The Freelance Market Is Growing, But Who Is Leading the Trend – and Why?

Freelancing suits a wide variety of individuals, and its future is brighter than ever as flexible working continues to gain popularity. These are the people leading the freelance wave.
Nadine Fahmy

Nadine Fahmy

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The advent of technology allowing connections between anyone, anywhere, at any time, has had a significant impact on the way we work. Many people are no longer content with tying themselves to one employer for most of their lives; instead, many are preferring to sell their skills in the global marketplace to buyers to whom they feel connected, or whose requirements match their skills.

A 2014 study by the Freelancers Union in the US highlighted the various motivators for freelancing and it is no surprise that “earning extra money” is all the way at the top. With the current economic conditions in the Middle East & North Africa region as well as the disparity of incomes between the Gulf States and the rest of the Levant and North Africa, we can safely assume that the motivators would be very similar.

So who are these freelancers who opt for a more precarious project-to-project work life instead of paid, contractual employment with all the attendant benefits that it brings such as bonuses, holiday pay and medical insurance? Contrary to what you may think, they’re not all millennials who are freelancing because they haven’t figured out their long-term career yet. Meet the diverse groups of freelancers most prevalent in today’s marketplace.

New Parents

Once a new little bundle of joy has arrived, some parents realize that both of them going back to work full time is no longer an option. With flexible working still at very low levels in most companies in the Middle East, either one parent gives up completely or they compromise by freelancing. This allows them to fit work around childcare commitments but still retain an income. It also enables them to keep their hand in the labor market in order to rejoin it more easily in the future.

University Students

Many students supplement their meager loans and aid by freelancing. It enables them to put their studies to practice and hone their skills. The benefit for employers is that they are often exposed to new and innovative practices that younger generations often trailblaze. University students also bring a wealth of enthusiasm and energy to projects because they’re eager to make their mark on the world.

Moonlighters

For those looking to supplement their income, freelancing often seems like the obvious choice. This is especially the case when the person has creative, design or technology based skills. They work for their main employer during office hours, and then freelance in the evening. The advantage here is they often have very relevant, current skills they can use to benefit others. As they already have a main wage, this group may not be freelancing purely for money. For example, they may choose to do freelance work for an organization involved in a cause that they believe in.

People who Want to Monetize a Passion

People who freelance in order to indulge in a passion for pure enjoyment’s sake often end up wanting to monetize their skills and create a full time career doing it. This can apply to anyone from photographers to bloggers to writers.

Retirees

Twenty years ago the dream was to work hard, make a decent pension and retire at 50, perhaps 60 for those whose pensions weren’t that big. In our more fast-paced, digital world, many are not content with being idle during retirement, they want fulfillment during their later years. Freelancing for this group is a choice, not a necessity, and one many take with huge enthusiasm. For employers, the advantage is the years and years of experience this type of freelancer has and their in-depth knowledge about their chosen field.

In conclusion…

Freelancing suits a wide variety of individuals, and its future is brighter than ever as flexible working continues its exponential rise during the digital era. It is important to note that many well-educated and experienced people freelance by choice, a fact that we often overlook as we tend to assume that people freelance out of necessity or a lack of other options i.e. full-time employment.

Looking to start your career as a freelancer? Reach out to Ureed.com, the largest online freelancing marketplace in the GCC.