Freelance Statistics 2024: The Future of Work?

Is freelancing just a fad or is it the future? How much money do freelancers make? Does it really offer better work-life balance and multiple other advantages?

With over 60% of freelancers looking to maintain their flexible lifestyle and opportunity-rich career course for the long haul, it looks like freelancing is here to stay. Weighing up the pros and cons might even speed up the decision but nothing beats hard data and reliable information. So let’s not delay and get into the most important freelance statistics that prove freelancing is not just a passing trend but is here to stay. So, read on to uncover more relevant information about freelancing and why it should be taken seriously regardless of whether you practice it yourself or not.

Top Freelance Statistics: Editor’s Choice

  • 30% of freelance writers earn under $10 per hour in their first year. 
  • Freelancers beat the hourly earnings of 70% of US workers. 
  • 53% of freelancers in the US are Gen Zers. 
  • A flexible work schedule is why 79% of workers choose to be full-time freelancers.
  • Women make up 39% of the global freelance workforce.
  • 27% cite the lack of retirement benefits as a major downside to freelancing.  
  • 33% of freelance workers attend training to improve their computer skills. 
  • Software solutions help 75% of freelancers with finance and invoicing. 
  • A staggering 82% of freelancers report decreased stress levels.

General Freelancing Statistics 

1. Freelancing is booming in Europe. 

While there is no exact data about the number of freelancers in the world, surveys show its popularity is the highest in Europe where 35.5% of the freelancing community operates. Just under 30% of freelancers meanwhile are located in Latin America and 28% are in Asia. The African continent also shows a solid presence with 10.1% of the population working in the freelance industry.

2. The US ranked first on the top 10 list of global freelance markets. 

Freelancer statistics point to a massive spike in US freelancer earnings from 10% in the second quarter of 2018 to 78% for the same period in 2019. Revenue growth in the UK (59%), Brazil (48%), and Pakistan (47%) is also solid with prospects for further increase. What is interesting here is that earlier freelance economy statistics and reports had positioned developing countries such as India or Bangladesh way ahead of the US. 

3. 60% of freelancers choose this career path. 

Freelancing statistics show that full-time self-employed workers participate in the labor market with 28% (up from 17% in 2014). This improvement points out to a growing number of workers claiming they stand firm on pursuing freelancing as a long-term career path. To put things into perspective — the number of long-term freelancers has increased from 18.5 million in 2014 to 28.5 million.

4. 73% of freelancers turn to online marketplaces to look for work. 

Freelancing statistics indicate that 73% of freelance professionals look for work on online marketplaces. The second most common method, used by 33% of freelance workers, is word-to-mouth or referrals while social media channels and networking sites such as LinkedIn are used by 15% and 14%, respectively.

While recruitment firms are a good option for hunting clients, freelancers generally prefer to use a professional Facebook page since it allows them to also showcase their work.

5. Freelancer is the ultimate digital labor-sharing platform. 

The three largest digital platforms used globally by freelancers and those who are looking to hire talent have around 50 million users. According to freelancer statistics, is the cradle of the ‘free’ workforce with over 31 million registered users. The second most popular online gig platform and freelancer favorite is UpWork with 17 million registered clients and freelancers, while Fiverr, with 7 million users, comes in third. 

6. A freelance worker spends an average of 43 hours per week working. 

Recent studies reveal that freelancers work around 43 hours per week which points out to a significant decrease in the working hours compared to 2017’s 47 hours per week.

Freelance statistics show 28.02% work less than 40 hours, 38.78% of freelancers work between 40 to 50 hours per week while 14.10% spend more than 50 hours a week working. As you might have guessed, very few freelancers (around 5%) tend to work more than 60 hours per week and this percentage has been dropping since 2017. 

7. 70% of freelancers are dedicated to two or four projects at a given time. 

Freelancers are busy as bees when it comes to freelance assignments or at least this is what freelancing statistics indicate. The vast majority juggle between two and four assignments and another 13% are working on five or even nine projects at a given moment.

But this is not all. Freelancers are highly functional too—a staggering 61% actively perform two or three work functions and 34% have mastered more than four.

9. 30% of freelance writers earn under $10 per hour in their first year. 

