Report Documents Growth of Freelance Workforce

In October, Upwork and Freelancers Union released the results of “Freelance in America: 2018.” The fifth annual study estimates that 56.7 million Americans freelance, an increase of 3.7 million in the past five years.

More than one in three (35 percent) of American freelanced in 2018. Whereas the freelance workforce grew 7% in five years, the non-freelance workforce grew just 2 percent (from 103 million to 105.3 million) in five years.

Full-time freelancers now make up 28% of the workforce, up 11 points since 2014. The percentage of part-time freelancers has declined 9 percent since 2014, and the number of full-time workers who earn some income from freelance work has risen by 1 percent.

The full study results are available here.

Here are a few key findings:

People are increasingly starting to freelance by choice. Asked whether they started freelancing more by choice or necessity, 61% of freelancers said by choice. This is up from 53 percent in 2014. Younger generations are freelancing more than any other generation in the workforce.

Americans are spending more time freelancing.The average weekly hours spent freelancing increased from 998 million hours a week in 2015 to more than one billion hours per week.

Technology makes it easier to find work. 64% of freelancers found work online, a 22-percent increase since 2014.

Lifestyle matters most. Both freelancers and non-freelancers prioritize achieving the life they want, but freelancers are more likely to get it. Fifty-one percent of freelancers say no amount of money would entice them to take a traditional job.

Freelancers place more value on skills training. 70 percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months, compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers. Many freelancers are seeking training to enhance their skills in technology, networking, and business management. Freelancers are more likely than non-freelancers to pay for the training themselves.

About 69 percent of freelancers have an annual personal income of less than $75,000. Only 14 percent make $100,000 a year or more.

Freelancers feel anxious about all they have to manage and the unpredictable nature of the work.  Sixty-three percent said they are anxious about managing financials, taxes, insurance, etc. The same number expressed anxiety about the unpredictability of their assignments and workloads. Fifty-six percent said freelancing can make them feel isolated.

On the flip side, 76 percent said they feel more stimulated by the work and 77 percent said freelancing has given them more time for the people and things they care most about.

“The Freelancing in America survey remains a touchstone in for anyone interested in the true measure of freelance work in the U.S. today,” said Louis Hyman, Director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “As a collaboration between Upwork and Freelancers Union, it is an interpretation from both sides of the client-freelancer.”

“Freelancers play a critical role in our economy and shaping the future of work,” said Stephanie Kasriel, president and CEO of Upwork. “Despite an economic boom that has created a record number of full-time, 9-to-5 openings, Americans are increasingly choosing to freelance.”

She notes that technology is freeing people from the time and place work constraints that are no longer necessary for today’s mostly knowledge-based work: “This year’s results reveal that most workers prioritize lifestyle over earnings, but freelancers are much more likely to attain the life they want.”

Kasriel believes professionals with the most in-demand skills will increasingly choose to freelance.

“The 2018 Freelancing in America report demonstrates the remarkable growth of the freelance workforce over the past five years,” said Caitlin Pearce, Executive Director of Freelancers Union. “Freelancers are the backbone of our economy, but this crucial segment of America’s workforce faces unique challenges, including access to affordable healthcare and workforce development training to update skills in a competitive environment.”

About Upwork

Upwork is the largest global freelancing website. It enables businesses to find and work with highly skilled freelancers and is freeing professionals everywhere from having to work at a set time and place. Upwork is based in Mountain View, California and has offices in San Francisco and Chicago.

About Freelancers Union

Freelancers Union is the largest and fast-growing organization representing the millions of independent workers across the country. It gives its 400,000 members a voice through policy advocacy, benefits, and community. 

Hiring Outlook for Creative Pros in First Half of 2019

What’s the employment outlook for creative talent? According to The Creative Group’s latest State of Creative Hiring research, 60 percent of advertising and marketing hiring decision makers plan to expand their teams in the first half of 2019.

Thirty-seven percent of employers anticipate maintaining staff levels and primarily filling vacated roles. In addition, 56 percent of companies expect to increase the number of freelancers they use in the next six months.

Research from The Creative Group reveals in-demand creative skills for the first half of 2019.

Web and mobile development and web production are the top areas for recruiting — and among the hardest to staff, results showed. Advertising and marketing hiring managers also reported a strong need for professionals with expertise in user experience, creative development and visual design.

“As companies continue to invest in digital transformation, they seek people who can help with new and ongoing initiatives,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “In addition to hiring full-time staff, many are bringing on freelancers to provide extra support during busy periods, fill skills gaps on their teams and access a different pool of talent.”

The research also shed light on staffing challenges and trends in the creative industry. Among the findings:

Good talent is hard to come by. Ninety-two percent of advertising and marketing hiring decision makers said it’s challenging to find creative professionals today.

