If you work as a freelancer or independent contractor, you know how important it is to stay in tune with marketplace needs and meet new demands.
If you don’t, here are seven compelling reasons why you should consider broadening your skills and getting ready for a freelance career in the tech sector. Many of them also apply if you’re already working in tech full time but are pondering freelance jobs.
1) More Fortune 500 Companies Are Finding Talent on Freelancer Platforms
Finding reliable clients is an ongoing challenge for many freelancers. Some of them spend almost as much time vetting job prospects as applying for open positions. However, freelance platforms are often excellent places to source work.
A study from OxfordUniversity’s Oxford Internet Institute suggests freelancers — with tech skills or otherwise — can expect better-than-average prospects on those platforms.
That’s because there’s an increase in Fortune 500 companies using them to locate freelancer workers to fit business needs. The researchers clarified that freelance platforms appeal to representatives of those enterprises because they remove conventional hiring barriers, cut down on costs and give companies access to a scalable and skilled labor pool.
The research also showed that software development and other tech-related freelancer roles are in high demand throughout the world, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom.
As such, you could find that you get more leads on freelancer sites — whether you’re a long-time freelance worker or someone who recently got into that way of earning income.
2) The Tech Industry Is Becoming More Freelance-Driven
You’re probably familiar with services like Uber that get people interested in gig economy work, but you may not have thought about how there’s a much broader transition to freelancing.
By noticing the trend and responding to it, you could get ahead of the curve as a freelance tech worker. A Porch.com survey looked at the future of work by querying almost 300 employers and more than 1,000 employees about anticipated changes.
The results showed that in a decade, there would be a 13.5 percent increase in the number of people in freelance tech roles, totaling 45 percent. Also, 64 percent of people currently working in tech though they’re part of what the survey termed a “movable industry.”
They believe they can do their work anywhere. If you’ve been thinking the same thing and wondering if you’re alone, this survey puts you in the majority.
3) Enjoy a Better Work/Life Balance
People explore the possibility of freelancing for numerous reasons, but many do so because they find their traditional workplaces don’t allow them to strike an all-important work/life balance.
They may also have obligations that make it prohibitively challenging for them to work typical hours. Maybe you can relate if you’re caring for a young child or want to give more support to your spouse who’s following a dream of launching a startup.
The 2018 Freelancing in America study has some statistics to note if you want a break from the daily grind for whatever reason. A press release about the research confirms that 77 percent of full-time freelancers reported an improved work/life balance. Similarly, 42 percent of respondents said freelance work gave them crucial flexibility when traditional employment was not feasible.
Those findings don’t relate specifically to the tech sector, but you can feel confident the research included perspectives from many people working in tech. It polled more than 6,000 U.S.-based freelancers.
4) You May Already Have Desirable Skills
As mentioned earlier, you may be reading this as a tech employee thinking about transitioning to freelance work. Depending on your background, the skills you already have may make you an exceptionally good fit for freelancing.
An analysis of the most sought-after freelancing skills on Freelancer.com found that, during 2018, the job category on that site that grew the most was for developers to create and integrate application program interfaces (API).
Also, general web development job postings went up by 12 percent in 2018. If you have experience with the blockchain, that’s good news, too. Those Freelancer.com job postings rose more than 300 percent last year.
Another list of the most in-demand freelancing skills mentions graphic design as having a growth rate of 13 percent between 2016 and 2026. These statistics collectively show it’s worthwhile to assess the skills you have and how they may equip you to move into freelancing. If your tech skills fall short, you have all the more reason to expand your skillsets and prepare to eventually become a tech freelancer.
5) You Could Help Address a Known Skills Shortage
Employers struggle to meet current and future needs when their workers don’t have the necessary skills. There’s an exceptionally severe problem with today’s workers not having the digital skills needed to succeed.
A report from Gartner found 67 percent of company leaders believed the lack of digital skills from their workforces would hinder competitiveness if not solved by 2020. Furthermore, 70 percent of employees polled responded that they did not have the abilities needed for their current roles.
Many company representatives turn to measures that likely seemed drastic before skills shortages existed. The skills shortage is so prominent that it’s common to solve it by hiring workers from other countries or depending on freelancers.
6) You Could Have More Control Over Your Workday’s Structure
Many clients who hire tech freelancers don’t mind when they get the work done as long as the freelancers meet deadlines. So, no matter if you’re a night owl or a morning person, a freelance tech career could help you find a schedule that’s a better match for your natural rhythm.
Setting your hours doesn’t automatically cause a drop in productivity. There’s a pervasive myth that freelancers are more likely than traditional workers to slack off, but research indicates otherwise.
A Stanford University researcher studied a Chinese travel company with 20,000 employees. There were two groups of people taking part in the research. The first worked from home for nine months and only came into the office once a week, and the other segment worked on-site with no remote work time. Those who worked at home most of the time performed 13 percent better than those who didn’t.
The findings concluded that happened because the at-home group worked their full shifts, whereas people in the office were more likely to take long lunch breaks or leave early. Moreover, they had better focus than those in an office environment that could be full of distractions.
Think about whether selecting when you work could be a source of anxiety rather than empowerment. One excellent way is to remember that succeeding as a tech freelancer likely means shaking up what you know and becoming a businessperson ready to sell yourself and your abilities.
When you’re starting out and clients ask how long you need to complete a tech job, it’s smart to estimate conservatively at first.
7) You Won’t Necessarily Take a Pay Cut
Much like the impressions people have of freelancers getting lazy at home — debunked in the previous section — they often think of people in contract roles coping with drastically reduced schedules.
Although it’s true some people find freelance jobs that pay less than traditional work and decide they’re still worthwhile due to the lifestyle differences provided, tech skills make it more likely you could keep earning a lot as a freelancer.
Many of the most profitable freelance careers are in the tech sector, some of them even generating six-figure incomes. Many freelance clients offer trial assignments to potential freelancers, so it’s ideal to brush up on your capabilities and also look into getting relevant certifications. Those things could help you earn even more than expected.
As you assess matters related to your pay as a freelance tech person, remember that independent contractors have to pay estimated taxes every quarter. Being aware of that could help you set more suitable rates.
The Potential for a Brighter Future
Even if you don’t go into freelancing full time, the content on this list shows why so many people who have tech skills or want to learn them could be well-equipped for freelance careers.
Being an independent contractor isn’t for everyone, but you could find it offers you flexibility and options that traditional types of work don’t. Tech skills also help you respond to changing needs and stay marketable.