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Is this the year of the freelancer? - Freelance Trends 2021

Benjamin Schriel
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Here at BUBTY, we love to keep up with the latest freelance trends and we can say that a lot has changed in the last two years. That is why we list all these trends so that you too stay up-to-date.

Judging by the studies we've looked at, the experts we've interviewed, and the experience of the BUBTY team, there's plenty to be happy about if you're a freelancer.

In this article we take you through the most current trends of 2021:
Increased Freelancing Adoption
Growth in freelance platforms
The Rise of Freelance Teams
Community increasingly important
More highly skilled freelance opportunities
What caused change?

There is no doubt that Covid-19 has triggered many changes. However, we can also say that these changes have been coming for a long time.

Despite the current hype, freelancing is far from a new phenomenon. What is new is the way the world looks at it.

The forced move to remote work around the world has made many people realize that office workers are not the only business model that works. Companies are starting to see the benefits of having access to a global talent market and the flexibility that freelancers can provide.

Many workers who once viewed freelancing as risky have learned from the pandemic that no job is truly safe.

Despite the fact that freelancers receive few government benefits and that some freelance sectors – such as film and tourism – have been hit very hard by measures to contain the spread of Covid, freelance platforms are inundated by people who want to take more personal control over their finances.

“Freelance platforms are overrun by people who want more personal control over their finances.”

Current state of affairs

Despite the global crisis, the freelance economy exploded in 2020. In the US, freelancers contributed $1.2 trillion to the economy and the global freelance workforce now consists of 35% freelancers. Another fun fact; as of March 2019, Google's workforce is 120,000 freelancers, more than the number of permanent employees on the payroll, which is approximately 102,000.

“Google's workforce is made up of more freelancers than permanent employees.”

Also, young people are really aware of the possibilities of freelancing. Between the ages of 18 and 22, 50% of freelancers in the US are active and 36% see freelancing as a long-term career. We are also seeing a major shift towards freelance work in Europe.

However, it is not just about children. Good news for our older readers is that people over 55 earn more than their younger colleagues because they focus on skilled and project-based work.

The most important news is that freelancers, as a group, seem to be both happier and better paid than their office-bound colleagues.

Key trends impacting freelancers in 2021
1. Increased Freelancing Adoption
As we have already mentioned, having to work remotely has played an important role in changing the perception of freelancing. But this means so much more than no longer getting weird looks when you say you're a freelancer.

Companies are much more comfortable with the idea of ​​working with freelancers and this means a wealth of new opportunities.

However, companies aren't the only ones starting to see the benefits of freelancing. While it's true that some have entered the ranks of freelancers out of necessity in 2020, more and more people are feeling the need to take more control over their finances and see freelancing as a good way to do that.

We anticipate that freelancing will continue to explode in 2021 and 2022 and, perhaps more importantly, that freelancing will become a career choice seen as desirable by more and more people.

2. Growth in Freelance Platforms
To put this growth in perspective, it's important to note that only 13% of freelancers rely on online talent marketplaces as their primary source of clients. Nevertheless, the number of freelancers on mainstream platforms like Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr has skyrocketed. Those who pay close attention also know that new niche platforms are constantly being created.

It is expected that those new to freelancing will be particularly attracted to established platforms. However, these platforms are not ideal for everyone and an overabundance of applications can lead to rejection of applicants. These platforms are also not ideal for companies that are quickly looking for freelancers. Because there are so many freelancers active on some platforms (Upwork more than 12 million), you can no longer see the wood for the trees.

3. The Rise of Freelance Teams
The image of freelancers as individuals who want to work alone and see all other freelancers as a threat seems to have ended happily.

The reality is that while freelancers like to be in control of their work, they need to be masters of communication, relationship building, and negotiation to deal with clients effectively. Freelancers often work together to take on bigger jobs or to replace their clients when they go on vacation.

