This is the Real Reason Freelance Designers Thrived in 2020

freelance designers

The economic strain of COVID-19 is still being felt by millions of people across industry segments (some more than others). However, others are thriving, and freelance designers are some of the people experiencing a bright 2020. This according to a report from 99designs titled, “Design Without Borders: The Freelance Revolution”

What is more, the optimism extends to close to two thirds (63%) of the freelancing designers in the survey. But there are still challenges designers are addressing because of the pandemic. And this will have a lasting impact on how talent and businesses come together to work.

99designs Freelance Report for 2020

The legacy of 2020 will be how the world is working together online. This according to 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn. He goes on to say, “… while freelancers themselves haven’t changed, the world around them has. As the global workforce adapts – and adopts many of the traits that freelancers have nurtured for years – it has become clear that out of the chaos of this year, significant opportunities have emerged for remote creative connections and the freelance design community at large.”

Bright Opportunities

The report reveals half of the freelance designers expect to earn more in 2020 than they did in 2019. And 24% expect a substantial increase in their income this year. This is in great part is responsible for a whopping 98% feeling optimistic in the next decade about where the design industry is heading.

For 47% it means they will embrace the digital nomad lifestyle when travel restrictions are over after the pandemic. And self-directing education is in great part driving how freelance designers are thriving. During the lockdown, 81% of them say they learned new skills, which is up from 60% in 2019.

The skills come from YouTube for 72% and through online courses for 36% of the freelancers. And for any of these designers, continuous self-education is critically important to remain relevant and competitive.

Other key findings include:

  • Personal and professional lives, especially for parents, had some unexpected results while remote work went mainstream.
  • Households are learning and working from home. For 43% of freelancers, this is a positive experience, while 21% did not agree.
  • 42% of freelance designers have a better work-life balance in 2020.
  • 30% of freelancers report clients’ collaboration and communication skills are better during the pandemic.
  • 77% of designers expect businesses to be more open to hiring remote talent. This they say is because of working from home themselves during the pandemic.

The second annual study from 99designs is an extensive effort about insights into the global freelance design industry. Some 11,362 freelance creators across 147 countries came together in what the company calls the most wide-reaching survey of the sector to date.

Image: 99designs

Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.