Disrupting the Traditional 9-to-5: The Freelance Economy

October 13, 2016 Victoria Stacey

Startup Stock Photos

Flexibility, passion, and project-based work

That’s what freelancers are craving, and that’s what freelancers are getting. With over 35% of the US workforce considered apart of the ‘gig’ economy, and over 2.8 million self-employed people in Canada, the way individuals work is changing, rapidly.

Whether it’s the economy, or by choice, many skilled workers are finding themselves in self-employed or freelance work, without the traditional safety net of benefits, and in some cases, access to necessary healthcare.

Despite this, many of these skilled workers are embracing the freelance-lifestyle with open arms. While 17% of PR, advertising and other related service professionals are working freelance, more and more digital options are available to make freelancing common in other industries such as transportation (Uber), food delivery (Foodora), retail (Etsy), virtual assisting (People Per Hour) and many more.

More than just a side hustle

What often starts out as a way to make extra money on the side can quickly become a full-time job in itself, sometimes creating more income than the traditional career can provide. A study done in the US suggests that more than half of freelancers who quit their traditional careers are now making more than they did with a steady paycheque. On top of that, many feel that having a diverse portfolio of clients is more steady and safe than just one employer.

For some, freelance is born out of necessity, for some it’s due to a change in their work-life balance, and for many it’s a way to explore their creativity with less boundaries because they can focus on the projects they truly are passionate about.

And, it’s not just the freelancers who are reaping the benefits of flexibility and project-based work. Organizations are realizing that bringing specialized workers onto project-based assignments is giving them the short-term bandwidth they need to complete projects on time, and most importantly, on budget.

startup-photosOut of necessity, opportunity is born

Being a freelancer can be incredibly difficult. Finding work is hard, and the traditional safety net of health benefits and a steady income can be impossible to fathom.

However, in the digital era we’re less than a few clicks away from finding a little bit of help. In the same US survey, 71% of freelancers said that digital platforms have made finding work easier. Whether it is a platform, an agency, co-working space, or other freelancer resources, organizations are catering to the needs of freelancers because they once were in the same position themselves.

Some of our favourite freelancer resources

Online Platforms

  • Flashstock: Connecting photographers with marketers looking for exceptional content, Flashstock is an online platform that allows photographers to submit photography for consideration based on briefs from organizations in need of beautiful imagery.
  • Upwork: Upwork connects freelancers of all backgrounds with those in need of project-based work. Freelancers have the flexibility of choosing their own clients, specific projects, and set their own pricing. They also provide an online workspace to share briefs and project content online.


  • 5Crowd: An agency with no creative talent on staff, 5Crowd connects organizations to their ‘crowd’ or freelancers ready to take on a variety of projects. 5Crowd utilizes a team of creative client leads and project managers to bridge the connection between freelancers and their clients, ensuring a seamless operation and great work.
  • Freelancers Unlimited: Having been around for over 30 years, Freelancers Unlimited has been through several ‘gig’ economy booms. They match companies with their ideal freelancer, for the perfect project, whether long-term or short, online or from home.

Co-working &a Workspace

  • Breather: Perfect for that one-off space, or if you’re looking to shake it up, Breather offers access to meeting rooms in a variety of different spaces across North American cities. Whether you are a freelancer looking to host a client, or looking for a new space to work, Breather offers ad hoc rooms for everyone.
  • Random Work: New to Toronto, Random Work takes over bars and restaurants that are normally empty and/or closed during the day, and provides access to freelancers. These spaces are ideal for those who are sick of working out of coffee shops and are looking for some new creative energy.

Insurance & Benefits

  • Living Freelance: One of the most difficult parts of being a freelancer can be the lack of healthcare benefit options available. While purchasing your own insurance can be costly, there are options organizations like Living Freelance that are partnering with insurance organizations to bring down the cost of benefits for freelancers.

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