The growth of online freelancing around the world, referred to as the gig economy, has enabled many people to access jobs within their countries and in many other countries. It is a wonderful opportunity for the jobless. Because of its perks, many people with jobs even opt to quit to do online freelance work instead. Even before most businesses shifted to remote work arrangements during the pandemic, freelancers were already working from home and enjoying not having to commute. They can also leave the house to work anywhere they want, as long as there is a stable internet connection. It is common for many online freelancers to work in coffee shops and even in beach resorts.
According to DDIY, in 2019, there were already 57 million people doing freelance work from home. The pandemic caused a 25 percent growth in the online freelance market from April to June 2020 alone, with job postings for online freelance work rising by 41 percent. Today, 35 percent of the 3.5 million people in the workforce worldwide are online freelancers. That means they now number 1.1 billion worldwide. Three-fourths of them say that they will not exchange online freelancing with any other job.
Freelance jobs can be found on many sites online. Most jobs require English speaking and writing skills. If you are not confident about this, get an online English tutor. This is a good investment because it will open up more job opportunities for you.
Freelancing in the U.S.
CNBC reports on the latest Freelance Forward study by Upwork among over 6,000 workers in the U.S. from June 15 to July 7, 2020. It shows that 36 percent of the American workforce, or 59 million workers, were doing online freelance work either full-time or part-time at that time, representing a $1.2 trillion annual contribution to the economy. The number of online freelancers has increased by two million people since 2019. They cut across generations, with 50 percent of freelancers from Gen Z aged 18 to 22, 44 percent from millennials aged 23 to 38, 30 percent from Gen X aged 39 to 54, and 20 percent from Boomers aged 55 and older. They are more conscious of upgrading their qualifications, with 59 percent of respondents having participated in skills training in the six months prior to the study.
Among online freelancers, 36 percent do it full-time, while others have regular jobs and do it on the side. Among the full-timers, 36 percent are professionals. Three-fourths of those who resigned from their jobs to work freelance full-time stated that they either earn the same now or earn more than before.
Of the full-time freelancers, 67 percent stated that it prepared them for pandemic uncertainties. Now, 58 percent of employees working from home in their full-time jobs are thinking of becoming online freelancers in the future. This is an option for those who state that they would rather resign from their job if required to return to office-based work. Companies big and small also have more job openings for online freelancers, especially in customer service, e-commerce development, web design, and mobile design. This opens up a larger talent base for companies, and the pay they offer that may seem low for workers in their country may be attractive for workers in other countries with a lower cost of living.
A Case Study in Bangladesh
Entrepreneur reports on the case of Fleet Bangladesh. Founder Khairul Alam had financed his studies by working full-time in the day and doing online freelance work at night. He, therefore, discovered the many opportunities that online freelancing offers.
In 2018, he started Fleet Bangladesh with only 10 people. He began to tap the pool of educated young people in Bangladesh who remained jobless. Since then, his company has grown to over 500 online freelancers, and they serve over 300 companies around the world. Among their customers are eBay, Walmart, and Amazon.
Fleet Bangladesh uses online research and data analytics to provide their clients with the information they need to determine what products are selling, decide on what products to launch and when, make sales forecasts, and increase profits. The company also helps its clients set up an online marketplace or expand its existing system.
How to Succeed in Freelancing
Entrepreneur recommends that as an online freelancer, you must overdeliver to get ahead of the competition. You must prove to clients that you are hardworking, responsible, and always reliable. This will earn you repeat assignments and even referrals.
Choose jobs in the same niche so that you gain experience and a track record, as against having many jobs in different fields. Having a history of successful jobs that you can show makes you stand out as an expert.
Make your presence known online. You can build your own website and beef up your profile on LinkedIn. Make sure to continuously update your list of work done and show feedback from satisfied clients. LinkedIn will also help grow your network.
If you currently have a job, you can try out online freelancing on weekends. This will show you if it is a better option. Once you have enough prospects for a good income lined up, you can decide to go full-time with online freelance work.