The future of freelancing is aglow with promise. Both the number of freelancers and the number of opportunities to earn a part-time or full-time income are expected to increase dramatically in the next few years. However, to compete in this field, most freelancers will need advanced, specialized skills.
Earlier this month, The Creative Group, an advertising and public relations organization, released a survey of 500-plus executives in the advertising and marketing fields on the topic of freelancing.
One highlight from the survey revealed that nearly 75% of those executives felt that the freelancers they had hired within the past five years were more skilled and talented than the freelancers they had hired prior to that time period.
In fact, it's becoming more common for major advertising and marketing firms to hire freelancers not only to work on specific projects, but also to teach the firms' full-time employees a new set of skills or other areas of knowledge. Expect to see this trend continue: the freelancer as the expert, hired not only to complete projects but also to educate and teach. Competing for the same jobs with many other freelancers may force freelancers to seek out advanced degrees or special training to land more lucrative assignments.
There was a time when the term "freelancer" may have carried a slight stigma, but the past several years have proven that freelancers can add much value to a project in terms of skills and knowledge.
A second highlight from the survey revealed that about 50% of the marketing and advertising executives who were polled said they would probably leave their jobs and venture into freelancing in the future.
It's easy to see the attraction: freelancers with executive-level experience can demand higher pay rates and they can set their own schedules.
The realities of the new global economy point to an increased societal role for freelancers. In the years since the economic crash of 2008, many aspects of the worldwide economy have rebounded—the stock market, for example. However, job growth remains comparatively stagnant.
Why are businesses reluctant to hire as many people as they might have in past years?
One reason is it's often cheaper to outsource jobs overseas. Also, new technologies have made many jobs obsolete. Automatic teller machines have reduced the need for bank tellers, for instance, and the Internet with its global platform of communication has inflicted a serious toll on print journalism.
If large businesses and, in particular, small businesses do not need to hire as many people as they used to, they seem more willing to hire freelancers. Indeed, the cost savings under such an arrangement can be significant. If a small business were to hire several freelancers to complete several tasks over the course of a year, rather than hire a full-time staff person for that work, the business would avoid having to pay for the full-time employee's benefits and healthcare insurance. On top of that overhead, the cost a business incurs when it provides a workspace for a full-time employee—including the price of that person's computer, the electricity that person uses, covering for sick days, and so on—is estimated to top $10,000 a year. By outsourcing work to freelancers, that hefty $10,000 price tag immediately disappears.
New technologies and social structures have made life easier and more convenient for freelancers as well. Freelance accountants, lawyers, artists and writers can find potential clients all over the world, and submit resumes and proposals to them, with just a few computer strokes. In fact, many job marketplaces ease this job bidding process—websites such as Elance.com and Odesk.com—where clients describe the projects they have available and freelancers search for and find the assignments that appeal to them and match their skill-sets. Furthermore, electronic payment systems such as PayPal make collecting fees and keeping track of income a hassle-free process. New unions for freelancers are being organized as well, offering freelancers reduced rates on life, health and dental insurance, among other benefits which in the past were always associated with traditional, 40-hour-a-week jobs.
This infographic shows the new trends in freelancing, based on the insights and statistics from The Creative Group (source: www.creativegroup.com). Click on the infographic for a full-size view.
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Brian Scott :)