Freelance writing statistics suggest that 30% of newbie freelance writers make as much as $10 per hour. Obviously data is not all that bad with 9% making up to $100 per hour. Similarly, with 38% of experienced freelance writers earning $50 per hour, 54% of established content marketing writers, and 52% of copywriters making over $50 per hour, one can only concur that freelance writing could be a profitable career choice.

10. 86% of freelancers work from the comfort of their homes. 

In a somewhat ideal world, 25% of freelancers would prefer to work from home and another 25% would like to have their own office. Freelance statistics further reveal that 23% choose the work & travel option while 20% see a coworking space as an ideal fit.

In reality though, 86% of freelancers work at home, 40% in coffee shops, 25% are enjoying remote locations (work & travel), 21% are accommodated in client offices, and 19% in coworking spaces.

11. Freelancers beat the hourly earnings of 70% of US workers. 

If an average worker in the US earns a median $18.80 per hour then how much can a freelancer earn? The answer is — a bit more. With a median rate of $20 per hour, freelancers who offer skilled services are not just earning more money but are doing far better than almost three-quarters of workers stateside. 

12. Freelancing income accounts for about 6.8% of the US GDP.

Freelancers contribute more than the transportation and construction industry and their share is almost at the same level as the IT sector.

With an income of $1.3 trillion to the economy, US freelancers have the capacity to power an entire country. Just imagine, with a 6.8% contribution to the GDP, the income generated by freelancers equals the total GDP of a country such as Spain.

More Interesting Freelancer Statistics 

13.  57 million Americans freelance. 

The 2019 “Freelancing in America” survey points to a true labor market transformation. Over a third (35%) of the US workforce prefers jobs that offer greater flexibility than traditional work.

Since 2014, the number of freelancers in the US increased from 53 million to 57 million. And while for some freelancing is a full-time job, for 25% of these 57 million, freelancing is not their primary source of income but a side hustle to earn some extra cash. 

14. There are more male freelancers than non-freelancers in the US. 

Freelance statistics based on the share of self-employed workers in the US by gender, confirm 59% of the male workforce declared themselves as freelancers while 53% have more ‘traditional’ employment.

Female freelancers in the US are almost keeping up, representing a total of 40% of the female working population.

15. Women make up 39% of the global freelance workforce.

According to the World Bank’s 2019 freelance statistics, almost 40% of the global freelance workforce are women. Payoneer’s 2020 research concludes women’s participation in the freelance industry is gradually gaining momentum, accounting for 24%.

The same study, however, points to a fairly wide gap. That said, female freelancers still have higher hourly rates in multimedia production, marketing and web and graphic design. 

16.  53% of freelancers in the US are Gen Zers. 

A little over half of the freelancers in America belong to Generation Z (aged 18 to 22 years) which confirms that while freelancing attracts workers of all ages, it is very much preferred by younger generations.

And how many Millennials are freelancers? With a total of 40%, they are the second most represented age group followed by Gen Xers (39-54) with 31% participation in the freelance workforce. Baby Boomers (55+) come in last on the list with 29%. 

17. A flexible work schedule is why 79% of workers choose to be full-time freelancers.

The freelance workforce enjoys a multitude of perks. From pursuing their own passions to being the creators of their work-life balance, freelancers might very well have it all, and freelancing statistics prove it.

The reasons why workers choose full-time freelancing is because they can be their own boss (77%), create flexible work schedules (79%), work from any location (74%), and still choose the projects they want to work on (74%). A whopping 71% meanwhile do it to earn extra money and focus on work they find meaningful, while 68% do it because it allows them to spend more time with their family. 

18. 41% of freelancers are postgraduates. 

Freelancing is common across all education levels. UpWork statistics, however, conclude that with a solid 41%, the group of the most educated workers with postgraduate degrees shows the highest inclination to freelancing.

Additionally, 33% of freelancers hold a Bachelor’s degree while around 60% have either college degrees or high school diplomas. Interestingly, 52% of freelancers say they would instantly replace college education with training and 89% wish the educational system had better prepared them for freelancing. 

19.  Creative skills provide income for the majority of freelancers.   

UpWork’s latest freelance industry report cites creative skills as the most widely applied by freelancers. Freelancer statistics further show 75% of freelancers are working in the arts & design industry, 55% are in the entertainment industry, 42% in architecture and engineering while another 42% have computer and mathematical occupations.

