Are We Past the Golden Age of Freelancing?

February 11, 2015
Are We Past the Golden Age of Freelancing?

A whopping 34% of the US workforce is currently working on a freelance basis, according to a survey published on The Freelancer’s union. That’s a rather large percentage, and perhaps you’re wondering if the freelance marketplace is becoming saturated and whether it’s safe to start a new freelance career? On the other hand, maybe you’ve been working freelance for a while now and wonder whether this sort of work is sustainable? 

Is the golden age of freelancing really behind us?

This Translators’ Hub post will aim to show that it isn’t, and that there’s never been a better time to work as a freelance translator.

The amount of freelancers is still rising

In 2012, Elance, a large freelance marketplace, conducted an in-depth report on ‘the gigging economy’. The report found that the number of businesses using their platform to hire freelancers had increased by a staggering 46%.  

Similarly, Jeff Wald, writing for Forbes, expects that by the year 2020 freelancers will make up 50% of the full-time US workforce. 

Whilst a growing freelance workforce is encouraging, it does lead one to wonder whether the increase in people considering freelancing as a viable career move will lead to an eventual decrease in demand for freelancers? Well, despite this increase, it seems that the demand for freelancers is actually rising to meet this influx.

There is still a strong demand for freelancers

The Freelance union’s report details that one in three freelancers have seen demand for their services increase throughout 2014, and that 43% of freelancers interviewed expect their wages to rise as a direct result to this demand. 

America isn’t the only place that has seen strong demand for freelancers, as Elance has noted that the average hourly rate for UK freelancers increased by 6.7% in 2013,  indicating that the demand for a freelance workforce  is making serious headway there too.

Of course, the freelance lifestyle isn’t limited to one geographical location, and you’re free to work with clients from all over the globe. However, it’s good to note that freelancing is quickly ushering in a global paradigm shift, and that the demand for freelancers is only increasing. 

The concept of ‘the freelancer’ is evolving 

A few years ago, a freelancer was simply an individual who didn’t work ‘in-house’ or have a traditional employer. Today, the concept of a freelance worker is evolving, and freelancersunion.org has noticed that five different types of freelance worker are emerging : 

1. Independent contractors (the traditional, full-time freelancer)

2. Moonlighters (freelancers who hold down a main, traditional job and freelance in     their spare time) 

3. Diversified workers (freelancers with multiple sources of income from both traditional employers and freelance clients)

4. Temporary workers (freelancers who work for one client or employer for a set period) 

5. Freelance business owners (a freelancer with employees, such as a small agency owner)

The evolution of the freelancer is testament to how working in the 21st century is changing to meet the new demands of the global economy. Do you identify with one of these five types of freelance worker?

Final thoughts

In conclusion, it seems safe to assume that the ‘golden age’ of freelancing is not behind us at all. With the increase in both the number of freelancers and the demand for them it seems that now is a better time than ever to begin a freelance career.

Moreover, as the concept of the freelancer evolves, it presents a number of compelling opportunities for people wanting to experiment with a career in freelance translation without having to take a leap of faith and completely forsake traditional employment.