1. Home
  2. »
  3. Ecosystem
  4. »
  5. Global Study on Freelancing: Freelancer Survey Reveals Key Facts, Trends, and Opportunities

Global Study on Freelancing: Freelancer Survey Reveals Key Facts, Trends, and Opportunities

The field of freelancing hasn't had much academic attention. Jon Younger and his partners are changing that.
Freelance Business Community
| October 26, 2021
Freelance Business Community
October 26, 2021

Jon Younger, founder of the Agile Talent Collaborative, and Gerald Cupchik from the University of Toronto carried out the Global Study on Freelancing between April and June 2021. After crunching all the data, they revealed some fascinating trends and insights into the global freelancing landscape during the Freelance Business Month this year.

Study Source: a global freelancer survey

More than 75 freelance platforms, agencies, and communities (including the Freelance Business Community) signed up as research partners. Almost 1900 individual freelancers completed the survey, covering a wide spectrum of occupations. The study represents multiple generations of freelancers and a broad range of educational backgrounds. Geographically, responders were also very diverse. The most represented field was tech, with marketing and consulting following close behind.

Lesson 1: Most freelancing workforce is happy being freelance and finds sufficient work

Freelancers generally enjoy their work, with only 11% of them claiming otherwise. Most of the freelancers reported a stable amount of work, but around 38% said they struggled with finding enough assignments. 40% felt they were more financially successful than colleagues, while 34% reported sub-par results. While a large percentage reported strong client relationships, networking remains a challenge for a third of the freelancers who filled the survey. Still, 44% stated they were good networkers. We also learned that freelancers describe their reputation as stronger than that of peers (59%), that they focus on the long term (49%), and that most (61%) are committed to remain freelance. Tech professions and creatives reported higher overall satisfaction, while event freelancers were least satisfied.

Lesson 2: Freelancers are confident in their business competencies

“The best thing about being a freelancer is that you grow with a broader vision as a professional while enjoying freedom and autonomy in your life. Clients and projects on whom I can make a positive impact are those I enjoy most. The hardest thing about freelancing is not having colleagues from whom you can learn.”

Agile Coach, Latam

Freelancing requires a mix of abilities and skills and it is not a surprise independent workers see themselves as competent in many areas. Flexibility, adaptability, resilience, accountability, ethics, and creativity were some of the skills that freelancers rated themselves the highest. The areas where freelancers show the least confidence are mostly connected to relationships: few consider themselves good networkers or believe they are persuasive, sensitive, and risk-takers. A potential solution to this can be found in freelance platforms or communities: they can do plenty to help freelancers feel connected to others and become part of a community. If you would like to join the Freelance Business Community Slack channel, you can do so here.

Lesson 3: Freelancers understand and accept the downsides of the gig economy and project work

“Working for myself offers flexibility and a better work-life balance, and I enjoy the freedom. It is feast or famine when it comes to working, and networking is a challenge. I worry about late payments, finding retained clients, and keeping up to date with best practices, but overall I love it.”

PR Freelancer, UK

The survey shows that most freelancers report an acceptable workload, enjoy their work, are committed to freelancing, and believe they have most of the competencies needed for a successful freelance career. To dive deeper into the results, the Freelance Satisfaction Index was used. Here is the main data from the study:

A three-column table with shares of freelancers strongly agreeing or strongly disagreeing with 8 claims presented in rows.

Freelance Satisfaction Index

It reveals that freelancers understand the challenges of the independent work life, such as changing workload and dealing with financial administration but accept them, along with the positives of freelancing, such as flexibility and independence. Achieving financial goals was the most common worry for freelancers, but this and other concerns didn’t diminish the attraction of freelance work.

Lesson 4: Freelancers are optimistic problem solvers

The study also examined how freelancers dealt with difficult decisions and work planning. The results show that they are natural problem solvers – a high percentage said they are effective at dealing with problems and obstacles and that they often find multiple solutions to problems. What’s more, three-quarters of freelancers do their homework and seek as much information as possible when dealing with new situations. Freelancers are also hopeful about the future: 59% described themselves as optimistic. Not only do they make detailed plans about the future and consider the long-term effect of their decisions, but over 60% believe that they will achieve financial security and will be recognized as an expert in their field. Interestingly, freelancers from Asia and the Pacific were the most optimistic, while those from Europe were the least.

