The freelance revolution was often seen as a gradual shift that would take place over many years. Instead, the COVID-19 caused it to happen in a matter of months. Businesses were forced to shut down and lay off many of their employees. Hiring freelancers who work remotely has quickly become the norm instead of the exception.
2020 has caused upheaval for many businesses, but it hasn’t slowed the global shift to freelancing. Many people are now pursuing freelance work out of necessity, not by choice. After all, experts have been predicting that the majority of the workforce will go freelance a long time now.
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Whether you’re a new or experienced freelancer, you’re likely looking ahead to 2021 and wondering what’s in store for the gig economy. Today, we’re taking a look at some of the freelance trends coming up next year.
1. More People Will Go Freelance Out of Necessity
According to research, around 26 percent of the total 15.3 million Malaysian workforce form part of the growing gig economy in 2018. That's close to 4 million freelancers, and that the number is growing, as more people are opting for flexible working hours.
In many ways, this freelance trend isn’t a surprise since many people were predicting a global shift to freelancing. But COVID has massively accelerated this trend. The major difference is that now many people are now pursuing freelance work out of necessity, not by choice. Before the pandemic, many people chose to be freelancers because they wanted more flexibility and work-life balance. Then the pandemic hit, and millions of people lost their full-time jobs. This means people who would have otherwise preferred the stability of a full-time job will be forced to take on freelance work to pay the bills. Companies began to realize the cost-benefit to relying on freelancers instead of full-time employees.
2. Freelance Work Will Become More Stable
Freelancing has always been viewed as an unstable career choice. The income is unpredictable and freelancers don’t always have the support needed to grow. But that perception is quickly changing thanks to a growing number of support networks. For example, Rtist is one such platform which provides a networking space for Malaysian freelancers to gather together and find clients. With the Handpick Team, we are also able to offer clients the resources to match with the right talents for their jobs.
3. Freelancing Platforms Continue to Grow
Freelancing platforms have been one of the biggest growth drivers for the gig economy. A decade ago, some people may have been interested in freelancing, but they would have had no idea how to find those freelance jobs.
Today, there are dozens of freelancing platforms that provide access to a variety of different types of jobs. These platforms make it find clients, sell your services, and many of them allow you to bill clients directly within the website. At Rtist, we experienced significant growth in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit.
And increasingly, many platforms are looking to cater to freelancers with specific skill sets. For Rtist, we’re always on the lookout for a creative talent with design know-how to cater to the client base. And in 2021, we predict that we will begin treating freelancers like valuable customers. Instead of treating freelancers like commodities, the freelance trend for 2021 will shift to community support and providing resources.
4. Freelancers Will Continue Leaving Big Cities
In the past, some of the best freelance jobs were located in a handful of big cities. For instance, if you wanted to be a writer or a designer, it was widely accepted that living in Kuala Lumpur was a career necessity.
But it’s no longer necessary to live in any major city to find a wealth of professional opportunities. The cost of living outpaces the average salary in most major cities. The shift away from big city living was already underway but it sped up drastically after the COVID-19 hit. Suddenly, living in densely populated urban areas seemed much less attractive. This has led many freelancers to flee big cities and move to the outskirts or satellite towns in search of affordable housing and a higher standard of living. Freelancers have access to just as many career opportunities, at a more reasonable price tag.
5. The Pay for Freelancers is On the Rise
For a long time, freelancing was seen as a hop, skip, and a jump away from unemployment. Freelancers were often creatives who had to do free work to gain exposure. And even when they did get paid, many worked for seriously low wages. But that’s no longer the reality for most freelancers. There is a growing trend of highly-skilled freelancers, and reports show that the pay for freelancers is on the rise.
One report found that 60% of freelancers who left their full-time job now make more money as a freelancer. And as more individuals with highly-specialized skill sets make the switch to freelancing, these figures will likely continue to rise.
We predict that these 5 freelance trends will shape the experience of freelancers in 2021 and beyond. If there’s one common thread weaving all of these freelance trends together, it’s that freelancers will be increasingly valued and in-demand in 2021. As the number of highly skilled freelancers continues to rise, their pay will grow accordingly. And freelancers will have more options when it comes to where they live, work, and who they work with.
We hope you found this article helpful, and that it inspires you in your own freelancing journey. If you ever need a place to start, you can always talk to us at Rtist and we’ll be more than happy to give you a leg up.