Happy New Year! It’s time for a new start and our eyes are on how to help freelancers in 2024. The number of freelancers has grown by 3 million each year since the pandemic. It’s a competitive landscape that shows no signs of slowing. While the advice out there is varied for freelancers (all depending on your industry of focus), there are a few pieces of advice that we think can apply to all freelancers and contractors heading into 2024.
What to know: There will be more competition
2020 was the year of the freelancer, followed by 2021 which saw increased rates for freelancers as companies tried to bounce back from the pandemic. 2023 was the year of many layoffs where even more creatives turned toward freelancing. It’s not only junior creatives who began freelancing when they couldn’t find work, but also C-Suite professionals who are freelancing as for-hire leaders in their fields. The competition will be fierce in 2024 between humans—and AI, of course! In 2023 there also emerged the looming worry that AI would take our jobs. While it was scary to see that AI could get creative without us, it was also rewarding—especially to companies looking to outsource or streamline certain tasks and anyone who needs to get inspiration.
What to do: Upskill and use AI to your advantage
If you want to go past the worry and be successful, it's time to embrace both the competition and the technology and use them to your advantage. Clients want to see more cutting-edge skills in addition to what you already do well. Start by just understanding the trends in your specific industry Familiarity with AR/VR, as well as Web 3, and the utilization of AI-driven ideation are all great areas to investigate. Figure out the best ways to use AI to do your job even better. Find out what’s in demand for your field and follow your curiosity toward upskilling. Take your learnings and pour them into personal projects to round out your portfolio. Your investment in learning and synthesizing those cutting-edge skills will give you a leg up over the competition.
What to know: Work Environments and Expectations are in Flux
Remote work is going to be a permanent fixture for many companies since the pandemic introduced them to the global workforce and enabled them to cut expensive rent out of the budget. Still, other companies require a hybrid workforce and a few require freelancers to be on-site at all times. That being said, the expectation for all employees is that you can stay connected, no matter the situation, and get the job done on time.
What to do: Remain flexible and get comfortable with collaborative tools
As a freelancer, you’re going to need to be able to do it all—work remotely, hybrid, or in-person if need be. Your flexibility is another asset that will help you stand out above the competition. You’ll also need to get comfortable with more collaborative tools, even as new ones emerge and are favored by different companies. Don’t forget to list these collaborative tools as skills in your profile and resume. Be upfront about the tools you’re unfamiliar with and show genuine earnestness in embracing new tech when you’re faced with it. The bottom line: each company is different and is trying to do what’s best for them. You’re simply the hired professional who needs to be nimble, fast, and collaborative no matter what.
What to know: Lower your expectations on budget
2023 saw so many tech layoffs as well as inflation. Hiring managers at companies were forced to look at budgets and constrict them. It’s a trend that is continuing for most companies through the year. Instead of focusing so much on the salary that they’ll pay you, you’ll have to weigh other benefits of the job to know which positions are worth your while. We’re not saying budgets won’t get better, but at the beginning of the year, we expect those pursestrings to remain tight until the economy bounces back a bit more.
What to do: Raise your expectations around benefits
There is still a focus on how to make work comfortable and actually enjoyable for employees, which you stand to benefit from as a contract worker. Clients might not be able to pay you as much as they could during the pandemic, but most employers will get creative in other ways. For example, they might give you extended deadlines, allow you to work remotely, or invite you to take part in employee perks (free lunch, company yoga). These benefits don’t cost them anything additional—but they could improve your health. It’s in their best interest to make you a seamless part of the team for the duration of your projects, so ask if you can partake.
In addition to all of these changes coming in 2024, it’s worth mentioning that you need to continue to prioritize your own well-being. Start this year off with yourself and your needs as the focal point. Seek out a therapist, begin an exercise routine, or start a journaling ritual. Do something that invests in your every day—you are, after all, your own boss and talent. Your business depends on your strong health. Remember that jobs in this gig economy come and go, but your life and happiness are more important. Take time for yourself, too, in 2024.
When you’re ready, have a look at what clients are seeking these days and make your next move.