Labor Day Survey Reveals Shifting Attitudes Toward Employment and Growth of Freelance Nation As Elance Reaches $300 Million Mark

63% of Survey Respondents Would Rather Work Freelance Versus Returning to Corporate Life

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--()--With many workers seeking employment this Labor Day, new survey data highlights the growing segment of Americans that are embracing independent, online work models. According to the Freelance Talent Report, a new report published by Elance, 70% of freelancers are happier working as independent professionals than as employees. Given the choice, 63% would prefer to freelance versus being a full-time employee. Freelance professionals working through the Elance online work platform have earned $300 million to date, and that number will continue to increase as workers choose online work over traditional employment.

“Businesses are leveraging online talent as a core strategy to get work done and are finding that there is a significant supply of highly qualified professionals who prefer the online work model. Freelancers are finding satisfaction in controlling their own schedules and following their passions and are opting for a cloud commute in record numbers,” said Ellen Pack, vice president of marketing at Elance.

Key findings from the survey:

  • The typical online freelancer is 25-54 years in age and is more likely to be female and educated - 80% have a professional degree while 4% have only a high school diploma.
  • Approximately half (50%) of professionals surveyed indicated that freelancing is their sole source of income, while 28% moonlight or daylight while maintaining a full-time or part-time job.
  • 79% of freelancers rate having control over their own schedule as the best thing about freelancing, while 63% state finding new clients and steady work is the biggest challenge (ahead of lack of benefits and healthcare).
  • The web is a significant source of new business for freelancers with 71% stating that they find at least 50% of their clients and work online.

Freedom of Choice

The economic downturn is not the primary driver for professionals turning to freelance careers. Only 4% of those surveyed are working as a freelancer until they can find a full-time job and less than a quarter (24%) transitioned to freelance careers after a layoff. More than half (56%) began freelancing to be their own boss and work on projects they love.

Respondents stated that what they like best about freelancing is control over their own schedule (79%), being their own boss and following their own passion (74%) and no commute (73%).

Ben Gran, a freelance writer and marketing consultant who recently walked away from a full-time job at a Fortune 500 company to freelance full time stated, “I love being a freelance writer and consultant because there is constant variety. I'm always learning something new. And I love being self-employed because I can set my own hours, follow my own schedule, and work on the projects that I find the most interesting.”

A World of Opportunity

Companies across the globe are turning to online talent to meet their objectives and grow their businesses. Demand for skilled professionals is trending up with 62% of service providers stating that their income has increased in the past 12 months and 58% feel that they will find more online work in the coming 12 months.

Going global is facilitated by online tools that make it easy for organizations to hire and manage work across time zones. Many freelance professionals are working as “mini-multinationals” with 62% of freelancers stating that they have clients outside of the U.S.

A Rose with Thorns is Still a Rose

Health care and other benefits have been cited in the past as the primary reasons why workers choose traditional employment over freelancing. However, when asked about the top challenges facing freelancers, the majority of survey respondents (63%) indicated that finding new clients and/or steady work is the biggest challenge. Less than half (49%) cited lack of benefits (healthcare, unemployment, retirement, vacation time) while only 12% found the lack of social interaction with co-workers as their top challenge.

About the Study

Elance conducted this survey from August 2 to August 13, 2010. More than 700 Elance freelancers participated in the online survey. For more information on the Freelance Talent Report and to view results, visit:

About Elance

Elance, the world’s leading platform for online work, helps businesses hire and manage online instead of onsite.

For companies looking to jump start a project or simply staff-up a team, Elance offers instant access to qualified freelance and contract talent with technical, marketing and business skills and provides the tools to hire, view work as it progresses, and pay for results. Elance is faster and more cost-effective than job boards, staffing firms and traditional outsourcing.

For skilled professionals who want to work online, Elance offers access to qualified clients, a virtual workplace and guaranteed pay for great work. Elancers have already delivered on projects worth more than $300 million.

The company is privately held and headquartered in Mountain View, California. For more information, visit Elance at


Carolyn Adams, 415-963-4174 ext. 4


Carolyn Adams, 415-963-4174 ext. 4