A lot has changed for freelancers since the advent of, oh, computers. But more than just the ability to work remotely, the various shifts in culture surrounding the idea of free agents, self-employed people, sole proprietors, and side-jobbers with a dream have made freelancing more accessible, affordable — and helpful to traditional employers and companies. In 2014, we saw not only an increase in the study of freelancers and their economic impact, but also an uptick in freelancers coming up with and cauterizing systems for themselves.
Here are just a few of the trends in freelancing that really hit full-steam this year — and that, if you are a freelancer, you should have your eyes on in 2015.
Teamwork makes the dream work. The sharing economy makes travel, production, and basically everything easier for everyone. Whether it’s ridesharing, Air BnB, or just pooling your resources with friends to buy one piece of equipment you couldn’t afford individually, working together to overcome some of the challenges of freelancing has never been easier — or more trendy. Much like musicians have been sharing jam spaces for decades, freelancers are beginning to go in on commodities, spaces, and even client work to make the job a little less solo-focused.
Facebook groups. This year, I was invited into more Facebook groups just for writers than I’ve ever seen. These communities allow freelancers — and, often, freelancers who are specifically women, people of color, and other traditionally marginalized groups — to bat around ideas, ask after sources, and get connected with people who need their services. These are also great places to ask wonky questions like “what kind of health care do I get through the ACA?” or “what sort of business license do I need, if any?” In a job that tends to be a pretty lonesome pursuit, this is a trend I am very much on board with.
Coworking. Though coworking spaces began cropping up years ago, it’s only in the last few that they’ve become more accessible, affordable, and prevalent. Even small cities have incubators and open office spaces where freelancers can go to work, print documents, talk to others, and even, sometimes, get advice on their projects. Coworking spaces clearly have quite a bit of value; WeWork is currently worth $5 billion after securing over $350 million in venture capital.
That nights and weekends life. If 1/3 of Americans are doing some kind of freelance, but most Americans are still being counted as employed by the BLS, it stands to reason that a lot of Americans are freelancing on the side — and that can be a pretty great lifestyle. Not everyone chooses to go full-time, but workplaces are beginning to reap the rewards of the creativity of their staffers, and even starting to encourage them to do non-work projects in their off-hours. Even if you’ve got a day job, if you start picking up weekend work, you’ll be in good company.
Better websites. The ease of websites like SquareSpace has made online life easier for even non-tech-savvy freelancers. No longer confined to clunky blogs or ever-changing sites made for one very-specific kind of work, freelancers can now affordably and easily share their work on beautiful websites that require very little technical knowledge.
Self-education. It’s like Jessica Hische said in her Creative Mornings talk — if you want to make cool stuff, you need to learn to do it yourself. The autodidact has never been more in demand than now, as writers are expected to code, photographers are expected to design, and developers are expected to know how to do everything under the sun. Consider picking up classes are your local trade school (which are also seeing a resurgence) or right here on CreativeLive.