The appeal of being one's own boss is certainly natural for many workers.
Yet, in today's economy, such a change may not be the best choice if you’re looking for the stability of a traditional full-time position. Times could be changing, though.
The current state of freelancing is impressive — and bigger things are on the horizon.
Will Freelance Workers Overtake Full-Time Workers?
In a recent Forbes article, Jeff Wald referenced a 2011 study that had a bold forecast: independent workers will be the majority by 2020.
This projection, which includes freelancers, consultants, and other independent workers, is indicative of the current market. Wald notes that estimates from the Freelancers Union are at 24 million American independent workers, which is a sharp rise from the 10.3 million workers in 2005.
How will this happen?
Not only will some workers make the switch to the freelancing world, but Wald predicts that large companies will start to embrace this marketplace. Bloomberg's Ben Schenkel notes that some estimates put the current marketplace at 42 million workers in the U.S.
Whether it happens by desire or circumstance — as Schenkel points out, some are attracted to freelance work, while others can get a job locally within their skillset — it seems as though this is the major trend developing in the American economy.
Negative Side of Freelancing
There is a lot to love about being a freelancer. However, the full-time workplace has its benefits.
Since freelancers don't receive benefits, they must take into account vacation time, healthcare costs, and taxes from their base pay. These types of figures can make a quick dent into what would be a nice hourly rate for a project.
In a piece from Entrepreneur's Brian Patrick Eha, he describes a high-end startup marketplace for prestigious MBAs. Yet the hourly rate is just $20 to $50 an hour on average, which is much less than the same education would command at a top firm.
Another story he describes comes by way of a website for pet products.
Looking to hire someone inexpensively, the person chose the lowest bid on Elance — picking a foreign worker to do the SEO project for much less ($100 for three months) than the American bidders ($500).
What's the moral of these stories?
It can be tough getting enough work and clients to justify being a freelancer. From a lack of benefits to intense competition and keeping a full schedule, there are plenty of factors at work.
Today's economy may command many workers to switch to the self-employed variety.
However, the jury is out on whether this is the best-case scenario for workers.
Brian Neese is an author that specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. He writes about technology, online reputation, marketing, and much more.