There’s a need for recruiting speed. When asked to name the greatest barrier to bringing on top talent, the most common response was a slow hiring process (19 percent), followed by a failure to offer competitive pay (17 percent).

Flexibility is a selling point. Employers surveyed said a flexible work schedule (32 percent) is the most desirable noncash perk for creative professionals. A generous vacation or time-off policy (21 percent) ranked second.

Experience matters. When evaluating applicants for creative roles, 31 percent of hiring decision makers rated previous experience as the top criterion. Twenty-one percent of respondents said the portfolio carries the most weight.

Companies are relaxing some requirements. Seventy-four percent of hiring managers are now more willing to bring on creative talent who have relevant certifications in lieu of a college degree than they were 12 months ago.

Frequent job changes are a red flag. One-quarter of employers (25 percent) said it’s likely they’d remove a candidate from consideration if their resume showed a history of job hopping.

Retention is a top concern. Seventy-eight percent of companies are worried about losing current creative staff members to other job opportunities in the next 12 months.

“U.S. unemployment is at its lowest level since 1969, and companies are struggling to staff open roles on their teams,” Domeyer added. “The talent shortage is even more pronounced for creative professionals with digital expertise — the precise individuals most in demand with employers. An efficient hiring process, competitive compensation and strong organizational culture are essential to recruiting in today’s market.”

About the Research
The online survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by a leading independent research firm. It is based on responses from more than 400 advertising and marketing hiring decision makers who work full-time at agencies with 20 or more employees or companies with 100 or more employees in the United States.

About The Creative Group
The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in connecting creative, digital, marketing, advertising and public relations talent with the best companies on a project, contract-to-hire and full-time basis. For more information, including job hunting services and candidate portfolios, visit roberthalf.com/creativegroup.

Put Your Best Face Forward: Update Your Professional Headshot

When did you last update the head shot on your LinkedIn page or website? If it’s been more than two years, it might not resemble how you look to potential new clients or employers. 

The headshot you post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, on your website, and in your email signature should always reflect how you want to be perceived as a creative professional. An outdated headshot raises doubts about your self-confidence, credibility, and willingness to change with the times.   

In her excellent blog post “Why Do I Need a Professional Headshot?” Cincinnati photographer Kim Dalton emphasizes that today a headshot is your first impression: “Would you go on an interview or to work, in your swimsuit, college hoodie, or favorite Hawaiian shirt? In most cases, you wouldn’t. But I see people doing this every day with their headshot.”

Kim Dalton head shot
Head shot photographer Kim Dalton

Dalton illustrates her point by showing the difference between some of the head shots her clients had posted on LinkedIn before and after they came to her studio for a professional headshot. The “before” photos were perfectly fine, but the “after” photos really make a statement. And it’s clear Kim can work her photographic magic on professionals of all ages.

Learning from Experience

Like many writers, I hate having my portrait taken by professional photographer. As a “mature” creative who works in the technology field, I had a hard time finding a photographer who delivered the results I wanted. My headshot shouldn’t make me look older than I feel. I want potential clients and employers know that I remain eager to work, learn, and change.

But because some portrait photographers made me feel rushed and unnatural, I tend to look stiff and uncomfortable in my headshot photos. To save money, I tried taking selfies that I could crop and edit however I wanted. But that approach failed too, because my instinct was to go overboard with the retouching.

Without a flattering, natural-looking head shot, I was even more reluctant to promote myself than I usually am.

I first met Kim Dalton several years ago when I was writing a series of articles called “Cincinnati is Creative” for WCPO.com. I was one of the freelance writers that the Cincinnati-area broadcast station hired to help them quickly beef up their online content with more local feature stories and profiles.  I contacted Kim after noticing that her photographs of Cincinnati depicted the city in a fresh, intriguing way.

She remembered me because that story on WCPO.com attracted thousands of visitors to her website. So when Kim contacted me about her switch to head-shot photography, I was immediately intrigued.

After reading her blog post and viewing her before-and-after pictures, it was clear that Kim was taking a different approach to headshot photography. So when she offered to shoot me, I couldn’t resist.

Before our appointment, she gave me clear, detailed instructions on what type of clothing to wear, depending on how I would like to be portrayed (business executive, business casual, or casual). She encouraged me to bring more than one top, so if one color or neckline style didn’t work, we could try another. 

Her approach to posing, lighting, and shooting was also more fun and different from anything I had experienced in other photography studios. Instead of issuing a routine series of posing instructions, Kim took a genuine interest in coaxing a more confident look and natural-looking smile. Because her camera was tethered to her computer, we immediately reviewed the results of the shoot so we could pick out the favorites as we went along. Being able to see the results during the shoot motivated me to relax and lighten up.

