To Freelance or Work Full-Time?
To freelance or work full-time? Some tech pros view the prospect of signing up with a corporate entity as too controlling; they want the freedom that comes with being an independent contractor. But for every freelancer who loves the lifestyle, there’s at least one worker who hates the uncertainty of scrounging up new gigs. The latter wants the security of a paycheck, benefits, and an organizational hierarchy. Both sides have their pluses and minuses, of course—but as a new survey by Upwork and the Freelancers Union (and conducted by research firm Edelman Berland) demonstrates, it’s a pretty good time to freelance: Some 60 percent of 7,100 surveyed adults said they earned more freelancing than they did in traditional employment. Millennials and Baby Boomers represented the top two freelancing demographics. More than a third of freelancers reported an increased demand for their services over the past year; a full three-quarters thought that technology had made it easier to hunt for new work. Some 83 percent of those surveyed thought that “the best days are ahead” for freelancing, a slight increase from the 77 percent who expressed that sentiment last year. The data-point about freelancers earning more money comes with a significant caveat: Independent workers must handle their own taxes, Social Security, and other payments, which can tear a hefty chunk away from their annual gross pay. While the study doesn’t break out freelancers by skillsets or profession, it’s all but certain that a significant fraction of those surveyed adults interact with the tech industry in some respect. A recent global survey of developers by research firm IDC, commissioned by the Application Developers Alliance, found that more than a third worked as freelancers or independent contractors. “We believe that mobile devices and the app economy are important factors contributing to this [freelancer] growth,” said the report accompanying that data, “though the rise of gaming, and the higher level of freelancing in the economy in general are also contributing factors.” Although some tech pros dislike the idea of freelancing, it seems like a healthy portion of them are making a go of it.