Succeeding in the Remote Gig Economy: A Gen-Z Guide to Thriving as a Freelancer
As a part of Gen Z — the generation born between 1997 and 2012 — you’re quickly becoming a powerful force in the labor market, with predictions stating that by 2030, your generation will make up more than 30% of the global workforce.
With 73% of Gen Z workers in the US considering freelancing as a smart option in an uncertain economy, it’s time to gear up for success in the gig economy.
In this guide to thriving as a Gen Z freelancer, we’ll delve into why Gen Z prefers freelancing over traditional 9-5 jobs, the unique traits that define your generation, and cover essential tips to help you succeed as a freelancer.
We cover the tips in four areas, including:
- Starting your freelancing journey
- Attracting the right clients
- Navigating the financial situation
- Aligning work with your personal values
So let’s dive in, and remember, you’re more than just TikTok dances and short attention spans — Gen Z is a new wave of skilled workers ready to reshape the world of work as we know it.
Why Gen Z prefers freelancing to traditional 9 to 5 jobs
A 2023 Fiverr survey of 7,121 young individuals from around the world provides some fascinating insights into why Gen Z is tilting towards the world of freelancing.
The findings indicate that 40% of Gen Z’ers either want to freelance or own a business for their entire career.
Surprisingly, Gen Z doesn’t view a college degree or a traditional 9-5 job as a necessity for success. A whopping 40% of you don’t believe in the need for a university degree to kick off a fruitful career, and 70% consider freelancing a viable option alongside regular 9-5 jobs.
Take a look at the infographic below for a visual representation of this growing freelancing trend in the US:
So, what factors contribute to this shift in career choices for the newest generation entering the workforce?
Here are the 5 reasons why Gen Z prefers freelancing over traditional 9 to 5 jobs:
- Flexibility and work-life balance. You’re not into the whole office scene, and we get it. Mundane office routines, the politicking, and seemingly unnecessary rules just don’t vibe with you. Instead, you crave networking, work-life balance, and most importantly — flexibility. Freelancing ticks all those boxes, letting you live life on your terms while still getting the job done.
- Desire for autonomy and control over career path. Being your own boss? As a Gen Z’er, you definitely want to take charge of your career trajectory based on your passions and skills. Freelancing offers that freedom, allowing you to build a professional life that suits your goals and aspirations.
- Gen Z is skilled in trendy fields that aren’t big on corporate tradition. Without a doubt, your generation has got the edge when it comes to modern skills like social media content creation, podcasting, digital marketing, or video production, where conventional corporate tradition doesn’t dominate. In the ever-evolving gig economy, these modern skills are in high demand.
- Resistance to stuffy corporate structures. Your classic office environment and corporate ladder-climbing? No thanks. You aren’t too keen on dealing with hierarchy and would rather work in more collaborative, dynamic setups. And, freelancing allows you to work in such settings.
- Pursuing multiple passions and side hustles. As a Gen Z’er, you’re all about chasing your dreams and exploring diverse interests – being limited to just one career simply won’t do. Freelancing can empower you to pursue multiple passions and side hustles while continuously learning, growing, and shining across various fields of expertise.
Understanding Gen Z workers
As the latest generation to join the workforce, Gen Z exhibits qualities that set them apart from both Millennials and Boomers.
Let’s explore the key aspects that make your generation unique in comparison to your predecessors:
- Prioritizing mental health. Gen Z is especially conscious of the importance of mental health and well-being in general. You’re open about mental health struggles and seek out jobs that support your emotional and psychological needs.
- Emphasis on company culture and values. Your generation wants to work for organizations that align with your beliefs, contribute positively to society, and offer meaningful opportunities.
- Digital natives adept at navigating technology. The upbringing in a world surrounded by technology allows you to adapt quickly to new technological advances. Your proficiency in navigating various digital tools and platforms provides you with a competitive edge in today’s increasingly digital and interconnected world.
- Commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. One in six Gen Z and Millennial workers say they’ve changed job or sector due to climate concerns, and another quarter say they plan to, according to a Deloitte study. You believe your careers shouldn’t only serve personal goals but also create a positive impact on society and the environment.
- Importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. For Gen Z, diversity and inclusion are critical components of a healthy and enriching work environment. This generation values the unique perspectives, ideas, and experiences that individuals from various backgrounds bring to the table.
Tips for Gen Z workers to succeed as a freelancers
As a Gen Z freelancer eager to flourish in the gig economy, it’s crucial to establish a solid foundation for your career right from the outset.
To help you navigate the world of freelancing successfully, we’ve compiled key tips that cover four areas:
- Getting started with freelancing
- Finding clients
- Managing finances
- Aligning freelance work with personal values
Let’s delve deeper into each area and explore the individual tips that can help you thrive as a freelancer:
1. Getting started with freelancing
Being the new kids on the block, Gen Z freelancers might feel a bit overwhelmed by the ins and outs of self-employment.
But hey, look on the bright side: being the newest generation means you have the opportunity to learn from those who’ve been there and done that, dodging some common missteps.
We’ve got your back with some essential tips to jumpstart your freelance journey:
- Find a niche. Identifying your specialty is crucial for standing out in the competitive gig economy. Focus on enhancing and marketing the skills that set you apart and cater to a particular niche. This will help you attract clients and build a reputation for your expertise. For example, let’s say you have a passion for environmental conservation and are skilled in graphic design. By specializing in creating sustainable packaging designs, your abilities can resonate with eco-friendly brands, making you a sought-after freelancer.
- Research local regulations. Before diving into freelancing, familiarize yourself with local regulations and requirements that may impact your profession. For example, a freelance graphic designer in New York City may need to obtain a business permit and adhere to local tax laws. Understanding these legal complexities will help you navigate potential obstacles and operate smoothly within your region.
