Freelancers are people who are self-employed and are not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. The freelance economy is growing at an extraordinary pace, with 56.7 million Americans doing freelance work today — up by 3.7 million since 2014, according to a new study of 6,001 workers commissioned by the giant freelance platform Upwork and the Freelancers Union. That represents one-third of American workers.

While some previously thought freelancers were being forced into part-time roles, the opposite is true — and freelancers are probably happier then they’ve ever been. Paraphrased from the Interaction Design Foundation, some of the most popular reasons to freelance are:

  1. You get to be your own boss - " No more working with control-freak management, no more being clocked in and out of the office, no more getting told off for being late—you are the master of your own ship, and that’s a great way to feel."
  2. No more office politics - "Many employees say that it’s the worst bit of their job, having to play for favor between competing managers or competing teams. Fortunately, from the day you start working for yourself, you can say goodbye to office politics forever."
  3. You get to make their own decisions - "There’s no debating which version of a website to use or what the office dress code should be; it’s all up to you. If you want to work naked in your living room or if you want to wear a suit and sit in the suavest of cafes with your laptop, you can."
  4. You get to work when you want to work - "If you feel most productive between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., you can work then."
  5. You have the freedom to work wherever you want to work - "You can work in hotel rooms, apartments, coffee shops, by the pool, and in some really strange places. You’re a business owner—you dictate where you work as long as the job gets done. Your clients pay for your work, and it’s not their decision where you work."
  6. You choose the projects you want to work on - "If you’re a web designer and you hate working on tobacco company websites, you don’t have to. If you’re a writer and never want to write a single sales letter, you don’t have to. Employees have to work on projects their boss assigns them. Freelancers and entrepreneurs choose their own projects based on their expertise and passion."
  7. You also get to choose your clients - "Freelancers and entrepreneurs don’t have to work with people who annoy them. They’re free to choose the people with whom they work."

While all of the above are true, they are qualitative. Let’s take a look at the freelancer mindset through some stats below, taken from Upwork’s 2018 Freelancing in America Report.

Freelancing by Choice

  • 62% of freelancers started freelancing by choice as opposed to necessity
  • 76% of freelancers are happier freelancing than they felt while working traditional jobs.

In the past, we assumed freelancers were forced into part-time gigs due to layoffs or struggling to find full-time work. The opposite is true, and the choice to become a freelancer will only increase as the market opportunities increase.

Freelancing’s Positive Outlook

  • 92% of freelancers expect their work opportunities to continue to increase.
  • 90% have a positive outlook in terms of how they work both now and in the future.
  • 72% of freelancers say they either have the amount of work that they want or more.

While we can look at market data to see that the freelance economy is large and continuing to grow, it’s important to see that the mindset of freelance workers is in agreement. With 92% of freelancers expecting their work opportunities to continue to increase over time, you can only imagine the growth of the industry.

Freelancing for Monetary Benefit

  • Two-thirds of freelancers say they earn more than they did at their job with a traditional employer.
  • Of those earning a greater income as a freelancer, 81% say it took them less than a year to earn this level of income.
  • 82% of freelancers say in the past year they’ve earned as much or more compared with others doing similar work.

Not only is the freelance economy growing, but the wallets of freelancers are growing as well. More money combined the freedoms of being your own boss must make for some happy workers, right?

Freelancing for Happiness

  • 84% of full-time freelancers say their work lets them live the lifestyle they want, compared to 63% of full-time traditional workers.
  • 54% say there is no amount of money where they would definitely take a traditional job.
  • Among full-time freelancers, 64% said their health has improved since they began freelancing.

Well, I guess it does make for happier workers. With 84% percent of freelancers saying that freelancing affords them to live the way they want to live and 54% percent saying they would never go back to a traditional job, it seems to be that freelancing can do wonders for your health and happiness.

If you loved the list make sure to follow our blog, as we’ll be adding tons of resources and commentary over the next few weeks on everything from social media marketing to growth hacks living in the freelance economy.

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