Freelancing – The Future of Work

It is the non-conformists path. Non-traditional. Still quizzical to some. “You do what?” they ask. The notion of being self-employed and “Freelancing” for different companies on particular assignments seems completely bonkers; if not unorthodox. So it is by no stretch of the imagination that pursuing my dreams and taking on the world as a freelance writer and blogger (let’s not even get into explaining that) felt a bit like that time I decided to jump off a bridge: decidedly daring, totally electrifying but also darn scary. As it goes, those nearest and dearest would rather you get a steady 9-5. This would be the more secure, “safe” option, would it not?

Or would it? The reality is the world is shifting at a rapid pace. So much so, that concepts like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are no longer pie in the sky or Sci-Fi. But rather a very palpable part of our current and coming realities. And with this rapidly changing skill set and an especially sparse number of those in the formal tech space at large having adapted to this rapidity, companies have had to seek contract workers to fill those gaps.

But why this rapid shift you may ask?

Well, as with my decision, like many like me were down to three main factors. First, freelancing allows me the freedom to decide where and how I work. The second is that I am able to build work around my life, vs building my life around my work – as most before. The very idea of flexibility in and of itself was intoxicating. Then, the final reason is the ability to control my income. My work is no longer limited to an external determinator but rather by my own scrappy nature. 

But could this informal, previously overlooked movement be the saviour of the modern man and his reconnection to work as more than work? Maybe. As we move toward the realm of self-actualisation and more of us seek to obtain more than things. Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing that is evident is that the old industrialised paradigm is very quickly dimming to a dull. I feel so strongly so, that if those of the old ways don’t shift to accommodate new views in earnest, to embrace growth and learning, their formal structures may be left all but obsolete.

This point of view is only strengthened when looking at income numbers. In the US, specialized freelance workers are already generating more than $110 billion in revenue. That’s in the 15 largest metropolitan areas alone. New York and Los Angeles generating $24.5 billion and $18.3 billion respectively. 

Gone are the days of freelancing being a means of earning extra pocket-money for students and for stay at home moms to substitute their incomes while taking care of their children. If no one told you before, this is me telling you now. Freelance is serious work.

Freelancing and the “gig economy” is the future of work.

This trend seems to only be gaining momentum. Current numbers show freelancers in the United States and the European Union represent 35% and 16.1% of the workforce respectively. By 2027, predictions show the majority of the global workforce from creative entrepreneurs to those paid by assignment, will be freelancers and not regular, traditional employees.

Over the past several years, I have watched the growth in this movement. It has only increased in impetus. Countries like Hong Kong, South Korea and the UAE now rate themselves as Freelancer havens. Cities like Prague, Seville, Los Angeles and Berlin tout themselves as top Freelance destinations. There are even clothing brands specifically geared for freelancers. Adding to this, the rise and growth of co-working spaces catering specifically to independents, like those offered by the “Uber of workplaces” WeWork only prove that this movement, “the 1099 economy” is in no mood to be stifled – ever. Recently appending myself to the list of proud independents I look forward to adding fuel to a growing flame.

So what to do? There is no doubt, this is something of a delicate balance that requires a bit of ingenuity, diligence, and flexibility. And sometimes a prayer to the Gods. But if you are willing to navigate the terrain and forge your own path, there is a world of opportunity ahead of you. Whether you are living in a third-world country or a first world country, the most inspiring news is the only thing that separates you from another are your skills. Skills can be learned. And if you are willing to learn and put in the time. There is a literal and figurative door that is wide open for you.

Before you resign from your 9-5.

Take heed. Freelancing is not for everyone. If you are seeking stability or consistency, this is one game you may want to steer clear of. But if you can befriend flexibility and shift with the winds as it were, there is a world of possibility and opportunity a job board or prospect away.

Keen on dipping their toes into Freelance waters? Here’s a list of Freelance jobs which will allow you to make you a regular income or possibly retire early.

  1. Programming And Software Development

    Programming jobs, especially those involving software and mobile app development are in high demand. If you have solid skills in programming languages like iOS and WebGL, you could start charging anywhere around $150 per hour (or more).

  2. Web Design And Development

    Though the freelance web design space is pretty crowded if you’re able to carve out a niche in the field you could easily earn around $5000 per month.

  3. Content Marketing/Writing

    My favourite sector and one which I hope to become a rock star at. The development of new methodologies and online marketing trends has made content writing one of the hottest fields for freelancers. If you have a creative mind, are willing to write a lot and read a lot, blogging work for businesses, writing, and content marketing could earn you in the region of $5000 per month.

  4. Graphic Design

    Some freelancers make up to $85 per hour doing design work. If you have an eye for design, this category can be a lucrative one. With online businesses coming online by the hour, logo design, icon design, and illustrations are well worth learning. Add infographic design to that list too.

  5. Copywriters

    A skill which I hope to fine tune within the next year for sure. Copywriting is different from content marketers and writers as they specialize in writing content for website pages, descriptions for products, services, etc. Copywriters can charge anything between $15 per hour to $100 per hour.

  6. Video Editors

    With YouTube going nowhere and the introduction of video to platforms like Facebook, and Instagram the demand for video editors is only set to increase. If you’re creative and good at putting together video clips and creating awesome video content, you could earn anywhere from
    $72,000 to $122,000 per year.

  7. Social Media Managers

    Whether it’s a small local coffee shop or a big corporate brand, social media forms an integral part of promoting a product or brand. Enter Social Media Manager. Earnings range anywhere from $46,000 up to $72,000 per year.

    In closing, I leave you with a quote by an innovative voice behind the growing freelance economy, Sara Horowitz.

“You can think of freelancing as volatile and risky, or as flexible and opportunity-rich. Doesn’t having multiple sources of income and multiple moneymaking skills sound less risky than putting all your eggs in one employer’s basket? Freelancing lets you shift gears when the world does.” – Sara Horowitz Freelancers Union, Author of The Freelancer’s Bible
Freelancing – The Future of Work


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