US Freelance Marketers

Goals

Assist the creation of an investor deck by providing the number of freelance marketers in the US.

Early Findings

  • Freelancing is huge business. The industry generated $1 trillion last year, or 5% of the US GDP. Its size is comparable to a major industry- it's almost the same as the information sector.
  • There is no available data on the number of freelancers engaged in marketing in America, perhaps because the definition of the activity is very vague. According to the Marketing Association of America, marketing is defined as the "activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." This allows for very fuzzy boundaries that don't lend well to categorization. For example, subcategories of marketing that are common for freelancers include creative work like copywriting, graphic design, and content writing, but also data-heavy analytics like SEO and content marketing.
  • However, there is available data on skilled workers, from which we can triangulate a reasonable assumption. According to Edelman and the Freelancers Union, the most popular type of freelancing is done by skilled workers. 45% of freelancers in America work in programming, marketing, IT and business consulting. As there were 57m freelancers in 2019, that means there were approximately 25.65m freelance skilled workers who were working in marketing that year, or in fields adjacent to marketing.
  • That grouping of specializations also makes sense as this type of freelancer continually broadens their skill set. 65% of them had done training in the past six months, for both hard skills relevant to the field but also soft skills like networking. This means that someone who currently works in marketing can eventually cross over to business consulting, or vice versa.
  • This number will only increase, as freelancing will boom over the next few years. A whopping 80% of non-freelancers said they'd be willing to freelance in the future to make more money, and 60% of them said they were already planning to do freelance work in the future. This is also because it represents a generational shift. 53% of Generation Z and 40% of millennials said they freelanced, versus 31% of Generation X and 29% of Boomers.
  • The most popular freelancing platforms by number of users are Freelancer.com, Fiverr, and Upwork. Freelancer.com has more than 31m users. Upwork is often considered the best platform despite having fewer users. It has 17m on the platform (12 million freelancers, five million clients). Last, Fiverr has declined to list exact numbers but claims to have millions of users.

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