Downgrading of the U.S. credit rating is yet another sign that our world economy is fundamentally changing.
Job loss has been devastating to families and their retirement plans and caused a lot of stress among the employed who are worried what the next twist in the economy could bring.
The jobs just haven’t come back like our politicians promised and it doesn’t look like anybody has any miracle cures on the horizon.
It’s clear individuals will have to take more responsibility for their financial security in the future and the world markets insist on less government spending.
So, are we living in a dying economy? No, we live in an emerging, international economy …one based on knowledge, information, and skills.
One where employers are no longer interested in giving you a nice air-conditioned office, administrative help, free coffee and lavish benefits… that probably will never exist for most people in the job market today and in the future…
Here’s the silver lining: Surprisingly one segment of the workforce has seen an explosion in growth… even in this terrible economy!
Yes, in the backwash of all this bad news there is one outstanding bright spot: Freelancing.
Basically, freelancing is taking your skills and providing them to a variety of buyers instead of working for just one employer.
It’s a much more flexible way for companies to meet their needs and it gives you a lot of flexibility about where you work, who you work for and how you work.
Today many freelancers do that from home and the good news is that you can actually freelance from just about any place in the world you can get a good Internet connection.
That’s good news for International Living readers because you might be able to speed up your move-abroad plans if you knew you could earn an income abroad and take advantage of the lower cost of living.
An interesting report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge says that “freelance” jobs are expected to make up half of all jobs during the economic recovery.
That is supported by a June 2011 article in the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) that reported a 54%-growth in new job postings on one of the largest freelance networks. Other freelance networks are reporting similar growth.
How Much Can You Make Freelancing?
The network mentioned just reported passing the $400 million mark in freelancing fees paid out. And that one network monthly posts about 50,000 new assignments from simple $25 proofreading assignments to $100,000 consulting assignments and everything in between.
This is not to be confused the old “stuffing envelopes” make-money programs of years gone by…this is doing real work and getting paid when you complete the work.
And these job networks are global… you offer your skills around the world, as an English speaker, your knowledge, experience and skills are in demand for many companies trying to sell products and services to the world’s English speaking countries.
Most Baby Boomers I speak with in my business grossly underestimate the skills that they might have that could translate to working on these freelance networks.
Also Baby Boomers fear their computer skills aren’t up to the task, but many of the jobs are not computer intensive at all. It could be proof reading a document, providing consulting expertise over the phone based on your career experience or reviewing a business plan and offering constructive comments.
There are even freelancing networks for lawyers, mechanics, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, electricians and plumbers… all providing a way for people with these skills to work online.
And it’s much better for your bottom line…
One of the complaints about freelancing is that you don’t earn as much as you might if you were employed full-time for a company or an organization… this is generally true but there are some pretty big economic advantages…
You don’t have to buy and dry-clean a work wardrobe, you don’t have commuting expenses which for many means a car, gas, insurance and maintenance, and you can usually get more work done in a shorter period of time because you are dragged into all those office politics.
Are there disadvantages to freelancing?
Working in a virtual world is very different than the job you used to commute to.
If you’re not comfortable working online it is important to get some education and training on some of the mechanics.
But it doesn’t stop there…
A number of people sign up for these freelance networks, go after a few jobs and get frustrated when they don’t win a freelance project right away…and then they blame the freelance network.
These networks are just like “real” communities… there are “rules of the road,” standard practices that have been proven effective and cultural “dos and don’ts” that are not obvious to the casual, would-be freelancer who stumbles on these websites late one night and decides to “give it a whirl”…
The good news is that if you are willing to educate yourself and invest a little time “learning the ropes,” this can be a very liberating form of income because it is from your home, you get to choose how many hours you put in each week and what kind of work you do.
If you use these networks rather than freelancing on your own, you don’t have to build any websites, do mass mailings, go to trade shows to drum up business or spend endless hours on the phone dialing for dollars.
You simply go online and see which of the estimated 300,000 assignments available every day you’d like to tackle.
If this economy is not working for you, and you’re considering a move abroad, consider the advantages a freelancing career might afford you… you might be able to move sooner, lower your expenses, and make the move with more confidence because you have learned how to work in the emerging global economy.
Editor’s note: Winton is behind a special program that shows you how you can use your existing skills to tap into global markets and make money from anywhere in the world. And this week, if you’re one of the few people who sign up to the program, you get 60% off. Full details here.