Freelance Trends 2020: Some Interesting Data

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We love keeping up with all the latest freelance trends here at HomeWorkingClub. In this article, we report on some data that should provide lots of encouragement to you if you’re a freelancer, as well as plenty of data to pore over if you’re a stats fan!

Payoneer recently surveyed over 7,000 freelancers from more than 150 countries, all of which are users of their platform. It paints an interesting picture of a thriving sector of the working population, and provides great insight into the latest freelance trends.

We’ve picked out the most interesting to share with you here.

The headline news is that freelancers, as a group, appear to be both happier and better paid than their office-bound counterparts.

There’s also a number of surprising findings that show there are huge opportunities for people of all backgrounds and skill sets.

Key Findings

Age Demographics

Younger people are alive to the potential of freelancing, with 54% of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) in developed countries having started, or planning to start, their own business.

This rises to 64% of millennials in full time work who want to develop “side hustles”.

It’s not all about the kids though. Some good news for our old readers is that the over 55s are earning more than twice as much as their 18-24 year-old peers. We have a dedicated article on freelancing as an older person here

Experience and Commitment

Experience is a huge factor in earning more as a freelancer, which we mention time and again on HomeWorkingClub. You have to pay your dues and bide your time to be successful.

By the same token, commitment to a freelancing career also helps. Those who work exclusively as freelancers earn a higher hourly rate and are more satisfied with their lifestyle, compared to those who split their time with working for a company.

Job Satisfaction

Full-time freelancers are also more satisfied with their lifestyle, averaging 4 out of 5 on this measure across all respondents.

It is not always the highest paid freelancers who are the most satisfied, showing that work-life balance is often the most important factor.

What are the Average Earnings for Freelancers in 2020?

The worldwide average hourly rate charged by freelancers is $21, up from $19 two years ago.

Money - freelance earnings

This is significantly higher than the average hourly salary in most countries, but of course freelancers do have to cover their own costs from this.

Freelance Trends: Which Jobs are Most Popular?

The most popular field of work for freelancers is web and graphic design, followed by programming and IT.

Something that may surprise many of our readers is that fewer than 8% of those surveyed are engaged in content writing.

It is possible that the most popular areas are suffering from oversaturation, which could be driving down pay rates, as the most popular jobs do not always pay the most.

Equality?

Education is not a barrier for freelancers. As we’ve said many times, demonstrating skills and experience is much more important to clients. Indeed, the survey found that freelancers with only a high school level education earn more than their peers with a bachelor’s degree, and only slightly less than those with postgraduate degrees.

This may also be a factor in why the gender pay gap is smaller for freelancers, with female freelancers earning, on average 84% of what men earn. Though still a significant and unacceptable gap, it is better than the 64% of male income reported by the World Economic Forum across all areas of work.

In marketing, web and graphic design, and multimedia production, women actually earn more on average than their male counterparts

Social Media Use

Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media is now used by 74% of freelancers to promote their services, up from 65% two years ago. Instagram is now used by 21% of freelancers, a significant rise on two years ago.

Social Media

Working from Home

83% of freelancers work from home, despite the growth of co-working spaces, which might be influenced by the strong desire for a good work life balance.

Freelance Trends Summary

It appears that freelancing continues to be popular, and given the desire of younger people to break away from the 9 to 5, this trend is likely to continue and grow.

Wages are higher, but are showing some strain in competitive areas like Web design. It’s important to note, if you’re looking at those hourly rates with envy, that freelancers bear 100% of their own costs from those wages.

Freelancers seem happier than their full-time friends, and it’s clear that there are fewer barriers to a good career. If you can prove you’ve got experience and a strong skill set, your age, gender and educational background will not count against you, as they might in a large company.

What can we learn from this?

Mostly, it’s good news. If you are already freelancing, or thinking of taking the plunge, wages are rising and it’s clear that clients are more and more comfortable with freelance workers.

Work-life balance still comes through as one of the main advantages of freelancing, with the home being by far the favourite venue for working. 

Promoting yourself on social media is vital for many, and it’s a good idea to be aware of new channels. Instagram and Tik Tok might not be appropriate for you, but a strong social media game really can help.

Some sensible advice, when it comes to social media, is to try to truly master just a couple of platforms, rather than spreading yourself half-heartedly across all of them. 

There’s also a very useful piece of information in the trend for decreasing wages in the popular areas. As freelancing grows in popularity, clients will have wider choice and the ability to squeeze rates.

There are two things you can do in this situation: make yourself stand out from the competition, or find work in areas that are less popular with freelancers. As always, boosting your skills with extra training will help hereeLearning

The main out takeaway is something that avid readers of this site will already know: there’s no substitute for hard graft. Freelancers report that experience is by far the biggest factor in winning well paid work.

Conclusion

This survey is useful as a general health check for the world of freelancing, but there’s no guarantee you will see your own wages and happiness rise in tandem with the industry.

What it does tell us is that there are increasing opportunities, and if you are already a freelancer then there is a good chance more clients will be open to using your services.

For those considering a big career change, if you think you can demonstrate your skills and experience to a potential client, work comfortably from home and have a strong social media game, now is a good time to jump into freelancing.

Recommended Further Reading (and Listening!)

  • This huge guide takes you through the steps involved in transitioning to freelancing.
  • The results of our own survey shed some more light on freelance trends – and we’ll be carrying out another one soon!
  • If you’re trying to decide between freelancing and working remotely for a single company, our first podcast explores that subject in detail. 

The data in the article is all pulled from Payoneer’s freelance income report, which is available from download here

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