig economy” itself is a relatively recent phenomenon), but the world keeps changing, quickly. A new player has arrived to the game, one that values creativity, individuality, and sustainability and uses 21st century tools to help people like you thrive.

…in with the New: the Passion Economy

AKA how to unlock your secret passion and turn it into a thriving business and a good life.

In his 2020 book The Passion Economy: The New Rules for Thriving in the Twenty-First Century, Adam Davidson, the creator of NPR’s Planet Money podcast and award-winning New Yorker staff writer, shows you exactly how you can build a successful business doing what you love to do.

Davidson recognizes the internet as a key factor in the shift from traditional economies of scale to entrepreneurship and small businesses. The internet allows anyone to connect with and sell a unique product or service to customers all over the world.

The same technologies for efficiency and automation that help economies of scale can now also empower individual people. People spend less and less time doing tedious tasks, which means more time to spend on passion work.

If efficiency is the holy grail of economies of scale, YOU are the holy grail of the passion economy.

Your individuality and fulfillment is the focal point.

Davidson offers a detailed guide for any person to turn their unique passion and skills into a successful business. You don’t need to be a genius or have a ton of money. If you want it, you can achieve it. At a glance: identify what you love and what gives you energy, cultivate your skills, find other people who share your passion, learn about business and pricing, improve your communication. Build your value and your community. Be brave!

The tenets of the passion economy offer a great opportunity for creative freelancers.

Benjamin Vaughan in Forbes sees the passion economy as “a new way to capitalise on creativity by connecting [creatives] with genuine, engaged communities who share their passions.”

The digital world of the 21st century is a freelancer’s biggest playground and most powerful business tool.

Take advantage of it by:

  • making your services known by creating a website or social media page
  • finding clients in freelancing marketplaces like Upwork
  • building an online portfolio on a platform like Queue to showcase your work and gain credibility
  • joining or starting a community of like-minded people on social media – they will become your most passionate customers
  • learning new skills and improving old ones

and more.

Not to mention powerful software tools and platforms that have been created and used by millions to make each of these action items easier to do than ever before.

The growing internet-empowered passion economy will feed the freelancing trend, especially for creative or passion-based work.

So, if you are in this boat – you want turn your passion into a successful full-time job – the growing trend of technology for individual creativity is in your favor.

3. Digital trends: accessible education

I mentioned earlier the importance of constantly learning skills to succeed as a freelancer. In 2020, it’s easier than ever to do so.

If you don’t know something, you can Google it. Digital learning platforms like Khan Academy, Skillshare, Coursera, and more enable millions of people to learn new skills and knowledge wherever, whenever. Stay tuned on Queue blog for our top list of creative learning platforms.

The COVID-19 pandemic incited even more innovative online learning tools and content as remote education and work became the new norm. According to Google, average daily views of YouTube videos titles with “home school” or “homeschool” increased over 120% globally since March 13, 2020. Content marketing by skill-sharing platforms and individual freelance experts offering their services saturate the web.

Skill-based freelancing thrives thanks innovative online education.

Educational content is more accessible now than ever. The pandemic accelerated this 21st century trend, and what I get is incredible opportunities for more people to develop and share their skills with the world.

4. Conclusion: the future of work

Prepare for the future of work – the prime time for freelancing is now.

Digital trends will continue to grow self-employment possibilities and fuel shifts away from traditional 9-5 jobs. In particular, the opportunities for those seeking to work full-time doing what they love are at an all-time high.

Freelancing full-time can give you the flexibility and freedom you crave. As your own boss, you can do work that interests you, choose how you do it, and make more time for your mental and physical health.

It may be daunting to trade in stability and structure, but if there’s ever a time to take that leap, it’s now.

The age of the internet, modern software, and digital culture empower more individuals to build sustainable businesses from their passion work, rather than settling for being a cog in the wheel of large corporation or surviving paycheck to paycheck in the gig economy.

The exponential growth of the technology and the digital world has created economic, creative, and educational opportunities for millions. Anyone can share their services around the world, access education for new skills and knowledge online, connect with like-minded communities, and more.

view of the earth from space showing the huge web of digital networks that now connect the world
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

This environment is where freelancers will flourish in 2020 and the future, especially those doing passion or skill based work.

Lots of things in 2020 are uncertain, but the opportunities for freelancing are clear.

Will you become a freelancer and lead this new era of work? If you set your mind to it, you can thrive. You’ll have a global community of freelancers and the 21st century digital world to support you.

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