Freelancer Insights

How Freelancers Can Grow with the Gig Economy

A freelancer speaking with their freelance contact worker on how to grow their business. 

Freelancing is on the rise, but many of these new entrepreneurs worry about avoiding plateauing in their new business so they can continue growing.

According to the MBO brief Independent Workers Lead Recent Surge in Professional Service Business Applications, in 2020, professional services applications from independent workers (freelancers, independent contractors, etc.) increased by 21% over 2019. This trend has continued into 2021, with January applications rising by a whopping 51% over January 2020.

It’s reasonable to assume these increases were boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, given that most of the 2020 increase came in the second half of the year. However, this spike is part of a long-term trend. By 2027, it is expected that a majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.

“We’ve seen the pool of talented freelancers steadily grow for years. In our opinion, the more important trend is an increase in “professionalization” of the freelance and contractor world,” said Elizabeth Eiss, Founder and CEO of the talent curation and freelance recruiting platform ResultsResourcing.

“What I mean by this is, in the past, many freelancers were career professionals who did some work on the side because it was what they enjoyed doing, or they were in between traditional jobs. Today, we see a shift from ‘informal revenue generation’ to individuals who believe that their work is valuable stand-alone, as a business entity. It’s a turn toward an entrepreneurial mindset.”

However, a rise in freelancing also means a move away from a supportive office structure. Freelancers are specialists in their fields, but, as new entrepreneurs, some of the biggest pitfalls they encounter include:

  • Focusing on what they like doing without focusing on developing skills to run a business.
  • Failing to have a short-term and long-term plan.
  • Not valuing their time enough, charging and paying themselves too little.
  • Not being honest with themselves about what they can and can’t do.
  • Trying to do it all themselves and reinventing the wheel rather than seeking advice  help.

Fortunately for these recent entrepreneurs, the rise in freelancing also means there are now more fellow contract professionals who can lend a hand.

“As freelancers become more successful and have a business model that is working and growing, they need to think about scaling. This means outsourcing their non-core work to other contract specialists who can support them,” said Eiss.

“When freelancers team up, it’s all about finding ways to expand their combined value proposition. It’s an approach that allows each contractor to do what they love – and what they do best – while outsourcing the rest to achieve the professional and financial freedom they seek.”

Outsourcing and partnering, this is where many freelancers stumble because finding trusted connections is not something that happens easily or quickly. Fortunately, there are resources that these entrepreneurs can utilize, including:  

  • Business groups that provide information, structure connections, and offer networking.
  • Apps that provide marketing and distribution channels.
  • Job platforms that highlight the skills of potential contract connections.

“Because there are thousands of job platforms, finding the right one can be difficult,” said Eiss. “The key is to find one that aligns with you. We suggest that people look at “Best Of” lists and experiment with various platforms.

“One important recommendation we make is to avoid ‘contest’ platforms where freelancers do free work, the client picks the product they like best, and the work from all other contractors goes unrewarded. Your time is too valuable to do work for free."

When searching for a job platform to partner with, freelancers should look for a platform that fits their purpose and provides the structure and tools to help them get clients, make connections, and grow their business.

“For example, at ResultsResourcing, we deliver a hybrid model that merges human-led staffing approaches with everything great about online job board platforms,” said Eiss. “Our expert recruiters are here to help freelancers as well as the small and mid-sized businesses who post jobs with us. There’s no cost to join or propose, and contractors can propose on as many jobs as they like. The best matched are video-interviewed by us and recommended to the client in a talent pool of three of the best-matched freelancers.”

“We also educate clients to be a ‘value-versus-price’ buyer to help them understand the market rate for various roles. Often, the client doesn’t know the value of the work they want done and only search by rate, so they don’t get ‘ripped off.’ However, we help them think about cost in terms of ‘value delivered’ and not just hourly rate. You may pay more hourly, but you get better work done in less time with a quality, best skill-matched freelancer.”

Freelancers, discover how ResultsResourcing can help you, as a client, get best-matched with other freelancers in the work that complements yours.  You can grow your freelance business while boosting other freelancers as well!

ResultsResourcing blog

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