A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a book about the rise of people working for themselves.

A lot has happened since then — a historic recession, the emergence of widespread broadband, the explosive growth of smart phones, the further erosion of job security, lower barriers to entry for small entrepreneurs, and so on — that has reinforced the underlying trends.

But for a clear and illuminating look at the current state of one group of independent workers, check out Ed Gandia’s 2012 Freelance Industry Report. Or if you’re too swamped to read the whole thing, look at this cool graphic summary of its main points:

2012 Freelancer Report Infographic (image)

13 Responses to “How are free agents doing these days?”

  1. Kristi says:

    Love the graphic and thanks for the link to the report.

  2. Kent says:

    Thanks for the freelancer report! 🙂

  3. Mike Brice says:

    I will admit that after three years as a freelancer, I returned to the comfort of corporate America. Of course, I always wonder when I will be able to fly free again. But in today’s economy, a salary and benefits keeps me grounded.

  4. Berry says:

    I have yet to read the book; I’m commenting rather on the RSA Animate video by Dan Pink.

    Right off the bat, Pink demolishes the most cherished premise of Progressivism (namely, that human nature is infinitely malleable).

    The science is indeed interesting, but it reduces to a special case of something that is readily studied everywhere you look: human nature as animal nature. We really need only understand a few principles (the Amity / Enmity Complex, the territorial imperative, the drive to climb the social hierarchy) in order to explain virtually the entirety of modern political discourse.

    I have some problems with the presentation. It’s difficult to determine from the video whether the “incentives” offered are actually analogous to what the market offers. I suspect that the “top reward” mentioned in the video is more akin to subsidization than to appropriate remuneration for a task.

    So what the video is proving is that human nature isn’t as flexible as Progressives want us to believe, and also that subsidy is less effective at promoting good performance than is rational compensation for a task. Score two for conservatives.

    I also strongly disagree with the assertion that the Fed is “the mainstream of the mainstream.” Pink snidely associates it with “socialism”, but the irony is unintentional.

  5. Dan – I read Free Agent Nation more than ten years ago. It was a visionary book, as the the current trend toward more and more freelancers shows. Well worth reading. Thanks for the info on the report, as well.

  6. David Belden says:


    With the increase in disaggregation of large projects, the use of freelancers of every ilk will exponentially rise. You were right about the free agent concept. Now, we just have to figure out how to provide some basics like health care, and people will be truly free.

  7. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,you interviewed me at my home for your book Free Agent Nation. Five years ago I went back to corporate world but I’m now back as a free agent and loving it!

  8. Nicola says:

    That’s an interesting news. I’ll post on my blog next week. I will also start to read Free Agent Nation after completed Drive, which I think is one of the most amazing book about motivation and management I’ve ever read!

  9. Conor Neill says:

    Great infographic and thanks for the link to the report. Always interesting to see how others make their lives.

  10. I’ve been a free agent for 20 years. Best decision I’ve made in my career!

  11. Bobby says:

    I enjoy looking through a post that can make men and women think.

    Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  12. Very interesting and FYI the stats we unearthed earlier in the year in Australia are very similar. Free Agent Nation still sits proudly in my bookshelf.

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