5 Freelance Trends to Watch Out For in 2018

By Kali Hawlk, Contributor, on December 18, 2017

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Are you ready to start making your way toward a new set of annual goals? Thanks to a few new, exciting freelance trends, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year to be a gig worker, solopreneur or contractor. It’s time to embrace a variety of opportunities to grow your client base. Here’s what to watch out for in 2018.

1. A Millennial Talent Shift

Want to be able to partner up with a new generation of young talent? You’re in luck, because millennials are moving from the corporate world to the gig economy in higher numbers than ever before. Millennials make up nearly 33 percent of the entire freelance workforce, and they’ll likely continue to add to the ranks through 2018.

And this trend makes sense for a lot of reasons. After all, most people in their 20s and 30s highly value what corporate environments don’t often provide: autonomy, freedom of expression, flexibility and the ability to do meaningful work that’s connected to a passion or cause.

Freelancing lets millennials do the work they’re trained to do, where they want to do it — for clients who align with their own personal values or missions. There’s a lot more choice in the freelance world, which will continue to attract young talent faster than traditional, full-time office jobs.

2. Coworking Spaces Will Continue to Innovate

Coworking has provided low-cost, professional office space to entrepreneurs and freelancers for years now. The trend of shared office space will continue into 2018, but we’ll likely see some specific changes and innovations to existing spaces.

For one, expect to see more lifestyle-oriented coworking spaces that serve a specific niche. Take The Wing in New York City as an example. It’s a multi-purpose space where women can do freelance work — and it also serves as a “home base and social club” for its members.

Another trend you might see in 2018? More and more traditional companies will begin to use these flexible, cost-effective work areas to house their full-time teams and provide a spot for their contract workers.

3. Generalists Will Struggle, Specialists Will Thrive

As more and more people enter the gig economy, freelancing platforms are getting increasingly selective in order to deal with an overwhelming number of portfolios and profiles. That’s bad news for generalists who are willing to take on any gig in any industry, but good news for freelancers who want to take advantage of the opportunity to create a niche and specialize in a specific area. When you choose to enter a specific market with a specific solution for that group, you can:

  • Benefit from word-of-mouth by becoming the go-to expert for certain problems.
  • Use a differentiator to stand out from a crowd of generalists.
  • Get found faster in searches on professional platforms by those looking to hire for a particular need.

Simply focusing on a specific niche or industry can help you become more profitable in 2018 as platforms get more selective and competition increases.

4. Referrals Will Still Matter

“Who you know” just may be more important than ever. As the gig economy is starting to feel more selective or “cliquey,” it’s a good time to consider your network and build up your referral base. But don’t think that this trend will be a negative one for you. Instead, let it serve as a reminder and motivation to come up with creative ways to leverage word-of-mouth marketing and develop an innovative referral program that rewards people for sending new business your way. Get creative, and you’ll break through the increasingly selective process to get your foot in the door with clients you want to work with.

5. An Increase in Female Entrepreneurs

We all know about the wage gap and the prevalent issues of gender diversity in the workforce. But many professionals feel that corporate companies just aren’t doing enough — or moving fast enough — to make a change. In many ways, freelancing offers a clearer path to success for women.

In fact, more and more women are shifting to a freelance career due to the opportunity to bring home a higher paycheck. New research from Lystable (a freelance platform) shows that women are earning more than men in a variety of freelance fields, such as graphic design, videography and writing.

Since 2007, the amount of female-owned businesses has risen by 45 percent, and that trend will only continue into 2018. As more and more female entrepreneurs succeed, an increased number of women will gather up the confidence and inspiration they need to make that first step toward an indy lifestyle. If you’re a female freelancer, take advantage of this growing community of peers and role models.

Start making plans to hop on some of these freelance trends now, before the clock strikes midnight on December 31. If you can strengthen your referral base, clearly define your niche and take advantage of innovative new work spaces, you might just find yourself more productive, more in-demand and more successful than ever in 2018.

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