At the other end of the spectrum, some self-employed workers operate in the production and manufacturing industries with 21%, healthcare support, and office work or administration support with 25% each. 

20.  27% cite the lack of retirement benefits as a major downside to freelancing.  

Freelancer statistics reveal that only 9% of freelancers aren’t well paid. Yet, it is not all sunshine and rainbows with almost a third of freelancers saying that the main pitfall of their career choice is the lack of retirement plans or annuities. ‘Low financial security,’ cited by 19% of freelancers, is also a concern.

21. 22% worry about access to affordable healthcare. 

Freelancers and non-freelancers alike share similar concerns and at the very top is access to affordable healthcare. While freelance workforce statistics indicate that 84% have health insurance, almost three out of ten full-time freelancers buy their own healthcare plan.

Freelancers are also more likely to have college loans (46%) compared to non-freelancers (36%) and this is a major hassle for them. 

22. 33% of freelance workers attend training to improve their computer skills. 

While 67% of freelancers say the amount of freelance work they find online has increased, they continue to work hard on career advancement by upgrading their skills. Freelance statistics suggest that most freelancers hope that improving their computer skills will impact their future opportunities.

Nearly 30% (29%) meanwhile see potential in boosting their networking skills, 27% are interested in attending training to upgrade their business skills, and 26% consider marketing skills a good investment.

23. Freelancers value soft skills as much as hard skills. 

Many people have this notion that freelancers work alone and have no contact with other people. The reality, however, is very different. Freelancers, just like any other workers, rely equally on hard and soft skills to be successful.

The newest UpWork statistics confirm that 90% of freelancers agree soft skills are on par with hard skills and an incredible 92% believe there should be more education or training available for acquiring soft skills which are extremely important for their professional success.

24.  A whopping 76% of full-time freelancers are satisfied with what they do. 

Almost eight out of 10 freelancers are satisfied with the overall business climate and with being in charge of their own professional pursuits. That marks a 13% rise compared to four years ago.

Interestingly, many wonder how freelancers cope with the loneliness that comes with the job, which inevitably begs the question: Are freelancers happier? The answer is a resounding yes. 82% of full-time freelancers are happier working on their own and say it is ideal for them. 

25. Going back to a traditional full-time job is not an option for 51% of the freelance workforce

Just over half of the full-time self-employed workers (51%) say there is no amount of money that could convince them to take on a traditional job. It’s simple—traditional work does not interest them. Only 2% would be willing to consider going back to a traditional job if offered a higher salary. 

26. Coders and software developers are the highest-paid freelancing jobs.

If case you are in need of ideas on which area is best suited to start freelancing, here is what the latest freelance statistics jobs say: coders and software developers earn up to $1,000 per hour, copywriters make over $250 per hour, junior software developers bring in up to $119 per hour while graphic designers make $85 per hour.

Other freelancing job ideas that might be of help and are related to the fastest-growing skills are AI, Robotics, Brand strategy, Instagram marketing, and Blockchain. 

27.  45% of freelancers sell skilled services. 

If you’re wondering about the types of freelancers and what services they offer, almost half sell skilled services. Freelance workforce statistics indicate that 30% of those who sell skilled services do this exclusively while the rest do it along with other types of freelancing.

Then, 30% of full-time freelancers sell unskilled services (15% of which provide more than one service), another 26% sell goods and 29% do other activities. 

28. Software solutions help 75% of freelancers with finance and invoicing. 

Technology offers an abundance of opportunities and with three-quarters of freelancers using software or technology for their finances and invoicing, it seems they are not missing out on any of them.

Freelancing statistics show 65% of freelancers use software or other tech project management and daily operators while around half use these resources for accounting, taxes, and personal assistance or scheduling. Some freelancers (28%) lean on tech or software when in need of legal counsel.

29. A staggering 82% of freelancers report decreased stress levels. 

Eight out of 10 self-employed professionals report increased morale and the vast majority claim a significant reduction of stress levels since switching to freelancing. Amazing right?

