50+ Freelancing Statistics & Trends Shaping the Future of Work [2024]

March 28, 2024 0 Comments

Sitting comfortably on your sofa and making dollars. Sounds fun, right?!

There are 1.57 billion freelancers worldwide today,  who are doing just this!

In the US, freelancer earnings make up to $1.5 trillion per year.

But what’s the catch? It must not be as simple as it sounds. Yeah, freelancing can be challenging!

66% of employees reported that finding enough work is the biggest challenge as a freelancer.

While 60% of freelancers struggle to manage irregular work and client expectations, maintaining self-discipline and motivation is challenging for 59% of freelancers. 

What’s the real story behind freelancing trends? Here is your gateway to success in the freelance realm!

Top Freelancing Statistics: Editor’s Pick

There are 1.57 billion freelancers worldwide
  1. 36% of freelancers are full-time, long-term freelancers. [20]
  2. About 80% of freelancers are successful. [15]
  3. Upwork is the world’s largest freelancer platform and generates over $2 billion in revenue annually. [4]
  4. There are 52.3% female and 47.7% male freelancers in the US. [17]
  5. 10.4% of the freelancers are Asians, and they have the highest annual freelancing salary. [17]
  6. About 40% of freelancers work 41-50 hours per week. [6]
  7. 8 out of 10 IT managers said that freelancers help them get more work done. [22]
  8. One in five freelancers is looking forward to taking off three days per week in 2024. [13]
  9. 28% of employees from the US and UK will start freelancing in the next five years. [14]

General Freelancing Statistics

There are 1.57 billion freelancers worldwide today. [1]

There will be 1.2 billion freelancers in the world in 2022. It is about  34% of the global workforce. [1]

The US had 70.4 million freelancers in 2022, making it the largest freelancing market. [19]

36% of freelancers are full-time, long-term freelancers. [20]

Is Freelancing Successful?

According to an Upwork survey, about 80% of freelancers are successful. [15]

75% of freelancers earn as much, or more than they did when working full-time. [15]

In terms of total market value, Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr are the top freelancing websites. [20]

Global Freelancing Market Statistics

Global freelance market is worth $3.39 billion

According to Work Bank, nearly 47% of employers worldwide are freelancers which is approximately 1.57 billion people. [1]

In 2018, the global freelance platforms market was worth $2.35 billion. [2]

In 2020, the freelance market worth expanded to $3.39 billion. [2]

The global freelance platform market is projected to reach $9.19 billion by 2027. [2]

Payoneer data suggest that freelancers earn an average of $21 per hour worldwide. [3]

Upwork is the world’s largest freelancer platform and generates over $2 billion in revenue annually. [4]

Freelancing Statistics By Demographics

Who is an average freelancer?

  1. It is interesting to note that the share of female freelancers is more than that of male freelancers by approximately 5% in the US. [17]
  2. There are 52.3% female and 47.7% male freelancers in the US. [17]
  3. But the pay gap is still persistent, as, for every $1 earned by men, women earn 95¢. [17]
  4. Looking at the educational qualifications of freelancers, 51% of the freelancers in the US are post-graduates. [18]
  5. 31% of the freelancers are just high school graduates or less. [18]
  6. The most common ethnicity among freelancers is white, with 70.2%, but they are also the least-paid freelancers. [17]
  7. 10.4% of the freelancers are Asians, and they have the highest annual freelancing salary. [17]
  8. There are only 0.4% of American Indians and Alaska Native freelancers. [17]

Here we have curated a list of freelancers with their race/ethnicity along with their average annual salaries.

Race or EthnicityShare of freelancersAnnual salary of freelancers
White70.2%$57,544
Hispanic or Latino10.6%$58,512
Asian10.4%$64,352
Unknown5.0%$61,927
Black or African American3.4%$57,708
Source: Zippia

Freelancing Statistics By Location

In the US, freelancer earnings make up to $1.5 trillion per year. [8]

From 2020 to 2021, overall earnings from freelance work in the US grew by $100 million. [8]

The UK has about 4.2 million freelancers contributing £162 billion to the overall UK economy. [8]

The number of freelancers in France, Germany, and Spain totals around 3 million. [9]

The number of freelancers in India jumped by 46%. There are approximately 15 million freelancers in India, making it the second fastest-growing country by freelancers. [10]

According to a recent survey, 84% of companies surveyed in the Asia Pacific have outsourced work to freelancers. [11]

Only 10% of the global freelance workforce is from Africa. [12]

Freelancing has grown by 78% in the US. [7]

The UK is next in line with an overall freelancing growth of 59%. [7]

Fastest growing countries by freelance revenue growth

Source: Payoneer

Statistics On Average Salary Of Freelancers 

Wondering which are the highest-paid skills?

Technical and specialized freelancers earn higher wages than others.

How much can you make with your skills?

US programmers, data analysts & mobile developers earn average annual salaries of up to $120,000. [5]

Here’s a list of the average salaries and annual earnings for the Major freelancing jobs:

Freelancer Job TitlesHourly WageAnnual Salary
Writers$30-40/hr$42,000
Editors$25-35/hr$40,000
Programmers$60-70/hr$120,000
General developers$50-60/hr$100,000
Mobile developers$55-65/hr$100,000
Web developers$50-60/hr$90,000
Graphic designers$40-45/hr$90,000
Transcribers$20-25/hr$32,000
Bookkeepers$30-35/hr$40,000
Online marketers$50/hr$100,000
Photographers$35-45/hr$42,000
CRM managers$50-60/hr$120,000
Data analysts$55-65/hr$100,000
Source: Upwork

How Many Hours Do Freelancers Work?

Wondering what a freelancer’s work week looks like?

