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freelancing in 2021

Freelancing in 2021: Trends & Insights for the Future of the Gig-Economy

Richard ClaytonRichard Clayton
June 8, 2021

It’s not as popular as Halloween, the Super Bowl or Mother’s Day, and you may not even know about it, but June 17th marks National Freelancers Day, a special day to celebrate freelancers like YOU and the astonishing impact you’ve made on today’s global workforce!

We hope that you do know your worth, but in any case, we wanted to reassure you just how valuable you are to today’s global economy. In fact, thanks to your dedication and hard work, the gig-economy in the U.S. alone is worth a whopping $1.2 trillion! Bravo!

To celebrate all things freelance, we’re offering you a glimpse into what the future for freelancing holds in 2021 and beyond as well as the right resources to help you enhance your career. Whether you’re brand new to being self-employed or a veteran, we’ll have something to guide you onto the road to success, because you matter.

So, go ahead and get the champagne out, and let’s begin!

The Rise of the Gig-Economy

Let’s first try to understand what it is that’s fueling the rise of the freelance economy. Thanks to new and advanced technologies that continue to emerge from every corner, remote work has been more accessible than ever before. No more are we tied down to the traditional 9-to-5 office job as these technologies have provided us with a way to work and promote our skills from anywhere, at anytime.

Freelancing’s growing popularity is also being driven by global generational shifts, where we’re seeing more and more younger professionals going solo so that they can work on their own terms and earn supplemental income from “side gigs”.

In fact, according to our 2020 Freelancer Income report, the global freelance scene is extremely young with close to 70% being under the age of 35!

Payoneer 2020 freelancer income report

In the 2020 Freelancer Income Report, you’ll have access to plenty of insightful trends, such as the rates your peers are asking for, which areas of specializations pay the most, and whether or not obtaining an academic degree is really necessary in order to earn the big bucks and a whole lot more.

But the surge in workers going freelance around the world was not solely fueled by the fact that many wanted a more flexible lifestyle, but also largely due to a pandemic that swept through the global economy, which we’ll take a deeper look into below.

How COVID-19 Reshaped the Freelance Industry

Earlier in March of 2020, we saw the world come to a sudden halt as a result of a new coronavirus that charged through our lives, sending the global economy into a downward spiral while forcing people worldwide to stay home and social distance.

Businesses and large companies worldwide slashed their budgets in order to hold on, leaving freelancers and gig-workers everywhere concerned for their future. Three months into the pandemic, in our State of Freelancing During COVID-19, we set out to better understand how freelancers were dealing with the situation and whether or not demand for their services were impacted.

state of freelancing during covid-19 payoneer

While we found that 32% of global freelancers saw demand for their services drop greatly, it wasn’t the case for all. Surprisingly, about 40% reported that business remained as usual or even increased over those 3 months.

But then when we reached out to global freelancers mid-way through the year, we saw that things started to pick up again, with demand for services increasing, proving that the gig-economy had indeed bounced back. This was mainly a result of more companies and businesses continuing to seek talented and flexible freelance workers, even during an economic crisis.

Later in the year, in our Freelancing in 2020 Report, we analyzed payments between our global freelancers and their clients throughout the first half of the year. We found that even with the quick spread of COVID-19, not only did demand for freelancers increase, but numerous countries experienced a real surge.

freelancing in 2020

Although 2020 was a crazy year filled with uncertainties for many, one thing is for sure: the pandemic completely reshaped the way we work. Going forward, more and more companies will continue to seek freelancers who already know how to work remotely and those looking to enhance their skill set could earn themselves an even more flexible and lucrative career.

We also saw that remote work caused a rise in virtual education and the way people interact with each other online, also known as E-learning.

E-Learning Becomes the Classroom of the Future

The online education industry has shown significant growth over the last decade, offering millions of people worldwide the opportunity to gain new skills from the comfort of their own home. But with the pandemic leaving everyone at home, E-learning was quickly shoved into the spotlight as many suddenly had to work and learn while under strict lockdown measures.

Earlier last year, in our E-Learning in the Wake of a Pandemic report, we set out to understand how the pandemic impacted this space and how freelancers were taking their expertise to online education platforms to earn supplemental income.

We found that a staggering 90% of professionals teaching online would actually consider making E-teaching their primary income.

e-learning in the wake of a pandemic

Live-Streaming Booms, Offering More Freelance Opportunities

As more people around the world were confined to their homes, consumers quickly gravitated towards visual forms of entertainment such as live video streaming. This sudden shift to live-streaming and social platforms enabled performers, gamers, retailers and influencers to easily connect with their fans around the globe in real-time, providing freelancers with additional opportunities to showcase their skills and talent.

If you’re interested in this area of freelancing, you can read more about the emerging live-streaming industry in our State of Global Live-Streaming in 2020 report. There are tons of great ideas, including how you could take advantage of this lucrative space to earn more and connect with your audience and fans in real time!

live-streaming in 2020

For those who are just dipping their feet in freelancing for the first time, starting a solo career can be pretty intimidating, and well, quite stressful! Have no fear though, below we’ll dive deeper into why it’s important to build a freelance brand, including a recent video series to help you thrive as well as a freelance survival guide!

Navigating the Freelance Industry

If you’re thinking about getting involved in the freelancing scene and feeling a little nervous about it, check out our exciting and insightful video series, ‘The Freelancer Lounge’ which is filled with loads of expert advice – just for you!


Watch our videos or read more below to learn how to:

Are You Charging The Right Rate to Cover Your Business Costs?

As a freelancer, it’s important to know your market value. You can do this, among other ways, by self-estimating your worth according to your experience, understanding the industry you work in, and asking industry peers.

Having arrived at an hourly rate that makes sense, it’s then worth checking this rate against the costs your freelance business incurs to ensure you’re on target to make a profit.

To help ensure you’re on the right track for covering business costs such as office space, equipment, bills, transport and many more, check out our Freelance Hourly Rates Calculator to arrive at an accurate hourly rate to charge your clients.

The Ultimate Guide to Freelancing

If you’re more of a words person, then you’ll LOVE our Ultimate Guide for Freelancers, a quick guide that can help you survive in today’s freelance jungle and ensure your business comes out on top.

ultimate guide for freelancers

Building up a freelancing career can be hard, but extremely rewarding. Whatever aspect of your business you need help with, there’s one thing Payoneer can guarantee and that’s removing the hassle out of getting paid for your work.

Payoneer Empowers Freelancers Around the World 

When running a business, especially as a freelancer, it’s crucial that you have the ability to easily manage it, no matter where you’re located. Payoneer’s flexible and cost-effective payments solution can offer you the freedom you need.

Working with clients overseas doesn’t need to be complicated and here at Payoneer, we want to ensure that managing your payments from your clients is simple, quick and of course, secure. With Payoneer, we can help you get paid by leading freelance marketplaces and clients around the world with ease so you can focus on growing your business.

If you’re not yet a Payoneer user, what are you waiting for? Get started today and start receiving your freelance payments now!

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The content provided in this article including any information relating to pricing, fees, and other charges is accurate and valid only as of the date it was published. In addition, changes in applicable regulations, policies, market conditions, or other relevant factors may impact the accuracy of the mentioned pricing and fees and other associated details. Accordingly, it is further clarified that any information regarding pricing, fees and other charges is subject to changes, and it is your responsibility to ensure you are viewing the most up to date content applicable to you. Payoneer will provide the most up to date and accurate information relating to pricing and fees as part of the account registration process. Registered customers can view this information via their online account.

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