The New Freelance Economy

Illustration by Elsa Jenna

Illustration by Elsa Jenna

I’ve been thinking a lot about the shifting landscape of work and freelancing lately, not so much about myself freelancing, but the trend of the larger workforce going freelance and that effect on our economy and culture. 

There are currently some $42 million people in the U.S. who freelance. There’s a rise of makers and designers pushing their side projects on Kickstarter and Etsy. And people are moving away from regular 9-5 jobs. 

Everyone has a "side hustle" now it seems. People are piecing together their incomes instead of relying on a single paycheck provider. This may be because it's how they had to adapt after the recession, a fear of being laid off, or maybe it's just a deliberate choice to achieve some work-life balance.

For so many, moving up means moving away from a regular job.

This is my experience in New York at least, which I admit is not a good gauge, but still I’m hardly the only one noticing this. 

I recently got to speak with Sara Horowitz at the Freelancers Union who is undoubtedly doing some of the most interesting thinking around this subject.  But there have also been a slew of other stories in the last few weeks that cover these issues too. 

Here are a few I’ve picked out for consideration:

  • Who Needs a Boss? A feature on employee-owned businesses (New York Times Magazine)
  • The future is freelance – and that is healthy (FT via Google)
  • Obama: Is the job of the future a freelance one? (CNBC)
  • How Freelancers Are Redefining Success To Be About Value, Not Wealth (Fast Company)