  • About 40% of freelancers work 41-50 hours per week. [6]
  • Almost 20% of freelancers work over 51 hours per week freelancing.
  • Over 25% of freelancers work between 31-40 hours per week.

Why Freelancing? Benefits of Freelancing

Curious why freelancing? What are the benefits of freelancing for freelancers and companies?

83% of the people said they work as freelancers for financial gains. [16]

Flexibility is a top motivator for 73% of freelancers. 

67% of freelancers say they freelance because it helps them to pursue work that they are passionate about or find meaningful.

70%  of employees prefer freelancing because they can be their own bosses. 

Top motivators for freelancers

Source: Upwork

How Freelancers Benefit Companies?

Nearly 7 out of 10 IT leaders confirmed that the most common reason for hiring freelancers is to scale to meet project needs. [22]

Over half of IT teams use freelancers to find skills that are not currently available in-house. [22]

8 out of 10 IT managers said that freelancers help them get more work done. [22]

Compared to hiring a full-time employee, hiring a freelance senior software engineer can save a company over $17,000. [21]

Statistics On The Challenges Of Freelancing

Do you think freelancing is easy money?

Well, freelancers do not think so!

  1. 66% of employees reported that finding enough work is the biggest challenge as a freelancer. [14]
  2. 62% of employees said that managing irregular income is a major challenge in freelancing. [14]
  3. For 60% of freelancers, it is challenging to manage irregular work and client expectations
  4. Maintaining self-discipline and motivation is challenging for 59% of freelancers. 
  5. 59% of freelancers fear suffering loss if clients do not pay.
  6. For 58% of freelancers it is challenging to manage time.
  7. Filing taxes is challenging for 57% of freelancers.

How Many Skills Do Freelancers Need?

Freelancers need a majority of soft skills along with their marketing and professional skills to get clients.

Here is the list of important soft skills according to freelancers.

Soft skills for freelancersShare of freelancers that consider them important
Communication73%
Problem-Solving62%
Self-motivation55%
Willingness to learn55%
Discipline53%
Flexibility53%
Self-confidence46%
Perseverance40%
Emotional intelligence31%
Creativity27%
Others2%
Source: Demandsage
  1. New freelance opportunities are projected to increase due to AI in the fields of data analysis, data science, and machine learning, with 14.2%, 11.2%, and 10.3% of respondents, respectively. [13]
  2. One in five freelancers is looking forward to taking off three days per week in 2024. [13]
  3. Freelancers in their 30s will be saving a sum of 15% each month. [13]
  4. 28% of employees from the US and UK will start freelancing in the next five years. [14]
  5. 21% of employees plan to do freelance work in 2024. [14]

FAQs 

Which are the highest-paid freelancing skills?

Programmers, data analysts & mobile developers earn the highest with average annual salaries of up to $120,000.

What are the challenges faced by freelancers?

Some common challenges faced by freelancers are:

  1. 66% of employees reported that finding enough work is the biggest challenge as a freelancer.
  2. 62% of employees said that managing irregular income is a major challenge in freelancing.
  3. For 60% of freelancers it is challenging to manage irregular work and client expectations. 
  4. Maintaining self-discipline and motivation is challenging for 59% of freelancers. 
  5. 59% of freelancers fear suffering loss if clients do not pay.
  6. For 58% of freelancers it is challenging to manage time.
  7. Filing taxes is challenging for 57% of freelancers.

How Freelancers Benefit Companies?

There are numerous benefits of freelancing. Nearly 7 out of 10 IT leaders confirmed that the most common reason for hiring freelancers is to scale to meet project needs.

Over half of IT teams use freelancers to find skills that are not currently available in-house. 8 out of 10 IT managers said that freelancers help them get more work done. 

Compared to hiring a full-time employee, hiring a freelance senior software engineer can save a company over $17,000.

Conclusion 

Freelancing is an increasing format of occupation among youngsters as it provides the flexibility of time and space with extra income. The US has the biggest market for freelancers and has increased by up to 78%.

According to Work Bank, nearly 47% of employers worldwide are freelancers, approximately 1.57 billion people. The global freelance platform market is projected to reach $9.19 billion by 2027.

Payoneer data suggest that freelancers earn an average of $21 per hour worldwide. Upwork is the world’s largest freelancer platform and generates over $2 billion in revenue annually.

Sources

  1. World Bank. Percentage of self-employed
  2. Absolute Reports. Freelance Platforms Market
  3. Payoneer. What is the average freelance salary around the globe?
  4. VCBay. Top 10 freelancing platforms.
  5. Upwork. How much do freelancers make
  6. FreelancerMap. Freelancers also work long hours – 40+ hours working week
  7. Payoneer. Global Freelancing Index
  8. Statista. Number of self-employed workers in the United Kingdom from May 1992 to July 2023 
  9. Malt + BCG. Freelancing in Europe 2021
  10. Payoneer. Freelancing in 2020
  11. Asean Post. Southeast Asia’s rising freelance economy 
  12. Africa.com. Freelancing in Africa
  13. Fiverr. 2024 Gig Economy Trends to Watch in the Freelance Industry
  14. Remote. Remote’s Global Freelancer Report
  15. Waveapps.  Complete freelancer guide
  16. Upwork. Gig Economy Statistics and Key Takeaways for 2024
  17. Zippia. Freelancer demographics research summary
  18. Upwork. Freelance Forward Economist Report
  19. Statista. Number Of People Freelancing In US
  20. Statista. Share Of Freelancers By Generation U.S. 2020
  21. Huffington Post. The Real Cost of Freelancers vs. Full-Time Employees
  22. Upwork. Future Workforce Report
  23. Demandsage. Freelancing statistics