As you’ll see from the freelance statistics listed in this text, escaping the corporate 9–5 world has quickly become the new trend in business. Why do so many people choose to become freelancers?
In addition to the benefit of working from anywhere you please, freelancing provides the unique opportunity to choose your own clients, projects, and work hours. Statistics show that freelancers are happier and more productive, and they can even earn more than their peers in traditional jobs. Here’s our list of 30 statistics showing the benefits, and setbacks, of freelancing:
10 Key Freelance Statistics and Facts
- A third of the US workforce has done freelance work at some point in their career.
- 61% of freelancers went into this type of work by choice.
- When in need, 25% of freelancers can find work within a day.
- Freelancing contributes $1.4 trillion to the US economy.
- While they’re more likely to earn more, male freelancers are also more likely to be tricked by clients.
- Freelancers earn over $1 billion on Upwork yearly.
- There are 12 million registered freelancers on Upwork.
- Content writers earn $15–$80 per hour on Upwork.
- Developers earn $15–$150 per hour on Upwork.
- Graphic designers earn $20–$150 per hour on Upwork.
Freelancer Statistics: How Many Freelancers Are There and How Do They Work?
1. 38% of independent workers identify themselves as freelancers.
“Freelancer” is the term most independent workers use to describe their position. 28% of independent workers consider themselves self-employed consultants, 14% are side-hustlers, 12% are founders with no employees, 6% are founders with employees, and 4% of them proclaim to be “something else.”
2. Freelancers from the US spend more than 1 billion hours per week freelancing.
Even though there are almost twenty times more freelancers today than there were in 2014, the overall weekly working hours haven’t increased by much. The freelance statistics from 2015 show that American freelancers worked 998 million hours per week during the previous year. Today, that number barely exceeds a billion.
3. 56.7 million Americans do freelance work.
Approximately a third of the US workforce has done freelance work at some point in their career, according to Forbes. The freelancing boom that the US has been in for the last five years has brought the number of freelancers from a modest 3.7 million to a colossal 56.7 million today.
4. 61% of freelancers specialize in 2 to 3 skills.
In fact, just 5% of freelancers look for work based on a single skill. 95% of freelancers, according to the freelance statistics, take jobs that require them to adjust and improve on their skill set. Essentially, they’re “slash workers.”
5. 61% of freelancers say they freelance by choice.
In 2014, 53% of freelancers said they went independent by choice. These days, the percentage of those who willingly choose freelance over traditional work has become even greater, with 61% of freelancers finding the former their cup of tea. The rest were either laid off or otherwise forced into freelancing.
6. 51% of freelancers say they will not go back to a traditional job.
Data regarding freelancing in America in 2018 shows that more than half of freelancers refuse to return to a traditional 9 to 5, regardless of the money offered. With 51% of them agreeing, there’s no doubt that the freedom that comes with freelancing is a great perk.
7. 25% of freelancers say they can find work within 24 hours.
(The Balance of Careers)
Once they finish work on a project, or when they need an immediate source of funds, a quarter of freelancers are able to find new work within a day.
8. 71% of freelancers say they had more online work this year.
Year after year, the conditions for freelancers’ success are more easily met. Freelance workforce statistics point out that 71% of freelancers had more work available this year than in 2018. Additionally, 42% of small businesses employ freelancers. With the increase in job offers, the perception of freelancing as a viable full-time career grew; 69% of freelancers now feel positive about this.
9. 43% of the working US population will turn to freelance work over the next five years.
(Small Business Trends) (Upwork)
If you’re wondering how many freelancers there will be in the US, you’re in for a wild ride here. By 2024, 43% of the US population that’s able to work will either try out or fully transition to freelancing startup statistics reveal. By 2027, the majority of the US workforce will consist of freelancers.
10. 63% of freelancers agree that having multiple clients is more secure than sticking with just one.
When it comes to job security, the majority of freelancers would rather diversify their portfolio with different clients than stay with a single contractor for extended periods of time. This is probably why the average freelancer has 4.5 clients per month.
11. 70% of freelancers work on 2–4 projects at a time.
The freelancing statistics indicate that just 13% of freelancers work on a single project at a time. The same percentage of freelancers (13%) is juggling anywhere between 5 and 9 projects. Just 4% of freelancers are brave enough to get into 10 or more projects at the same time, while the rest work on 2–4.
12. 33% of freelancers work in creative fields.
A third of all freelancers work in creative fields. 21% are in consulting/professional services, 17% are writers, journalists, and content service providers, 15% are in tech/web development, while 14% make a living in other fields, according to the gig economy statistics from 2018.
13. AI, Instagram marketing, and brand strategy are the most wanted skills.
Freelancers who know their way around artificial intelligence and machine learning, Instagram marketing, or branding shouldn’t worry about job opportunities, as these are the most heavily demanded skills on the freelancing market.
14. 25% of freelancers say their ideal work environment is their home.
A quarter of freelance workers say that working from the comfort of their own home is their ideal work situation. The same percentage needs their own office in order to separate their work and personal lives, and 23% of freelancers prefer being on the road. The freelance industry report from 2018 shows that hubs and co-working spaces are the ideal spots for 20% of freelancers, 4% choose their clients’ office, 2% go for coffee shops, and 1% have other preferences.
