The Revolutionising Model of Freelancers
It all started probably a few years ago in the journalism world; Newspapers and magazines used to consist of people with stable salaried jobs but then a shift happened. Increasing fixed costs and the employment model of old wasn’t the preferred method of doing business any more. Slowly more and more employers outsourced the work to independent freelancers (reporters, writers, editors, etc.).
This created flexibility in the workforce and raised the cost savings. Statistics show that one third of journalists and creative workers are independent. Suddenly more and more fields of employment adopted this method. Freelancers started playing an important role and become a big part of the modern workforce.
So, lower costs, more flexibility for the employer and the employee, it all sounds great; but there is more to it that just that. The model of freelancing requires the workers to be businesspeople as well. Freelancers have to do their job but they have also to find work alone, market and sell themselves successfully every time. So in the end they need to create a business plan for themselves because they are the product and not only their work.
Then comes technology which continues to support more and more the shift towards a freelance workforce world. The place of work is no longer a “fixed” place, but a place where we have a computer and internet access. No longer needs the worker to get to the work, but the work come to the worker.
What about the employers, how can they find fast and easily the freelancer they are looking for? In the past few years there has been an abundance of websites designed for this exact reason: to remove the friction from the “freelancer hunt” of businesses. Websites such as Elance, oDesk and Freelancer are leading the freelancer marketplace. In just a few clicks you can find what you are looking for. Elance predicts that 54% of small business employees will be online contractors by 2017 and business services company MBO Partners claims that independent workers will outnumber salaried employees by 2020. Both figures could be off or a little too wishful for the freelance marketplace but there is little doubt that a large piece of the market is moving towards that direction. “The increase in freelancers isn’t a temporary phase. It’s a systemic change,” says Sara Horowitz, founder of Freelancers Union
— FreelancePro.Me (@FreelancePro_Me) November 7, 2012
The web eliminates geographical barriers, now you can work with anyone you want anywhere in the world. Why settle with someone mediocre who lives next to you and not find the perfect fit for your company even if he lives in another continent?
The internet opens up a huge pool of choices. No more generalists but specialists will undertake the task you want done.
The freelance model can both save money for the employer and earn more for the freelancer. While the business has a lower fixed cost now, the freelancer can raise his price and earn a piece of the cost differentiation while both parties are benefited.
But let’s be realistic. Many businesses will abuse this system by outsourcing their work to cheap freelancers who are looking desperately for work. Sure this can be the way to go for some businesses but in the reality not many will opt for this. I sincerely think that the flexibility of the model will end up connecting high quality workers with entrepreneurial employers with great results.
Concluding this article let’s come back to the main challenge: The freelancer is himself an entrepreneur a small business who needs to learn to act like a start-up and market himself properly. The reality is that at the moment most of the freelancers have a steady job on the side and now they are learning how to move in the freelancer’s marketplace. In time people will pick up the skills needed to market themselves and more and more workers will enter the freelancing world.
Marketing Specialist at Galoo.
Specialization in: Public Relations, Communications, Marketing & Advertising with a great love for Political Science.
In my free time I am either socializing with friends, playing basketball or exercising.