A Glimpse at the Numbers
As early as 2025, estimates suggest, that the majority of workers in the US will be freelancing. Around 58 million Americans are already self-employed. That’s 36% of the current US workforce. Broken down by generation, it’s Millennials leading the way. At 47%, nearly every other 23-35 year old US worker is currently already freelancing.
Although Europe is still behind on the trend with only 14% of the workforce self-employed, the figure varies a lot by country from just 8% in Denmark up to 29% in Greece. But as with the US, younger generations make up a significantly greater percentage than the national average. In France, for example, although just 10% of workers are freelancers, among Millennials the figure shoots up to almost 35%, painting a clear picture of what’s to come.
Benefits for Businesses
Now, while the figures and the upsides of freelance work to workers seem clear, the benefits to employers may not always be as obvious. A lack of experience with freelancers may lead to common misconceptions about risk or uncertainty surrounding this option. Steering clear of freelancers can be very deeply woven into company culture as well.
However, companies not only stand to gain from the growing self-employed workforce in a variety of ways, but will also find themselves in several situations where they are better off sourcing freelancers in the first place. So, here is a look at 10 times hiring a freelancer beats a full-time employee:
10 Times a Freelancer Beats Hiring Full-time
1. Ordering á la Carte
Picture a startup getting out of the gates. There’s budget for new hires but only so much. Revenues have started flowing in but the dependency on a limited number of key contracts is high. There may be a tech and a sales team staffed in-house to make sure the product is in tact and is being promoted around the clock, but in order to stand out and hit that next growth stage, the business needs a push. A promo video. A steady flow of content to its blog and social pages. Turning its existing brand collateral into marketing materials for upcoming trade shows. These are all examples of essential components to a successful marketing strategy that deserve quality attention but don’t necessarily represent a long-term staffing need. Beyond just startups and marketing strategies, sourcing high-quality freelancers on a flexible needs basis is an essential advantage underscoring why it is the smarter choice for a whole host of additional reasons.
2. Skills-based Hiring
Online solutions may help to simplify consumer lives but digitisation has also added a lot of complexity to the roles of employees. Not 10 or 15 years ago, a marketer’s role would have never been divided into fields as varied or specialised as SEO, SEM, social media marketing, content and influencer marketing or growth hacking are today. Not to mention the plethora of platforms to get the job done, from production software to analytics and collaboration tools to lead, sales and content management systems. By on-boarding an expert freelancer with a tightly-defined skillset, companies add a results-oriented approach to bridge the skills gap without losing precious time climbing up the learning curve.
3. Interim Roles
That skills gap clearly doesn’t just occur as your business expands and you find out you’re short on staff. You may have the perfect hire amongst your ranks already but for any number of reasons they take some well-earned time off. Parental leave, a sabbatical, some time out for additional training and education. The reasons why an employee may want or need some time off are plentiful and sometimes even recurring. As interim role engagement is well defined and can extend to 12-month stretches, using freelancers to fill the gap is a win-win considering the contract visibility it offers somebody who is self-employed.
4. Wind-up and Go
Sourcing someone to join your business that is already employed elsewhere can often be a time consuming effort that ends up putting more focus on company politics than getting the job done. Notice periods, gardening leaves or non-compete clauses can push an actual collaboration back by months. When the clock is ticking, a reputable, reliable freelancer with a portfolio and client recommendations backing them up can be ready to go from one to day to the next. While bandwidth is not always guaranteed, a soft on-boarding to get the ball rolling is very often an option without much lag.
5. Smart Team Reinforcement
The demands on your team or business unit are likely to fluctuate more quickly than your hiring strategy should. So when project based work means a spike in demand, hiring a freelancer to complement your team is not only smart resource management – if you’re also using their skills proactively to help seal the deal on a project you might otherwise be lacking the resources to bank, it also makes for a smart sales strategy.
6. Not Enough Work to Justify Full-Time
Some tasks don’t require full-time attention or justify the expense of a full-time hire. No less, a good manager will want his workforce engaged and motivated. Tasking a full-time hire with too little work on the horizon only serves to drive up complacency and drive down morale. Not to mention that in general job seekers aren’t searching up and down job boards looking for 10-hour/week type engagements. Even for part-timers, that’s hardly going to meet expectations or do enough to pay the bills. Freelancers, on the other hand, thrive on being able to complement the projects they are working on with additional work at this scale. Newcomers to the freelancing landscape, in particular, will be extremely eager to grow their portfolio and bank early clients by taking on multiple smaller projects at a time.
7. Hands off Management
Indeed, winning over those clients is not just for newcomers. Since freelancers’ bread and butter is all about their reputation and their portfolio, the best way to promote themselves and keep their business running smoothly is by delivering quality work. And that work is often done independently – indeed, remotely. This means hands off management styles are most in line with the work freelancers do. This not only means more manpower without more management. It also means the added manpower won’t sit back and get comfortable as likely as a team member whose steady pay check has been arriving at the end of the month for years.
8. Help Manage Costs
The recurring flexibility theme here points to the crucial possibility for businesses to reduce their risk and, ultimately, optimise their costs. Not only does the ‘pay as you go’ formula easily allow businesses to turn expenses off at the flick of a switch. The temporary reinforcement of a team’s capabilities can also mean being able to chase and seize opportunities for incremental revenue gains, as suggested above. No less, in terms of absolute costs of an employee with vacation days, health and unemployment benefits all a part of every full-time hire’s total cost package, there is still potential for cost savings when collaborating with freelancers even at what is typically a higher rate per hour.
9. Help Manage Growth
As in the case of the startup in the earlier example, growth can be bumpy. And those bumps can be costly. And being locked into contractual obligations that don’t allow for a quick response time, means chasing cash flow delays between income and expenses. Locking in growth opportunities and finding the balance between full-time hires and complementary freelancers, instead of just full-timers, makes for better managed growth, especially during uncertain times and growth spikes that aren’t built to last.
10. Global Talent Pool
The global freelancer talent pool is your hiring strategy’s oyster. A growing number of matchmaking platforms are helping to put businesses in touch with verified, experienced freelancers. Sourcing talent is being made easy and for the kind of tasks that don’t require face-time beyond the occasional video call, these solutions mean ongoing access to talent the world over.
Onboarding talent remotely has never been easier, so no need for costly interview travel, relocation bonuses and the looming concern as to whether a new employee will resettle comfortably. Besides, not all companies are based in Barcelona, Portland or Berlin, where young workers are flocking in droves. But being based in Swindon or Essen doesn’t have to mean that same young, international talent is out reach.
Conversely, many attractive employers are based in great locations that come with a cost of living that isn’t always met with the salaries on offer. This filters out great talent before the hiring strategy has even had a chance to gain any traction. Go global by going remote and add some of the best talent out there to your workforce as your needs demand it.
It’s the Future, Stupid.
If trends continue, freelancing is looking set to become a bigger and bigger part of the working world for both companies and workers. Those who embrace this change are going to reap the benefits and those who don’t will fall behind.
Looking for a proven marketing freelancer? Speak to the Advisable team today