Freelancing: What is it, and how will it impact the U.S. workforce?

At Adam Black Media, we refer to our working structure as a “Freelance” Marketing firm, which often raises the question – What is a freelance marketing firm? Well… we are glad you asked. 😘

Last month, I was speaking with a prospective client. Upon discussing their marketing needs, they asked me to tell them about our company. We always respond to that question with the same answer:

“Adam Black Media (fellow freelancers: insert your company name here) is a full-service marketing firm operating within a freelance structure”, which translates as: We do not have employees. We do not have a brick and mortar location. Our contractors fend for themselves on health benefits. The company operates with essentially $0 overhead, which allows us to profit competitively, while passing tremendous savings on to our clients.

Upon answering their question, they responded; “So, you pretty much sell websites out of the back of your car… right?”. As funny as it sounds, they really weren’t too far off the mark.

A freelance contractor operates independent of a location. They work within the freedom of their own schedule. They deliver results (if they are good) that are of no less quality than what you would receive from a traditional, competing business. So, does a freelancer sell services out of the back of their car? The beauty is – It’s up to them.

How does the freelance workforce fit in the current economy?

Not too long ago, a “freelancer” could have been described as a hopeful creative, living in their mother’s basement, with no true career path. This person probably “parented” at least 10 cats, was an avid gamer, and vowed that “an employer will not fully appreciate their art” . *As their rightfully concerned mother sits in the background with great disappointment and fear.

However, the term freelancer has evolved exponentially over the past 5-10 years.

Disclaimer: If you can still be described with the description above, this article is not about you, does not justify your life decisions, and does not support the obvious dependency you still have on your parents… in your 30’s…. 😬… we definitely suggest you get a job.

According to Upwork:

The majority of the US workforce, by year 2027, will work as a freelancer.

https://www.upwork.com/i/freelancing-in-america/2017/

So, either the majority of US workers will be “selling services out of the back of their car” (in-between cat feedings 😸), or it will mean that this really is something we need to pay close attention to… both as consumers as well as contributors.

We believe, that with these prominent stats, it is important to highlight the benefits of freelancing, both for the hiring business as well as the worker.

How your business can benefit from leveraging freelance services:

  1. Freelance services, when done properly, will ALWAYS be cheaper (and of comparable quality) than a corporate entity.

    It doesn’t take a mathematics professor to break down the numbers on this one.

    Company A – Works in a high rise downtown metropolitan suite. They have an office, a desk, a 401K, and health benefits. You, as the hiring company, are not just paying for the services you are being provided. In order for Company A to remain in business, someone has to cover the tremendous overhead. This person, would be you.

    Company B – Freelancer, works out of their backpack at a local coffee shop. They don’t pay rent on their business. They understand that, as an independent contractor, they are responsible for their own healthcare and retirement. Outside of minimal services they pay for and the gear they need, their work is provided at almost 100% profit to them.

    End result: Both companies provide website/graphic design/writing/photography/etc. that is of the highest quality. It fits your need and hopefully even exceeds your expectations.

    The difference: The traditional firm’s services come at double (or more) cost to you for potentially the same product. Yikes. 😬
  2. Freelancing provides a greater level of availability to your business.

    Most marketing firms (or other freelancing industries) have strict schedules, hard stop meetings, and have to be highly structured in order to meet their high demands. However, as a business owner, sometimes your greatest ideas come at the most random times. Sometimes you realize an opportunity and time is of the essence to get it done. You pick up the phone, and you expect your advocate to pick up and be ready to listen and respond accordingly.

    You proceed to pick up the phone and call your contact… a freelancer (again, if done properly) will be far more available to you on a whim. They likely have 5-6 hours worth of work packed into their 8 hour work day.. because they want to be available for you and your next idea/need. A good freelancer knows this and plans ahead.
  3. Freelancing means you have a team member, working on your behalf… just from a distance.

    We already touched on this a little – but imagine if you didn’t have to hire an employee in order to get a job done. As a former executive myself, I understand the emotional ties that come with hiring an employee. Hopefully you care about that person and their well being. Hopefully you hired them with more than a selfish agenda, with the intention of creating a job and providing an opportunity to them.

    However, the greatest obligation you have with a freelancer is a single contract (and the best freelancers will support their work by offering a simple opt-out clause in their contract). If it doesn’t work out, just part ways. No emotion. No obligation. No tough conversation.

    Conclusion:

    As long as the freelancer you are hiring is providing top-quality work, there is absolutely no downside to choosing a freelancing independent contractor. Their work should compete, their price should be WAY better, and their availability to you should be far more frequent.

How you, as a worker, can benefit from a freelance career:

  1. Your freedom of schedule is almost entirely up to you.

    Imagine getting to set your own rules. Like working early? Do it. Are you a night owl? That’s fine.. you can work then too. Have somewhere you have to be? No problem – mold your schedule as you see fit. There will be times where your clients need you outside of your “working window”, but the freedom you receive otherwise will greatly offset this minor inconvenience.
  2. The sky is the limit with your income.

    Are you unsatisfied with your earning wage? As a motivated freelancer, all you have to do is go book another contract. Sign another retainer. Sell another service. Freelancers are not bound to a set income (unless they want to be.. hence your freedom).
  3. You can work from any location.

    Hate riding a desk and doing the “same ol same ol” every day? No problem. Go work at a coffee shop. Go work in the park. Go work on the beach. If you have a computer and an internet connection, you never have to be bound to where you can and cannot work.
  4. Your family will thank you.

    This is personally the most critical reason we entered the freelance workforce. With a growing family, events we desired to attend, and the day-to-day opportunities I felt most people miss out on, we just couldn’t afford to restrict our availability to a set schedule. Freelancing afforded us the opportunity to be where we need to be, and to involve ourselves in the moments that turn into our most valuable memories.
  5. When done properly, your stress level will be greatly reduced.

    Any job is going to have a reasonable (or unreasonable) amount of stress. Freelancing is no different. However, by having a very flexible work structure, and by removing your income cap, your working structure should result in a lower level of stress in comparison to the average American employee. This is definitely not always the case. As a freelancer, you will have to wear many hats (manager, sales, creative director, tech director, etc.), but adapting to the learning curve should result in a reduced stress lifestyle when done correctly.

    Conclusion:

    Freelancing is having a major impact on how work is done today… and that economic impact is only going to grow. Whether you are a business in need of freelance services, or a worker in need of an occupation change, the freelance workforce is something that you should absolutely consider.

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