Freelancing is the New 9–5 Job

Graphic created by designer, Sarah Mamlouk for UpstartCity on September 19, 2016 (UpstartCity/Sarah Mamlouk)

Economists do it with models. They also know how to quantify your feelings; it’s called Consumer Confidence. This economic indicator measures your outlook on the economy and on your own financial situation.

Consumer confidence today has been influenced by technology and the slow-to-recover economy of the past ten years. These two factors laid the groundwork for freelancing, or self-employment, to thrive. A 2014 report found that 34% of the US population work as some form of freelancer. The freelancing community includes a range of workers such as those who have side projects in addition to their full time job as well as fully independent contractors.

The 2014 report, Freelancing In America: A National Survey of the New Workforce, compared this economic shift in workstyle to the Industrial Revolution. “It is a really big and important shift in the economy,” an economics professor at Wellesley College, Daniel Sichel said.

Professor Sichel relayed his thoughts on consumer confidence’s effect on the burgeoning workforce. He believes the state of the macro economy and its slow recovery since the Great Recession created unemployment and underemployment, making freelancing a reliable income source. The growing freelance community has been helped by a wave of technology that allows people to network and work remotely.

“People have more concerns about the path of the economy and their ability to get and keep a job so this reorganizes their work lives,” Sichel said. Technology allows people to capitalize on their abilities by connecting them with employers who would’ve otherwise not known about them or not had the resources to hire them full time.

Katie Roberts, a fulltime freelancer with her own business, shared her insights. Sometimes companies are understaffed, have an employee on leave or land a new client and need certain talents ASAP. Roberts says this is ideal for a freelancer: “You are the solution to their temporary problems and you get compensated accordingly. You also get to set your own rate and negotiate your worth — a very empowering experience.”

When asked to gauge her own consumer confidence, Roberts said the money, jobs and experiences that come with freelancing have become her comfort zone and her creative stimulus. “You are in complete creative control. You are your own brand, boss and manager,” she said.

The Bank of England noticed the path that Roberts and other freelancers like her have chosen. In 2014, it created The Freelancer Confidence Index. Freelancers’ economic sentiments are now monitored and published quarterly so overall consumer confidence can be properly assessed.

Your job makes or breaks the financial confidence and sense of stability you feel you have. If freelancing is “reinventing the workforce for the 21st century,” as Roberts says, it’s no wonder it has gained so much ground.