13 Freelancing Predictions for 2013

What does 2013 have in store for freelancers?

A lot of people want to know that answer and if you freelance, you’re probably one of those people.

It would be great if we could know for sure what the future holds for us, but the truth is that no one knows for sure what changes 2013 will bring.

But what we can do is look at recent trends and make some intelligent guesses about what the near future holds for freelancers.

That’s what I do in this post. For years I’ve been working as a freelancer and paying close attention to the freelancing economy. In this post, I share my predictions about what 2013 may hold for freelancers based on my observations and experience.

13 Freelancing Predictions

What you can expect as a freelancer next year?

Here’s a quick rundown of thirteen important freelancing trends to watch in 2013:

  1. Decrease in bad content. With its recent algorithm updates, Google has made it increasingly clear that it does not like bad content. Fortunately, businesses are starting to realize this. The result is an increased demand in original, high-quality content for blogs, online magazines, and business websites. This is very good news for freelance writers, bloggers, and editors.
  2. Focus on site usability. Design is an important part of quality. It’s no longer just enough to be online. A good website should be easy for visitors to use and navigate. The most successful websites will also keep mobile users in mind, since there are now more mobile users than ever before. This is great news for freelance programmers, web developers and web designers.
  3. Increase in rates. Along with the renewed focus on online quality comes higher rates for freelancers as businesses start to realize that they can’t get the best quality for bargain basement rates. In fact, some businesses have tried underpaying freelancers and been burned as a result. The $5.00 web article and logo may soon be (mostly) a thing of the past. This is a good thing for all of us.
  4. The rise of unique social media tools. If anything, 2012 was the year that showed us that there is still a market for unique social media tools. Witness the rise of Pinterest. They approached social media in a fresh way and users loved it. Too many social media developers make the mistake of trying to clone something that is already out there. That’s a big mistake.
  5. Growing awareness of freelancing. I said it in 2012, and I’ll say it again. Freelancing is now mainstream. It used to be (not too long ago) that when you told someone you were a freelancer you got a rather blank stare. But in the past year we’ve seen articles about freelancing in both national and local publications. Sure, there are still a few (clueless) people who don’t get it and maybe never will. So, don’t be afraid to list freelancing on your resume.
  6. A steady increase in the number of freelancers. There are a lot of freelancers out there. Also, more and more people are moving in and out of freelancing or combining freelancing with a traditional job. Now that freelancing is mainstream, this is to be expected. No one knows for sure how many freelancers there are, but I’ve seen estimates that places the number of freelancers as high as one in three workers in the U.S. alone (although such studies often group freelancers with other temporary employees).
  7. More freelancer support groups. Along with the increase in freelancers comes the need for groups that provide support and advice to freelancers. An example of such a group is the Freelancers Union. In the coming year, expect to see more (online and offline) groups where freelancers can hang out, interact with other freelancers, and get trustworthy answers to difficult questions.
  8. More job sites. While some job sites have gotten a bad rap (sometimes deservedly so), a significant number of freelancers still list finding work as one of their biggest challenges. In 2013, expect new services designed to match freelance workers with the companies that need them. If you use job sites to find work, be sure to check any new service out thoroughly before providing them with any sensitive information.
  9. Products and services geared specifically to freelancers. One of the biggest frustrations I had when I started out was finding products and services that were designed for my needs. Whenever I looked for business tools I was usually directed to tools designed for small business owners with employees. Often these tools were too expensive and contained features I didn’t really need. Slowly, that is changing as developers start to meet the needs of this new market.
  10. More mobile freelancers. It’s easier than ever to be mobile and keep working. Most freelancers now have one or more mobile devices. Wi-Fi availability has increased. Many restaurants and most hotels now offer it as part of the amenities. Even some public areas (like rest stops in the U.S.) provide Internet connectivity.
  11. Increased freelancing globalization. If you freelance, where you live is relatively unimportant. Thanks to our connectivity, it’s not at all unusual for a freelancer to be working with a client halfway across the globe. Expect globalization to increase in 2013.
  12. A rise in collaboration. More and more businesses need freelancers to provide turn-key services–web design, copywriting, and technical support. But most freelancers are sole proprietors with a single specialty. The only way that they can meet the growing demand for a variety of services is to team up with other freelancers.
  13. More freelancers spawn corporations. Everyone knows the stereotypical myth of the freelancer who started a business in their garage that eventually became a multi-million dollar corporation. Except it isn’t a myth. While it doesn’t happen to every freelancer, it’s still possible to start a freelancing business and have grow large.

If you want to peek at my freelancing predictions for last year, take a look. How did I do?

Your Turn

Which 2013 predictions do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? What predictions would you add?

