Is Freelancing The Future Of ‘Safe’ Employment? “‘Freelance’ means I can take watermelon breaks and no one can yell at me.” ― Mandy Ashcraft
Sam, a 28-year old systems analyst for a software company, always had a soft spot for pop culture, specifical cartoons from the 80s and 90s.
He watched a ton of these growing up; so much so that Sam can do dead-on impressions of his favorite characters.
His co-workers and friends got a kick out of Sam’s take on Optimus Prime from Transformers, which he could bust out at the drop of a hat.
Little did Sam know at the time that his other talent would help him land a lucrative freelance gig.
“Andy, one of the guys down in accounting, told me people paid good money for doing stuff like that. He showed me this freelancing site where companies hired folks for voiceovers,” Sam said.
At first, he didn’t think much of it. But then, Sam took a few days off from work to fly to his hometown for a family reunion.
“I was back in my old room at my parents’ house, looking at my dusty toy collection when I had a moment of inspiration. I fired up my laptop and signed up for that site Andy mentioned. In the next couple of hours, I booked my first client from doing silly voices in the comfort of my bed.”
Things took off after that, and Sam started getting more and more offers from other clients. Pretty soon, he had to take more time off just to keep up with the demand.
“It’s been great so far,” Sam shared. “This freelancing gig is helping me earn more than I expected…and I get paid to geek out, which is pretty cool.”
Right now, Sam’s not sure if he should take the plunge and go full-time with his voice work, but he’s glad he now has that option.
Working in a brave new world
While older generations have leaned towards the idea of working for a single company for years or even decades, recent trends in the global economy have changed the way people earn their keep.
The first idea many have about freelance work is that income-wise, it’s not as stable compared to the steady paycheck that comes with the 9-to-5 grind.
Back then, it would make sense to look down on moving from one job to another.
However, studies have shown that more and more professionals prefer to offer their time and talents on a per-task basis instead of punching a clock every day. And the growing demand for these workers has contributed to the steady growth of the global freelance job market.
Sam and millions of other independent contractors across the world enjoy the freedom that comes with freelance work.
Not only that, they’ve found that being their own boss is, in many ways, a more stable form of livelihood.
If you’re thinking about ditching your day job and crossing over, here are some things about freelancing you should consider.
Chances are this could be the safest way for you to leave the rat race and do your own thing:
#1: The game has changed
While baby boomers used to commute to work and time in at the office, technology has completely transformed that business model.
Today, it’s not uncommon for people with different backgrounds and skill levels to get a piece of the freelancing pie.
There’s Skye, a mom of four, who juggles her blog and Pinterest page, looking after the kids and getting the laundry done.
You’ll also find Tyrone, a third-year college student, earning on the side by giving user experience reviews on websites and transcribing dialogue for subtitles used in videos.
With the advancement of web-based technologies and the rise of freelancing sites, it’s leveled the playing field for those who want to skip the typical barriers that come with going to a brick-and-mortar office.
For people with an ever-changing schedule, freelancing lets them work on their terms.
Not having a company control their time means they decide when and where to put in their hours.
Most of all, having a work schedule custom-built around their lives frees up their valuable time and gives them more opportunities to earn.
With the traditional employment framework giving way to this new system, freelancing has become a stable means of income more than ever.
#2: There’s plenty of room for growth
LinkedIn, one of the biggest online job portals and professional networks, conducted some studies on the future of the global freelancing job market in the next decade.
They said that in just the next two years or so, 43% of the working people in the United States would be freelancers. This trend is an indication of how professionals in the U.S. and the rest of the world want more power over their work-life balance.
Not only that, rapid shifts in the economy have caused massive layoffs. This also means fewer companies are offering retirement packages than before.
On top of that, inflation is driving up basic living expenses, like transportation, food, and housing.
All of these make it less appealing for younger (and even older) workers to invest their time and talents in just one company – let alone commute to work.
So with everything going on right now, it’s created an environment where working as a freelancer has become a practical choice.
#3: Gig culture is in vogue
Drop by your local Starbucks (or any other relatively packed coffee shop for that matter), and chances are you’ll find a bunch of young, hip professionals furiously working away on their laptops.
These freelancers are usually involved in some creative type of work. They could be in a wide range of fields, like entertainment, arts, design, and digital media to name a few.
And they’re all over, whether it’s in the U.S. (like Silicon Valley for instance), India, or London.
World-changing ideas and innovations are their main commodity, and stylish cafés are their workplace of choice. They could be churning out the next big leap in technology – or spearheading a massive movement on social media.
But this isn’t just a passing hipster phase in the world economy. It’s another indication of how freelancing is perceived in general, and why it’s here to stay.
Freelancing site Upwork did a study called “Freelancing in America: 2016” which found that 79% of independent workers they surveyed preferred working gigs over steady employment with a single company.
The majority of participants also believe that freelance work has become more mainstream than in the past several years. Not only that, they’ve either charged more for their work or are planning to do so.
Best of all, most freelancers in the study assert that it’s actually safer to have more than one source of income instead of putting all their eggs in one basket.
#4: Freelancing is just as safe as traditional jobs –if not SAFER
Along with the benefits of being your own boss and owning your time, doing multiple gigs offers a financial safety net if managed properly.
Think about it this way – no matter what kind of job arrangement you have (whether employed or freelance), you’ll STILL have to put in the work.
Otherwise, you’ll soon find yourself unemployed. So why not choose a job that gives you more freedom and flexibility?
A lot of businesses today are looking to outsource jobs, which is a good thing if you’re a freelancer.
And even if a given company happens to shut down, the money will still come in. Once you’ve got a healthy portfolio of clients, you’ll never run out of work.
So you want to be a freelancer…
The bottom line is that freelancing work is the new job security.
It’s just a matter of a trading one set of circumstances for another, which is par for the course given the current state of the world economy.
I know you might have some hesitations if you’re thinking about breaking free from the soul-crushing cubicle farm.
But as you’ve just learned, the grass is greener on the other side as long as you know what you’re doing.
And the truth is that I didn’t know what I was getting into when I was carving out a freelancing career of my own about seven years ago.
I used to work full-time in the education sector. Knee-deep in my teaching job and in the middle of doing my Ph.D., I grew desperate from having almost no time to live my life.
But with some hustle, a little elbow grease, and a generous helping of stick-to-itiveness, I eventually made a life-changing shift to freelancing.