- A record 39% of the US workforce freelanced in 2022.
- Insider spoke with three millennial women who have found success as freelancers.
- They shared their stories, as well as advice they have for people looking to follow in their footsteps.
As the New Year approaches, many Americans are going through performance reviews and taking stock of their job satisfaction. Some may consider ditching their 9-to-5 and joining the millions of Americans who have embraced freelancing in recent years.
39% of the US workforce freelanced full-time or part-time in 2022, per an Upwork survey of 3,000 US adults, equating to a record 60 million Americans. The younger generations led the way, with 43% of Gen Z workers and 46% of millennial workers saying they performed freelance work over the past year — compared to 35% of Gen Xers and 27% of Boomers who said the same.
While many freelancers enjoy the flexibility freelancing provides, the survey found earning extra income was a key reason 83% of freelancers decided to explore this alternative style of work.
Insider previously spoke with three millennials who have found success as freelancers. They shared their stories and offered advice about how others can find similar success.
29-year-old digital nomad Michelle Checchi has worked remotely as a freelance writer and video producer since leaving the US in 2019. She said she makes $4,000 in the typical month while working only 15 to 30 hours per week.
Checchi loves living abroad and wanted to maintain her location independence, s0 she began browsing Upwork and other platforms for freelance writing gigs.
After about six months, Checchi was making just as much as she had in her news job — which paid about $50,000 per year — while working about half the hours, not to mention traveling the world as she did so.
Checchi said it’s strange to look back at her time working a typical 9-to-5.
“Now I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s so much that I can do with my skills when you think outside the box a little bit,'” she said.
While she doesn’t think a nomadic lifestyle is for everyone, she said she has no plans to give it up anytime soon: “I’m living for myself at this point in my life.”
28-year-old Katie Janner made nearly $50,000 last year freelancing full-time as a voice actress and podcast editor — and said she expects to make $50,000 to $60,000 in 2022. 80% of her income comes through the freelance platform Fiverr, where she’s been able to find work, receive reviews, and charge increasingly higher rates.
After feeling “really confused” about her career path, Janner began looking for voiceover work on freelance platforms, which ranged from voicemails for companies, internal content for a dentist office, and a technical training video for manufacturing workers.
In 2019, she realized she was making enough through freelancing — roughly $2,600 per month — that it “didn’t make sense” to go to her catering job. She decided to quit to focus on her voiceover work full-time.
Given her income isn’t always consistent month-to-month, Janner said she always tries to maintain sufficient savings to dip into if needed. But overall, she said she loves her lifestyle.
“I really, really, really like being self-employed and having full control over my time and traveling as much as I have,” she said.
29-year-old Chyan Smith has been working as a freelance locksmith over the past year, finding jobs through the Jobox platform.
She said her locksmith work pays $100-$300 per job, and that she’s completed an average of 22 jobs per month. Smith declined to disclose the total income she earned her first year on the job. But she says that someone can “definitely” earn a minimum of $35,000 to $50,000 a year as a self-employed locksmith.
Smith said that everybody — even those who work 9-to-5s — “should be an entrepreneur in one way or another,” because “multiple streams of income is really the route to go.” She also said women shouldn’t be afraid to enter a male-dominated industry like locksmithing.
“I’m glad that I can be someone who inspires young Black women and young women in general to try something different,” she said. “Do what it is that you think is kind of crazy because no one else is doing it.”