Should Freelancers Be Called Independent Workers?

I have worked long enough to have experienced multiple recession/recovery cycles. In the past, when employers downsized during recessions, they typically turned to freelancers to get them through the crunch periods. Then, when the economy picked up again, they offered full-time jobs to the best available talent. In a strong economy, the term  “freelancer” sometimes described a part-time worker who was temporarily between full-time jobs.

Things are much different now, even though many colleges,  job-training programs, and government statisticians haven’t yet realized it. The  severity of the current economic downturn, the rapidity of technological change, and the ease of global outsourcing have made it economically attractive for managers to hire fewer full-time employees. Today, companies can use online employment agencies to quickly assemble “virtual teams” of “independent workers” with specialized skills from throughout the U.S. and around the world.

The Q2, 2011 Report from Elance and an article by Sara Horowitz in The Atlantic Magazine show two sides of this story, and suggest the emergence of a permanent class of “independent workers.”

Elance Reports Record Growth

Elance®, a worldwide platform for online employment, promotes its ability to help businesses hire and manage projects “in the cloud.” In their Q2 report for 2011, they reported that businesses are hiring online more than ever, “driving record earnings for online workers across all sectors, including IT, Creative, Marketing, and Operations.”  according to the report:

The number of active clients jumped 23% to 160,756. The 453,461 online workers who find gigs through Elance earned a record $34.3 million in Q2, up 48% from Q2 in 2010.

Demand for skills such as WordPress Programming, Game Development, and iOS Programming, continued to make IT the largest category of employment, with a 107% increase in jobs posted compared to the end of Q2 in 2010.

In the Creative category, there was a 79% year-over-year increase in demand. Skills such as business writing, photography, and illustration helped fuel this growth, but the largest jump in demand (148%) occurred in the field of Infographics.

The full report can be downloaded from the Elance website. It includes a variety of charts and graphs including:

  • total earning by category
  • who clients are hiring
  • number of job posts by category
  • what online workers are earning
  • contractor earnings by category
  • geography hot spots
  • top hiring U.S. cities
  • top earning U.S. cities
  • top states by contractor earnings

Of the top 20 skills in demand, 9 were in the creative fields. In-demand creative skills include:

  • article writing (ranked 3)
  • graphic design (4)
  • Photoshop (8)
  • content writing (10)
  • blogs (12)
  • Illustrator (13)
  • research (16)
  • logo design (18)
  • web content (20)

In a Sept. 7 press release, Elance notes that businesses gain flexibility and time savings by hiring contingent workers online. An August survey of Elance clients showed that 83% of the businesses plan to hire at least 50% of their workers online in the next 12 months, and nearly half of the businesses plan to make 90% of their hires online.

LINKS

Elance Online Employment Report: Q2 2011

Press Release: Elance Survey Shows Small Businesses Taking an Online Road to Recovery

A New Industrial Revolution?

In the first of a series of  columns on the website of The Atlantic magazine, Sara Horowitz writes that, “Everywhere we look, we can see the U.S. workforce undergoing a massive change.” Instead of working for the same company for 25 years and reaping the benefits of full-time employment, she says, “Today careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms, coffeeshops, or co-working spaces.” She points out that, “We’re no longer simply lawyers,  or photographers, or writers. Instead, we’re part-time lawyers-cum-amateur  photographers who write on the side.”

Today’s surge in freelancing might ultimately be as consequential as a modern Industrial Revolution. Yet, as Horowitz points out, the government doesn’t count independent workers in a meaningful and accurate way. Nor are there provisions for some of the protections that independent workers need in order to build economic security (e.g. unemployment insurance, protection from unpaid wages, etc.)

Sara Horowitz is the founder of The Freelancers Union, which was described in the post “Three Organizations that Can Help Freelance Creative Pros.”

LINK

The Atlantic Magazine: The Freelance Surge Is The Industrial Revolution of Our Time
by Sara Horowitz

The Freelancers Union

RELATED POST

Three Organizations that Can Help Freelance Creative Pros

 

Guide Encourages Writers to Cash in on Kindle Gold Rush

WRITERS. “Kindle Gold Rush: Auto Pilot Income for Writers” is a package of three guides that explain how to write e-books for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. The guides were developed by Angela Booth, who has been writing successfully since the 1970s. She offers training in copywriting, blogging, and writing for the Web.

The Kindle Direct Publishing program makes it easy for writers to become self-publishers.

According to Booth, once you understand the Kindle process, you can make money by writing and formatting e-books for others, or publish and sell works of your own. Angela has spoken with several writers who are busy retrieving and revising unpublished books from their desk drawers and uploading them. One writer uploaded eight e-books in a single day

In a recent issue of her Fab Freelance Writing Ezine, Angela made these predictions about Kindle publishing in 2012 and beyond:

  • Most freelance writers will add Kindle publishing services to those writing services they already provide to their clients. Writers will find opportunities in editing, proofreading and converting text to Kindle format.
  • Writers will be going through their archives and repurposing material for the Kindle
  • Writers will find more writing jobs on Kindle-related outsourcing sites. Some businesses are already seeing the promotional benefits of Kindle publishing.
  • Blogging writers will be developing Kindle ebooks from their blogs, as well as creating blogs that live both on the Web and the Kindle.

