First, let’s do a little introduction into the freelance market: based on a study from the Freelancers Union and Upwork, the US has about 53 million freelancers.
Happy almost-election day, you a grand ol’ freelancer. And according to the Freelancer’s Union’s annual Freelancing in America survey, there are 55 million of you. That’s a whole lot of independent bosses with their own opinions and agendas. But even though the nature of freelance work varies among individuals, there are commonalities that bind them. Some are awesome and upbeat, like the reasons for freelancing— which we’ll get into in a minute. But others are less so. Even though public opinions on freelancing are improving, there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, the report identifies health insurance as the primary concern for freelancers.
So what does this mean? The American freelancer comprises 35% of the workforce in the United States and last year generated one trillion dollars, a significant chunk of the economy. Freelance work isn’t going anywhere, yet the lingering issues need to be addressed. This new generation is doing just that—by going to the polls. 85% of freelancers are planning to cast a ballot for the next president of the United States, and a majority of those voters are choosing a candidate that they believe have freelancers’ interests at heart. No matter the candidate, the freelance vote in America is a valuable block. We’re only going to see more independent workers as time ticks forwards, and the wise candidate will move to back this increasingly important contributor to the economy.
Just in case our presidential candidates aren’t convinced that American freelance, and the world over, work isn’t gaining popularity, here are four reasons why America votes for independent work over the traditional 9-to-5.
Flexibility — The “Free” in Freelance
For full-time freelancers in America, flexibility was the primary reason for going independent. Just think about how we’re coming up on a major trio of holidays. In a traditional work setting, it’s a nightmare coordinating time away from work with management and the rest of your team. But when you are your own boss, you can communicate directly with clients to set realistic expectations during the most wonderfully hectic time of year. There are major benefits to flexibility outside of vacation time, too. When new software is released, you can grab it whenever you want instead of waiting for a department-wide switch. If you have the urge to move your base of operations, nothing is stopping you from sliding into a cool new co-working space. And when it’s time to campaign to attract new clients, you can sign up for a new class to boost your skills or learn a new one.
Student debt. It’s the recurring joke/nightmare for millennials of all stripes. On average, a college graduate will be saddled with about $30,000 in loans. A lot of starting jobs aren’t exactly paying fat salaries, so it should be no surprise that recent grads are looking to scoop up some extra income in order to pay down the barrier to a financially secure future. In fact, a solid 25% of American freelancers are identified as moonlighters—someone with a full-time job that works a freelance gig for some financial breathing room.
Pursue Your Own Interests with Freelance
Have you ever told a friend or relative what you majored in, only to have them ask “what are you going to do with that?” You stubbornly reassure yourself that it’s all going to be okay, then plunge into an existential crisis, and finally emerge while rationalizing that college was all about the experience man. Maybe your major was the university equivalent of a third party, but it doesn’t mean your degree can’t be put to use. Look, we like working with what we’re truly passionate about. Are you a photography geek? Nothing is stopping you from dusting off your camera and selling a few prints or charging for professional head shots. Have a thing for music or history? Food or travel? There’s a good chance that no matter your interest, there exists a blog that will pay you to write about your opinions and insights.
Full Dedication to Work
Work can be great. But we’re willing to bet that when present with a choice, most of you, America and the rest of the world alike, will vote “living” over “labor”. In a way, freelancing saves time, which directly translates into more opportunity for personal pleasures. There’s the obvious stuff, like how the choice to work from home (or at least in the neighborhood) eliminates a commute. Boom, you’ve got an extra 50 minutes in the time bank. Free of office distractions, you might be able to get into your groove faster. Oh, and you get to cut out those totally unnecessary meetings, too. No surprise that freelancers are finding themselves working less than 40 hours a week and still feeling fulfilled.