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Freelance Statistics 2023: Trends, Market Growth, Prominent Industries, and the Future of Work
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Freelancing has become progressively prevalent amongst those working in remote-friendly industries, with technological advancements making it increasingly accessible for professionals to balance business processes alongside their workload. Furthermore, the rise of remote work has led many freelancers to adopt the digital nomad lifestyle, combining their travel aspirations with financial sustenance.
This research report explores crucial insights into the dynamic landscape of freelancing, including trends and statistics related to market expansion, key industries, the burgeoning digital nomad community, and other pertinent facts that define the realm of freelancers in 2023.
Key Freelancing Facts & Statistics
- World Bank data shows that an estimated 46.4% of the world’s workforce is self-employed.
- American freelancers contributed approximately $1.35 trillion in annual earnings to the US economy; an increase of $50 billion compared to 2021.
- 37% of freelancers identify as female, while 63% identify as male. Additionally, female freelancers reportedly make just 95% of what male freelancers make, regardless of industry or other demographic factors.
- 78% believe that AI in the workplace has the potential to transform industries.
- 41% of freelancers report using AI tools such as ChatGPT in their workflows.
- 51% of freelancers work in the information sector, offering services such as computer programming, marketing, IT, and business consulting.
- 59% of non-freelancers are considering doing freelance work in the future.
- The most affordable countries for freelance digital nomads include Thailand, Spain, Albania, and New Zealand.
- Becoming a freelancer has improved mental health for 64% of independent workers.
- 60% of freelancers who left a traditional job to become self-employed earn a higher income than they did in their previous positions.
- 64% of freelancers report feeling lonely in their day-to-day lives.
- 77% of freelancers say that they have had to reject projects due to clients offering insufficient compensation for their time.
- 64% of freelancers rely on passive methods such as referrals and customer retention for project acquisition.
Market Size, Growth Rates, and Market Drivers
There is no doubt that the freelance market has grown exponentially in recent years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic urged technological advancements that made remote work more accessible. Below are some facts and statistics regarding the freelance market, growth rates, and market drivers.
How Big is the Freelance Industry?
What is Driving Workers to Start Freelancing?
The Freelance Economy
Most In-Demand Skills for Freelancing
As the freelance economy grows and technology advances at a rapid pace, employers are looking for an advanced skill set when hiring freelance workers. Below are some of the most in-demand skills for freelancers.
The Most Valuable Hard Skills for Freelancers
- Accounting (33%)
- IT & Networking (30%)
- Operations (29%)
- Customer Support (52%)
- Programmers who are proficient with Python (46%)4
The Most Valuable Soft Skills for Freelancers
AI and Freelancing
Many industries are rapidly adopting Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, and freelancers are no different. With tools like ChatGPT and Salesforce Einstein freely available online, independent professionals can automate their workflows and increase productivity. Below are some insights into how AI is integrating into the freelance community.
What Do Freelancers Think About AI?
The Use of Artificial Intelligence Among Freelance Professionals
Freelancer Career Paths
While freelancers span across a variety of different industries, there are a few career paths that prove the most lucrative and viable for self-employed professionals.
The Most Common Industries for Freelancers
Companies Outsourcing Freelance Work
The Future of Freelance Work
While the current outlook for freelancers is positive, many may wonder what the future holds for independent professionals. Below are some statistics that give some insight into the future of freelance work.
Do Freelancers Plan to Continue Working Independently?
Freelance Job Outlook
Freelancing and Digital Nomads
Due to the flexibility of freelance work, many have opted to adopt the digital nomad lifestyle. Traveling while working is an ideal arrangement for those looking to see the world but lacking the resources to do so without a consistent income. Below are some insights into freelancers and the nomadic lifestyle.
How Many Digital Nomads Are There in the World?
Digital Nomad Income
The Most Affordable Countries for Digital Nomads
For more insights, explore our comprehensive digital nomad report here.
Freelancers’ Mental Health
Self-employment can be highly stressful, and prioritizing self-care is crucial to prevent issues such as freelancer burnout. Below are some statistics that illustrate the mental health of freelancers around the world.
