SME interest in freelancers grows

Friday 30 August 2013

Freelancers are used to working with businesses of all sizes. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of working as a self-employed professional is the variety of clients on offer. For small businesses, hiring freelancers can be a cost-effective way of meeting short-term demand without the commitment that comes with a permanent hire. As the latest report from Freelancer.com demonstrates, it seems more small companies are waking up to this potential.

The online freelancing portal’s latest trends report for the second quarter of the year shows that smaller firms are turning increasingly to external support to operate. Indeed, independent workers are involved in more and more of the core functions of the these businesses. The number of small companies turning to freelance help for their accounting needs has risen by more than 23 per cent, while demand for contractor report writers has shot up by 20 per cent. Interestingly, the report points out that demand has risen by 35 per cent for creative talent to design PowerPoint presentations, which require in-depth and detailed knowledge of a given industry.

This indicates that self-employed workers are becoming an increasingly permanent fixture in the everyday lives of some businesses. By the same token, disciplines which require less insider knowledge have noticed a decline. Demand for copywriters fell by 13.5 per cent and requests for ghostwriters by 11.8 per cent. Simple jobs such as PDF conversions dropped by nearly 40 per cent, though this could also be down to companies adopting software that allows them to do this in-house.

Designers with experience of 3D technology are particularly highly sought at the moment - 3D rendering roles saw an increase in demand of 17.3 per cent, while 3D modelling rose by 12.5 per cent and 3D animators saw opportunities grow by 11.7 per cent. All three of these roles were in the top 50 fastest-growing positions, as calculated by Freelancer.com. This means there is plenty of scope for the future, too - the report describes 3D as “the industry to watch in the latter half of 2013”.

But online design more generally has posted strong performance. Illustration and Photoshop design are both disciplines which saw demand rise by just under 20 per cent, while banner design increased by 14.4 per cent and logo design rose by 9.2 per cent.  In particular, this is where small firms are looking to harness freelance talent instead of turning to more expensive agencies.

The report points out that web-based business models like crowdsourcing offer a level of flexibility and quality that has not been seen before, in turn generating the best possible return on investment. Significantly, the research even goes as far as to say that creative freelancers and businesses are increasingly likely to see online freelancing as the norm, with traditional agencies becoming obsolete in time.

For freelance marketing professionals, especially those with digital experience, it appears that another significant shift is taking place. Thanks to the latest Google Penguin update and the growing importance of social media, it seems that link-building and search engine optimisation jobs are falling. Instead, telemarketing and email marketing are demonstrating noticeable growth.

“2013 will be viewed as a year of unprecedented disruption, with tectonic shifts in the design and manufacturing industries as they struggle to adapt to the unstoppable rise of crowdsourcing and 3D printing,” says Freelancer.com chief executive Matt Barrie.

“But with disruption comes opportunity, and over the next couple of months there is a unique window for any entrepreneur with an innovative business model to build a billion-dollar company.”


By Victoria McDonnell

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