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60+ Freelance Statistics [The Ultimate List for 2021]

Freelance statistics show some fascinating changes in the workforce. 

As bad as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, it did create the perfect framework for companies to try working from home. And they saw a massive increase in productivity. 

What’s more, employees got a chance to see what home office was all about and decide if they wanted to try working for themselves.

So, let’s dive right into the freelancing world and see how it’s changing the workforce worldwide. 

Fascinating Freelance Industry Stats

  • Only 5% of freelancers have one skill set. 
  • In the US, there are about 59 million freelancers. That’s 36% of the country’s entire workforce. 
  • Freelancing brings in over $1.2 trillion in annual earnings.
  • 12% of US workers have begun freelancing since the start of the pandemic. 
  • 68% of freelancers believe their quality of life has increased with working independently. 
  • Within a year, 75% of freelancers earned more than they did previously.
  • 4.1 million Australians were already freelancers in 2015. 
  • 57% of Aussie freelancers do it by choice and not because they have to.
  • India makes up about 40% of the global freelance market. 
  • 51% of freelancers say no salary is big enough to get them back to an in-office job. 

Freelance Workforce Statistics

The freelance workforce is growing at an enormous rate as it’s increasingly easier to carry your entire business in a bag. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown companies that remote work is possible. 

1. Only 5% of Freelancers Rely on One Skill. 

(Source: AND.CO)

  • 61% of freelancers chop and change with whatever project they’re on. Most have two or three specialities. 
  • Also, only 13% work for a single client at a time.
  • 60% of freelancers want to look into a nomadic lifestyle. That’s a huge positive to working independently. 

The freelancer workforce has an undeniable appeal for many. 

2. Freelancing Brings in Over $1.2 Trillion in Annual Earnings. 

(Source: Upwork)

  • Freelance statistics for the US show the country has about 59 million independent workers. That’s 36% of their entire workforce. 
  • 12% of US workers have started freelancing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Unfortunately, many people don’t take freelancers seriously. 60% of freelancers don’t feel respected for their line of work. 

So, why do people get into freelance marketing?

3. Only 7% of Freelancers Do It for Financial Reasons. 

(Source: AND.CO)

  • 40% get into freelancing for personal growth
  • 77% of freelancers aren’t more financially stable than they were before. 
  • 43% said they are worse off financially.

But that’s not all. 

4. 34% of Freelance Workers Have Roughly the Same Financial Situation. 

(Source: AND.CO)

  • However, it’s not just about money. 68% of freelancers believe their quality of life has improved by working independently. 
  • 84% of freelancers say the work gives them the freedom to choose their lifestyle. 
  • 75% of new freelancers start because they need financial reassurance. If you’re just getting started in the industry, we recommend you look into the best website builders

What else can we learn about the freelance field?

5. 86% of Freelancers Believe That the Best Is Yet to Come for This Job.

(Source: Forbes) 

  • 71% say that perceptions about freelancing are changing more positively. 
  • The US workforce spends 108 trillion minutes commuting every year. That’s a lot of time saved if a company switches to remote work. 
  • 63% of freelancers have found their work online.

So what can the freelance economy show us? 

Man sitting on a couch, working on his laptop

Freelance Economy Statistics

With the growing freelance market, it’s no surprise that its economic features are increasing, too. 

6. Within a year, 75% of Freelancers Earn More Than They Did Previously.

(Source: LinkedIn)

  • The number of freelancers in the world is growing. There was a three million increase in freelancers between 2014–2018.
  • 63% of freelancers believe marketing is the most important part of growing their business. Small business marketing is vital to freelancers’ success. 
  • 57% of freelancers have a cash flow issue at slower times throughout the year. If there’s not enough freelance work, you can’t pretend to sit at the computer answering emails. If there’s no work, you don’t make money.

To understand freelancers better, let’s compare them to traditional employees. 

Statistics on Employees vs Freelance

There is a big difference between remote and office workers. 