The “Kindle Gold Rush” package includes the following guides:

  • Publish Your E-Book with Amazon Kindle (PDF, 41 pages)
  • Write Genre Novels for Fun and Profit (PDF, 33 pages)
  • Write and Sell an E-Book: Every Writer’s Quick-Action Guide to Writing E-Books (PDF, 35 pages)

The package also includes a 14-page case study about John Locke, who is making over $100,000 a month writing digital novels. He is the first self-published author to sell a million e-books on Amazon.

LINKS

Angela Booth’s Writing Genii

 

New Freelance Job Marketplace for Experienced Writers

Logo for All Freelance WritingWRITERS. All FreelanceWriting.com has launched a new freelance writing marketplace designed to help clients find highly qualified, experienced professionals without having to sort through countless profiles or bids from unqualified individuals. Clients who are uncomfortable posting higher-paying gigs can browse the profiles of experienced professionals to find the right individual for their projects.

Jennifer Mattern, the freelance writer who founded AllFreelanceWriting.com,
wants to distinguish the job marketplace on her site from job sites that are
saturated with extremely low-paying gigs. She believes that setting a minimum compensation level for jobs will help accomplish that goal. The job board also prohibits ads from content mills (also known as content farms) which famously underpay their
content producers.

Maintaining professional standards for writers allows serious buyers to separate themselves from the negative reputation that many freelance marketplaces have earned by focusing on ultra-low-paying jobs.

“The race to the bottom mentality behind freelance bidding sites often makes them a bad deal for the most qualified freelancers” says Mattern. “Many of the best freelance-writing jobs are never publicly advertised because clients fear being bombarded with unqualified applicants who jump at any higher-paying opportunity.”

There are two sides to the new freelance marketplace: Clients can either post ads about specific gigs or browse through the profiles of professional writers.

Clients can place a standard 30-day job ad for $14.95 or opt for a featured 30-day ad for $24.95, and get better ad placement on the site.

Writers can purchase a permanent professional writer profile on the site for $14.95. Users can edit their profiles as their experience expands. Writers are not required to purchase a profile in order to apply for any of the jobs posted on the job board. But if you want your profile to be seen by companies who prefer not to publicly advertise higher-paying jobs, consider buying a profile.

In order to post a profile, writers must agree to charge a minimum rate. The goal is to enable professional writers to market their services in an environment free of hobbyists and candidates without professional writing experience.

The types of job categories featured on the site include: business writing, freelance editing, print writing, technical writng, web content writing/blogging, web content writing/other, and freelance writing/other.

For more information, visit AllFreelanceWriting. com. In addition to a job board, the site includes a freelance writing blog, writer’s markets, rate calculators, a keyword density analyzer, writing forums, e-books, a virtual book club, and more.

LINKS

All FreelanceWriting.com

AllFreelanceWriting Job Board

 

Learn to Use Online Marketing for Your Freelance Business

PhotoShelter E-Book Cover Freelancer's Online Marketing BlueprintThe Freelancer’s Online Marketing Blueprint.” is the newest e-book from PhotoShelter, a leading provider of portfolio websites and sales and marketing tools for photographers. The free 53-page guide explains how creative freelancers can use online marketing to generate more clients and increase revenue. It can be downloaded from the PhotoShelter website.

“When you’re a freelancer, it can be a real challenge to balance self-promotion with client demands,” says Allen Murabayashi, CEO of PhotoShelter. “This e-book is meant to coach freelancers on effective marketing strategies that will help optimize their online exposure and reach a larger pool of prospective clients.”

The Freelancer’s Online Marketing Blueprint includes practical, step-by-step tips on how to generate inbound website traffic, build a successful leads list for email marketing, and optimize your website to increase the conversion of visitors to paying clients.

For example, the guide includes a checklist of 23 ways to grow your online footprint. In addition to increasing the likelihood that prospects can find you, creating multiple online destinations also helps you manage your brand by suppressing any negative commentary that might show up about you on the first page of a Google search.

The guide also discusses how to efficiently manage your time, allocate scarce marketing budgets, and benefit from pay-per-click advertising. Also included are contributions from internet marketing and creative business-management experts at companies such as Conversion Rate Experts, SEO software developer SEOmoz, Marketing Mentor, and email-marketing service Emma.

PhotoShelterLogoThe Freelancer’s Online Marketing Blueprint complements PhotoShelter’s ongoing series of free business and marketing e-books for photographers. Other e-books in the PhotoShelter library provide detailed advice on email marketing, Facebook pages, search engine optimization, and starting a photography business.

LINKS

PhotoShelter

E-Book: The Freelancer’s Online Marketing Blueprint