3 Common Freelancing Myths and What the Data Really Says

Freelancers are creating the life they want, but they may face doubts about their income, their quality of life, and the opportunities available. New data from a survey of U.S. freelance knowledge workers shows that many beliefs about freelancing are little more than myths.

The reality is highlighted by new data from Freelancing in America: 2018, a comprehensive study of the U.S. independent workforce by Edelman Intelligence, commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union.

According to Freelancing in America:

  • More than three in four (76 percent) freelancers say they are happier working independently than they were working for an employer
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) say they earn more as a freelancer than they did at their job with a traditional employer
  • The majority of freelancers (72 percent) say they have the amount of work that they want or more
  • Ninety percent believe the best days are ahead for freelancing

“What many don’t understand is that the skilled work performed by independent knowledge workers is in important ways more similar to full-time professional jobs rather than the one-off, relatively low-skilled gigs many associate with the freelance economy,” said Adam Ozimek, Chief Economist of Upwork.

Here are three common misconceptions about freelancing that the new data addresses…

1. That there aren’t meaningful career opportunities for freelancers and it’s only a matter of time before the fad ends.

Freelancing in America: 72% [of those surveyed] say they have the amount of work they want (or more)

“I receive multiple job requests every day, many of which are from well-known brands,” said Pep Dekker, a Top Rated Google Ads expert on Upwork. “The majority of those are from businesses looking to hire for long-term, strategic work that’s critical to their business. The volume and caliber of job invitations lead me and many others I know to believe that freelancing is here to stay.”

2. Freelancers don’t earn enough money to make a living.

Freelancing in America 2018: 64% [of those surveyed] expect their income from freelancing to increase in the coming year (of those who left a job to freelance full-time)
“As a freelancer, I have more personal and financial freedom than I ever did working at a traditional job,” said Anthony Agreste, a Top Rated graphic designer on Upwork. “In my first year on Upwork, I was able to quickly reach the six-figure mark and triple my salary because I’m in complete control of my rates. This has enabled me to do things I didn’t think I’d be able to, like paying off our home loan early and maximizing our 401(k).”

3. The stress and uncertainty that comes with independent work take a toll on freelancers’ happiness.

Freelancing in America 2018: 62% [of those surveyed] are freelancing by choice (versus necessity)
“As a military wife, I’ve moved seven times in nine years but thankfully freelancing has brought stability and consistency to my life,” said Laura Pennington Briggs, a Top Rated SEO writer on Upwork. “I used to have to start over every time my family and I moved but today, my clients are with me wherever I go. I’m happier than I have ever been before and wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything.”

Want to take a closer look at the numbers? Learn more from the full press release.

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