By Sophia Elise
Nowadays, lots of companies are relying more on freelancers. It is happening across all industries, with the fields of accounting, finance, engineering, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, logistics, and even life sciences — just to name a few. Even big companies are now hiring freelancers—a departure from longstanding tradition that established businesses need full-time, 9-to-5 employees only.
In a survey of 700 large American firms, in fact, 60% admitted to using freelance platforms to find high-skill freelancers to augment their workforce, while 90% project freelancers to be vital in their talent strategy moving forward. That this increasing reliance on freelancers is happening isn’t actually surprising given the benefits of hiring them, notably the following:
• Eliminating overhead costs that can, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, amount to $11.55 an hour per employee
• Reducing payroll
• Gaining access to a broader set of skills
Unsurprisingly, this practice is projected to continue, which means business leaders need to recalibrate their talent strategy to make room for freelancers where possible. Along with this recalibration, business leaders must also keep track of the trends shaping the freelancing industry so they can navigate better their search for top freelance talent. Some of these trends are as follows:
1. Competition will increase
More Americans are turning to freelancing, with freelance platform Fiverr reporting a 48% year-on-year increase in freelance registrations in Q3 of 2020. This trend is projected to pick up well into 2021 given the 51% of remote workers contemplating on giving freelancing a try. Competition among industry players will, therefore, be greater, which means businesses can expect freelancers to step their game up to stand out in an increasingly crowded field.
2. Marketing will be emphasized
Due to increased competition, freelancers will be more creative and aggressive in marketing themselves. This trend is actually evident in consulting services already, where marketing is crucial for building networks. For freelancers with consulting businesses, over 50% of them spend at least $5,000 on marketing efforts end take home over $150,000 every year. Said efforts center on finding the right client base, creating a social media presence, and joining professional organizations and trade shows. Expect freelancers across industries to employ these marketing ploys more this year as they bid to win over clients in a highly competitive labor market.
3. Niche, technology platforms will be on the rise
Big freelance platforms for finding talent like Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr are the dominant players in the freelancing industry. That said, smaller platforms are poised to become an excellent resource for talent this year and beyond, mainly because they are established and managed inclusively and personally by freelancers themselves. Business leaders are, thus, advised to expand their talent search beyond the big platforms and give freelancers from smaller platforms a fighting chance. After all, the right candidates might actually be there.
4. Some jobs will be more in demand than others
While freelancing, in general, will trend up even more this year, demand for some jobs will be higher compared to others. To wit, demand for freelancers offering writing and editing services is projected to soar this year, with copy editors estimated to fetch around $19 an hour in professional fees and writers and editors likely to make $20 per hour. Other “hot careers” include those related to computers and IT, finance, healthcare, and customer service. Companies in said industries will, thus, be best served if they conduct their talent search early, lest they get left behind in finding the best.
Of course, the biggest freelance trend of all is that freelancers will be integral to the workforce of any business. After all, hiring them is most convenient, and offers labor cost flexibility—two things companies big and small badly need in this post-pandemic world. Business leaders must take notice if they want their business to thrive.