Yesterday, Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2015 highlighted the growing number of freelance workers in America (slides 124-138). After establishing the jaw-dropping size of this population–53mm people in the US alone, 34% of the total American workforce–she focuses on the impact of online marketplaces and internet connectivity on freelancers’ ability to find work. This slide paints a rather rosy picture:
The point is the internet is making things better for freelancers, which is tough to argue.
But, there’s still a lot of pain related to landing work. The report Ms. Meeker quotes, “Freelancing in America,” notes “the two biggest barriers for freelancers…a lack of stable income (50% said this was a barrier) and a hard time finding work (47%).”
Meanwhile, “the search for gigs is still dominated by real-world connections (the top two sources for finding work are word of mouth [53%] and personal contacts [51%])…” and according to the Freelance Industry Report only 6% of freelancers say that online marketplaces are the best way to get work.
Online marketplaces are a long way away from solving the problem of freelance service providers landing work. There is still a huge opportunity to improve the situation for a very hungry, very large market.