Updated: Jan 9
The Coronavirus economy has drastically impacted freelancers, and the “freelance” economy has only grown in strength and numbers. A study from earlier this year valued the “freelance economy at $1.2 trillion, a 20% increase fueled largely by college graduates entering the workforce, and former office workers forced to change their job status due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While other jobs and sectors of the economy have understandably been devastated by the virus, for freelancers it does present an opportunity that will hopefully far outlast the deadly virus. The flexible nature of being a freelancer, which often can be worked at from home, has adapted well to the new economy, and many of the(find %figure here)of the new jobs being created in 2020 are freelance gigs in some capacity. This is especially the case among young people- According to a survey conducted by Upwork in July 2020, 36% of Gen Z has started freelancing since the outbreak of COVID 19.
Freelancing has its fair share of pros and cons, and it is beneficial that people recognize these before they start a position doing so. The main pro is obviously the convenience, but many freelancers who have switched over from prior jobs also report having better salaries now than before. (According to Upwork, over 75% have reported having the same or better salaries). However, this tends to come at an exclusion of worker protections and benefits that one frequently receives by working in a traditional workplace job. For those that are especially concerned about health insurance through the workplace, as well as additional important benefits such as paid sick leave or maternity leave, freelancing might not be for you at this moment.
People who work freelance jobs are more likely to be continually learning new skills: surveys show that 59% of freelancers have participated in skills training courses in the past year vs 36% of non-freelancers. (source) But even the most naturally adaptive, the creative freelance employee may have a lot of trouble starting out as a remote freelance worker after years in school or in an office. Marketing is an industry that has especially forced many workers into freelance gigs, and it can be hard to effectively market a product, brand, or service you have little attachment to. It may be hard to focus on multiple projects at once and go from task to task for companies you do not have the same personal relationship that you are used to having.
There is no one magic secret to mastering freelancing- it is an extremely diverse field that is non a job itself but a type of work for many different professions and businesses. Plenty of freelancers are self-employed: as journalists, bloggers, and influencers. Many other freelancers are writers and marketers of some sort- they help promote companies, analyze data, and tell stories. My advice for freelancers would be to not overextend yourself- if given the opportunity, focus on the products and stories that you care about. If you work for yourself, take advantage of the flexibility of your work and opportunities to maximize your time and your skills. Market the products, brands, and causes you are passionate about and write the stories of interest to you. While it has its challenges, freelancing can be one of the most sincerely meritocratic positions in our economy. Keep hustling, and you might just find your way to success, and success on your own terms.