The Positive Impact of Freelancing on Mental Health
The Negative Impact of Freelancing on Mental Health
Freelancer Income Statistics
One of the most appealing aspects of becoming a freelancer is their uncapped earning potential. However, it can prove difficult to reach financial stability when first starting out. Below are some crucial statistics that show how much freelancers actually earn.
The Highest Paying Jobs for Freelancers
Are Freelancers Satisfied with Their Income?
Common Challenges that Freelancers Experience
While there are a plethora of excellent advantages to becoming a freelancer, it does not negate the challenges that independent professionals face.
Financial Challenges that Freelancers Face
Social Challenges that Freelancers Face
Freelance Client Aquisition Statistics
One of the most time-consuming aspects of the freelance career path is client acquisition. Without clients, independent workers cannot earn an income. Below are some statistics that illustrate the client acquisition process for freelance professionals.
Client Acquisition Challenges
How Do Freelancers Successfully Gain Clients?
Freelance Gender Statistics
Freelance Ethnicity Statistics
Freelancer Age Statistics
Statista’s Gig Economy Report: https://www.statista.com/statistics/921593/gig-economy-number-of-freelancers-us/
Fiverr Freelance Statistics in 2023: https://enterprise.fiverr.com/blog/73-of-freelancers-will-turn-to-freelancing-in-2023/
Upwork Freelance Foward Report 2022: https://www.upwork.com/research/freelance-forward-2022
Upwork Future Workforce Report https://www.upwork.com/research/future-workforce-report-2022
Worldbank Self-Employment Data: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.EMP.SELF.ZS?end=2019&start=1991&view=chart
Statista’s Self Employed People & Freelancers in the US Report: https://www.statista.com/study/119500/target-audience-self-employed-people-and-freelancers-in-the-united-states/
Fiverr’s Slash Workers Report: https://workspace.fiverr.com/slash-workers/
Freelance Forward Economist Report https://www.upwork.com/research/freelance-forward-2021
Xolo – The Future of Freelancing: https://blog.xolo.io/future-of-freelancingl
Statista’s Countries Offering Digital Nomads Report: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1298969/top-countries-granting-visas-digital-nomads-worldwide/
Statista’s Number of Digital Nomads in the US Report: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1298313/number-digital-nomads-united-states/
Statista’s Digital Nomad Income Report: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1298865/digital-nomads-by-income-level-worldwide/
Fiverr’s Cheapest Countries to Live In as a Freelancer: https://workspace.fiverr.com/blog/the-x-cheapest-countries-to-live-in-as-a-freelancer/
Viking’s Freelance Loneliness Report: https://blog.viking-direct.co.uk/freelancer-loneliness-survey
Upwork’s Freelance Income Report 2023: https://www.upwork.com/resources/how-much-do-freelancers-make#:~:text=According%20to%202020%20freelancer%20research,higher%20%2428%2Fhour%20average%20wage
Upwork Study 0f 54 Million Freelancers in America: https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/freelancers-union-and-upwork-release-new-study-revealing-insights-into-the-almost-54-million-people-freelancing-in-america
Gallup’s Wordwide Median Household Income Report: https://news.gallup.com/poll/166211/worldwide-median-household-income-000.aspx#:~:text=WASHINGTON%2C%20D.C.%20%2D%2D%20The%20median,according%20to%20new%20Gallup%20metrics.
Leapers Annual Report on Freelance Mental Health: https://www.leapers.co/research/2022/report/
Finances Online Freelance Statistics: https://financesonline.com/freelance-statistics/
Customer Acquisition Report by Digital Marketing Community: https://www.digitalmarketingcommunity.com/indicators/customer-acquisition-priority-challenge-37-us-marketers-drip/
- Payoneer’s Freelance Income Report https://pubs.payoneer.com/images/2020-Freelancer-Income-Report.pdf
- Zippia Freelancer Demographics: https://www.zippia.com/freelancer-jobs/demographics/
- University of Toronto Global Freelancing Survey: https://utsc.utoronto.ca/globalfreelancing/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Global-Survey-on-Freelancing-final-report-9.20.pdf