Freelancers used to get considerable flak about their career choices. If you have freelanced for any length of time, you might have received looks of disdain when you announced your job title in public.
That’s just not the case anymore. As 2016 draws nearer, the future looks brighter for freelancers than in any previous year. Looking forward to changes, trends, and tips for freelancing in 2016 will help you prepare for its arrival.
Freelancing: The New Norm
If you’re a freelancer, you’re in good company. You’re one of 53 million Americans who earn a living with freelance work, which represents nearly 40 percent of the labor force. Experts predict that the number will reach 50 percent by 2020.
As more professionals turn to freelancing for income, the industry becomes more accepting. The public sees freelancers as capable, qualified experts who run their own businesses.
In 2016, that trend will continue toward public acceptance. This means that an increasing number of businesses will turn to freelancers for their services. Expect to see more jobs enter the marketplace and to see pay rates increase accordingly.
Of course, this means that full-time employment options might shrink. As employers embrace freelancers as part of their creative teams, they will hire fewer employees. Now represents a perfect time to make the switch from regular employment to freelancing.
True Freedom: Location Independence
The idea of quitting your job to travel the world is an alluring one and making money by blogging even more so. A quick Google search will reveal countless travel bloggers who have successfully turned their blogs into profitable enterprises. There are plenty of posts about how to start a successful travel blog. The fact is that unless you are very determined and focused or have a very specific niche, building a successful and profitable travel blog is a difficult endeavor. But travel blogging isn’t necessarily the only route to travel freedom. There are other options.
As Internet connectivity improves, people are embracing the idea of a location independent lifestyle where they can work while they travel. One of the best ways to achieve this independence is through freelance work. Micro-gigging allows you to find work from wherever you are. This means that if you’ve built a reputation and have consistent work coming in, what does it matter if you’re in Buffalo or Budapest? As long as you have access to the Internet, you can make money while traveling.
Attraction: More Freelancers Will Enter the Marketplace
As more jobs become available, an increasing number of professionals will leave their nine-to-five positions in favor of freelancing and consulting work. This means greater competition, but if you continue to hone your skills and market yourself effectively, you’ll never lack work.
In the past, freelancers often hung out their shingles because they had no other choice. Lay-offs, labor reductions, and terminations from full-time positions forced them to work odd jobs until they could find gainful employment again.
However, the tides have changed. According to Kristen Fischer of Contently, a recent Freelancers Union survey revealed that 60 percent of freelancers choose this career by choice (versus out of necessity).
Why do full-time workers switch to freelancing? The survey discovered that 65 percent of respondents named flexibility as the key draw. Freelancing allows professionals to set their own schedules, accept or decline projects at will, and structure their days however they wish.
Other benefits of freelancing include:
- Location: Work anywhere in the world, whether it’s a coffee shop down the street or a beach on the other side of the planet.
- Potential: Freelancing doesn’t limit you to a pay grade. If you want to earn more money, raise your rates or solicit more work.
- Security: You can lose a client or an account as a freelancer, but you can’t lose your job.
- Passion: Pursue your creativity and interests with freelancing instead of following someone else’s orders.
- Freedom: Do you hate working for a particular client? You don’t have to renew the contract. Cut the cord whenever you want.
Every freelancer harbors his or her own reasons for pursuing this career. Maybe you nurse a chronic case of wanderlust, so you don’t want to tie yourself down to a job that requires you to report to a physical place every day. Perhaps you don’t respond well to authority, so you sought a job that would eliminate the dreaded boss.
Work Ethic: Freelancers Work Harder Than Anyone
As a freelancer, you run your own business. Not only must you perform your job description for each project you take on, but you have to serve as the accounting, marketing, advertising, and human resources department of your business.
Even if you only spend five hours on an actual project every day, you might work double that on other issues that require your attention. Freelancers represent some of the hardest members of the global labor pool.
Every job requires an exchange—a compromise of sorts. You get all of the benefits described above, but you have to hustle if you hope to succeed as a freelancer in 2016. This is especially true with the influx of competition expected over the next few years.
Another reason that freelancers work harder than anyone is because they need to hustle to ensure to secure recurring customers and referrals. Companies that outsource creative projects now know this and will continue using freelancers because they know they will get a great return on their investment.
Emotion: Freelancers Must Inject a Human Element Into Every Project
Forbes reports that automation and algorithmic technology will threaten freelancer jobs in the coming months and years, particularly when it comes to content. However, while a machine can create a technically perfect article or other deliverable, it can’t replicate a human.
Freelancers who want to succeed in 2016 will need to demonstrate their ability to understand human emotion. If your work can inspire, move, or engage other people, you’ll prove yourself very valuable to companies looking to outsource creative work. This means that 2016 will require freelancers to tell compelling stories that inspire consumers to act.
Whether you’re designing a logo, writing a product description, coding a website, or providing the narration for a commercial, you must hit strong emotional notes. Prove you’re more valuable than a machine and you’ll succeed as a freelancer in 2016.
Diversity: Freelancers Will See More Options in the Marketplace
From micro-gigs to year-long projects, freelancers will begin to see great diversity in their project options in 2016. Professionals who value consistency can seek out clients who need work on an ongoing basis. Meanwhile, freelancers who like flexibility can pursue smaller jobs that take less time to complete.
Additionally, some freelancers will set themselves apart by offering multiple services. In other words, the most valuable workers will present themselves as Jacks and Jills of all trades. Just like the neighborhood handyman, he or she will offer full-scale services.
This doesn’t mean clients should expect a drop in quality. To the contrary, clients will become more demanding of freelancers because they expect high-quality deliverables for the prices they pay.
Options: Numerous Marketplaces Offer Freelancers a Place to Find Work
Freelancing, at its core, is a highly dynamic profession. Experts in this industry must adapt based on what their clients and the market itself expects. Those who embrace these fluctuations will see the greatest amount of success in 2016 and beyond.
Other places to find freelance work include:
2016 will see even more options for freelancers who need jobs. These marketplaces will shift and change to meet the market demands.The best freelance market depends on your skills. For instance, a dedicated site like VoiceBunny might prove most expedient for voice over artists looking for work. Conversely, if you specialize in WordPress development, a site like WPHired might offer the best results. Freelancers of all types can seek a wide variety of jobs at sites like Guru, Elance, Upwork, and Bunny Inc.
Know Your Worth: Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Different
One common struggle that freelancers have to deal with is sticking to their guns when it comes to value. Many companies out there want to save money, and that is why they outsource creative work. Hiring a full-time in-house writer or designer can come with a hefty cost to the company. Sporadically outsourcing projects is a great way to cut back on overhead costs.
Sometimes, though, companies might try and take advantage of freelancers. There is a bill being introduced in New York City to protect freelancers. The bill will require companies hiring freelancers to put all contracts in writing. Companies that take too long to pay or try not to pay at all will be fined and charged with criminal penalties, making it so freelancers are more protected.
The passing of this bill would be a huge step forward for freelancers, giving them the credit and rights they deserve. It will also make the relationship between freelancers and employers stronger, legitimizing a relationship that at times was not taken very seriously. If passed, the chances of legislation like this spreading beyond New York City will increase dramatically.
Succeeding as a Freelancer
Knowing what to expect from the freelance market in 2016 will help you succeed as a freelancer. Adapting to changes, over-delivering on projects, and positioning yourself as an indispensable resource to clients will lift you above the competition and allow you to generate more income.
And the best thing about working as a freelancer in 2016 and beyond?
You can do it from anywhere in the world.