Elance Blog

The Profits Have Spoken: Five Online Work Predictions For 2013

After meticulously poring over a year’s worth of impressive freelancer profit figures (and other industry statistics and trends – from the skyrocketing rise of companies posting jobs online to the public policy advocated by President Obama), Elance has pulled out its crystal ball.

2103 Elance Predictions

What follows are five highly-educated predictions for the year 2013.

1. “Services” hiring will double online in 2013.

Although technology jobs continue to surge, the single-largest percent increase will be in the service industries – as the traditional “creative agency” model moves to online workers. We first got wind of this as the demand for creative talent skyrocketed 58% from last year. Ditto for other service jobs, such as legal (up 176%) and accounting (up 88%).

2. 1 in 4 university students will work online in 2013.

Freelancing is the new normal for students as they discover how online jobs are more lucrative and rewarding than flipping burgers. While building experience, many continue freelancing after graduation as they earn a stable living while traveling and enjoying life. The Elance Freelance Talent Report shows that millennial freelancers on the site jumped from 26% to 47% in the past year.

3. The number of full-time employees who quit and turn to freelance will triple in 2013.

Lack of healthcare is a concern for freelancers. If ObamaCare happens, more U.S. workers will grab their affordable healthcare and run-not-walk to full-time freelance work. ObamaCare will also be a boon for companies, as they reduce the burden of rising healthcare costs for employees.

4. Unemployment figures will be overstated by 5% in 2013.

The economy isn’t as bad as it appears. Those unemployed (and underemployed) are increasingly going online to earn money – and many of those jobs won’t be reported in 2013 employment figures. This new online work will be fueled by the business world’s growing trend to hire “on demand” (this “on demand” trend is echoed in the consumer world too, exemplified by ZipCar and Airbnb).

5. Companies of all sizes will hire twice as many online workers in 2013.

With cost savings, faster time-to-hire, access to top talent not locally available, and a better product delivered, 85% of small business report in the Elance Global Business Survey that hiring online offers a competitive advantage. In 2013 enterprise companies will increasingly realize these benefits, and in turn they’ll hire more and more virtual teams as an extension of their onsite staff.

Not a bad outlook for the year ahead, eh? In the words of Elance CEO Fabio Rosati, “When you pair the online freelance category’s fundamentals with recent trends on Elance, it’s clear that online work is primed for explosive growth in 2013.”

If you’re an Elancer, it’s a pretty picture. And if you want an even prettier picture (literally), view this eye-catching infographic we created, outlining even more details of these “prophesies.” So get ready to turn your calendar to 2013 and enjoy a fantastic year.  And yes, if you go by the Elance Calendar as most of us do, you’ll notice that 2013 is officially the “Year of the Freelancer.”


Interesting article. I personally hope that companies hiring twice as many online workers will absorb the 1-in-4 college students and the full-time employed workers quitting to turn to freelance work. If not, my prediction is that if the market is saturated with new freelancers, project pricing will become more competitive and pay rates will decline for everyone.

I'm guessing that may be the new trend anyway, because if companies are looking to hire twice as many online workers, pay probably has much to do with making that an attractive option.

I think Vegicat is right on the money!!!!!, I've seen the effects over this yr with rate decreases so let's come back in 12 months and see if these predictions hold. BTW It doesn't help when the marketplace advertises rates by price i.e as low as... via Google.

Project Pricing is a major issue these days.....Hope, freelancers won't sell their services at so cheap so as wages. We must focus on our skills and delivery the best with better prices.

Guys that are working for below fair wages! Please have some respect for your work. Don't sell your self cheap. It hurts us all and will make us all slaves to clients. I have seen a trend of clients that act like a boss at work as they can push deadlines and some even use threats of tranishing your feedback. We need to stick together guys!

I am agree with a_milette


Perfectly put. I have had a problem recently as well with a client who bluntly pointed out to me that this is a free market and they are looking for much lower rates regardless of me breaking down the hourly rate to him and what it meant to spend those hours doing the work and being paid only what he was willing to pay. I had to let the job go.


You did the right thing, seanmtebe.
That client was obviously not worth your time.

- Ziro out.

Is there a place in the forum where we can privately warn against such behaviour (unethical experiences) to potentially save others from the pain?

Thanks for the article, let me respond from different point of view. It is interesting for me to see the situation in the USA. From Central Europe, the situation is completely different. Altrought the huge unemployment in EU (approx. 12%, in Greece and Spanish 25%), this type of work is really unusual here. I think it is because of legislation - law and taxes connected to the employ of people and business are really complicated. To close this comment: it is really huge "non-plough field" in Europe, and big space for this type of activities.

I am not sure that there is ''huge "non-plough field" in Europe, and big space for this type of activities''

I am really hoping 2013 will be the year of the "Freelancer".., may I be one of many to wish all a healthy, happy and safe festive season with a great outlook for 2013 around the corner.

Some issues with #4 --

The economic indicators are composed of several indices, several of which count the number in the workforce, the number who have dropped out of the workforce, the number of new people in the workforce (graduates and adolescents), the number of people who have stopped looking for work... and several more... the only number that has changed to make things look good is the number of people in the workforce... this has been dropped by nearly 1 million in the last 3 months : in other words, the babyboomers are retiring (and probably leaving the country like I did). All other numbers increased or remained the same.

Another aspect ignored by #4 : Everyone -- whether US citizen or not -- who is paid in American dollars will have to submit a form to theUS Government for every client or vendor that are paid $600 or more. This includes your banks - in or outside the USA. Does not matter if you are a one person company or an enterprise -- the paperwork is going to be enormous. This will be impacting the economic indicators by the number of people who remain legitimate and those that do not -- there is hardly a time when the black market wasn't thriving when the economy is bad.

Also, many countries -- as already noted above -- are not familiar with nor prepared for online and remote workers. In some countries, even where the internet could provide an economic boost, the apprehension is too great to overcome quickly. Not to mention putting up with electricity that seems to have a mind of its own -- coming and going when it please.

The future is looking good for those that do work online and remotely -- but be vigilant about what is expected and what is real... least you end up following the sheep over the proverbial cliff.

I am just new to this world; Read almost all comments. I see hope and cautions; yet I believe with the rapid advancement in future technologies online will certainly take a bigger share in 2013 and thereafter in terms of hiring recruits and client servicing. The legal aspects need to be taken care of and considering the intellectual aspect in the jobs, needless to say good payout and timely delivering the goods are essentials. Today onwards I would love to call myself an Elancer.

Good news and a great hope for new contractors...