We all know the stereotypes: living in mom’s basement, working at Starbucks with six figures in student loan debt, no motivation, no drive, no ability to think critically.
While the world has created all sorts of reasons to not give the generation a chance, freelancing for millennials has offered them an opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and banish the stereotypes to the land of myth and legend.
So while the “older and wiser” generations get a nice chuckle from the release of Monopoly for Millennials as they lecture youngin’s about the value of a hard day’s work, this underrated age range is building their own path to success through freelance work.
But why is freelancing for millennials so appealing to them, and how exactly are they crushing it? Let’s take a closer look.
Differing sources have slightly different classifications of who exactly qualifies as a millennial, but thePew Research Center defines this generation as anyone born between 1981 – 1996. And while they’ve generally gotten a bad rap for being lazy, unmotivated, and directionless, freelancing for millennials has let them break the mold cast by naysayers.
A report titled Freelancing in America commissioned by the Freelance Union and Upwork to an independent research firm found that millennials make up the largest chunk of all freelancers, comprising 47% of the freelancing community.
The same report predicts that freelance workers will outnumber non-freelancers by the year 2027. Since millennials have a jump start in the industry, odds are that they will own the largest share of the workforce once the scales finally tip.
And, since the gig economy is a 1.4 trillion dollar per year industry with the average freelancer making an hourly rate 17% higher than the average full-time employee, it’s fair to say that freelancing for millennials is working out to be quite the success for a generation so often picked on by the rest of the world.
But what is it exactly about freelancing that has this underdog generation taking the workplace by storm and flipping traditional employment models upside-down? Some might say that all of the so-called flaws that society attributes to millennials become strengths in the freelancing economy.
For starters, millennials are skilled at adapting to changes in technology. This is the generation that grew up on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and watched firsthand as video games evolved into the high-definition, real time, multiplayer experiences they are today.
Millennials lived through dial-up internet, “You’ve got mail!”, and that annoying Mr. Clippy. And while the generation often gets flack for being buried in social media and glued to their devices, successful freelancing for millennials is born out of an affinity with technology.
In the next decade, it is predicted that 77 percent of all jobs will require digital skills. And, since millennials are already adept at working and communicating with technology, they are the ideal candidates for mobile freelance work.
The common stereotypes about millennials lacking the soft skills required for office jobs are just a reflection of the fact that they know how obsolete the traditional office is becoming.
Dropping a tech-savvy, innovative millennial into a 9 to 5 desk job is like dropping a cat in a swimming pool or trying to hammer a square peg through a round hole.
They just don’t fit. Freelancing for millennials has proven so successful because it is an environment that allows them to work when they want, how they want, and for whom they want.
Far from being lazy, participation trophy seeking leeches, freelancing millennials have proven that they can be purpose-driven go-getters when they have the chance to take the reigns and become their own boss.
If you’re like the 74% of millennials who prefer finding freelance work to full-time employment, it’s time to think about how to get started. While it’s not going to mean any less work than a traditional job, it is going to mean more freedom, more flexibility, and—ultimately—more security, given the direction that the gig economy is trending.
While we’ve already written a complete guide on how to find consistent freelance work, the quick tips that follow are more aimed at the clueless millennial who doesn’t even know where to get started.
Millennials are built to adapt. You’ve done it before, and you can do it again. If you find yourself with no marketable skills, then it’s time to find what people need and learn a way to provide it to them. If that’s intimidating to you, be comforted by the fact that half of freelancers surveyed in the Freelancing in America report had reskilled in the last six months—so you are not alone.