Today, Sally Keys fills you in on why you may want to join the freelance workforce.
Today’s working conditions have become more flexible than ever. Digital technology makes it possible to work from anywhere, and the increasingly global nature of the advertising industry renders the traditional 9-5 an obsolete concept. All of these factors mean that workers have better reasons than ever to request flexible working arrangements, and employers have even better reasons to agree. From cost savings to increased productivity, an increasing number of employers are offering flexible, home working arrangements.
Yet for many, the attraction of working from home is not enough. While some people may not want to tackle the daily commute or work in a busy office, many still liken this kind of flexibility to a dog being allowed a slightly longer leash. Instead they yearn for complete autonomy and control over their work, career and destiny. Welcome to the world of the freelancer.
The role of freelancers in the industry
The advertising industry has seen a recent surge in freelancers, with Statistics Canada reporting that almost 17 percent of the 69,000 jobs in advertising, public relations and related services in 2015 were self-employed. In the U.S., freelancers represent 35% of the total workforce, and earned an estimated $1 trillion in 2016.
The same pattern is being observed the world over. In its recently published 2016 Agency Census, the Institute of Practitioner in Advertising IPA reported an increase in the use of freelancers in creative roles for the 12th year in succession. Across Europe, they reported an increase in the use of independent professionals from 6.2 million in 2004 to 8.9 million in 2013, with the UK experiencing the biggest increase, at around 63 per cent.
There are a number of reasons that so many people are able to make a success of working on a freelance basis, and these relate to the clients, the freelancers and the agencies themselves.
1. Overall changes in the market dynamic. Today’s campaigns are far more granular, and clients are looking for a more diversity and niche specialism than ever before. There is also a growing tendency for clients to work project by project rather than on a retainer basis, so the flexibility of the freelancer is simply a better fit.
2. The cloud. By taking advantage of cloud based technology, it is far easier to remain independent, yet to collaborate with partners and others in the supply chain whenever and from wherever you want to.
3. Flexibility and innovation. Quite simply, using freelance expertise allows agencies to be more brave and innovative, giving them the freedom to work on new service offerings without having to make a major commitment on costs.
Beach huts and bohemia?
Read the latest articles on freelancing and you would be forgiven for thinking it is all about digital nomads working barefoot from a hammock in Cambodia one day and from a gite in France the next. And for those with zero commitments and only themselves to please, this sort of lifestyle is a real possibility. After all, today’s freelancers needs only a laptop and a decent network connection, so the idea of working anywhere in the world becomes a serious option.
Or school runs and laundry?
But what if you don’t have quite that degree of freedom? Those of us with a family and a mortgage, might not be in a position to relocate to Bali next week, but there are still plenty of benefits to becoming a freelancer. Being your own boss gives you the flexibility to dictate your own working schedule, deciding what you will do and when you will do it. By working from home, you can fit work commitments around school runs and other domestic commitments.
Whether you are a free spirit with a yearning for a desert island or a busy parent who wants more time to clear the laundry pile, it’s worth considering the freelance lifestyle, where the world is your oyster.
Photo credit: Unsplash
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
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