Last Updated: January 22, 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 trillion in 2019
- Freelancers could represent 80% of the global workforce by 2030
- 57 million people freelance in America
- An experienced freelancer earns $70,536 annually.
- Upwork makes about $301 million in revenue connecting freelancers and employers
- A former Google employee made more than $800,000 on Fiverr
- At 255/hour, legal entity structuring is the most expensive service on Upwork
But it’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. Freelancers could represent 80% of the global workforce by 2030.
While it is only an estimate, it could easily become a fact in just a decade. Currently, freelancers represent between 35% and 40% of the workforce. Those numbers will surely go up.
Working on the projects you like and setting your working hours seems to be more appealing to employees. A lot of them ditch their secure (but often dull) 9-to-5 job and start looking for freelance work.
2. Freelancers around the world earn $19 an hour on average.
This is according to a survey conducted by Payoneer among 21,000 freelancers from 170 countries.
Freelancers working in the legal 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.
3. Freelance platforms provide gigs for 73% of freelancers.
Upwork, Fiverr, Gigster…Online marketplaces are the top source of gigs for freelancers. Almost three-quarters of the global freelancing community admits it uses online platforms to find clients.
About a third of them also rely on word-of-mouth references. 14% use LinkedIn or other professional networking sites.
The Rise of US Freelancers
It’s time to see how American freelancers are doing.
4. Freelancing income stood at almost $1 trillion in 2019.
Can you believe this?
In 2019 alone, freelancers earned the equivalent of 4.8% of US GDP. That’s almost $1 trillion! It means that freelancing is now a bigger industry than construction (4.1% of GDP).
5. With 78% annual growth in earnings, the US is the fastest-growing freelance market in the world.
In Q2 of 2019, the US freelance economy jumped by 78% compared to Q2 of 2018. This makes the US the fastest-growing market in terms of income increase.
Second is the US with a 59% growth. Brazil comes third with a 48% rise. Other markets in the top 10 are Pakistan, Ukraine, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Russia, and Serbia.
6. 57 million Americans freelanced in 2019.
How many freelancers in the US, you ask? About 57 million.
Their number has been climbing in recent years. Since 2014, the US freelancing community has added 4 million new members. All in all, the 57 million figure represents about 35% of the US workforce.
7. The average weekly salary of a US freelancer is $797.
As freelancer statistics show, the number is derived from a survey among over 1,000 US-based freelancers.
$797 a week adds up to about $41,444 a year. This is considerably lower than the median household income in the US which was $63,179.
Still, it depends on how much time it takes to earn those $797. If you only need 20 hours to do it, it leaves you with plenty of time to work on other projects.
And that’s a damn good side hustle, if you ask me.
8. The average salary of freelancers with at least 3 years of experience is $70,536.
Here’s another amazing fact about the freelancer economy.
A recent study by HoneyBook found that freelancers with between 3 and 10 years experience earn $70,536 on average a year.
That’s enough to make a decent living in the US, albeit it won’t make you rich.
9. Freelance skilled services earn $28 on average.
“If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
You may remember this as one of the Joker’s lines in “The Dark Knight”.
But as freelance statistics show, if you’re good at something, you can earn about $28/hour on average. This is a higher pay than what 70% of Americans receive for an hour of working.
10. 53% 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 40% of millennials, 31% of gen X, and 29% of baby boomers.
Yes, you read that right.
Some of you may be mocking baby boomers for their conservativeness, but they do contribute to the freelance economy statistics.
11. 46% of US freelancers say that they get the flexibility they’re looking for.
Nevermind those jobbers that work on a nine-to-five daily schedule. Freelancing is about flexibility.
Almost half 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. 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.
You have room to share? List it on Airbnb and make some money as a landlord.
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.
13. 92% of freelancers cannot take a proper vacation.
If you think freelancers are living the life, think again.
Yes, they get to be their own bosses but doesn’t mean they have less work. They actually have more.
It’s hard to believe those freelance statistics. A mind-boggling 92% of freelancers work even if they are on vacation. While some of them do it because they enjoy working (or are bored). But about 60% of them do it because they feel they have to.