- Familiarize with industry-specific regulations and licenses. Certain fields require specific licenses or adherence to industry standards. For instance, if you’re pursuing freelance work as a drone photographer, you’ll need to obtain a remote pilot certificate from the aviation regulatory authority in your country, like the FAA in the United States.
- Understand the self-employment tax process. As a freelancer, it’s essential to be well-versed in the tax laws and obligations applicable to self-employment. Develop a thorough understanding of deductions, quarterly tax payments, and other self-employment tax nuances to ensure compliance and minimize financial surprises.
Now that you have a firm starting point for your freelance career, let’s explore additional aspects to help you succeed in the remote gig economy.
2. Finding clients
Now that you have a solid foundation, it’s time to start building your client base.
With persistence and the right outreach strategies, Gen Z freelancers can quickly gain traction in the remote gig economy.
Here are some foolproof approaches to finding clients:
- Explore freelancing platforms. Don’t be too quick to dismiss traditional freelance job platforms in favor of social media like TikTok. Remember, some clients, especially older folks, might still prefer using trusty websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer to find professional freelancers rather than scrolling through social media. Keep your options open and make sure you’re visible on these sites too.
- Use social media smartly. Video content is super popular these days, so make sure to jump on the TikTok and Instagram Reels bandwagon. Create fun and relatable videos, like a day in the life of, show products in action, or even try short tutorials. This way, you’ll connect with potential clients on a personal level and boost your chances of getting noticed and booked.
- Build a professional online presence. Despite today’s trend of being “real” and imperfect, don’t forget that a polished website or portfolio still matters. Older clients appreciate professionalism, so make sure to impress them with a top-notch site showcasing your skills and experiences. Demonstrate you’re trustworthy and capable of delivering quality work, regardless of age or generation.
- Network. Don’t forget to mingle, both online and offline! Head over to forums like Reddit and join in on the conversation with like-minded pros. Attend industry events and webinars to make new friends and potential clients. Keep it real, friendly, and always follow up with people you meet. Networking can work wonders for your freelance career.
- Create a resume. As a freelancer, having a resume may not be necessary, but it can still be a valuable tool when seeking work. A resume can showcase your skills, experience, and qualifications to potential clients. Your resume should highlight your relevant skills, projects you’ve worked on, and any certifications or training you’ve completed. It’s also a good idea to include testimonials or references from previous clients to showcase your work ethic and professionalism.
By following these client-finding tips, you’ll soon thrive as a Gen Z freelancer. The secret sauce? Stay consistent, patient, and adaptable.
With that said, let’s explore how to handle your finances.
3. Managing finances
As a Gen Z freelancer, you’ve got the skills and the clients, but don’t forget to keep your finances in check.
Let’s break down some essential money management tips to ensure your freelance career stays financially stable and thriving:
- Streamline contract management. Contracts can be a headache, but they’re crucial for protecting both you and your client. Make sure you fully understand the project scope, deadlines, and payment terms, and have them clearly laid out in your contracts.
- Negotiate rates like a pro. Find average market rates on sites like Glassdoor and Payscale, then confidently negotiate your worth. Remember, your skills and experience deserve fair compensation.
- Set a budget. To stay afloat, create a budget that covers everything from your daily latte to long-term savings goals. Use apps to keep track of your spending and make necessary adjustments.
- Prepare for long-term financial stability. Even as a freelancer, plan for the future. Set up an emergency fund, contribute to a retirement account, or explore investments to secure your financial well-being down the road.
Armed with these money management tips, you’re on your way to a financially stable freelance career.
All that’s left is to align work with your personal values for a fulfilling and sustainable life as a young freelancer.
4. Aligning freelance work with personal values
One unique aspect about Gen Z is their unwavering commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. It’s truly inspiring and sets a great example for other generations.
With that in mind, let’s discuss how to align your freelance work with your personal values, ensuring a fulfilling and rewarding career:
- Embrace passion projects. When selecting freelance gigs, don’t focus solely on the paycheck (or at least not ALL the time). If an exciting project comes up, even with less-than-ideal pay, consider taking it on. These passion projects enrich your freelancing journey, fuel your creativity, and make it more enjoyable.
- Promote ethical and sustainable practices. Be mindful of the clients and projects you take on, ensuring they align with your commitment to responsible business practices. Gen Z’s dedication to sustainability is a strength — capitalize on it and make a positive impact through your work.
- Embrace change. As a young and ambitious freelancer, don’t hesitate to explore new avenues if your current path isn’t sparking joy anymore. Be open to change and willing to try new things to prevent burnout and maintain your passion for what you do.
With all these tips and insights, you’re now well-equipped to navigate the remote gig economy and thrive as a Gen Z freelancer.
Key takeaways: Succeeding as a Gen Z freelancer
In conclusion, freelancing truly ticks all the boxes that Gen Z expects and hopes for in the job market — offering freedom from corporate structures, better work-life balance, and the autonomy to shape your own career paths.
As you embark on this journey, remember to focus on building a strong foundation, finding the right clients, managing your finances sensibly, and aligning your work with your personal values.
And don’t forget the key lessons we’ve covered:
- Find a niche you’re good at and research local regulations,
- Use a combination of freelance platforms and social media to find clients,
- Negotiate your worth and pay attention to contracts,
- And, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture — creating a fulfilling.
This article was provided by;
Klara Cervenanska is a Career Writer at Kickresume, a professional AI resume builder trusted by 2.5M+ job seekers. Her advice articles are always thoroughly researched to provide the most up-to-date and relevant advice, which is why her pieces often rank among the most-read on the blog.