15. Freelancers in the management and human relations sectors commit the most time to work.
Comparing the average time spent working per week, we see that freelancers who work in management and human relations are the hardest workers, with 39 hours on average. Engineering and manufacturing freelancers work 38.2 hours per week, on average. Finally, IT personnel work 37.4 hours, and translators and writers work an average of 34 hours per week.
Gig Economy Statistics: How Much Do Freelancers Make and Can You Live Off of Freelancing?
16. Freelancers prefer using the term “freelance economy.”
When asked which term they preferred, 49% of freelancers surveyed said that “freelance economy” is the one they go with. The second most popular option was “on-demand economy” (25%), followed by “sharing economy” (13%), and “gig economy” (10%).
17. Freelancers contributed $1.4 trillion to the US economy in a year.
This covers roughly 7% of the nation’s GDP, according to last year’s freelance statistics. In fact, freelancing’s economic contribution is more than double that of the auto industry (FCA US, Ford, and GM).
18. Working from home can improve performance by 13%.
(Stanford Graduate School of Business)
By inducing a sense of comfort and relaxation, working from home leads to improved productivity. Additionally, employers who’ve implemented a work from home strategy saw a yearly profit increase of $2,000 per worker.
19. Freelance work is over half the household income for 1 in 12 US families.
(Small Business Trends) (USA Today)
Just how important freelancing has become to the US economy is best shown by the fact that more than 8% of US households gain over half of their funds by doing freelance work.
20. 30% of freelance writers make under $10 per hour during their first year.
(Small Business Trends) (Make a Living Writing)
How much do freelance writers make? Well, during their first year at least, not so much. According to a survey from early 2019 that involved more than 1,400 freelance writers, close to a third of them earned less than $10 per hour during their first freelancing year. Even after that, the same portion of them stayed below the $20 per hour threshold. On the other end, 10% of the participants reported earning more than $76 an hour.
21. 31% of freelancers make $75,000 or more.
Freelance work can be an excellent way to make a living, and for nearly a third of all freelancers based in the US, it has become more than a reliable source of income. The gig economy stats show us that even though it takes a lot of dedication and effort, you can also be one of the freelancers earning $75K or more per year.
22. 48% of female freelancers earn less than $25,000 per year.
The freelancing community isn’t immune to wage discrepancies; nearly half of all female freelancers make less than $25,000 per year. When it comes to male freelancers, the freelance statistics on payments show that 34% of them fall into this pay bracket. Another piece of data demonstrating the advantage men in the industry have over their female peers says they are 4.5 times more likely to make over $150,000.
23. Male freelancers are more likely to be tricked by clients.
To somewhat compensate for the pay gap, female freelancers are less commonly tricked out of payments. According to the global gig economy statistics, 49% of male freelancers have had this negative experience, while for females, that number sits at 38%.
24. 63% of freelancers withdraw from their savings at least once a month.
For comparison, those who work traditional full-time jobs dip into their savings 20% of the time. As we can see, a freelancer’s income can be far from stable.
25. Freelance economy statistics find that 43% of freelancers consider themselves less financially stable after becoming self-employed.
A high percentage of freelancers are less financially stable after leaving traditional work environments, yet they choose to keep freelancing. 34% of them say that they’re in the same financial situation as before, while 23% noticed an improvement in their finances after becoming self-employed.
Upwork Statistics: What Makes the Best Freelancing Platform?
26. Freelancers earn more than $1 billion per year on Upwork.
Upwork, one of the most popular freelancing platforms, helps freelancers from around the world find work. Using the platform, they earn over $1 billion every year from 3 million jobs. This makes Upwork the largest marketplace for freelancers.
27. Upwork has 12 million registered freelancers.
With this many freelancers registered, it’s no wonder that the amount of money going through Upwork exceeds a billion dollars. Upwork statistics from 2018 tell us that there are 5 million clients looking for the right person on the site.
28. Content writers make anywhere between $15–$80 per hour on Upwork.
(Glassdoor) (Upwork) (Upwork)
The data available on Glassdoor shows that US freelance writers who choose Upwork as their job market make $34,937 per year on average. This translates to $17 per hour, plus bonuses and additional compensation. The question of how much do freelance writers make per article is, however, trickier to answer. According to Upwork community boards, freelance writers on the platform earn anywhere between $5 and $1,000 per article. There are some freelancers who work for under a dollar per 1,000 words, while others make $8 or more per 100. You can see the list of the top-rated writers on Upwork, as well as their hourly pricing, here.
29. Front-end developers earn $15–$150 per hour on Upwork.
30. The average rate for graphic designers on Upwork is $45 per hour.
Depending on their experience, project requirements, and their ability to negotiate, Upwork freelance graphic designers can make anywhere from $20 to $150 per hour. The average rate sits at $45 an hour. So how much do freelance graphic designers make per project? To answer, you’ll need to know how many hours it typically takes to finish some of the most common projects. Flyers take 1–10+ hours, depending on demands, a log can take 5–20+ hours, and infographics take the same amount of time. For more insight into their rates and skill sets, you can find a list of the top-rated graphic designers on Upwork here.
Reading through the list above, it can easily be deduced that freelancing is—much like any other type of work—not for everyone. The main setbacks are the uncertainty of payments and work availability, as well as the isolation, which some consider a benefit. The freelance statistics show us that freelancing is rapidly becoming the future of the business world. They also convince us that freelancing might just be the way to live better and happier lives.