Freelance work has been on the rise over the last decade and one recent study suggests that in the next decade the majority of the workforce may be freelance. Arts & Sciences students might pursue freelance work as a full-time career, as a way to gain experience before graduate school, between jobs as their career advances, or as a side project to supplement a traditional job. Whether you are doing some quick online project work in game design, or setting up a full-time private practice as a psychologist, freelance/small business ownership might be in your future.
That recent study, conducted by Edelman Intelligence, defines the various forms of freelancing as:
“Independent Contractors (35% of the independent workforce / 19.1 million professionals) – These “traditional” freelancers don’t have an employer and instead do freelance, temporary, or supplemental work on a project-to-project basis.
Diversifed Workers (28% / 15.2 million)- People with multiple sources of income from a mix of traditional employers and freelance work. For example, someone who works the front desk at a dentist’s offce 20 hours a week and fills out the rest of his income driving for Uber and doing freelance writing.
Moonlighters (25% / 13.5 million) – Professionals with a primary, traditional job who also moonlight doing freelance work. For example, a corporate-employed web developer who does projects for nonprofts in the evening.
Freelance Business Owners (7% / 3.6 million) – These freelancers have one or more employees and consider themselves both a freelancer and a business owner. For example, a social marketing guru who hires a team of other social marketers to build a small agency, but still identifes as a freelancer.
Temporary Workers (7% / 3.6 million) – Individuals with a single employer, client, job, or contract project where their employment status is temporary. For example, a data entry worker employed by a staffng agency and working on a three-month assignment.
Note: Due to rounding, percentages add up to more than 100%.”
Is Freelancing/Entrepreneurship Right For Me?
There is a lot to consider before you start a business, but doing the research and planning in advance will ensure you are making sound decisions. Think you might want to own your own business one day, or even do some freelance work alongside a full-time job (or while in graduate school)? Take a look at a few of the steps required to see if it is right for you.
Training and Preparation
If you think freelancing/small business ownership might be for you check out this great guide from the Small Business Administration to better understand the steps you need to consider!
Find a Mentor
Before you take the leap, consider consulting with experienced professionals for some guidance on the process! SCORE offers free guidance for those getting started. Find a local mentor!
If you have an idea for a freelance business but need help structuring your thoughts and working out the details, you might find these free tools useful:
Finding Work and Support
Want to get a feel for the marketplace or ready to get started finding work? Here are a few sites designed to help freelancers find work opportunities:
The Freelancers Union offers free tools and resources for freelancers to help start and run their businesses, including things like sample contracts, discounted services, peer discussion groups, and securing health benefits. Membership is free.