Freelance statistics further reveal that they are not just happier workers but healthier too, with 64% reporting that their general health and sleep have improved. And perhaps the most astonishing data is that almost 70% of freelancers enjoy an overall quality lifestyle.

30.  When in a pickle, freelancers reinforce efforts and dedicate more time to find work.

Over the years freelancers have evolved in how they face the challenges that come with the job and generally use several methods to deal with them.

Freelance statistics suggest that 34% of freelancers expand their efforts and spend more time finding extra work, 27% try to find temporary ‘gigs’ such as seasonal work and 22% get in touch with freelancer organizations for more opportunities. Another 23% dip into their savings but there are also freelancers (20%) who are confident that things will work out and basically do nothing. 

31. 44% of freelancers have been stiffed by a client. 

Just like any other job freelancing has risks and dealing with unreliable clients is one of them. Freelance statistics mention four out of ten freelancers have been stiffed by a client and 47% believe this is because employers don’t take freelancing seriously while 37% blame vague or poorly written contracts.

Unethical companies (11%) also pose a threat to freelancers’ earnings but at any rate, the good news is there are solid platforms with proper systems in place to protect freelancers.

32. One-half of full-time freelancers are politically active.

Freelancer statistics show that self-employed professionals show a stronger tendency to be politically active than non-freelancers. Apparently, freelancing life offers 51% of full-time freelancers more freedom to get involved in political activities.

They are even ahead of non-freelancers by 18 percentage points. Interestingly, 72% would be prepared to cross party lines to support or vote for a candidate that is more vocal in protecting freelancers’ interests.  

Freelance Statistics on the Industry’s Prospects  

33. Over half of the US workforce will be freelancing by 2027.

The number of freelancers in the US has been growing steadily by two to three percentage points since 2017. Based on this the forecasts for the future are that by the end of 2027 a total of 50.9% of the US workforce or 86.5 million will be full-time freelancers.

34. An incredibly optimistic 91% of freelancers say the best is yet to come. 

The current disposition of the majority of freelancers (91%), as confirmed by UpWork statistics is that freelancing will be seeing an extraordinary future and that the best days in freelancing are underway. This is an amazing jump by 14 percentage points from back in 2014 when a somewhat solid 77% of freelancers believed this. The 2019 ‘Freelancing in America’ report further reveals high expectations in 67% of freelancers on future income increase. 

35.  More collaboration opportunities and a stronger community are what 61% of freelancers want in the future. 

Freelancing might be as close as it gets to a perfect job but there is always room for improvement. Freelancer statistics confirm that over half want more collaboration and feel that a sense of community is missing.

Similarly, 50% want more available resources or even streamlined business operations and 48% think it would be good if they had more freedom to work remotely while 41% are worried about their rights as freelancers and want to see changes in this field. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is freelance work?

Freelancers are independent workers or persons who are self-employed and not committed to a company or organization although sometimes they could be represented by a temporary agency. Freelance work entails the offering of services of a skilled individual for a designated fee to a potential client, company, or organization.

Is freelancing worth it?

Freelancing requires dedication, focus, and a lot of hard work which can sometimes demand more than 40 hours a week of your time. Plus clients and gigs don’t fall off from the sky, you have to work consistently if you want to see any true progress. But for persons who love to be autonomous, work from any location, and want to be in charge of the kind of work they do or how they do it, it might just be the perfect option. And the amazing thing is, you get to create the lifestyle that best fits you.

How do I start freelancing?

If you have some freelance career ideas but are unsure where to start, check out these simple steps:

  • Consider why you want to freelance
  • Assess your current financial situation
  • Set goals
  • Create a business plan
  • Gather information on potential clients
  • Set your fees
  • Maintain online presence (LinkedIn, personal Facebook page and/or freelancing platform)
  • Start networking
  • Market yourself (blogs, social media, etc.)
  • Stay in touch with your clients (word-of-mouth works wonders)

Final Words

Freelancers have been around since at least the Middle Ages when knights hired mercenaries who would lend their fighting skills to the highest bidder. And perhaps those ‘medieval’ beginnings are why freelancing is still viewed with a dose of disrespect. Freelance statistics, however, indicate that the tide is turning and freelancing is not just here to stay but heralds the rise of an overwhelmingly satisfied workforce. 


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