Is Freelancing in Your Future?
I'm a freelance person, and I've always been able to support myself.Gloria Steinem
Did you know?
According to the U.S. government, 40.4% of the U.S. workforce is now made up of “contingent workers.” You may ask, what is a contingent worker?
It's a person who doesn't have a traditionally “secure” job.
I suggest the figure is a LOT higher than that, given the fact you can walk into work one day and be escorted out 5 minutes later due to “layoffs.”
Another fact: It's predicted that about half of all workers in the United States will be independent contractors in the next three to five years.
Given the fact that almost nobody offers a pension nowadays and almost all work will eventually be outsourced or automated (or just no longer be needed), it's high time you got your freelance game on.
Here's a story. The setup is typical. The outcome isn't, unfortunately.
Sam, a 28-year old systems analyst for a software company, always had a soft spot for pop culture, specifically 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 this 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.
It's a brave new (old) world
Back when mankind began “working,” everybody was a freelancer. Everybody was an entrepreneur, looking out only for himself and his family.
But then when men began “working for a living,” folks began to lose their entrepreneurial spirit and became satisfied–indeed quite happy–with their life in the corporate world.
You had a job for thirty years, got plenty of vacation and sick time, your health and dental insurance were paid for by your employer, and you got a party and a gold watch when you retired. And you got a pension!
Nowadays, you won't get any of those perks. And you may just get a pink slip before you're done working.
And then what?
The first thing people think when comparing freelancing with a “traditional job” is the income stability (or lack thereof).
But that thought is a relic of the past.
Today, many people like the variety they get with a freelance gig. Plus, the pay is almost always better than with a 9-to-5 (aka, “W2”) job.
Of course, you may have to foot the insurance bill. And you won't get paid for vacations.
But you will get to decide when you want to work, who you want to work with, how much you will be paid, and what work you do.
And that right there spells F-R-E-E-D-O-M.
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 clock 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, running a side hustle by giving user experience reviews on websites and transcribing dialogue for subtitles used in videos.
With the advancement of web-based technologies and rise of freelancing sites, it’s leveled the playing field for those of us 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.
Often, flexibility = freedom.
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 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. Hell, I've been a part of three, all in the span of 9 years.
This also means fewer companies are offering retirement packages than before.
Strike that. None are.
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, or digital media.
And they’re all over, whether it’s in the U.S. (like Silicon Valley for instance), India, or London.
Workspaces are dedicated to freelancers all over the country. You can rent space for a few hours or all month, giving you access to conference rooms with teleconference possibilities.
World-changing ideas and innovations are a freelancer's main commodity, and stylish cafés and workspaces 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.
In the last three years, that figure has surely risen.
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.
This is something I preach a LOT: Diversify your income and, maybe more importantly, your income sources.
#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 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 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 ten years ago.
I used to work full-time in the tech sector. Knee-deep in my job and in the middle of doing my MBA, I grew desperate from having almost no time to live my life.
Plus, out of necessity, I needed to bring in some income when I lost my job. Three times.
But with some hustle, a little elbow grease, and a generous helping of stubborness, I eventually made a life-changing shift to freelancing.
If you want to learn how I became a happy, productive freelancer (and AVOID the mistakes I made) watch this free video HERE.