The current global pandemic caught the world by surprise in early 2020. Now that we’re approaching the end of the year, it seems like businesses and workers are getting used to the new remote work regime. On top of health and safety concerns, Covid 19 has brought in question the world’s economy and the stability of the job market as we know it.
While the coronavirus outbreak caused a serious economic fallout, the freelance economy greatly benefited from the recent events. Namely, over 20 million people in the US lost their jobs due to Covid 19 and the restrictions it placed upon the traditional workforce. At the same time, the number of businesses looking to hire freelancers is growing.
The good news for the freelance side of the economy is that many people who lost their jobs turned to freelance websites and remote work as a means of survival during these challenging times. Employers, on the other hand, are looking to find local talent and hire freelancers remotely to cut costs and keep their businesses afloat.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Freelancing
The pandemic forced millions of people to look for new and nontraditional employment opportunities in hopes to make ends meet during the crisis. However, as people dipped their feet in the freelance waters, many found remote work to be far better than traditional employment.
According to CNBC, job postings on freelance recruiting platforms rose by 41% in the second quarter of 2020. With lockdown and similar restrictions put in place due to health concerns, businesses were forced to shut down their physical locations and turn to freelance recruiting platforms as their go-to place to hire freelancers and find local talent.
Even though the freelance economy was growing steadily before the pandemic, the outbreak of the virus significantly accelerated the shift to remote work. Before this major disruption, people chose to look for jobs on freelance recruiting platforms for the sake of time flexibility that was offered by such positions.
Now, however, they are turning to freelance websites out of necessity, although the whole concept of working remotely is starting to grow on them. Most importantly, employers are now more likely to turn to freelance websites and outsource their jobs / hire freelancers rather than fill up those positions with full time employees.
This means there is a huge growth in demand for remote workers, both for temporary and permanent job opportunities. As the pandemic hit, the percentage of job postings on freelance recruiting platforms such as Upwork and ZipRecruiter skyrocketed. The adoption of the freelance work concept made it possible for businesses to find local talent even while physical contact was not allowed.
Why Freelancers are Thriving During the Pandemic
The good news for freelancers is that they now have a great opportunity to boost their remote work careers. With online work being in high demand, picking up a few extra projects can easily turn into a full time job or the main source of income. Here are three reasons why freelancers are thriving during Covid-19:
1. Financial Aspect
Turning to freelance recruiting platforms makes a lot of sense to business owners in terms of financial benefits. Instead of paying full time workers and providing benefits, employers can now cut down their costs to nothing more than a freelance worker’s hourly rate. This is great news for freelancers because it means they will be getting more job offers as the economy continues to shift.
2. Extension of the Gig Economy
The gig economy has been around far longer than the coronavirus. However, the outbreak did push things forward in favor of freelance workers. With full time employees being laid off, people can find a much more diverse list of job offerings on freelance websites. If you were thinking of going freelance before, there is no better time to do so than right now.
3. Private Workspace
One reason why freelance workers are thriving more than ever is because they have the freedom to create their own private workspace. The flexibility provided by remote positions creates much higher job satisfaction rates. Not only is having a private home office a much safer option nowadays but it is also a lot more convenient in terms of saving both time and money on commute.
The Challenges of Joining the Freelance Economy
Although more and more businesses are looking to hire freelancers, there are still many challenges the remote workforce has to deal with. Here are the three most concerning challenges that come along with working on freelance websites:
1. No Benefits or Security
Employers who hire freelancers don’t have to pay extra for benefits such as health insurance. While this is great news for businesses looking to find local talent online, it also means freelancers get no job security or insurance whatsoever. Remote workers must handle their resources responsibly since freelancing entails unpredictable and unstable income. It is this lack of security and income stability that makes freelancing seem like such a scary, last-option type of deal.
2. Branding Yourself as a Business
If you are looking to build a serious freelance career, you will have to look beyond freelance recruiting platforms. Marketing yourself and treating your freelance venture as a business can seem like a challenge but it will take you much further down your path. After all, employers are more likely to hire freelancers who position themselves as reputable experts and put effort into marketing their services.
3. Growing a Network
Businesses often hire freelancers whose name is present in their network. Word-of-mouth and client recommendations will get you hired on high paying positions much faster than the traditional freelance recruiting platforms. In order to achieve this, freelancers must work on growing their own network and making connections with important names in their industry.
Tips for Freelancing During COVID-19
There is no doubt that the global pandemic has pushed the freelance economy ahead of the traditional employment. However, this doesn’t mean everyone can succeed as a contract worker just because businesses are looking to hire freelancers on every corner. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to make money working remotely on freelance recruiting platforms.
1. Focus on Your Niche
The reality right now is that millions of people are competing for the same jobs on the same freelance recruiting platforms. In order to stand out and have better chances of landing high paying gigs, focus on narrowing down your expertise to a specific niche. Clients are more likely to hire freelancers who are specialized in one niche rather than those who take up all sorts of random projects.
2. Engage in Professional Development
Having one single skill is no longer enough to succeed in the busy remote job market. It is important for freelancers to engage in active professional development and stay on top of skills that are high in demand and related to their niche. In other words, focus on perfecting your craft and boosting your skills whenever possible. Look for additional certifications that will help you stand out on freelance recruiting platforms.
3. Take Advantage of Freelance Recruiting Platforms
Employers most commonly hire freelancers through websites such as Upwork and Freelancer. There are plenty of other sites out there that you can use to apply for projects and reach your potential clientele. The good news is that there’s no limit as to how many platforms you can actively use. Thus, we suggest taking advantage of as many freelance websites as you can to increase your chances of landing more gigs.
4. Streamline Operations
As a freelancer, you will be busy doing more than just the actual work for your clients. There are plenty of things you have to take care of, from social media marketing, scheduling, and email follow ups to administrative work and invoicing. The best way to keep up with all these tasks is to use automation wherever possible. Tools such as Quickbooks for invoicing, Mailchimp for email automation, and Hootsuite for social media management can help you clear your to-do list faster.
Freelancing has never been a steady game. It is full of ups and downs where you could be making thousands of dollars one month and next to nothing the other. Therefore, it is important for new remote workers to adjust to this type of economy and get used to managing an unpredictable income.
The good news is that businesses are now looking to hire freelancers more than ever, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to go around. Even though the demand is higher for temporary job positions, it’s not uncommon for people to find full time remote work during the pandemic.
Even though right now the future seems uncertain in every aspect, digital technologies give us an opportunity to stay connected and continue building careers through online platforms. For all we know, employers will continue to hire freelancers at growing rates both on freelance websites and outside recruiting platforms.