Whether you prefer the term freelancers, contingent labor, or gig workers—there is no doubt that over the last decade more and more people have chosen to earn an income as independent contractors. A large number of technology-driven platforms emerged over the last decade which have enabled millions to provide freelance labor to customers in need.
The arrival of these opportunities has given rise to what is now known as the “gig economy”, wherein digital platforms connect freelancers with customers in need of their services.
A Vibrant Gig Economy Emerges
Companies such as Fiverr, Uber, TaskRabbit and Airbnb are few examples of the many technology companies that have soared thanks to the gig economy.
Recent surveys suggest that about 36% of the U.S. workforce, or 57 million people, are engaged in some form of gig work. That is a good-sized chunk of the population, and speaks to the impact that the gig economy has had over the course of its rise.
But How Did We Get Here?
When Fiverr launched in 2010, the so-called gig economy was still in its infancy.
With the Great Recession came mass corporate layoffs and record-high levels of unemployment. At the same time, a multitude of new tech startups cropped up and offered the masses new ways to connect and exchange services. For many, the nascent gig economy was a lifeline for both new graduates trying to enter a ravaged job market and for those who lost their jobs amid the recession.
Now the gig economy has become a way of life for many individuals who seek the freedom and independence to set their own hours and choose their own clients. They also seek to liberate themselves from the 9-to-5 lifestyle and the cubicles that come with it. Many other individuals have turned to the gig economy as a supplement to their full or part-time job, helping them to pay off student debt or save for a down payment on a house, for example.
Companies Love the Gig Economy too
On the flip side of the freelancer-client relationship, Corporate America has embraced the flexibility and cost-savings that come with outsourcing tasks to freelancer workers on digital platforms.
According to Intuit, more than 80% of large corporations plan to increase their use the contingent workforce in the coming years, which is a promising sign that the gig economy still has plenty of opportunities to grow even more over the next 10 years.
A Lot Has Changed
You might remember when Fiverr launched, freelancers could only charge $5 for each service. But with strengthening demand for all kinds of freelance services from the corporate sector, such a novel pricing model didn’t make sense after a while. In 2013, Fiverr dropped the $5 price tag and let freelancers set their prices how they wanted instead.
As the gig economy grew and changed over the last decade, Fiverr continued to grow along with it, expanding its offerings to include more than 300 categories of freelance work to meet the demands of customers ranging from big businesses to solo entrepreneurs boot-strapping the next big thing. And just as the gig economy expanded globally, so has Fiverr—with freelancers from more than 160 countries now offering their services in the marketplace.
A Decade of Transformation
It is clear that over the last decade the gig economy has transformed the way many people make a living. It’s also created a few billion-dollar companies along the way. As technology continues to advance and more workers discover the flexibility and empowerment that comes with freelancing, you can be sure that the gig economy is here to stay.