You can see the difference in the photo that Kim took in December 2018 and the photo I had taken in 2017.

Eileen Fritsch Headshot 2017 and 2018

When I asked why her before and after results are so striking, Kim reminded me that all photographers see things differently. Getting a great head shot may simply be a matter of finding a photographer who understands the type of image you want to project.

Kim studied headshot photography from Peter Hurley, a New York-based photographer who shoots headshots for well-known models, actors,  media personalities, and corporate executives.  Hurley wrote a book for professional photographers entitled, “The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits.” He also founded The Headshot Crew, a global network of Hurley-coached headshot and portrait photographers.

If a bad headshot inhibits you from actively promoting yourself online, don’t despair. You don’t have to resort to using an old photo, avatar, or cartoon to represent yourself. Finding a professional headshot photographer whose style matches the quality of your work as a writer, designer, or artist can make a world of difference.

If you live in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region (or travel here for business), check out Kim’s work on her website:  https://kdaltonphotography.com/ Or, find a member of The Headshot Crew in your city.   

Artist Led Fashion Start-up Blends Art, Fashion, and Storytelling

Direct-to-garment printing and textile printing technology is enabling all sorts of clothing products to be manufactured or customized on demand. One company taking advantage of this capability is Made of Space, an artist-led fashion start-up in Denver, Colorado. They are using on-demand printing to connect apparel buyers with the artists and causes they care about.

The company believes that modern shoppers are looking for meaningful connections with authentic experiences —not mass-produced clothing that ends up in a landfill.

Made of Space’s first drop features designs from four renowned artists. Apparel is on sale now at https://madeofspace.com. (PRNewsfoto/Made of Space)

 

“People have evolved from buying based on brand, to questioning where their clothing comes from and where it will end up,” said Ashan T, co-founder of Made of Space. “Today’s shoppers are more selective about what brands they associate with, and they’re looking for meaning and purpose in their experiences. They know you can’t find authenticity hanging on a rack. Everyone is an artist, and the Made of Space platform gives people a way to express their individuality.”

Made of Space puts people who create art and advocate for causes at the center of the brand. Apparel is the medium through which artists and advocates can express themselves.

Made of Space puts people who create art and advocate for causes at the center of the brand. Apparel is the medium through which artists and advocates can express themselves. Earnings are shared with the artists.

The first four artists featured on the site include Jared De Palo, Ava Goldberg, Joseph Martinez, and Jaime Molina. Their work is reproduced on unisex, 100% cotton T-shirts. Before placing an order, you can see an enlargement of the artwork and read a statement from the artist.

If you are an artist or designer who can tell a story with your art and creativity, reach out to Made of Space via email (hello@madeofspace.com) or via Instagram (@_madeofspace).

 

New Video Series Explores Artists’ Creative Processes

Pixels, a leading online art marketplace and print-on-demand technology company, is producing a series of videos called “Art / My Way.” The inspiring series tells the stories of modern American visual artists and how they established themselves creatively.

Each three-minute video provides an intimate look insides the minds of working artists and answers questions such as “What drives artists to do what they do?” and “How do their lives and their work inform one another?” The series speaks to overcoming the fear and adversity that get in the ways of lifelong dreams and illustrates how basic needs can drive innovation and entrepreneurship.

Beautifully shot by documentary filmmaker Jeff Bloom, the videos feature some of the most interesting artists who use Pixels to showcase and sell their work online.

The first two “pilot” episodes profile South African-born painter Jabu and landscape photographer Nicki Frates, who lives in Los Angeles.

Jabu

Jabu was born in the Alexander Township of Johannesburg, South Africa during apartheid and views Nelson Mandela as his hero. Jabu sees himself as an activist artist (“artivist”). As a youth, he was imprisoned for a year for making Mandela T-shirts. The video delves into Jabu’s artistic methods, some of his most prominent works, and what pop star he believes is as much of a leader as Martin Luther King Jr.

Nicki Frates

Daughter of renowned commercial photographer Dennis Frates, Nicki Frates grew up accompanying her dad on shoots. Initially, she pursued fashion as her creative outlet, but photography wouldn’t let her go. Now, she is an award-winning landscape photographer who braves extreme weather to shoot in beautiful, but challenging locations.

 

Pixels is producing the series to give art buyers a unique perspective into the artists whose work is featured on the Pixels.com website. The series is also designed to provide artists with ideas and motivation for building their own careers around their work.

According to Pixels CEO Sean Broihier, “Many of our artists have built their careers the same way we built our business — by creatively bootstrapping and not being anointed by a venture-capital firm or an art gallery. We are thrilled to give them a platform to explain how they do their art, their way.”

