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Clients From Hell Podcast

The Clients From Hell podcast is equal parts humorous and helpful as it explores the modern life and times of creative professionals.
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Jun 2, 2017

Bryce reflects on data from the gig economy, sharing insights into how freelancers are succeeding (and what issues they're struggling to overcome). 

Here are the links he talks about during this episode:

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Shownotes

Survey makeup:

As vast majority of freelancers AND CO interviewed—95% of them—are what are being call "Slash Workers," or independent workers whose services or skills vary by client and project. About 70% of respondents were from the States

Respondent makeup:

  • Creative/design: 33%
  • Consulting - Professional Services: 21%
  • Writing/Journalism/Content: 17%
  • Tech/Web Design: 15%
  • Other 14%
  • Median income for respondents who reported is in the $25,000 to $49,999 range, which aligns with the average income for single taxpayers in the U.S. per the IRS (2014): $34,940.

General takeaways:

  • Freelancing is a growing choice
  • Freelancers enjoy higher quality of life at the expense of financial security
  • This quality of life manifests in the form of freedom, be it personal autonomy or flexibility
  • The traditional concept of the office is on the way out. Working from home is a substitute, but more and more people are interested in a “digital nomad” lifestyle – or the ability to work from anywhere.

Interesting insights:

  • 40% of U.S. workers will be freelance by 2020 (Freelancers Union)
  • Two-thirds of freelancers have 0-3 years of freelancing experience.
  • Going independent is a conscious choice for 94% of freelancers (it’s not a fallback)
  • 41% want to freelance “forever”
  • 95% of freelancers offer two or more services
    • Only 5% offer a single skill or work function
  • Most freelancers chose freelancing for personal growth (only 7% did it for the financial upside)
  • A quarter of freelancers self-describe as nomads (and they’re 11% happier than other freelancers)
    • 60% of freelancers said they’d be interested in pursuing a nomadic lifestyle in the future.
  • Nearly half of freelancers want companies to offer more remote work opportunities
  • About 3/4 of freelancers feel less financially stable since going freelance
    • But 68% say their general quality of life has increased
  • Only 6% of respondents are freelancing until they find their next full-time gig.

Money and jobs:

  • 91% of respondents said they typically get work from word of mouth and referrals
    • Just under half said organic website or portfolio traffic
    • 37% find work through outreach or pitching
    • One-third find work via freelance-specific job boards
    • 23% find work via general job boards
  • 43% earn less than $25K a year
    • 1/6th earn between that and 50k
    • 1/6th earn between 50k and 75k
    • 7% earn between 75k and 100k
    • 10% earn 100k or more
      • Interestingly, there’s a correlation between the experience levels of respondents and their income bracket. Do keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation though

Bonsai found that for all skills and locations, the most significant jump in compensation per experience level comes between the 1-3 and 3-5 year categories. This can be most often attributed to them developing essential business skills (project management, negotiation...), developing their knowledge about their market and their clients, building a strong portfolio and leveraging their network.

Developers earn about 30% more than designers across experience levels and geographies. This happens to be true even for highest charging designers (ie Product Designers) when compared to lowest charging developers (Front-end / Android)

Design rates (in particular graphic design) hardly reach $60 per hour for all locations and experience levels. While developers can see their rates increase quickly with their gaining experience (typically after 3 years), most experienced designers grow rates at a slower pace. The most common explanation we’ve heard for this is local or international competition at lower rates, including from part time designers. The lower barrier to entry for design types, plus the smaller project sizes, leads to lower rates.

The issues for freelancers:

  • 61% say they miss the feeling of community a traditional workplace offered
  • 60% of respondents say there’s a lack of respect for freelancers
  • 44% have been stiffed by a client
  • Men are 4.5x more likely to earn $150k+/year than women
    • And 48% of women fall into the lowest tax bracket
  • 41% of respondents want more protections for freelancer rights
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