Share your answers in the comments.

Comments

  1. says

    One prediction I’d add is a rise in people more open to helping each other. Products and services that have the end user in mind, things that will push the boundaries of innovation and provide real solutions to problems not only freelancers face, but for everyone from every walk of life.

  2. says

    Very good insight, Laura. Thanks for the post!

    It makes me shake my head that you have to include point no. 1 at all. I’ve been a web designer for more than 15 years, and quality content has ALWAYS been important to me. Sadly, it hasn’t been for everyone.

    Along this line, I see more opportunities to partner with designers to provide content. One of the things that sets me apart is that I can set up the shell of a website AND fill it with content: writing, graphics, photography, video, etc. This is one of the goals I’m pursuing in 2013.

  3. says

    I’d agree with most but think 5, 6, 7, 9 are especially relevant. Just like starting a small business, freelancing can be especially challenging as you need to wear all these different hats that one might not be used to. Getting more support and tools from others that are also freelancing or at least sympathize with those who do can only help to make it a little easier for new people starting out.

  4. says

    I’ve been saying some of these things for years – glad they’re finally starting to come to fruition. For me, the biggest headaches have long been people who don’t understand what I do and the lack of targeted services for freelancers. In the last year I’ve converted three services I use to new, freelancer-friendly web-tools and it’s been great. Glad someone out there is paying attention and creating sub-$50 options for freelancers who don’t need 900 features for employees or startups.

    As for me, I’m excited to see where freelancing goes next. Creation of local communities, standardization of quality and rates, local support systems – this is the stuff I’m looking forward to.

  5. says

    While I agree that companies are beginning to see the value of top quality content, I disagree that the $5-per-article model will be gone soon. Why? With the uncertain economic climate in many parts of the world, more and more people are turning (and will turn) to freelancing as a way to make ends meet (as your rightly predicted).

    This creates a case of supply exceeding demand which will invariably counterbalance whatever effects of the high demand on quality content. The simple fact that people are struggling to make some money will mean that they’d be willing to earn very little for their hard work. Add to this the fact that $5 still amounts to something in some parts of the world and you can see what I am saying.

    I don’t believe any good writer should earn $5 per article. However, it will be up to writers to take steps to differentiate themselves well enough to earn what they deserve. This won’t change, I believe.

  6. says

    Laura, with the fiscal cliff and student loans reaching the Trillion dollar ceiling – I think it will start a domino effect that will mke people look for alternative, flexible solutions of earning a decent wage. Even major corporations are hiring more independent contractors these days so I guess, what you wrote here is spot on!

    May this year bring more success to freelancers out there…

  7. says

    Great article. I agree that many more designers / developers are going freelance.

    I’m wondering whether more businesses in 2013 will try a business model where their employees are based all over the country (even world), so finding the best people isn’t hindered by location.

  8. says

    This is a really good discussion…

    Chimezirim Odimba, You may be right, but I have personally noticed that some venues that used to pay $5.00 have increased the amount that they pay. I think that it’s because they realize that $5.00 articles are often (not always) of low quality and content quality has become more important than ever.

    Shaleen Shah–Thanks for your kind words. We’ll see what happens. :)

    Will, I think that is already happening, to some extent.

    Keep the comments coming!

  9. says

    I am also seeing a trend toward simplicity of design in websites. I think the “frou frou” era is done now. Of course, there will always be people who want splashy websites, but for money making, I’m really seeing a lot of clean lines and muted colors with easy-to-navigate supplemental content. I’m also seeing the sites like Textbroker offer higher paying jobs and clients more willing to pay premium for good content. I have one client who has multiple websites, and most of my work for him is rewriting content to take out the keyword stuffing and make it more reader friendly. Fellow freelance writers are seeing this as well.

  10. Lisa Cunningham says

    Will, you make a good point about the globalization of employment. However, I’ve seen a few companies who want freelancers sitting in their offices in New York or wherever.

    This is very encouraging news. I believe that people cared more about the copy when it was on PAPER. They don’t seem to care as much about articles printed on websites. I scratch my head as a perfectionist, though. I’m the type of editor/writer who won’t even read a story with too many grammatical and spelling errors.

    I wish for the new year that more people would hire native English speakers and pay them better.

  11. says

    Lisa, I see a lot of that “in house” freelance stuff down here in FL too. Usually, not 40 hours a week, but they require you work in house a certain amount of the time. I don’t understand it. I think of those people as control freaks and cheapskates. They don’t really want a freelancer, they want a temp, but they aren’t willing to pay the amount temp agencies charge. Some just need to know what someone is doing every hour of the day because they are paranoid about being screwed on hours. I always tell them that if I have to travel, my rates go up 30%.

