Survey: Freelancers Thrive in 2012; Optimistic about 2013

Traditional job seekers may be taking a beating in the current employment market, but for freelancers, the picture is a lot rosier. At least that’s what an annual poll released today by the Elance suggests. Results are based on a survey of 3,000 independent professionals in late August.

Among the freelancers, 57% reported their incomes rose in 2012, with the average increase at 47%.  (A significant 19% reported doubling their freelance income in the past year). How do they manage this?  Sixty-two percent reported juggling two to six projects at any given time.

These free agents are very optimistic about their financial future. The survey found that 67% expect their earnings to rise in 2013. The average respondent expects to see a 43% increase in earnings next year.

What areas will see the most growth in 2013? Those surveyed predicted that freelancers with skills in web programming, mobile apps, graphic design, online marketing and content marketing will find themselves in demand.

Some of the most interesting findings concern millenials, whom the survey defined as those born after 1981.  Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) freelance full-time, while 26% freelance to supplement a full-time job. “In part, we attribute it to lack of job prospects and underemployment,” says Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance, in an interview with the $200KFreelancer. These freelancers might be pursuing other career options in better economic times, given that 79%  have earned a bachelor’s degree and 27% have a Master’s degree.

However, Elance does not believe that it’s youth unemployment alone that’s driving the trend. More people seem to be turning to freelancing because they are excited about the career prospects, says Rosati.

“We found increasingly that they are looking at it as something they really want to do,” says Rosati.

Perhaps one reason is the high satisfaction levels among freelancers–who seem to have escaped the misery that their corporate counterparts have reported in recent surveys.

Seventy percent said they are happier working as a freelancer than as a full-time employee, and 79% reported being more productive.

Those stats are worth pondering if you’re getting tired of the corporate grind and are considering going out on your own.




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