Last Updated: August 5, 2021
In 2015, Danyal Saleem made headlines.
Why? Well, he was earning $20,000 a month as a freelance graphic designer.
Here’s a fun fact, to make this even more impressive — the average salary in Pakistan at the time was just over $100 a month.
Saleem’s success story is inspiring. It’s also not the only one. People are working as freelancers more than ever before. Some of them are charging ridiculous hourly fees, and others have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in income.
We put together an outstanding list of freelance statistics to give you a better idea of this exciting new trend.
Here’s something to get things started:
Jaw-Dropping Freelance Statistics
- US freelancers earned almost $1.2 trillion in 2020
- 33% of freelancers come from India
- 59 million people freelance in America
- An average freelancer earns $67,164 annually
- Upwork is expected to make almost $500 million in revenue during 2021, connecting freelancers and employers
- 92% of freelancers say they cannot take a work-free vacation.
- At 255/hour, legal entity structuring is the most expensive service on Upwork
But that’s not all. Let’s dive into the details:
The Global Freelance Market
The freelance market has ballooned in recent years. It’s showing no signs of slowing down.
1. One-third of all freelancers come from India.
That’s right, a full 33% of freelancers in the world live in India. Bangladesh and Pakistan take distant second and third places while the US and the UK are fourth and fifth.
India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are popular digital outsourcing locations because of the strong English and tech skills in the workforce. Skilled people looking for freelance work abroad can often make significantly more than in their own countries.
2. With 208% of year-on-year revenue growth, the Philippines are the fastest-growing freelancing country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a lot of people into the freelancing mode of work. The Philippines and India are by far the fastest growers with 208% and 160% in revenue growth respectively.
3. Freelancers around the world earn $21 an hour on average.
This is an increase of $2 in two years. Freelance workforce statistics show that people working in the project management field get paid the most: $28 an hour. Working in the finance, management, and HR fields, on the other hand, brings the most working hours.
4. Female freelancers earn 84% of what their male counterparts would.
It seems that even freelancers aren’t immune to the toe gender wage gap. Still, the situation is better than the overall global gap, where women make only 68% of the men’s salaries.
The Rise of the US Freelancers
It’s time to see how American freelancers are doing.
5. Freelancing income stood at almost $1.2 trillion in 2020.
Can you believe this?
In 2019 alone, freelancers earned the equivalent of 5.7% of US GDP. That’s over $1 trillion! It means that freelancing is now a bigger industry than construction (4.3% of GDP).
6. US freelancer revenue grew by 22% in a year.
By the end of 2020, the US freelance economy jumped by 22% compared to 2019. That’s quite a drop in growth from 78% a year ago when the US was in the first place.
7. 59 million Americans freelanced in 2020.
How many freelancers are there in the US, you ask? About 59 million.
Their number has been climbing in recent years. Since 2014, the US freelancing community has added two million new members. That means that 36% of the US workforce are freelancers.
8. The average weekly salary of a US freelancer is $1,291.
Freelancer statistics indicate that the average freelancer salary is lower than the US median household income of $79,900. $1,291 per week adds up to $67,164 per year. Unfortunately, most freelancers can’t take days off or sick days if they want to maintain their income.
Still, some freelancers take less than 40 hours per week to make $1,291, leaving them with a significantly higher hourly income. Of course, this varies significantly by field and experience.
9. Freelance skilled services earn $25 on average.
“If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
As freelance statistics show, if you’re good at something, you can earn about $28/hour on average. This is higher pay than what 70% of Americans receive for an hour of work.
10. 50% of Gen Z workers freelance.
Generation Z seems to be most interested in freelancing. More than half of all workers from this age group have been working independently. This compares to 44% of millennials, 30% of gen X, and 26% of baby boomers.
Yes, you read that right.
While baby boomers are stereotypically tech-averse and conservative, they do contribute significantly to the freelance economy statistics.
11. 71% of US freelancers say that they freelance because of the flexible schedule.
Nevermind those jobbers that work on a nine-to-five daily schedule. Freelancing is about flexibility.
Almost three-quarters of all freelancers agree that working independently gives them the flexibility they are looking for. Without it, most of them couldn’t balance between working hours and personal time.
The number of freelancers in the US is climbing. So, we can safely assume that more people want to be free from working time schedules.
12. 65% of freelancers make more money than at their previous job.
Three-quarters of freelancers who left their traditional jobs say that they’re making the same amount of money or more than while working nine-to-five. Only 25% report earning less money.
13. 77% of freelancers say technology has made it easier to find independent work projects.
The rise of the sharing economy has made it possible for anyone to make a few extra dollars. They can offer their possessions or skills for hire. So one can easily become a freelance worker.
Do you have a car? You can find paying passengers on Lyft or Uber.
Do you have a drone? Lend it to someone who needs it.
New apps and technologies make it much easier for people to become part of the freelance industry.
14. 36% of freelancers do it as a full-time job.
While the overall number of freelancers has remained consistent over the years, the number of full-time freelancers is growing. Recently, it jumped from 28% in 2019 to 36% in 2020.
15. 92% of freelancers cannot take a proper vacation.
