The freelancer is the job archetype for the new millenium. Much like artists were to the Renaissance and engineers to the mechanical revolution, the tech (and more recently, the mobile) revolution rely on freelancers of various skills to propel itself forward. Apple and Microsoft have full time employees like engineers, marketeers and other skillful people in different fields, but when we are talking about the Internet and tech industry on the whole, most of its innovation, content and coding is done by passionate freelancers.
We’re seeing the same thing with mobile. Most app companies are started by entrepreneurs who worked as freelancers to get their start. In fact, freelancing jobs could be called “personal incubators” for young entrepreneurs, who are lacking in minimal capital to start a small business. And when those businesses are finally financed, they look towards outsourcing as much as possible in order to skip on health care obligations, benefits and office space.
Recommended Reading: 40 People Who Changed the Internet
Backbone of the Internet
So make no mistake, small and medium-sized business are the ones creating the majority of… well, everything on the Internet. Basically, freelancing is the backbone of those businesses. Elance’s CEO, Fabio Rosati , said they’ve surpassed 1 million job listings in 2012, from 650,000 in 2011.
The most sought after jobs are technical, coding, creative, writing and design jobs. He said mobile app development jobs are also on the rise.
Now, let me ask you this: What if all the freelancers stopped working?
When Freelancers Stop Working
Let’s assume for a moment every single freelancer out there would seek secure, stable jobs, leaving behind the freelancing work they do online. What’s the worse that could happen?
The Huffington Post would almost die
… and so will Business Insider, NYTimes.com, Mashable and every other major blog, online magazine or publication on the Internet. That’s because their content output is so huge, interesting and diverse thanks to experts in all sorts of field who are basically writing for them freelance. They are what the Harvard Business Review calls Supertemps – experts pursuing project-based careers.
Only a fraction of all the news you see on the Internet are written by full-time employees of that particular publication. Almost no blog has the power to hire full-time writers for its entire content.
Design: We’d be back in ‘95
Design agencies have loads of talented people working in them, and will probably never die (unlike many advertising agencies). Nope. They’ll endure, thanks to branching out, offering development services and the corporate need to pay more for something, just to justify spending your entire quarterly budget and get a bonus.
But the fact is the majority of designers nowadays are freelancers. And they offer the same services or often times better, at a fraction of the cost. 99Designs boasts 200,00 designers in its ranks; Crowdspring is at almost 150,000. If you have an old school design studio, you’re probably mad as hell. "99designs is something akin to a Walmart," said Dan Ibarra in a Forbes article, industry veteran and co-founder of Aesthetic Apparatus, a Minneapolis design studio. Sure it is.
But the fact remains, small to medium sized business are now empowered to look like Top 500 Giants! And the Internet is not comprised of only Coca-Cola’s site (which frankly could use a contest on 99Designs) or Apple’s “simple, clean, smooth” online presence you’ll hear so many people trying to emulate.
It’s the small guy with a local e-store who “owns” the Internet. He is the future. It’s he who relies on freelancers to get his site looking like it’s 2013, and not ’95. And it’s the foreign freelancer who is making it all possible.
Google Play and the App Store?
Most of the apps in both giant marketplaces are coming from freelancers or small businesses who rely on freelancers for outsourcing. Yes, there are some bad apps because of this. Yes, I also hate the use of too many ads and ad networks.
But the truth is, it’s from this chaotic breeding ground that you get the beautiful diversity of the virtual app world, in all its 257 chromatic variants.
I like that. And so do you. You wouldn’t want just a few giant apps, no diversity and a massive monopolized.
The Planet would be in danger
Yes it would. There’s this small thing called Globalization. It’s the reason some national economies are now dying. Only those fast enough the adapt to globalization and outsourcing stand a chance to thrive. That’s neither a good or a bad thing, it’s just a shift. Part of the planet’s total GWP (Gross World Product) of around $70 trillion dollars is made up of goods and currency which move through or thanks to outsourced jobs.
In October 2012 for example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14.9 million U.S. workers were self-employed. Freelancers, outsourced jobs and globalization go hand in hand.
A scenario in which freelancers would all seek secure jobs would start a financial crisis like no other. That’s just all sorts of bad.
And consider this:
A bad Internet Hurts The Planet
A poorly designed interface for the Internet with few giant apps on the apps market and almost no alternative media, blogs and content from Supertemps would probably hinder connectivity to the point where people wouldn’t want to get online. That means less knowledge for the masses, less unique, distinct thought processes and less communication. We’d go back in time.
Back to ’95 again. And I don’t want that. I love my Samsung S4.
So if you’re a freelancer, be proud about your contribution. You are next to some great people.
You are the revolution.