It's a new financial year, and here's some good new for anyone considering making the move from full time work to freelancing -- you can make a very healthy salary from it.
The increase in so-called crowdsourcing platforms, where freelancers of varied occupations -- administration, writers, accountants and marketers -- congregate and compete for business from other sole traders, small and large businesses, is becoming very lucrative.
Research from the National Technology Readiness Survey reveals on-demand services now attract 22.4 million US consumers and drive US$57.6 billion annually in spending.
And the global workforce is catching on. According to a survey commissioned last year by U.S-based platform Upwork, a site that connects professionals with potential clients, nearly one in three Australians are freelancing in some way, with 370,000 more active than in 2014.
Finding freelance work is also becoming easier -- 68 percent of the 1000 survey respondents said technology is making it easier to secure work -- but it's also steadily becoming a money maker.
The majority, 51 percent of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more, and 69 percent earned more within a year or less.
Sites such as Upwork and graphic design firm DesignCrowd allow freelancers to connect with clients all over the globe, and they can choose their own hours.
The $1m Man
Anand Thangavel is something of a poster boy for the new wave in freelance business, having just hit the million dollar mark in earnings after five years with DesignCrowd under the moniker PB.
In an unusual addition to each designer's profile, the platform features a running total of their earnings.
The UK-based self-taught designer left a full time job to work at his own pace and be his own boss. Thangavel's clients are diverse -- from a yoga instructor to a civil engineer and a software company and works long hours -- often from 6am to 11pm across different time zones and with breaks for meals and picking up his kids from school.
Thangavel admits he chose freelancing to be more lucrative venture, but hadn't expected to be so successful.
"I never dreamed about earning this amount of money from being a freelancer," he told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Only until I made the $500,000 mark did I start to realise how awesome it would be to make it all the way to $1 million. It was an amazing experience and feeling."
But he says it's not all about the money -- he considers it something of a career progression even though he works for himself.
"Using a 'crowdsourcing' platform is really exciting; I get to interact with such a diverse range of clients and take on the projects which really interest me, not to mention the numerous opportunities to hone your skills," he said.
"Clients expect you to be up to date with new technologies, whether it be new features on websites or creating a mobile responsive site, you've always going to be updated on the latest trend -- learning is the biggest plus for the work I do."
DesignCrowd Founder and CEO, Alec Lynch, said Thangavel's success is exciting not only or his company, but for the freelance market.
"To see designers on DesignCrowd making hundreds of thousands of dollars and to see our first designer reach a million dollars in earnings is extremely rewarding," he said.
"Anand's milestone earning on DesignCrowd is undoubtedly reflective of personal hard work, but it also speaks to the possibilities created by a global digital economy and crowdsourcing."
Freelancing is the new black
Rich Pearson, SVP of International at Upwork, says the more skilled a freelancer, the more lucrative their operation through these platforms.
"As a freelancer, your earnings are directly tied to your skill level," he told HuffPost Australia. "If you are great at what you do, you can command a premium and be able to set your own rates, particularly if your skills are in high demand."
He expects freelancing to continue to significantly increase because Aussies are tired of the traditional 9 to 5 job and they crave a flexible work life and, thanks to faster internet and sophisticated online communication platforms such as Slack, they can operate anywhere.
"The rapid growth of freelance websites like Upwork is clearly enabling more freelancers to be successful but the biggest reason for growth is the profound change in the workplace," he said. "Nearly 4.1 million Australians are freelancing, and the biggest driver is Australians' desire for more freedom and flexibility.
"Of course, everyone has to pay their bills -- and for the first time, the majority of Australian freelancers are reporting that they are able to earn more freelancing than traditional employment."