Here’s another amazing fact about the freelancer economy. Most of them don’t feel like they can afford to take a vacation. Since there’s usually no coworker support or PTO, a lot of freelancers have to work to get by.
HoneyBook survey discovered that 60% of freelancers work during their vacations because they feel they have to, and that 43% even hide their vacation from clients.
It’s hard living the double life.
16. 51% of freelancers say they won’t switch back to their traditional job.
Despite the lack of proper vacation, the majority of freelancers enjoy their lifestyle. More than half admit they won’t go back to their traditional job no matter how much money they are offered.
However, freelancer statistics show that 4% are ready to go back if it adds an extra $100,000 per year to their bank account.
17. Only 7% of freelancers call themselves gig workers.
Participating in the gig economy still carries a degree of stigma, and a large portion of freelancers say they’re building a business.
About 75% of full-time freelancers call themselves self-employed, independent workers, freelancers, small business owners, or contractors.
18. 50% of freelancers offer skilled services
Almost half of the remote freelancers offer skilled services. Selling goods as an independent worker is much less common — only about 28% do it.
So what if you don’t have any skills to sell? Can you still make it as a freelancer?
Yes, 37% of freelancers work for themselves, offering unskilled services.
What are skilled services anyway? The most popular would be arts and design. Then comes entertainment, architecture, engineering, education, business operations, etc.
Do you know how to work on Upwork? If you’re planning a career as a freelancer, you’ll have to learn. Freelancing would have been much harder if it weren’t for online marketplaces.
Here’s how they change the landscape:
19. Fiverr is home to 830,000 freelancers.
The platform connects 830,000 freelancers with more than five million buyers. Most freelancers offer creative services like design, video production, content writing, etc.
According to Fiverr data, the platform has managed more than 50 million remote freelance work payments.
20. Fiverr’s revenue grew by 100% in 2021.
Fiverr is one of the most popular freelance marketplaces out there. It makes money out of every deal struck on the platform! In the first three months of 2021 alone, the company saw its revenue double.
Despite this growth, Fiverr is still operating at a loss. The 2021 loss was $17.8 million year-over-year.
A large portion of that growth can be attributed to the explosion in the number of freelance workers online caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
21. Upwork’s expected 2021 revenue will be in the $480–$490 million range.
In the Q1 of 2021 alone, Upwork had revenue of $113.6 million. That’s a 37% increase year-over-year. Marketplace revenue for the quarter was over $104.7 million, representing over 90% of the company’s total turnover.
Much like Fiverr, Upwork is still operating on a net loss despite rising revenue. For the Q1 of 2020, Upwork’s loss was $7.8 million.
22. Freelance platforms are expected to reach a CAGR of 15.3% during 2021–2026.
It appears that the market won’t stop growing any time soon. The market for digital job platforms is projected to reach a CAGR of 15.3% during the next five years.
Here are some curious facts about the freelance economy.
23. A 37-year-old voice actor made $2 million on Fiverr.
(Source: Business Insider)
There are different types of freelancers. Some of them do it just for fun. Others do it to make ends meet.
Eight years ago, Joel Young was in the latter category. After struggling to pay off a loan, he decided to start selling services as a voice actor, and the business boomed. Since February 2013, he has done over 13,000 gigs and made more than $2 million on Fiverr.
What have you been doing with your life?
24. At $255/hour, legal entity structuring is the most expensive service on Upwork.
The average hourly pay for legal entity structuring is $255, which is the highest fee on Upwork. Many freelance jobs will get you three-figure hourly fees. Here are the top 10 best freelance skills:
- Legal entity structuring
- Blackline experts
- Bitcoin developers
- International accounting standards
- Software licensing
- Applied behavioral analysis
- Behavioral design
- Trade law
- Image object recognition
- Trademark consulting
Do you have the skills to offer any of these services? Leave a response in the comments section!
25. 62% of freelancers feel more productive working remotely.
That’s actually not much more than non-freelancers. According to work-at-home statistics, over half (54%) of traditional workers feel more comfortable and productive in remote settings like homes, co-working spaces, or coffee shops.
Don’t get me wrong! Making money as a freelancer is no joyride. It requires patience, persistence, and expertise.
You may end up earning much less than during your day-to-day job. You may find yourself working 16 hours (or more!) a day. Plus, you have to think about social security and Medicare payments.
What it offers you, however, is independence. And aren’t we all fighting for that?
These freelance statistics show that people want to be their own boss. They want flexibility and the option to choose what to work on. They want the freedom to develop their talents and hobbies in ways that suit them.
Freelancing can give them that.
Are you ready to start working for yourself yet?
The number of freelancers in the world is roughly 1.219 billion.
While exact information is difficult to come by, experts estimate that 36% of the global workforce of 3.386 billion people work as freelancers. This brings us to a rough estimate of over 15.4% of the Earth’s population.
In 2019, about 59 million Americans worked as freelancers. They managed to earn close to $1.2 trillion. That’s about the size of Indonesia’s GDP!
There are 4.2 million freelancers in the UK.
Right now, about 36% of the workforce is freelance. This is true both on a global scale and in the US. Freelance statistics indicate that freelancers might even become 80% of the global workforce by 2030.