Lesson 5: Freelancers are welcomed and respected by clients

Plenty of freelancers (45%) agrees that their clients know how to work with independent professionals effectively, and 47% claim that the client’s project managers work well with freelancers, set fair deliverables, and provide access to necessary information. Another great result is that 69% stated they were treated fairly and with respect and that the client’s team was friendly and helpful. 52% stated they are paid fairly for their work, which is significant since in some industries you can see a “race to the bottom” for prices. While there are definitely some problematic areas, for a majority of the contacted freelancers, pay appears to be fair.

Lesson 6: Covid-19 was a mixed experience for the international freelancing industry

Challenging client problems, project variety and complexity, and freedom to work “my way” are the main reasons I like freelancing. It continuously challenges me to come out of my comfort zone and rethink my future direction. Uncertainty of assignments, client acquisition, and language-related barriers are the most significant challenges for a freelancer. Covid impacted me heavily because the pipeline of projects suddenly dried out, but I enjoy being a freelancer and now aiming to grow my network and business.”

Independent Management Consultant, Western Europe

Lastly, the study looked at how Covid-19 has affected the freelance ecosystem. It found that for freelancers, the pandemic was a mix of positive and negative. 53% of them say Covid-19 has opened new opportunities in their area, which has led to an increase in projects. However, 45% complain that this increase has also created more competition, resulting in fewer opportunities seized. Event freelancers were least enthusiastic about the effect of Covid-19, compared with Tech and IT. The main shift brought by the pandemic though has been the move towards remote work, which has warmed up many companies to the idea of working with freelancers. The study shared many other great findings, which we didn’t have the room to add here, so please feel free to download the full version of the global freelancing survey report. We would like to again thank Jon Younger and Gerald Cupchik from the University of Toronto for all their hard work bringing this survey to life. If you have any more questions, you can connect with Jon Younger on LinkedIn.

Future of the Freelancing: What Global Study Tell Us with Jon Younger, Forbes journalist


Recent Posts

The List of Freelance Events 2024

The List of Freelance Events 2024

Freelancers may work independently, but they still want to be part of a community. Here is where freelance events come in. Both digital and live, the tradition of friendly and educational events for the freelance community has existed long before the Covid-19 pandemic...

The List and a Comparison of Freelance Communities

The List and a Comparison of Freelance Communities

Throughout history, humans have naturally gravitated towards forming groups. From the earliest civilizations to modern times, the desire to belong has been ingrained in our social fabric. Group affiliation not only ensures safety, as seen in ancient tribes providing...

How To Grow A Freelance Business: Community, Advice and Support

How To Grow A Freelance Business: Community, Advice and Support

Elina Jutelyte, Founder of Freelance Business, sat down with Travis Bennett, COO of Doerscircle to talk about the organisation's remarkable growth and to learn what attracts freelancers to Doerscircle. The growth of Doerscircle's community for freelancers highlights...

Freelance Business Community

Freelance Business Community

Our goal is to help the freelance professionals, independent specialists and self-employed to become more visible and help them develop skills to thrive in their business.

You might also like

The List and a Comparison of Freelance Communities

The List and a Comparison of Freelance Communities

The article provides a comprehensive overview of more than 30 diverse freelance communities catering to professionals worldwide. Each community is meticulously detailed, outlining its name, description, offered services, membership fees, geographical focus, and unique features. From lobbying organizations advocating for freelancer rights to educational platforms providing resources and networking opportunities, the spectrum of offerings is vast.

How To Grow A Freelance Business: Community, Advice and Support

How To Grow A Freelance Business: Community, Advice and Support

Delve into the dynamic world of Doerscircle with an in-depth exploration of its COO, Travis Bennett. Uncover the secrets behind Doerscircle’s extraordinary growth, skyrocketing to an impressive 60,000 members. Discover the common challenges compelling individuals to join this thriving community. Learn about the exclusive benefits offered by Doerscircle Premium membership. Plus, get an insider’s look at the ambitious expansion plans set to propel Doerscircle into the future. Don’t miss the chance to unravel the success story and future endeavors of this innovative platform

Unlock Your Earning Potential: A Comprehensive Guide to Freelance Fees Benchmark

Unlock Your Earning Potential: A Comprehensive Guide to Freelance Fees Benchmark

For graphic designers, artists, copywriters, and all freelancers, setting your freelance rates is a crucial aspect of your business strategy. It’s a common practice to assess your freelance market and consider benchmarking your prices against others. Many freelance business experts often emphasize the importance of aligning your rates with industry benchmarks. However, the reality is not always as straightforward as it seems. In this article, we’ll explore the complexities surrounding the elusive concept of the freelance fee benchmark and why it is not always recommended to consult with any benchmark reports out there.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This