Freelancer Market

Goals

To determine the number of freelancers globally, the number of freelancers in each segment, and the biggest pain points for freelancers, and to identify the importance of sparring and collaboration for freelancers and the available tools to promote sparring and collaboration. The focus should be on white-collar freelancers.

Early Findings

Freelancer Market

  • One way of segmenting the freelance market is as follows. The largest segment in the freelancer market is the professional segment, which sees professionals move into freelancing after a period of working in the corporate world. This segment accounts for approximately 35% of the freelance market. Other segments include young mothers/professionals who have decided to freelance due to ongoing commitments, professionals in creative and technical fields, entrepreneurs who are involved in other ventures and are freelancing to maintain cash flow, professionals pursuing other interests, and finally, the professional moonlighter who is looking to generate some extra income.
  • The freelancer workforce grew by 7% in 2019, outpacing the non-freelance workforce, which grew by 2% over the same period. 35% of Americans did some freelancing work in 2019. 61% of freelancers become a freelancer by choice, with 51% saying no amount of money would get them to take a traditional job.
  • Surprisingly, 25-34 year olds make up only 11% of the market. The number of Gen Xers freelancers is almost double this figure.
  • 51% of professional freelancers consider their career level as being intermediate or management. 27% are at a senior of executive level, while 12% are entry level.

Pain Points

  • Some of the biggest pain points for freelancers include taxes, health insurance and other expenses, non-billable activities, competing in the global market, the inconsistency of workflow, and handling book-keeping and accounting.
  • Research completed in 2017 found the most common pain points for freelancers were the inconsistent income, lack of access to benefits and insurance, lack of respect, and communication difficulties.

Collaboration and Sparring

  • Collaboration is becoming an increasingly important part of the freelancer market. Espiral is a decentalized, entreprenuerial collective that functions as an umbrella for freelancers and social enterprises.
  • Collaboration tools are becoming increasingly popular among the freelancer population.

Summary

  • In our initial hour of research, we have assessed the availability of the information available to answer the questions posed. Fortunately, there is a reasonable amount of information available in the public domain. The segmentation of the freelance market presents some issues with different criteria depending on the source. Our initial search seems to suggest that the numbers of freelancers in each segment is not recorded. It may be possible to triangulate this information from the available datapoints.
  • We suggest the best way to approach this research is through four distinct research topics.

Proposed next steps:

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