One-third of U.S. workers are freelance, according to a new report by business management platform, Spera.
Details from the report, billed ‘The Freedom Economy Report 2016‘, demonstrates that the U.S. is a freelance powerhouse:
- More than 33% of the U.S. workforce (nearly 54 million) participated in some form of independent work in 2015. That’s an increase of 700,000 over the previous year.
- Around 1 in 12 U.S. households (more than 10 million people) bring in over half of their income through independent work.
- The freelancing sector has become a vital part of the labor market. Some researchers predict that half of the working U.S. population will move into self-employment leading up to 2020.
The report also found that in 2014, online freelance gig platforms helped independent workers in the U.S. generate more than 1.1 trillion dollars in revenue.
With one in three Americans working on a full or part-time freelance basis, it’s clear to see the importance this entrepreneurial community brings to the U.S. economy — and it’s only set to intensify.
No longer satisfied with long commutes and 9-5 limitations, the desire for greater working flexibility, easier access to freelance gigs and affordable mobile technology means more people can work anywhere, anytime. And they’re doing it.
We’ve seen a phenomenal rise in digital platforms and online tools that help to transition workers from full-time employment to freelance fulfillment. Job search platforms like goLance make it easier for freelancers to find work, while simultaneously enabling employers to gain quick access to vital skills anywhere in the world.
This trend is only set to continue, as Spera’s report suggests more than one-third of Millennials (aka Generation Y) are independent workers. As for Generation Z, they’re growing up surrounded by work-anywhere tendencies and on-demand access to wireless technology, which means the flexible working culture is already embedded within their career expectations.
This is welcome news for solopreneurs, as greater acceptance of freelancing will lead to more investment and better protection for independent workers. Because let’s face it, it’s impossible to ignore one-third of the U.S. workforce — much less the massive value they bring to the economy.
3 Ways to Stand Out from the Freelance Crowd
Of course there is a downside. All these millions of freelancers — and many millions more across the world — are your competitors.
When your talent pool is no longer limited to a 30-mile radius of the office, you suddenly find yourself up against a global source of skills that can be hired instantaneously, regardless of time zone or location. That means your time is of the essence.
There are plenty of ways to market your freelance skills. As for standing out from the freelance crowd, here’s how a virtual office can help:
1. Get a Professional Edge (without the corporate price tag):
Many freelancers work from home, particularly those providing desk-based service skills like online marketing or web design. Working from home is cheap and easy, but it lacks a professional edge. You’re more likely to attract big-budget clients if you have a corporate business address — but you don’t need to pay top dollar to get one. A basic virtual office plan gives you an office address at a real building, starting from around $39 per month (that’s the price of this Albany virtual office as of August 2016).
As part of the deal you also get a mail handling service. That means you can use the address for business correspondence, and any mail received that’s addressed to you will be safely stored for collection. Or you can pay a few extra dollars in postage fees to have mail forwarded onto you.
2. Save Time, Look Awesome:
Remember what we said about the value of your time? We’ve got a little trick for that too. You can upgrade any virtual office by adding a live receptionist service. Starting from an extra $95 per month, you can beef up your business address with a local phone number and a live call answering service. So on top of your business address and mail, you’ll get a matching phone number and a cheerful receptionist on the end of the line, answering calls. It’s their job to pick up your calls, filter out any spam and forward the caller onto your normal line — which might be your cell phone or home telephone number.
Not only is that a pretty awesome way to greet calling clients, it also saves you a massive amount of time by cutting out spam calls and annoying interruptions. Plus, your callers get a professional greeting rather than an answerphone, which means extra brownie points for you.
3. Ditch the Coffee Shop:
It might be a virtual office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a real office when the time comes. Every ‘virtual’ office is linked to a real business center, which comes with furnished conference rooms, day offices, coworking spaces and full-time workspace. If you need to schedule a meeting with clients, don’t opt for a noisy coffee shop. Why not book a conference room in your own virtual office instead? It’s easy – simply search for your nearest meeting room and reserve your choice of meeting space. All meeting rooms are furnished and most offer essentials like whiteboards, videoconferencing and catering services, too.
For freelancers, a virtual office is everything you need for instant credibility. It’s a low-budget solution for big business impressions, and it’s a sure fire way to stand out from the freelance crowd.