Five Freelance Consulting Trends of 2021

February 19, 2021
Team at Mylance

Individuals who may be on the fence about making the leap from full-time to freelance should find comfort in knowing that companies continue to expand their need for skilled consultants in areas across all industries and business divisions.

In a 2020 study, Upwork and Edelman Intelligence shared that the freelance market in the US has grown to over 36% of the workforce, totaling 59 million Americans. Additionally, freelance consultants earned over $1.2 trillion in earnings in 2020, a 22% increase from 2019. Due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, companies have embraced remote work and performance-based employment, and we expect the number of individuals who elect to become self-employed continue to rise.

As a company that empowers individuals to work for themselves, we’re constantly asked, “How is the market for consulting trending?” So, we compiled our top five freelance consulting trends for 2021! 

1. The number of freelance consultants continues to grow 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed Americans was 10.7 million in December 2020. This is nearly double the number of those unemployed in February 2020, prior to the pandemic. This has resulted in more individuals considering self-employment and 12% of the U.S. workforce shifting to freelance work. Of those who freelanced in 2020, 65% earned more than they did as a W2 employee, and 57% earned more within six months after quitting their full time job. 

Additionally, more companies are open to hiring freelance consultants rather than full time employees to mitigate the risk of long-term employment costs. Instead, they are focused on high priority projects and performance-based outcomes that can most often be achieved by a contracted employee. 

2. Companies are looking for skilled freelance consultants in nearly every industry

There is a misconception that freelance consultants only work in fields like engineering. In a recent study by Business Talent Group (BTG), the top 10 areas for freelance consultants include strategy/internal consulting, marketing, operations, human resources, business and corporate development, procurement, interim leadership roles, digital and tech, profit and loss leaders, and innovation/research and development. 

Not sure if you fall into one of these categories? Use our guide to hone your niche. 

3. Project management is one of the most in-demand skills

Regardless of industry or background, project management skills continue to be one of the most sought after needs. Given that many freelance consulting roles are project-based and require progress tracking and outcomes, we recommend highlighting your project management skills when developing your proposal. If you’re considering the investment in continued education, you might even consider becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP).

4. The rise of remote work will benefit freelance consultants

With the rise of social distancing amidst the pandemic, remote work has become more acceptable in most industries. This means that more companies no longer require talent to be within a specific city or region. Instead, they are looking for an individual who will deliver the highest quality outcomes to meet its needs. 

We recommend highlighting your experience working with remote teams or in remote cultures when meeting with your potential client and in the proposal process. Share how you work with others in a non-conventional setting, and showcase how you’ll ensure that this is not a hindrance to project success. 

5. Companies are paying for outcomes, not hours worked 

In a more traditional work environment, fulltime and freelance employees were expected to track and report on hours worked instead of project outcomes. As more companies are considering outsourcing work to freelance consultants, they are also structuring the project based on outcomes instead of time worked. 

As you are developing your proposal to work with potential clients, don’t hesitate to propose a payment agreement that is contingent upon outcomes or performance instead of hours worked. This will increase your autonomy as a self-employed team member and drive results instead of punching a clock. This allows you to take control of your work-life balance and track the milestones within the project as a key to success. 

As we look ahead to the remainder of 2021, we predict that freelance consulting and self-employment will continue to rise. If you’re someone who has been on the fence about making the leap to freelance work, Mylance is here to help. Click here to learn more about our upcoming Bootcamp.

Team at Mylance
This article was written by a team member at Mylance. Mylance enables your freelance life. Our immersive bootcamp teaches you everything you need to know to become an independent consultant, from setting your rate and scoping projects, to negotiating a great project.

More Posts

Starting Out

Subcontracting: To Do or Not To Do

Besides the uncertainty of the pandemic and the growing flexibility of traditional companies, another primary driver in the increase in freelancing is the emergence of peer-to-peer hiring:: In this arrangement one person finds a gig bigger than they can handle themselves, so they act as the primary independent contractor and bring in subcontractors. The two parties are often called primary contractors and subcontractors.

Read Article
Starting Out

What is Freelance Consulting?

Companies and executives worldwide are noticing the perks of freelance consulting more than ever before. “80% of top executives we surveyed expect constant or increasing demand for freelance consultants,” says David Kipper of Expertpowerhouse.

Read Article

You're Only as S.M.A.R.T. as Your Goals

With clients, your own business, and admin tasks all vying for your attention, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Your S.M.A.R.T. goals, mini-goals, and actions help you focus on what matters most, and give you a plan to achieve the freelance future you want. If you consistently work on your goals, you can build a stable, successful freelance business.

Read Article

Stay up-to-date with our weekly newsletter.

Receive insider information and the latest resources on how to create a successful career as a freelance consultant.
We use contact information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Join Mylance

Thank you! We are sending you a welcome email.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.