Freelancing is to me, what chips and dew are to Xbox’s resident spiritual leader. As someone who’s been making magic internet money for a number of years now, I feel justified when I say “the way most of us work is fundamentally changing”  doritosgateA successful career used to imply a steady pay check and at least some respect from your employer (even if that simply means fetching less coffee than the other guy) but I’m starting to feel like that’s changing, and pretty rapidly.

Freelance work has started to change the way people actually set about building a sustainable career for themselves. Even more so as companies find new ways to identify talent (got awesome art skills? DeviantArt that stuff now) it seems to me that the much flaunted freelancer based economy or workforce is finally becoming an actual thing.

Go Go, Freelance Rangers!

In the ancient past of the 1990’s, a time before Joss Whedon being a “freelancer” was code for “unemployed” or “unable to hold down a steady job” there was a real stigma attached to freelancing that simply isn’t true today. These days, freelancers tend to be classed as entrepreneurial or enterprising, the modern freelancer in the wild is often met with a level of intrigue and curiosity, as many of their own clients attempt to figure out how they’ve managed to forge a sustainable, livable but completely independent career.

Freelancers, are estimated to make up around 16 percent of the US workforce by 2020, that’s a massive leap from 6.7 percent of the distant yester-year of 1995. Additionally the number of people holding down a full or part time job is expected to trip and stumble its way down to around 80% by 2020, it was 91.9 percent in the 90’s. People have to realise, this represents a huge paradigm shift in the fundamental way the economy and culture of work will….well work.

I personally believe that most people feel intimidated when it comes to taking the step into freelancing, it doesn’t help when every freelancer you ask will have a different “path that worked for them” framed answer for you. That said, I believe you can break down 99% of “eureka I can freelance!” moments into 3 data points:

  • Freelancing at the start of doing other stuff.  In the days of old (most likely the 90’s….. again) you went to college, got a fulltime job and that was you. But somewhere along the way, the employment landscape changed. People started getting all these crazy notions of trying other lines of employment before committing yourself to just one. The idea of freelancing while still in college gives you the best of actual job experience (a real problem for young people in the UK right now) your own Money and the chance to try different fields of work.
  • Life throwing you freelance …coloured? Lemons. Perhaps the most natural path is to fall into freelancing. Life can, and indeed will – throw you curve balls/give you lemons/ [insert your choice of idiom here] at those times, many people begin to really value flexibility, and flexibility is something freelancing offers in bags. As a side note, many companies will offer freelance work as a way to keep talent that would otherwise escape into the wild.
  • Freelancing at the end of other stuff. When those lucky enough to actually retire from work, do so – freelancing is the number one way of keeping that ever valuable talent connected to your business. Don’t waste that all important (and as yet) unpassed on industry know how!

The average run of the mill, Joe Schmoe, everyman (or woman), generic freelancer at large is doing big things by simply doing what they do. And the more that do it, the more this shift continues to grow and form an entirely new category of on demand talent.

Wolf Vanberg tripped and fell into the hole best known as “Freelancing” To this day, he wonders the wastes of the internet, in search of any meaning.