  12. says

    Lisa Cunningham, Deborah Aldridge

    It’s interesting that you’re both seeing more demand for in-house freelancers. In some cases, it can help a freelancer to be in-house. But in many cases it’s simply not necessary.

    I wonder what sorts of projects they’re working on?

  13. John says

    Very well said, Laura. I personally like #4 as more social media tools have emerged today, in fact, they’re very useful. I hope we could all follow our to-do list this new year and avoid the common start up mistakes as discussed here.

  14. says

    Nice post.It really helps me a lot

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  15. says

    Thanks John,

    I really think that unique social media tools have a good chance of succeeding. The big mistake that many developers make is they try to emulate a social media tool that’s already out there and already a success.

  16. says

    I think recognition of freelancers in the greater marketplace (and society) is really exciting. May I add one prediction? More coworking spaces opening in mid-size and smaller cities, especially if #6 comes true.

  17. says

    In addition to website design matter, I also really agree with a focus on site usability. Usability can be a good content, useful and helpful to the reader, and also easy to use site. I guess this is a natural way to make our site quality

  18. says

    I cam to this page from LinkedIn’s Freelance Writers group, and what a great article this is. I will recommend this page to every freelancer I know. Thank you.

  19. says

    Personally i absolutely hate job sites. I never got hired using one, because I don’t fit the common job market (don’t have a degree). I still have a lot of value for many businesses so taking the initiative and using using techniques by Ramit Sethi is the way to go for me.

  20. says

    You said it all. And you’re right about all those things. Deciding on what online training to get is something we should be careful of just to make sure we are getting our money and time’s worth.

  21. says

    Fortunately, businesses are starting to realize this. The result is an increased demand in original, high-quality content for blogs, online magazines, and business websites. This is very good news for freelance writers, bloggers, and editors.

  22. says

    The most successful websites will also keep mobile users in mind, since there are now more mobile users than ever before. This is great news for freelance programmers, web developers and web designers.

  23. says

    No one knows for sure how many freelancers there are, but I’ve seen estimates that places the number of freelancers as high as one in three workers in the U.S.

  24. says

    Great Article, Laura. In 2013, freelancers have big opportunities with content and mobile app.
    Google always update their algorithm, content is still kind. Writers and bloggers have more chance to provide their best services.
    Mobile app or web ap still hot today. I think in many years later, mobile job still hot for freelancers.
    Thanks for the post

  25. says

    I think bad content doesn’t come just from people trying to game Google. Worst kind comes from people who simply don’t know how to write or what to write to make the site useful.

    “Along with the renewed focus on online quality comes higher rates for freelancers as businesses start to realize that they can’t get the best quality for bargain basement rates” – I disagree with that. More freelancers = more offer = lower prices. It’s econ 101. Besides that, prices went down a lot since let’s say 2006 when western customers used to pay 1/2 of western prices to eastern freelancers. Then a lot of freelancers from under developed countries came on the market (India, Philippines, etc) – most of them bringing poor work quality and ethics – and they had 1/10 – 1/20 of the western prices. Yeah, in time any client will learn is the quality that matters not the price, but even so, the trend is for the prices to go down when the offer is higher than the need.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] La crisis económica pero también la mayor iniciativa de los españoles que se decantan por montar su propio negocio, pueden provocar en este 2013 un auge del fenómeno freelance. El recorte de plantillas está llevando a muchas empresas a externalizar cada vez más, buena parte de sus servicios y es aquí donde el freelance tiene mucho terreno que recorrer. ¿Cómo se presenta entonces este 2013 que acaba de empezar? Aunque en lo sustancial no va a haber grandes cambios con respecto a 2012, si hacemos caso a las predicciones que nos hacen desde Freelancer tenemos que: [...]

  2. [...] Como jugar a ser adivina no es ni mi afición ni algo serio, he pensado que sería bueno echar un vistazo a las tendencias que sobre el sector realizan personas que llevan ejerciendo como freelance desde hace años, y que desde su experiencia pueden al menos, arrojar algo de luz a quien decida dar el paso de ofrecer sus servicios por su cuenta. A continuación podrás leer las 13 predicciones para el 2013 en este artículo realmente interesante. [...]

  3. [...] Como jugar a ser adivina no es ni mi afición ni algo serio, he pensado que sería bueno echar un vistazo a las tendencias que sobre el sector realizan personas que llevan ejerciendo como freelance desde hace años, y que desde su experiencia pueden al menos, arrojar algo de luz a quien decida dar el paso de ofrecer sus servicios por su cuenta. A continuación podrás leer las 13 predicciones para el 2013 en este artículo realmente interesante. [...]

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