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Freelance economy

Freelance economy

Freelance economy refers to companies and platforms that serve the market of self-employed workers.

The "freelance economy" refers to the set of business, financial, and technical platforms and infrastructure that facilitates activity in a labor market consisting of independent, self-employed workers. The term also applies to the labor market itself.


The freelance economy began around 1998 with the establishment of Elance. In 2013, Elance merged with Odesk. In 2015, they became Upwork.

According to a study commissioned in 2019 by Upwork—one of the largest US-based freelancing platforms—freelance work accounted for approximately 5 percent of the US gross domestic product (GDP).In the UK, roughly 14 percent of workers are self-employed, according to a 2018 study by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE). Highly-skilled freelancers make more per hour than 70 percent of US workers, and 51 percent of skilled freelancers say no amount of money would compel them to return to traditional employment, according to the Upwork report.

A freelancer most often offers his services himself - on specialized online resources, through newspaper ads or using word of mouth, that is, personal connections. Freelancing is especially common in areas such as journalism (and other forms of activity related to writing texts), law, computer programming, architecture, design in all its manifestations (advertising, web design, interior design, etc.), translation, photography and video filming, various kinds of expert and consulting activities, but freelancing is also very common in the construction industry. It is more profitable for contractors to hire workers for the season than to maintain a workforce.

Facets of the freelance economy

Companies in the freelance economy span many sectors, ranging from job listing services and fully-integrated labor marketplace platforms to financial tools built for bookkeeping, invoicing, and tax preparation.

Freelance platforms

Freelance platforms serve as marketplaces for freelancers to find work and, conversely, are a source of freelance labor for companies and individuals. Some platforms are oriented around specific types of work, such as writing or software engineering, whereas other platforms are more generalized and cater to many types of workers.

Freelance platform companies

Financial tools

Freelance-focused financial tool companies

Workforce staffing/recruiting

Freelance workforce staffing companies

Workforce management

Freelance workforce management companies


Further Resources


How to Start Your Freelance Marketplace like Upwork? - Greenice


July 30, 2019


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