Income satisfaction: Are IT freelancers happy with their income?


Freelancing is on the rise – every day we hear about independent consultants, freelancers and people starting their own business. More than 60 million people in the US are now freelancing and we’ve seen a similar trend in Europe as well. But are freelancers happy?

Freelancing is not for everyone – it can get lonely sometimes handling everything on your own. You also need to be patient if you don’t have clients or projects in the pipeline and there’s always the uncertainty of having to deal with ups and downs in your income, etc.

But besides the cons mentioned above, freelancing comes with many benefits too. Is the level of income one of them? Let’s take a closer look!

Are freelancers worldwide happy with their income?

Over the years, we’ve asked our freelancers one of the most important questions posed to freelancers; and one you should ask yourself often: Am I satisfied with my income?

In 2017, 1,386 freelancers were kind enough to share their thoughts on their income satisfaction and these were the results:

Freelance income satisfaction 2017 results

About two-thirds of all freelancers said they were happy with how much they were earning.

This is pretty great news! While freelancing is about more than just money, having a good level of income gives you the security to experiment and grow your business.

A third of our survey participants, however, didn’t feel like their freelancer income were enough.

68% of freelancers are happy and satisfied with their income

Did income satisfaction change over the years? We asked again in 2019 and this is what the research uncovered:

Freelancers happy with their income - Freealancer survey 2019

Turns out, nothing has changed! 2 years later and 68% of freelancers are happy and satisfied with their income while 32% are not.

And this could be viewed in two ways.

The positive way is: Freelancers always strive for more and are never completely satisfied with how much they’re getting out of it.

The not-so-positive way: Obviously, there are also people who are simply not happy with the payout and freelancer income they get of their freelance work. And that’s a problem.

Portfolio Dragos Muntean

Freelance income satisfaction

In 2023, we ran our survey again. Here’s what we learned – 62% of freelancers are happy with their income.

income satisfaction freelancer study 2023 freelancermap

While 38% of the surveyed freelancers claim to not be happy with their freelancer income, it is important to note that these were freelancers with relatively fewer years of experience and by extension, lower hourly rates.

income satisfaction by industry freelancer study 2023 freelancermap

Another interesting takeaway is the level of satisfaction by industry or field of the freelancer.

Those in the SAP industry claimed higher levels of income satisfaction, followed by Consulting / Management and IT infrastructure roles. Freelancers within the Graphic, content, and media industries came in last with 32% of freelancers being satisfied with their level of pay. 

How to become happier with what you earn?

If you are unhappy with your freelancer income, there are a lot of things you should consider doing to solve this problem: 

  • Drop your lowest-paying clients: Low paying clients are slowing you down, concentrate on the “bigger fish”. Here’re some tips to terminating a freelance contract and saying goodbye to a client.
  • Increase your rates: As the months and years go by, you get better at what you do. You can leverage those skills for better pay and raise your freelance rate.
  • Try new things: If you feel like you’re not getting enough out of your current freelancing niche, acquiring new relevant skills can catapult you to a better position, even in a new niche.
  • Learn from other freelancers: Working closely with others is invaluable when you are trying to better yourself. Seeing how you do things wrong isn’t always easy when you’re just looking inwards.

Want to take a closer look at all the freelancing insights gathered via our surveys? Download the freelancermap freelancer study!

If you have any questions on our results or our tips, ask away in the comment section!

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at

By Natalia Campana

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