By , Ellie Martin
Published July 06, 2016
This time last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 15.5 million people in the United States were self-employed. By 2020, that number is expected to shoot to roughly 60 million, or more than 40 percent of our nation’s workforce.
The rise of the freelance economy is palpable. Coffee shops and coworking spaces abound with freelancers plugging away on their laptops, and office spaces are increasingly empty as the best and brightest leave traditional work behind to claim more flexibility and autonomy in their jobs.
Whether you are looking to earn some extra pocket money, turn a hobby into a side job or go freelance full-time, there are a number of incredibly helpful resources at your disposal. Here are the seven best sites for finding work as a freelancer today.
Toptal is a freelance network of elite software engineers and digital designers from over 100 countries around the world. The company’s screening process weeds out all but the top 3 percent of talent in multiple categories, which means that once accepted, you’ll join an exclusive community of experts.
Toptal lets you decide if you want to work hourly, part-time or full time, and you set your own rates so you’ll never be stuck in a bidding war. What’s perhaps best for freelancers is that Toptal also screens clients -- and works with top companies like AirBnB, IDEO and JP Morgan -- so you’ll always have a steady supply of interesting projects and clients who appreciate the value of your work.
In 2014, two leading freelance networks, Elance and oDesk, merged to form Upwork, which is now the largest network for freelancers by a long shot. With more than 10 million registered users, four million clients, and three million jobs posted every year, Upwork has something to offer for everyone from writers and architects to legal aides and photographers.
You can sign up for short- or long-term projects, and elect to work by the hour or be paid per-project. The site features an easy-to-use chat feature, a time-tracker and a payment protection plan to make communication and collaboration with your client a breeze.
99 Designs is a freelance job site with a twist. As its name suggests, the platform is exclusively for designers, and every job comes members in the form of a contest.
Rather than browse through a catalog of portfolios and résumés, clients are prompted to crowdsource their projects, setting a budget and giving instructions, then letting designers submit work based on the project brief. At the end of a week, the client chooses the best design, and that designer gets paid. This is a great site for designers looking to really test their talents and shake up their workflow.
PeoplePerHour is a freelance site for all skills related to web projects, including software engineers, digital designers, SEO specialists and marketers.
The site features a tool called WorkStream, which simplifies the business side of your work by organizing payment, communication and management, all in one place. You can browse jobs, get notifications for new openings to your inbox and send up to 15 proposals for work for free before signing up for the premium plan.
With over 420 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is indisputably the go-to place for learning about all things job-related. Recently, LinkedIn decided to begin its foray into the freelance economy by quietly launching LinkedIn Profinder, which is helping freelance professionals find their next job.
Because of its enormous amount of user data, LinkedIn is able to quickly connect freelancers with strong leads based on their keyword searches and companies followed. Profinder is a great option for expert professionals in countless fields
SimplyHired offers the largest variety of freelance jobs of any site on this list. From construction to concierge work, the site boasts a bounty of opportunities for anyone seeking extra work, and it helps freelancers find jobs in over 24 countries. It also isn’t limited to English-language work, offering 12 different languages in which you can find jobs.
Freelance Writing Gigs is a job board that is updated daily with fresh freelance writing and blogging jobs. The offerings vary from technical writing positions to writing about recipes, photography and healthcare, making it a great site for writers interested in testing their hand at different types of professional writing.
Whether you’re an expert programmer looking to leave the office world forever or an amateur photographer looking for hourly gigs, there’s something on this list for you. Check out these sites to join the ranks of the rapidly growing freelance economy!