Freelance incomes increase as 89% cite working independently as critical career strategy

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — June 27, 2011 — As America commemorates another year of freedom, professionals across the U.S. are celebrating their independence from traditional work. According to a new national survey from Elance, the leading platform for online employment, freelancers are happier working as independent professionals (61%) than as employees (11%) and cite the ability to take control of their own schedule as the best part of independent work (90%). Money may also be linked directly to job satisfaction as 47% of freelancers saw their income increase in the past 12 months, a number that will likely continue to rise as companies across the globe adopt flexible work models to meet their work objectives and grow their businesses.

“Many workers are seeking more independence in their professional lives,” says Fabio Rosati, CEO at Elance. “With businesses increasingly hiring programmers, marketers, graphic designers, and administrative talent in the cloud, a growing number of independent professionals who work online are finding opportunities that match their skills and talents.”

Key findings from the survey:

  • Educated Faces of Freelance: Independent workers span across generations (Millennial: 26%, Gen X: 42% and Boomers: 31%). In addition, the typical online freelancer is highly educated. 80% of independent workers have a professional degree.
  • Job Satisfaction: Freelancers rank high on the happiness scale: 80% are optimistic about their career path and 61% are happier working as independent professionals than as employees. Working independently is a career cornerstone for the majority of respondents, with twice as many preferring the freelance lifestyle (56%) over working full-time with one employer (19%).
  • Career Reinvention: Nearly 1 in 3 workers began freelancing to be their own boss and work on the type of projects they love. The top benefits of freelancing include the ability to control their own schedule (90%), following their passion (87%) and eliminating the commute (85%).
  • The Digital Work Revolution: 92% turn to online job sites as their primary method for finding work, and 41% indicate they are using social media outlets to land jobs. Only 22% use staffing agencies or recruiters and less than 10% rely on college job postings or job fairs to find work.
  • No Paper Cuts: 65% feel a digital profile, where independent contractors can showcase their talent online with verified work history, multimedia portfolio and tested skills, is more effective than a traditional resume (35%) in finding a job today.
  • Closing the Commute: 65% state that telecommuting is a critical part of their career goals, while less than 7% want to work onsite at a company a majority of the time.

 

Diverse Income Opportunities
Freelancers are nearing $400 million in earnings on Elance, as 47% of freelancers surveyed said their income increased in the past 12 months. 40% of survey respondents make more than $50K per year and 36% cite freelancing as their sole source of income. 35% of independent workers began freelancing to earn supplemental income, while only 9% are freelancing until they can find a full-time job. In a sign that the economy may be stabilizing, 17% started freelancing after being downsized or laid off (down from 24% from last year's survey).

Remington McElhaney, a freelance animation graphic designer, never thought he could pursue a career in animation while going to school in Northern Idaho and working as a line cook at a local ski resort until he discovered Elance.

“Elance offers a great way for me to gain career experience and sharpen my skills in animation since there aren't a lot of opportunities here in Idaho. I'm being recruited for innovative projects for clients all over the U.S.,” said Remington.

Work Without Borders
Online job platforms like Elance are eliminating regional constraints for finding work. The vast majority of freelancers (83%) work with clients throughout the U.S. and 31% have clients outside of the U.S. Working with a wide variety of clients from around the globe offers freelancers a competitive edge, helps build a diversified work portfolio and develops a range of new skills, from Android to WordPress.

The Gender Breakdown
The study found that men and women were equal (65%) in wanting to be their own boss and not banking their financial future on a single employer. More women (62%) than men (57%) cited “no cubicles” as one of the things they like best about freelancing. 50% of women want to telecommute or work from home a majority of the time versus 39% of men. While women make up less than half (47%) of the traditional work force, 60% of survey respondents are women, representing a 4% increase from last year.

About the Study
Elance conducted this survey from April 29 to May 10, 2011. More than 1,500 Elance freelancers participated in the online survey. For more information on the survey and to view results, visit http://www.elance.com/q/freelance-talent-report-2011.

 

About Elance
Elance, the world’s leading platform for online employment, helps businesses hire and manage in the cloud.

For businesses looking to staff-up a team on an hourly or project basis, Elance offers instant access to qualified professionals who work online. Elance provides the tools to hire, view work as it progresses and pay for results. Elance is faster and more cost-effective than job boards, staffing firms and traditional outsourcing.

For skilled professionals who want to work online, Elance offers access to qualified clients, a virtual workplace and guaranteed pay for great work. Contractors have already earned more than $395 million on the Elance platform.

The company is privately held and headquartered in Mountain View, California. For more information, visit www.elance.com.

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Elance and the Elance logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Elance, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Media Contact:
Carolyn Adams
Borders+Gratehouse
Phone: (415) 963-4174 ext. 4
Email: carolyn@bordersgratehouse.com