Freelance teams are also formed by companies that hire freelancers and have them collaborate with other freelancers and employees on projects. This has led to a growth of freelance management solutions and freelance platforms that offer project management services. All these management systems together form a Freelance Management System. Would you like to read more about what an FMS is all about? Read our blog HERE.

The positive effects of this change make it one of the most encouraging freelance trends in 2021.

4. Community increasingly important
Sometimes it takes a crisis to really build a community. The impact of government measures has certainly helped to create a greater sense of community.

Experienced freelancers, who know the importance of networking with like-minded people, are increasingly taking the time to train and mentor new freelancers. With the explosive growth of freelancing, the realization has also grown that freelancers must do their part if they want to shape the future of freelancing.

5. More Highly Skilled Freelance Opportunities
Freelancing offers opportunities to people of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, but it looks like it will become much easier for the highly educated who want to work as a freelancer.

With companies becoming more open to working with freelancers, especially to fill technical skills gaps, 2021 could be a goldmine for those with the right skills. Rather than having to fight to convince companies to hire them or settle for lower rates than they earn, highly skilled freelancers may find clients falling over themselves to get their services.

The traditionally strong freelance IT and cybersecurity sectors will continue to grow as companies face staff shortages and the urgent need to do more remote work.

The desire of professionals to become their own boss will further fuel this trend. If a valuable employee resigns to freelance and there are no suitable candidates for the job, the natural choice is to bring your former employee back as a freelancer. We see this happening so often “in practice”.

Given that 52% of companies have had to postpone or cancel projects due to a lack of available talent, it seems safe to say that companies will hire many more skilled freelancers in 2021.

“52% of companies have had to postpone or cancel projects due to the lack of available talent”.

For Freelancers: How to Make the Most of Current Freelance Trends
The freelance trends we've observed indicate that 2021 could really be a tipping point for the industry. It's an exciting time to be a freelancer, but all the positive trends in the world won't do you any good if you don't know how to make the most of it.

Experience and commitment
Experience is a big factor in earning more as a freelancer. In addition, dedication to a freelance career also helps. Those who work exclusively as a freelancer earn a higher hourly wage and are more satisfied with their lifestyle than those who divide their time working for a company.

Stand out from the crowd
As freelancing gains popularity, clients will have greater choice and the ability to cut rates. This means you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

You could find work in areas less popular with freelancers, but you really don't have to. You'd be surprised how much of a difference little things like attention to detail, great customer service and solid communication skills can make.

Remember to be yourself and focus on long term relationships, and you will start to find your unique niche.

Continuous learning
Freelancers are responsible for their continuous training, and those who do not continue to hone their skills lose their competitive edge.

With all the free and inexpensive online training options available, there really is no excuse not to keep learning. If you're not sure what to focus on, we even have a list of the best online freelance courses to improve your skills.

It's important to remember that freelancing requires you to have a whole set of business skills in addition to the skills you need for the services you provide to clients.

Use of social media
Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media is now used by the vast majority of freelancers. Promoting yourself on social media is vital for many, and it's a good idea to be aware of new channels. The well-known Tik Tok may not be right for you, but a strong social media game can really help you.

Some sensible advice, when it comes to social media, is to try and really master only a few platforms, rather than half-heartedly spreading yourself across all platforms.

This look at freelance trends is useful as a general health check for the freelancing world, but there's no guarantee you'll see your own pay and happiness rise along with the industry.

What it does tell us is that there are more and more opportunities out there, and if you're already a freelancer, there's a good chance more clients will be open to using your services.

For those considering a major career switch, if you think you can showcase your skills and experience to a potential client, work comfortably from home, and have a strong social media game, now is a great time to make the jump to it. venture freelancing.

The most important conclusion most people already know: there is no substitute for hard work.

All these positive freelance trends will mean little to you unless you take action. Even if 2021 isn't going to be the Year of the Freelancer (which is highly unlikely), you can still make it YOUR year.