Did you know that freelancers comprise 31.4 percent of the world’s workforce? That’s over 1 billion people earning a living outside the confinement of nine-to-fives.
Credit to Covid-19, though, because many now-steadfast freelancers didn’t know the first thing about the world of remote working and freelancing before the pandemic struck.
You could be forgiven for thinking things have slowed down now that the flu’s gone or that we have learned to live with it. Far from it! According to Upwork’s 2021 Freelance Forward Survey, half of the US workforce will be freelancers by 2027.
If you’re looking to take advantage of the fast-growing gig economy, you’re in the right place. I have compiled a list of interesting statistics about freelancing that you can use to propel your career.
Key Freelancing Statistics
- There are over 1.1 billion freelancers in the world. (Source: International Labor Organization)
- There are over 57 million freelancers in the United States. That is more than a third of the country’s workforce. (Source: Statista)
- 38% of independent workers consider themselves freelancers. (Source: Fiverr Workspace)
- 41% of freelancers are in the gig market by choice and wish to freelance forever. 6% are freelancers because a full-time job opportunity hasn’t shown up. (Source: Fiverr Workspace)
- 95% of freelancers identify as slash workers or jacks of all trades. 61% specialize in 2-3 skills. A measly 5% only do a single type of job. (Source: Fiverr Workspace)
- Freelancers make up 53%, 40%, 31%, and 29% of the Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer working populations respectively. (Source: Upwork)
- 59% of freelancers in the US are male. In comparison, the conventional workforce comprises 53% of male workers. (Source: Statista)
- A good number of freelancers are qualified to work in traditional work environments. 40% of surveyed US freelancers claim to have a college degree. (Source: Statista)
- Only 15% of freelancers have an office. A staggering 86% work from home. 40% work from coffee shops. 25% work-travel, i.e., do not work from a specific location. 21%, 19%, and 15% use client offices, co-working spaces, and personal offices respectively. (Source: Fiverr Workspace)
- 12% of the US freelance workforce started freelancing during the pandemic. (Source: Upwork)
Freelance Growth Statistics
- Freelancing experienced a 34% annual growth rate between 2020 and 2021. (Source: MBO Partners)
- Women’s participation in freelancing increased from 24% in 2020 to 29% in 2022. (Source: Payoneer)
- 56% of non-freelancers consider becoming freelancers in the future. (Source: Upwork)
- The average global hourly pay rate is on the rise despite an increase in the number of freelancers entering the market. The rate is now $28 up from $21 in 2020, with 4 in 10 freelancers claiming to charge more than they did at the start of the pandemic. (Source: Payoneer)
- The pandemic has widened the gender wage gap for freelancers the world over. Despite an increase in the number of women joining the freelancing world, the pay gap seems to have gotten worse between 2020 and 2022. In North America, women earn an average of $37 per hour while their male counterparts earn $52. Only in South America do female freelancers earn more than male freelancers. (Source: Payoneer)
- 44% of freelancers report they are earning more than they would from a traditional job. 38% say they earn less. 18% don’t notice a difference. (Source: Payoneer)
- The earning potential is higher for specialized roles than general ones. Some soft developers, for instance, earn as much as $1,000 per hour. (Source: Global Survey on Freelancing)
- The US freelance economy is expected to cross the $450 billion mark by 2023. (Source: Statista)
- 43% of freelancers who were once regular full-time employees believe they are less financially stable since going independent. (Source: Fiverr Workspace)
- US freelancers contributed $1 trillion to the country’s GDP in 2018. (Source: Upwork)
- US freelancers with marketing, accounting, legal, and web development skills earn an average of $28 per hour, which is higher than two thirds of the US workforce. (Source: Upwork)
Highest Paying Freelance Jobs
The freelance market is awash with opportunities. Virtually all digital services can be outsourced on freelance platforms, although the lion’s share is a combination of a handful of commonplace job types. Here are the most popular freelance jobs and how they pay, according to ZipRecruiter.
|Role||Skills||Salary Range Per Year|
|Art Director||Art & Design, Photoshop||$62,500-$109,500|
|Photographer||Photography, Photo Editing||$45,500-$65,000|
|Designer||Logo Design, Magazine Layout||$47,500-$71,000|
|Copywriter||Article, Blog Post, Press Release, eBook, White Paper, and Case Study Writing||$43,000-$85,000|
|Graphic Designer||Conceptual Design, Graphic Design||$43,500-$66,000|
|Writer||Writing Web Content, Resumes, Articles, Blog Posts||$36,000-$75,000|
|Web Designer||Web Design, Graphic Design, Code Maintenance||$36,000-$62,500|
Freelance Market Share
The number of freelance platforms keeps increasing by the day. This is because different freelancers and clients have different preferences that the popular platforms don’t necessarily address.
Even so, established generic sites like Upwork enjoy massive market shares as they are more inclusive, user-friendly, and generally easier to find.
Named in TIME’s list of the most influential companies in 2022, Upwork is undoubtedly the largest freelance platform on the internet right now. Here’s why:
- Upwork has over 10,000 freelance categories, the most popular being web and app development, finance and accounting, consulting, customer support, and creative and design. (Source: Upwork)
- Upwork has more than 145,400 core clients. Core clients are individuals or organizations that have spent $5,000 or more for freelance services on the platform. (Source: Backlinko)
- Clients spend more than $2.52 billion on Upwork annually. (Source: Backlinko)
- Upwork serves over 30% of the Fortune 100 (Source: Upwork)
- Freelancers on Upwork earned more than $3.3 billion in 2021. (Source: Upwork)
Fiverr originally started as a freelance platform where independent contractors could sell gigs for $5, hence the name. Currently, $5 is just the starting point. Gigs can go for as much as $995.
The main difference between Fiverr and Upwork is that freelancers sell their gigs rather than bid for work in the former. So the clients do most of the marketplace browsing, not the freelancers.
Here are a few interesting stats about the platform:
- Fiverr gets traffic from 160+ countries. (Source: United States Securities and Exchange Commission)
- Fiverr has over 200 digital service categories. (Source: United States Securities and Exchange Commission)
- Fiverr had 4.1 million active users in 2021 (Source: The Motley Fool)
- Fiverr has had 5.5M+ buyers and 830K+ sellers since its inception in 2010 (Source: United States Securities and Exchange Commission)
- Buyers on Fiverr spent $205 each on average in 2020. In 2019, the average spend per buyer was $170. (Source: Fiverr)
- Gig purchases in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia make up 70% of the platform’s revenue. (Source: Fiverr)
PeoplePerHour is a UK-based freelance platform that connects small businesses across various niches with freelancers. The company was founded in 2007. These are some of its statistics:
- PeoplePerHour has more than 3 million registered freelancers. (Source: LinkedIn)
- The platform has a presence in more than 180 countries. (Source: LinkedIn)
- Over 2 million projects have been completed on the platform. (Source: PeoplePerHour)
- PeoplePerHour has paid out $246 million to freelancers so far. (Source: PeoplePerHour)
- The PeoplePerHour website gets around 2 million monthly visits. (Source: Similarweb)
- 31% of PeoplePerHour customers are American. 25.7% are British and 12.4% are Indian. (Source: Slintel)
If you hope to become a freelancer or switch platforms, the above stats should help you make a more informed decision.