I exclusively work for myself and have been doing so since January 2013 when I quit my last full-time job.

I had also been freelancing for about twenty years before I made it my full-time occupation. I went into freelancing because I needed to increase income, which wasn’t enough from my traditional job. But eventually, when I saved enough and made alternate arrangements for medical coverage, I came to have the same attitude that millions of others now have for the traditional job.

They say this: Take this company and shove it. I wasn’t that explicit but on my last day as a traditional employee I remember being very happy. I still am.

Forget the Company. Forget the Corporation

Today that’s the attitude of millions of American workers, especially younger ones. Indeed, some of them, say experts surveying the American workplace, may never experience a traditional full-time job over the course of their lives. They expect to be independents their entire lives.

“We will increasingly see people work on the terms that they prefer, and for many that means freelancing,” predicts Adam Ozimek, chief economist for Upwork, a service linking freelancers with companies.

Why are more workers going independent?

A strong economy combined with low unemployment rates and the younger generation’s embrace of technology are fueling a workplace revolution in the United States. Increasing numbers of American workers expect to be career freelancers.

A New Freelancing Report

Those are some of the conclusions of a report from Upwork and the Freelancers Union.

According to “Freelancing in America 2019,” the improving labor market means that, for the first time since the annual report began in 2014, “there are as many freelancers who view freelancing as long term as there are people who view it as temporary, at 50 percent each.”

Freelancing is now almost a $1 trillion part of the economy. And that is “approaching five percent of the U.S. GDP,” the report said.
In the last five years, those who are actually free lancing full-time went from 17 percent to 28 percent of the workforce. The younger one is, the more likely one is to freelance, the report said.

Freelancing—Many Things for Many People

The popularity of freelancing is, I believe, based in part on its applicability to so many jobs.

Indeed, the report notes that freelancing takes in many areas.

“It does not describe one way of working but rather a wide range of activities. While skilled services are the most common type of work, it ranges from highly-skilled professionals freelancing full time to those occasionally selling goods on time,” according to the report.

How Does Someone Start Freelancing?

An employment expert has some advice for some who want to go the independent route.

“Meet with someone from a staffing firm specializing in your area of expertise to find out what skills are in greatest demand in your area,” says Richard Deosingh, district president at the employment agency Robert Half in New York.

Freelancing Isn’t All Beer and Skittles

But freelancing also has downsides. It can be tough in the beginning and freelancers should understand the potential problems.

“Many employers don’t clearly define roles and will start adding on work beyond what has been contracted for,” says Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager at FlexJobs.

And 78 percent of freelancers don’t have a written contract, according to a Freelancers Union article by Laura Murphy. That can lead to problems.

“Whether it’s coming from the mouth of the unpaid freelancer herself, or via responses on social media,” she writes, “everyone seems to agree that having a contract is step numero uno for protection against non-payment.”

Full-time freelancing can be a trying experience. I remember in the early 1990s trying to do it and failing. I found paying for my own medical insurance difficult. There weren’t as many medical insurance options for freelancers as there are today. I also found I wasn’t able to line up enough work. It also requires that the freelancer take on billing and tax payment tasks that his or her employer once routinely handled.

So successful freelancing takes planning.

One also needs to develop a network of contacts who are interested in employing you on a freelance basis. Today, freelancing still has challenges for me, but it is easier for me for at least two reasons: I know more people who might provide me with work and I have a bigger financial reserve to protect me against bad times.

Still unsure?

Then I would advise you to keep your full-time job. However, slowly develop contacts with others who can help you. You may have to do it quietly. But think about achieving your goal slowly over a period of a few years.


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post.