Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Freelance Economy Is Growing

I stumbled upon some interesting data in this Wall Street Journal article (subscription required). It details the growth of the freelance marketplace based on the number listings posted on job boards geared for matching professionals to temporary projects. Some numbers according to the WSJ:

Between January and March, employers posted 70,500 of these work-for-hire positions on and 43,000 on, which represents increases of 35% and 105%, respectively, from the same period in 2008., which lists remote and on-site freelance jobs, says its average monthly postings have more than doubled to around 13,500 per month in the past year. In March, there were 750 jobs listed on, versus 400 in March 2008.

This is not surprising. From the people I talk to who are still employed, they face more work and fewer resources due to layoffs. Freelancing seems like a good opportunity for corporations who want to hire workers without paying them benefits. The article also profiles one woman who makes more money as a freelancer than in her previous salary job. Some good news for people looking to make some money while searching for their next full time job.

The article also gives tips on how to get started on freelance sites:

1. Be specific about your skills and expertise.
2. To set your rate, research how much experienced freelancers charge by looking at their profile pages. Then set your rate slightly lower if you're starting out.
3. Start small. Offer a few hours of work to prove yourself.
4. Negotiate your work with employers over the phone. The personal touch adds a level of trust.


  1. I freelanced for a decade, and found that I liked it best when I had long term (a couple of years) gigs at half time, but I don't like marketing my services. I tended to charge at my equivalent full time salary rate plus 30 percent to account for the benefits I was not receiving. Generally, by showing a previous contract that rate was accepted without comment.

  2. Thanks for the response John. You bring up a great point about how to account for benefits, which usually aren't in the employer's equation when hiring contractors. There also seems to be a romantic element of freelancing-- you are the master of your time, you report to nobody. Would you agree?