More and more people around the world are choosing freelance careers. Estimates put the percentage of freelance workers in the US at around a third of the working-age population. In Europe, countries like the Netherlands have seen a doubling of the self-employed population in the last decade alone. Finding the right talent is the most important part of any project involving freelance teams. The right combination of skillsets can make or break agency work, and can be the difference between getting a client on a hefty retainer and never working with them again.
This sea change in how the world works has been largely driven by advances in technology. Many companies employ entire remote workforces with no more difficulty than having an on-site staff. Collaborative productivity tools, video conferencing, modern financial services and more have all made tapping into the global workforce easier than ever. This combination of vastly expanded professional and personal networks, and an explosion in freelancing worldwide, means if you need a specific set of skills to get a job done you’re now closer than ever to the right person, whether you know it or not.
Let’s Play The Numbers Game
How many freelancers do you know? According to Statistica, the average working professional has around 400 LinkedIn connections. Assuming you’re living in the US, where a third of the population do freelance work, that’s around 130 freelancers you’re connected to right off the bat. If you look at your second-degree connections (all 160,000 of them), you’ll have access to more than 53,000 freelancers. Whatever skills you need, there’s a good chance the exact person you need is within those professionals. If not, there are 21.3 million freelancers in your wider network.
LinkedIn is just one example. Your friends, family, old colleagues, and people you know from all walks of life can also be valuable avenues to explore in the hunt for freelance skills. In fact, Facebook has shown that technology has closed the gap between every person on Earth. There are reportedly now only four degrees of separation from any one person on earth to another.
Coworks research shows that the average European digital agency with 50 employees will have around 3,000 freelancers in their immediate network, with that number jumping to some 6,000 for US agencies. That’s a huge range of talent available at very short notice, and often immediately. Many larger businesses have yet to tap into the on-demand economy, and those which act fast can still have their pick of the best freelance talent.
The type of work you need to be completed will impact the probability that you know the right person for the job. A good rule of thumb is that the fewer people working in a sector, the higher the probability they are freelancers. Highly-specialised fields can command impressive day rates, so most people working in them choose to go freelance rather than being tied down to a 9-to-5.
According to a survey conducted by the UK Office for National Statistics, some 55% of photographers working in the UK are freelancers. Similarly, more than a quarter of copywriters, designers, and web developers are freelancers.
The Strength Of A Network
There are huge advantages to drawing on your own network to find freelancers. Trust can be a huge issue when recruiting online, but a personal referral can go a long way towards removing any perceived risks. The nature of creative work means that many developers, designers, and copywriters will also have large professional networks that can connect you to the right talent at short notice. Creative professionals live and die by the quality of the projects they have worked on, so will rarely recommend someone unless they know they will do a good job. This curated, high-quality talent pool is much closer than most agencies realise.
If you’re looking for a specialist in freelance management, get in touch with us today.