By Daniel Hunter
Elance have announced results from their annual global survey of more than 3,000 independent professionals, revealing that freelancers are thriving online.
Over half (57% globally and 60% in the UK) reported an increase in 2012 income, claiming a 47% average increase in earnings, and two-thirds (67%) expect their income to increase in 2013, with the average freelancer expecting to earn 43% more next year.
"In just a few short years, freelancing has gone from a last resort option to a lucrative and fulfilling career," said Fabio Rosati, president and CEO of Elance, the leading global platform for online employment.
"As a 'Business of One', your potential is no longer constrained by where you live or the corporate hierarchy — the survey results clearly show that the online work opportunities are enormous.”
Freelancer earnings skyrocket
The survey results are in sharp contrast to reports of traditional workers earning an average 3% raise. Fifty-seven percent of freelancers reported an increase in earnings by working with businesses online. In addition, 19% said they more than doubled their freelance income in the past year. The uncertainty in the global economy is clearly not impacting online work as 42% of freelance workers claim that they are getting hired for more jobs.
2013 Freelance outlook is optimistic; more freelancers hiring others
While the traditional job market continues to struggle worldwide, the future is optimistic for online work. The average freelancer expects to earn 43% more in 2013 than they did this year. This rise in earnings is translating into more jobs for all as 42% of independent professionals plan to hire other freelancers to build their businesses in 2013.
Freelance workforce happier than full-time employees
According to the survey, businesses are increasingly turning to online work and hiring experts for on-demand projects. The majority of freelancers (62%) work on 2-6 projects at any given time. The survey shows that independent professionals prefer this new way of working with nearly 70% claiming they are happier and 79% are more productive working as a freelancer than as a full-time employee.
Surge in young, educated and online freelancers
The Millennial workforce (born after 1981) is adopting online work faster than any other age segment. Of those surveyed, 46% of Millennials freelance full-time, and 26% have a full-time job and freelance on the side. Not surprisingly, this generation is highly educated with 77% possessing a bachelor’s degree or above and 27% with a Master’s degree.
Their education is definitely paying off as 59% claim a higher freelance income than last year, and 43% report an increase in the number of freelance jobs. Finally, Millennials are more optimistic about their freelance career with 71% expecting their freelance income to increase in 2013 and 45% planning to hire other independent professionals in 2013.
Data from the Elance platform backs up the trends seen through this research. In the UK, contractor earnings are up 64% in the first eight months of 2012 compared to the same time last year. This is compared to a European average of 56%. First time hired contractors are also on the increase in the UK, up 106% so far compared to 2011 figures.
“The UK is at the core of the European online employment trend and earnings by British contractors are the sixth highest globally,” commented Kjetil Olsen, European VP at Elance. “Across the globe, the UK is renowned for its creative talent pool and we’ve seen a vast increase in demand from international companies wanting to work with the UK's creative freelancers.”
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