7. Productivity Increased by 13% for People Working From Home. 

(Source: LinkedIn)

  • 73% of employees think working remotely makes them more productive. 
  • 58% of workers who hadn’t worked remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic are now looking into freelancing. Working from home is becoming the norm, and most people love it. 
  • Also, 96% say they’re likely to continue freelancing in the future. Perhaps it’s not just a sign of the times but a shift in how we define the workforce. 

What else can we learn about freelance statistics? 

8. 1 in 12 US Households Relies on Freelancing for Over 50% of Household Costs. 

(Source: Small Business Trends)

  • 54% of US freelancers are incredibly confident that the work they do will be around in 20 years. Meanwhile, becoming redundant is a big concern for many office employees. 
  • Upskilling is essential to full-time freelancers. 55% upskill themselves about once a year, whereas only 30% of non-freelancers do the same. The pressure is on freelancers as they have to do it for themselves. Upskilling is more of choice than a requirement, and it’s all about personal growth.
  • 50% of Gen Z are freelancers, 44% are millennials.

So, we’ve heard a lot about the US, but what about freelancing in Australia?

Freelance Market Statistics Australia

Australian freelancers have a lot to show us. 

9. 57% of Aussie Freelancers Do Their Work by Choice.

(Source: CXC)

  • There were already 4.1 million Australian freelancers in 2015.
  • In 2015, 41% of them got their work online. That steadily increased as more companies moved online, too. 
  • Within a year, 69% of Australians working independently earned more than they did at their office job.

What else can we learn from Australia? 

10. 33% of Australian Freelancers Are in Sydney. 

(Source: CXC)

  • 73% would highly recommend working independently to family and friends. 
  • 36% of freelancers in Australia have a degree.
  • Globally, 30% of the Fortune 500 use freelancers, with tech companies being their biggest clients.

Like any job, some are permanent, while others are part-time. But what does this mean for freelance statistics?

Laptop on desk with a phone and a notepad

Freelance and Part-Time Job Statistics

While freelancing started solely as a way to make extra money, many of them work full time.  

11. Only 6% of Freelancers Are Waiting for a Full-Time Work Opportunity.

(Source: AND.CO)

  • 85% want to try freelance work to earn extra money
  • 51% of freelancers that work full-time use a third-party site to find work opportunities. Upwork is the largest of these freelance work marketplaces.
  • Freelance future predictions suggest that by 2027 most of the US workforce will be freelance.

Some of the highest freelancing rates come from countries that may surprise you. 

Freelance Services Stats Worldwide

The rise in freelancing creates opportunities and economic expansion. 

12. India Makes Up About 40% of the Global Freelance Market. 

(Source: Small Business Trends)

  • India has the second-largest independent workforce globally. The country is home to 15 million freelancers. 
  • Between 2012–2013, the EU experienced a 45% increase in ‎freelance growth. It’s the fastest-growing EU labour market.
  • In 2016, freelancing hours added up to about 72 million per week. In 2018, that increased to over a billion weekly.

Let’s see how the freelance market is moving. 

13. 45% of Millennials Use Their Smartphones for Work.

(Source: Small Business Trends)

  • 87% don’t go anywhere without their phone. Businesses need to keep on top of trends, following how the younger generation uses the internet. 
  • Freelance statistics show 80% of Millennials use social media to find work, indicating a shift in how people acquire a job.
  • 70% of freelancers use a financing app to make sure they stay within budget.

So, who is being employed?

Freelancers Employment Statistics

14. 48% of Female Freelancers Fall in the Lowest Income Bracket of Less Than $25,000 a Year. 

(Source: AND.CO)

  • In contrast, men are 4.5 times more likely than women to earn $150,000 a year.
  • 79% of those working independently said their degree helps them with their current projects.
  • 51% of freelancers say no salary is big enough to get them back to an office job.

Let’s find out what freelancers are getting up to and which trends are sticking.

