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88 Percent of Freelancers Wouldn’t Accept Full-Time Jobs and Other Takeaways from Freelancers Union Report

By Gabe Rosenberg July 2nd, 2014

We just might be ready for the largest “Kumbaya” performance the world has ever seen. With over 42 million freelancers in America, it’s a wonder contract workers can agree about anything. But as a new Freelancers Union report suggests, independent workers share many of the same feelings about their career choices.

For the report, titled “How to Live the Freelance Life—Lessons from 1,000 Independents,” 88 percent said they would keep freelancing even if they were offered a full-time job. That’s a strong statement, and not one everyone would expect.

Freelancers seem to specifically enjoy the freedom and control that comes with their line of work: 78 percent said the ability to be flexible was an important or very important consideration in their career choices; 77 percent listed the ability to “control my own schedule” and 62 percent mentioned “balance my own work and life” as important factors. Additionally, acting as their own bosses and doing what they loved were both important considerations.

Image via Freelancers Union

However, what is really interesting about this report is not why people freelance, but rather, how people freelance. According to the results, writers succeed by putting their eggs in many different baskets: 87 percent of those polled earn income from more than one source in a given month.

We can break that number down some more–52 percent of freelancers have two to three sources of income per month, and 25 percent have four to five sources. A crazy 10 percent have six or more sources. And 73 percent of respondents said they have done freelance work while also holding down a full-time job.

Image via Freelancers Union

It takes a lot of effort to scrape together a living as a freelancer, which is why over 50 percent of freelancers said that freelance networks are important to find work and to “stay sane.” Even though being your own boss has a lot going for it, being the only employee can get lonely sometimes. Talking to your refrigerator more than once per day is often a good barometer for freelancer sanity, and fittingly, around 45 percent of responders said networks are important for introductions to new people.

Networking isn’t just beneficial for personal reasons, though. Freelancer communities have led to professional opportunities for many of the respondents: 81 percent of freelancers referred work to other freelancers they knew; 45 percent used networks to stay on top of their industry; and 37 percent of freelancers trade and barter services with other freelancers.

It takes a village, as they say. But the more freelancers there are—half the workforce is estimated to become independent by 2020—the stronger the village can become. Kumbaya, my lord. Kumbaya.

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