With new orders coming in all the time, it’s hard to plan a few days off. Even if you do, there’s always the chance of new work piling up. Unlike a regular job, you cannot postpone it or give it to someone else.
According to freelancer statistics, more than 40% feel guilty about the fact they have to work while on vacation. They even hide from their friends and family that they’re working! At the same time, they are hiding the fact they are on vacation from their clients.
It’s hard living the double life.
14. 51% of freelancers say they won’t switch back to their traditional job.
(Source: World of Freelancers)
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.
As freelancer statistics show, 4% are ready to go back if it adds an extra $100,000 per year in their bank account.
15. Only 21% of full-time freelancers call themselves “freelancers”.
(Source: World of Freelancers)
That’s because there are many words to describe a person who works independently.
About 28% of full-time freelancers call themselves self-employed. Another 11% use the term “contractor”. Yet another 12% simply call themselves small business owners.
16. 45% of freelancers offer skilled services
(Source: World of Freelancers)
Almost half of the remote freelancers offer skilled services. Selling goods as an independent worker is much less common – only about 26% do it.
So what if you don’t have any skills to sell? Can you still make it as a freelancer?
Yes, says freelance statistics. 30% 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 freelancer career, 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:
17. Fiverr is home of 830,000 freelancers.
The platform connects 830,000 freelancers with more than 5 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.
18. Fiverr’s revenue grew by 45% in 2018.
Fiverr is one of the most popular freelance marketplaces out there. It makes money out of every deal struck on the platform! In 2018 alone, the company saw its revenue jump by 45%.
Despite the growth, the business is still unprofitable. Fiverr netted a loss of $36 million in 2018.
That doesn’t seem to worry investors too much though. So far, Fiverr has raised $111 million from venture capitalists. In 2019, it filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.
Surely some of that optimism can be contributed to all the freelance workers online.
19. Upwork’s 2019 revenue is about $301 million.
In the Q3 of 2019 alone, Upwork had revenue of $78.8 million. That’s a 23% increase from Q3 of 2018. Marketplace revenue for the quarter was over $70 million. It represented 90% of the firm’s total turnover.
Much like Fiverr, Upwork is still operating on a net loss despite rising revenue. For the Q3 of 2019, Upwork’s loss was $2.8 million.
Here are some curious facts about the freelance economy.
20. A former Google employee made more than $800,000 on Fiverr.
There are different types of freelancers. Some of them do it just for fun. Others do it to meet the ends.
Then there’s this guy Frank Otava who made more than $800,000 offering Google Ads campaign management.
The whopping amount is not that surprising though. Mr. Otava is a former Google employee. He now uses his expertise to work for himself and manage ad campaigns on Google and social media.
According to Fiverr data, Otava charges $95 an hour and has worked on 236 projects.
What have you been doing with your life?
21. 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!
22. You can hire a fashion designer for $250/hour on Upwork.
Do you know how to post a job on Upwork as a freelancer? If you do, you’re almost set. You can choose from more than 80 job categories.
It’s so versatile you can find all kinds of experts.
One can, for example, hire a personal fashion designer. The designer in question claims to have worked for multi-billion dollar brands. She will charge you $250 an hour for her services.
It’s all up to you if you wanna work with her.
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 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, it 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 any way they find fitting.
Freelancing can give them that.
Are you ready to start working for yourself yet?
Right now, about 35% of the workforce is freelance. This is true both on a global scale and in the US. Some experts estimate that freelancers will represent about 80% of the global workforce by 2030.
In 2019, about 57 million Americans worked as freelancers. They managed to earn close to $1 trillion. That’s about the size of Indonesia’s GDP!
There is no accurate information about the number of freelancers on a global scale. However, some experts estimate freelancers account for 35% of total employment.
About 3.2 billion people around the world are currently employed, according to the International Labour Organization.
Based on those figures, we can estimate that the number of freelancers in the world is around 1.1 billion.
In 2017, there were about 4.8 million self-employed in the UK. Their number has increased by 45% since 2001.
It is estimated that self-employed have generated £275 billion of income in 2017.