Freelance Labor Market

15. Between 2014–2017, Two-Thirds of Freelancers Went Solely Independent. 

(Source: AND.CO)

  • 50% of freelancers work for the same clients, so building relationships and doing quality work is the best way to keep customers coming back. 
  • Web designers are highly sought after in the independent market. 50% of users browse and shop using their smartphones, so companies need more developers and designers to make their content compatible. 
  • Content creators spend over six hours per blog post. 46% of users trust recommendations from blog posts, so organizations need good content if they want more organic results. 

But which jobs actually pay the most?

Highest Paying Freelance Jobs

Before anyone moves to a freelance role, it’s vital to check how their career will play out. 

16. PR Managers Have the Highest Freelance Salary — an Average of $52 an Hour.

(Source: FlexJobs)

  • Coming in next are account executives, making about $43 an hour. 
  • Professors earn about $41 an hour from freelancing.
  • A software developer averages about $42 an hour.

But there’s more to learn about sought-after skills. Let’s have a look.

17. A Technical Writer Can Earn Around $41 an Hour.

(Source: FlexJobs)

  • The freelance market share is on the rise. Accountants, programmers and copywriters average the same hourly rate at $38.
  • A freelance graphic designer gets about $36 an hour. 
  • Web developers make roughly $35 an hour. Front ends need to know the basics of multiple website creators, like Novi— a drag and drop HTML builder

One of the most popular freelancing gigs is writing. So, what do writers earn?

Freelancer Earning Statistics ― Writers

Here’s what you need to know about a freelance writer’s first year of earnings.

18. 30% of Freelance Writers Earn $10 or Less an Hour

(Source: Small Business Trends)

  • But the more experience one has, the higher their rate. 21% of established writers make $26–$40 per hour.
  • 38% earn over $50 an hour. 
  • Freelance writing statistics show the average rate per hour for US freelancers is about $28. 

What about other artists? 

Artist standing and painting in a studio with are pieces hanging behind him

Freelance Artist Statistics

Artists made up the first self-employed and independent workforce, but have things changed?

19. An Artist Is 3.6 Times More Likely to Be Self-Employed Compared to Other Workers.

(Source: National Endowment for the Arts)

  • Between 2012–2016, 9% of workers were self-employed, compared to 34% of artists. 
  • Artists enjoy self-employment, with 79% saying they don’t want to work for anyone else. 
  • Also, 58% say they choose self-employment and freelancing for flexibility. 

It’s interesting to see how freelance arts statistics compare to more traditional roles. 

Wrap Up

Freelancing is growing at an alarming rate, with millions of employees opting to work from home independently. It gives people the freedom they want and allows more quality work. Everyone can work when they’re most productive and not in a set 9–5 environment. 

Businesses need to catch on if they want to maintain a solid place in the workforce as more and more people want to work from home. 

FAQ

How many freelancers are on Upwork?

There are about 16 million workers on Upwork. It’s the largest freelancing platform, with clients vying for the best price and quality. The organization is growing as many people branch out to freelance work. 

How many freelancers are in Australia? 

Australia has over four million freelancers. More and more Aussies are opting for freelance positions over full-time office work. The COVID-19 pandemic served as a brilliant opportunity for those who considered freelancing but didn’t know if they could do it. The pandemic forced people to try remote work, and the results speak for themselves. 

What percentage of people are freelancers?

In the US, 35% of the entire workforce is freelancing. Also, 40% of all freelancers come from India. But the EU freelance market is growing massively and becoming the largest growing labour force in the union.

Is freelancing the future?

It seems so. The COVID-19 pandemic showed both employees and businesses that remote work can be even more effective than office work. Flexi-hours have enabled people to work when they’re more productive and not in a given timeframe, increasing the quality of their work. 

Are freelancers more productive?

Surprisingly, they are. Business owners were nervous about employees skimping on how much work they produced or its quality. But there’s an average of 13% increase in productivity working from home. Freelance statistics show us that freelancing is here to stay and more businesses should jump on board.

  1. AND.CO
  2. Upwork 
  3. Forbes
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Small Business Trends
  6. CXC
  7. FlexJobs
  8. National Endowment for the Arts

About the author

Emma Miles

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