A significant percentage of freelancers also have full-time or part-time jobs.
In the workaday world, the word “freelancer’’ carries both positive and negative connotations.
To some, it is a symbol of freedom, the opportunity to work when and where you want. To others, it is a symbol of failure; you call yourself a freelancer when you can’t get a real job.
Today, it is the way of the world. Freelancers are taking over the workaday world, whether by choice or by necessity.
A new research study commissioned by Freelancers Union and Elance-Odesk indicates there are 53 million people doing freelance work in the United States, representing 34 percent of the national workforce. The study, conducted by Edelman Berland, concludes that freelancers add $715 billion annually to the economy.
The advance of freelance is the result of two recent changes in the employment atmosphere in the United States.
When employers began letting full-time employees go in order to reduce personnel costs related to health care benefits, freelancing became a hot topic. So many jobs that are done in offices today can be done out of office because they are accomplished on computer monitors, which can access information via Wi-Fi hookups nearly anyplace that has a horizontal surface upon which to sit your laptop.
The internet also sparked the world of freelance. For those workers who can provide a service to enough employers at a sufficient price to make a living, freelancing is like a dream: working where you want, when you want.
Freelancing is also what some workers do when they cannot find full-time employment.
The study was commissioned by Freelancers Union to determine how freelancers felt about their employment status. Whereas freelancing was formerly a derogatory term, the study finds that freelancers today enjoy their status and have enough work to make a living.
"This is a story about work in America. What we're trying to say is this is the new reality," said Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz.
Of the freelancers surveyed, 32 percent said they have had an increase in work, 15 percent have experienced a decline. Thirty-six percent of freelancers who have a full-time job have considered quitting that position in order to go independent full time.
Seventy-seven percent say they make the same or more money than they did before freelancing; 42 percent say they make more money as a freelancer.
There are five classifications of freelancer: the independent contractor who works project-to-project; the diversified worker who has a part-time job (or multiple part-time jobs) but freelancers in other hours; the moonlighter, who has a full-time job but freelancers after hours; the temporary worker, who has only one employer that uses him on an occasional basis; and the freelance business owner, who runs his own company but freelances in the same field as well.
For workers forced into freelance, it can be harrowing, looking for more work on a daily basis while trying to complete the tasks already assigned. For those who chose freelance, it is a way to live a complete life while also contributing to the bottom line.
"People are adjusting their expenses and working in the way that lets them have control," Horowitz said. "Previously, employers had all the control."
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.