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.