The term "freelancer" often conjures images of millennial or Gen Z workers who turned to freelance or gig economy work when couldn't find a full-time job. But in reality, more Gen Xers (35%) and baby boomers (33%) are freelancing as their sole source of income than millennials (22%), according to a Tuesday report from FlexJobs.
Based on a survey of 1,000 freelancers, the average full-time freelance worker is a female Gen Xer working in the writing, marketing, editing, or creative career fields. This person works primarily for small companies and individuals, and juggles two to three jobs at a time, the report found. The average worker freelances by choice, and has been doing so for at least three years, and envisions continuing this type of career for the long-term, though they have worked at traditional companies in the past.
More than 56.7 million Americans work freelance jobs today—an increase of 3.7 million since 2014, and representing 35% of the population, according to a report from Upwork and Freelancers Union. Technology has aided the growth of the freelance economy by making it easier to find work, that report noted.
SEE: The future of IT jobs: A business leader's guide (Tech Pro Research)
"Some might think the freelance economy is growing because workers can't find traditional jobs, but recent studies clearly indicate that workers are freelancing more and more out of choice — they are proactively opting out of the traditional workforce," Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, said in a press release. "This growing interest in and passion for the freelance economy is yet another indication that the 9-5 office arrangement isn't compatible with much of the workforce's lifestyle."
Freelance workers find their clients primarily through networking (63%), job sites (47%), and social media (37%), according to the report. The majority (83%) do their work at home, rather than at a coffee shop or co-working space.
One quarter of full-time freelancers said they make more money now than they did in a traditional job, and 21% said they make similar amounts of money. While 52% said they make less money, 68% said they are less stressed, the report found. The largest challenges for these workers are finding clients (69%) and predictable income flow (69%). However, about half (49%) said they are saving for retirement, and 69% said they have health insurance.
To learn more about the top skills needed to land a freelance job, click here.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- More Gen Xers (35%) and baby boomers (33%) are freelancing as their sole source of income than millennials (22%). — FlexJobs, 2018
- Freelance workers find their clients primarily through networking (63%), job sites (47%), and social media (37%). — FlexJobs, 2018
- The gig economy: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Going beyond hardware for remote work (ZDNet)
- How to become a developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Companies that support remote work experience 25 percent lower employee turnover (and other findings) (ZDNet)
- The 10 highest-paying gig economy jobs are all in tech (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.