This article was published on October 19, 2017

What the freelancer income survey reveals about the gig economy

What the freelancer income survey reveals about the gig economy
Neil C. Hughes
Story by

Neil C. Hughes


Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast. Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast.

New York-based digital payments firm Payoneer helps businesses and professionals grow a global business. The financial services company work with a broad range of clients from freelancers all the way up through to tech behemoths such as Amazon, Google, and Airbnb.

Typical clients are businesses that are entirely digital that go global very quickly. What follows is usually the need to pay suppliers that are scattered all around the globe. Payoneer is on a mission of shrinking the world to make it easier for anybody to go global and pay or get paid anywhere in the world.

The tech company recently surveyed over 21,000 freelancers from 170 countries worldwide about their experience, their background, and their earnings. The report reveals the average hourly freelancing rates of the freelancing community, to better understand what drives price in the market, and learn how to help freelancers increase their value.

It is widely reported how software is eating the world and how technology is now fundamental for almost any kind of business activity. But, there continues to be a scarcity of talent. As a result, the report confirms a continued growth of an ecosystem of freelancers that are technically educated, internet savvy and working remotely to deliver value across continents.

An unprecedented explosion of freelance opportunity is also emerging in developing markets. An increasing number of young people are realizing that the internet creates better opportunities for them to sell internationally and earn more money than what they could make at home.

The digital phenomenon is stretching beyond platforms like Upwork, 99designs, and as hundreds of other marketplaces begin to appear. All these platforms are helping businesses locate niche talent or specific capabilities to complete work to a particular cost and agreed timeline. But are freelancers happy with life in the gig economy?

When I spoke with Scott Galit, CEO at Payoneer he revealed that in general, the survey suggests that most are happy with what they do.
But they’re really at a medium level of satisfaction with their income levels and most freelancers would like to make more money.

In a nutshell, being in control of their destiny and the ability to focus on something that they’re passionate about puts freelancers in a very fortunate position. However, a lack of further opportunities and higher paying gigs takes the shine off the experience once the novelty begins to wear off.

Galit also highlighted the tremendous amount of change in the way freelancers are now finding work and promoting themselves. The results of the last survey back in 2015 revealed that a little less than half of the freelancers reported that they looked for work through online marketplaces and now it’s closer to 75%.

Again in the previous report back in 2015, only 38% of freelancers promoted themselves on Facebook, it’s now up to 54%. But professional network LinkedIn is surprisingly lagging behind at number two with only 40%.

A combination of globalization, online marketplaces, and social media channels are enabling an always online freelance community to unlock opportunities digitally and removing geographical borders in the process.

On the flipside, there is a tremendous amount of competition among freelancers that is driving prices down. But, when I asked Galit about how freelancers can increase their value and income in a crowded market, he advised that specialization, experience, and education are crucial to securing higher income opportunities

Ultimately, specialization or niching down is a way to make creatives stand out and deliver additional value in an increasingly crowded marketplace. No matter what side of the fence you are reading this, the grass will always look greener on the other side.

The results of the Payoneer freelancer income survey suggests that whether you are stuck in the 9-5 daily grind or enjoying the time freedom of going solo, everybody has the same hopes, fears, and dreams.

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