Are you currently working as a freelancer? Or weighing out your options to see if freelancing is the best option for you? Here’s what you need to know. Freelancing has existed for centuries, but it has taken on new significance in recent years. While there is evidence that freelance work has grown steadily in popularity over the last decade due to increasingly digital workflows, the sudden shift to remote work (and the many layoffs) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a boom in the gig economy. So, whether you’re a seasoned freelancer or new to the game, here are some of the latest freelancer trends you should know.
The freelance economy is on the rise
In the United States, an estimated 51 million people earned income through independent freelance work in 2021—an increase of a whopping 34% compared to 2020. But what’s behind this rise in freelancer trends? Several factors are contributing to the continued growth of the freelance economy. For starters, people are increasingly being drawn to freelance work because of the flexibility it offers, both in terms of work schedule and location.
Employers and businesses are also hiring more and more freelancers.
This increase is driven by the fact that the freelance talent pool has grown (i.e. sometimes the best person for a job will be a freelancer). It is also influenced by the fact that finding, hiring, and employing full-time staff is a big expense for businesses. Freelancers provide flexibility both for the worker and the employer. Companies are therefore allocating their budgets to hiring freelancers, which in turn is spurring the freelance economy.
Self-marketing and upskilling are key to stand out to hiring managers
While the demand for freelance talent is growing, so too is the pool of freelance workers. It is therefore important for freelancers to properly market themselves to be seen by those looking to hire. In other words, maintaining an up-to-date profile on your professional website, LinkedIn, and other freelance and networking platforms is crucial. And we’re not only talking about your resume; showcasing your latest work samples and client testimonials can help establish your reputation and build a roster of clients.
Another important strategy for freelancers looking to boost their qualifications is upskilling. For example, if you are interested in job postings that require WordPress knowledge, learn the ins and outs of the platform. Acquiring skills and gaining knowledge in trending freelance topics, like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, will also help distinguish you as a candidate and broaden your portfolio.
The number of highly skilled freelancers is increasing
One of the most interesting recent trends in freelancing is that there has been significant growth in the percentage of highly skilled freelancers.
This trend goes hand in hand with the fact that skilled services are increasingly in demand within the freelance market. Skills include web programming, IT, writing, marketing, design, and business consulting. Employers are therefore increasingly looking to the freelancer market to meet their needs and fill skill gaps because they recognize that the best talent may be self-employed.
Web Design and Web Programming are the most in-demand skills for tech freelancing
In the tech field, for instance, web design, WordPress, and web programming were the top three skills required in our finds on freelancer trends. There has also been particular growth in specific programming languages, such as Scala, Typescript, and Python (a tip if you’re looking to upskill!).
The same study by Upwork also lists the most in-demand skills for marketing and customer service departments. In the former, social media marketing, lead generation, SEO, and B2B marketing are among the top five. And in customer service, customer support, email communication, and online chat support were among the top 10 skills.
Freelancing platforms are key to connecting clients with freelancers
Freelance networking and marketplace platforms are facilitating the growth of the gig economy, making this one of the most notable freelancer trends. From the freelancer’s point of view, they provide access and connections to many potential freelance projects, allowing you to explore various industries and build relationships with different clients. They are also great for finding one-off jobs to pad out more regular freelance income.
From an employer’s perspective, freelance platforms provide a streamlined solution for finding talent, regardless of geographic proximity. The growth in interest is tangible: while in 2015 only 0.5% of enterprise buyers considered hiring from online freelance platforms, 47% said they would in 2020.
Another benefit of these freelance platforms, and part of the reason they have become so popular, is that they take away some of the risks associated with gig work, both for the freelancer and the employer. Payment is often done directly through the platform, which saves freelancers time by not chasing after unpaid invoices, and clients and freelancers are vetted and reviewed by each other.
Freelancers, an evolving community
These five trends reflect what is happening within the freelancing economy in 2022 and what is expected to play out in the next few years. For more helpful resources for freelancers, check out our SkillPack blog.