About Pixels

The Pixels online art marketplace showcases the works of hundreds of thousands of artists, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, and iconic brands. The company has been helping artists sell wall art, home decor, apparel, and other products since 2006.

With just a few clicks, artists and photographers can upload their images to Pixels.com, set their prices for hundreds of different print-on-demand products, and then instantly sell those products to a global audience of online, mobile, and real-world buyers.

Pixels fulfills each order on behalf of the artists. They take care of the printing, framing, matting, packaging, shipping, collecting payments from the buyers, and sending profits to the artists. Each product is manufactured at one of 14 global production facilities and delivered “ready-to-hang” with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

New Adobe PDF Print Engine Helps Printers Keep Up With Creatives

Ongoing innovations in printing inks and inkjet printheads are creating opportunities to print designs in a wide variety of new surfaces such ceramics, textiles, packages, and labels. So, Adobe has taken steps to ensure that the PDF files you create with tools such as Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe InDesign CC, and Adobe Illustrator CC will continue to produce the type of print results you envision.

Adobe has announced version 5 of the Adobe PDF Print Engine (APPE). The Adobe PDF Print Engine is a software development kit that converts PDF job content (graphics, text, and images) to rasters for driving digital presses, wide-format printers, label printers, and platesetters. APPE is the leading rendering technology at the heart of prepress workflows in the $900 billion print industry.

Adobe collaborates with market-leading software vendors to bring the Adobe PDF print experience to every type of printing, including commercial printing, publishing, signage, CAD, GIS, photography, packaging, labels, direct mail, textiles, garments, and product manufacturing.

The Adobe PDF Print Engine is deployed as part of prepress solutions deployed by companies such as: Agfa, Caldera, Canon, CGS, ColorGATE, Dalim, EFI, Epson, Esko, Fujifilm, GMG, Heidelberg, HP, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Océ, Riso, Screen, Sharp, Xanté, Xeikon, and Xerox.

New Printers for All Types of Materials

The new version extends Adobe’s PDF Print Engine’s reliable color reproduction with new capabilities to harness the full potential of today’s digital and conventional presses. PDF Print Engine 5 will maximize color impact in the coming generation of textile presses, industrial print stations, and digital presses for label and packaging production.

The Adobe PDF Print Engine 5 is optimized to precisely render graphically rich jobs created in Photoshop CC, InDesign CC, and Illustrator CC for printing on flat and contoured surfaces including paper, plastic, fabric, metal, ceramic, glass, and food products.

The new color features in PDF Print Engine 5 strengthen support for Expanded Color Gamut (ECG) digital presses with ink sets that go beyond the traditional four-color base of cyan, magenta, yellow and black to magnify the visual and tactile effects of brand messaging.

“Brand managers count on accurate reproduction of vibrant designs to connect with customers,” said Adil Munshi, vice president and general manager, Print and Publishing Business Unit, Adobe. “Print jobs that are authored in Creative Cloud, reviewed in Adobe Acrobat DC, and proofed and output by Adobe PDF Print Engine 5 will now deliver the fastest rendering, best-of-breed color imaging and predictable results every step of the way.”

Why Designers Should Care

Printing has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. Despite all of the focus on improving  digital channels of communications, printing continues to be relevant. New types of printing can be used to: customize products and apparel; decorate homes, offices, and event spaces; and create interactive branding, educational, and entertainment experiences. Different types of prints can help you win the attention of key audiences and stand out in a crowded media landscape.

When designing graphics, you want to push the creative envelope with the latest functionality in Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and InDesign CC. But sometimes, this results in graphically rich files that are increasingly complex to print.

In an article entitled “Rendering for Creatives,” Adobe experts explain why rendering your PDF file for printing can be one of the most critical stages of prepress. As the text, graphics and images are broken down into press-ready instructions, transparency, knock-outs, and other complex effects will be simplified.

The article notes that,”Your rich palette of carefully selected hues will be funneled into a small number of separated printing colorants, each of which will be screened into half-tone dots. The rendering stage performs these operations at high speeds, producing billions of pixels in a continuous stream that instructs the inkjet printheads or laser beams when and where to apply color to the substrate.”

By enabling your printing firm to use the same algorithms for job management and final rendering that you used for content creation, Adobe is increasing the level of predictability in final results and lowering the chances of discrepancies. They claim that “If your printer uses the Adobe PDF Print Engine, you can rest assured that your artistic vision will print as expected – no surprises!”

Agfa Graphics, which makes wide-format printing equipment that can print on many types of rigid boards and flexible substrates, will be one of the first companies to incorporate APPE 5 into their prepress workflows. (Photo: Agfa Graphics)