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For experienced freelancers, branching out to new countries and territories is a great way to expand your customer base and grow your business. Doing so, however, is not always easy. In addition to knowing how to market yourself to international clients, you need to strategically find the marketplaces where your services are most needed. In this eBook, we’ll break down the steps for taking your freelancer business global, including which skills are in-demand in different countries, best practices for expanding into a new market and the best way to handle international payments.
Freelancing around the globe
Worldwide, the market for freelancers is growing rapidly. The Oxford Internet Institute’s Online Labor Index shows that the use of online labor worldwide grew by 30 percent between November 2017 and November 2018. According to a separate study conducted by Upwork, in the first quarter of 2018, 59 percent of hiring managers were already using flexible talent and 53 percent cited having access to skilled workers as a major challenge.
While the vast majority of freelancers work with clients in the United States (68%) and Europe (51%), other areas have seen increased activity. These include Latin America and Asia, which now respectively account for 21% and 18% of freelancer clients.
For freelancers looking to move into new markets, the opportunities are ample. In India, for example, the number of available projects on online platforms has grown by 18 percent in the past year, while in Australia, the growth rate has been 11.5 percent. While the United States continues to have the most available work, it has slipped from an average of 68 projects per day in November 2017 to 51 projects in November 2018.
In-demand skills for the global freelancer
The first step to expanding your freelancer business is to study where your specific skills are needed and market yourself accordingly.
According to a recent Upwork study, the 10 most requested freelancer skills, each of which saw demand increase by more than 130% year over year, are:
- Blockchain developers
- TensorFlow (an open-source software used for
- Amazon DynamoDB (a serverless, scalable
database that also backs up data)
- Voiceover work
- Art direction
- Content strategy
- Computer vision engineering
- Microsoft Power BI (a business analytics service)
- Augmented reality
While software development and other technical skills are the most sought after – representing nearly 50.6 percent of all vacancies as of November 2018 and growing by 45 percent between 2016 and 2018 – there are many other in-demand job types throughout the world.
Here is a closer look at the index data for several of the most popular countries for freelancers, showing the three largest sectors in terms of job vacancies. This information can help you pinpoint geographies where there is demand for your skills.
There are about 57 million freelancers in the United States, representing about 35 percent of the workforce. For many Americans, freelancing is done on top of their full-time job and is not generally their primary income source.
The most in-demand freelancer job sectors in the US include:
- Software development and technology (40%)
- Creative and multimedia (23.4%)
- Clerical and data entry (14.5%)
Based on platform projects, European countries account for more than 16 percent of the worldwide freelance market. Globally, the United Kingdom is second only to the United States when it comes to the number of freelancers, which comprise 10 percent of the British market. In the UK, freelancing has become a popular option for university graduates, with 29 percent indicating that freelancing is a part of their career strategy.
The most in-demand freelancer job sectors in the UK include:
- Software development and technology (37.4%)
- Creative and multimedia (22.3%)
- Writing and translation (15%)
Twenty-four percent of the world’s freelancers live in India, contributing $400 billion to the country’s gross domestic product. A recent report indicated that the sector is poised for further expansion. Of the more than 2,100 human resources executives surveyed, more than 50 percent predicted the gig economy will grow by at least 20 percent, with 23 percent of respondents believing the growth rate will exceed 40 percent.
The most in-demand freelancer job sectors in India include:
- Software development and technology (53.4%)
- Creative and multimedia (16.3%)
- Writing and translation (13.4%)
According to a separate survey of Indian HR managers, the five job fields in which freelancers are most likely to find work in the future are:
- Deep learning and blockchain architecture (22%)
- Social media and search engine optimization
- (SEO) (16%)
- App development (12%)
- Content writing and blogging (10%)
- Finance auditing (10%)
Freelancing in Canada has expanded greatly in recent years. Some estimates predict that the number of freelancers, independent contractors and on-demand workers will make up 45% of the Canadian workforce by 2020.
The most in-demand freelancer job sectors in Canada include:
- Software development and technology (38.3%)
- Creative and multimedia (26.4%)
- Sales and marketing support (12.3%)
Freelancers account for more than a third of Australia’s workforce. Additionally, a significant number of workers freelance on top of their fulltime jobs to supplement their incomes. Like other countries, Australian freelancers cite flexible work schedules and the freedom to pursue other opportunities as their reasons for abandoning the office place.
The most in-demand freelancer job sectors in Australia include:
- Software development and technology (37.2%)
- Creative and multimedia (28%)
- Sales and marketing support (13.2%)
Best practices for expanding into a new market
Given the worldwide opportunities for freelancers, how can workers break into new markets? While approaches should vary slightly by country and region, generally speaking, it’s important to be clear about where you’re seeking work and presenting yourself in the best possible light.
Taking the following steps will help you in your search:
Find the right freelancer platforms
The first step to breaking into new markets is to get your name out there and advertise your services on the platforms that your target clients are most likely to use. To reach the widest possible audience, it’s a good idea to stay active on global freelance platforms, including Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com and PeoplePerHour.
In addition, the following platforms can help you target specific markets around the world:
- Twago – Twago is the leading platform for freelancing in Europe, offering programming, app development, design, translation and
copywriting job listings.
- Domestika – Domestika is a Spanishspeaking community, where creative professionals can share their projects, contribute to and learn in forums, connect with other creatives and find employment.
- Uplink – Uplink is a freelancer platform that connects German businesses with freelance developers.
- Broxer – Broxer is an Indian freelance platform that connects freelancers and businesses without excessive commissions or processing fees.
- Freelanceindia – Freelanceindia offers both free and paid memberships for freelancers to find jobs in India, as well as abroad.
- Worknhire – Worknhire is an Indian portal for all sorts of freelancer jobs, including IT, design, data entry, sales and marketing, customer service and finance.
Australia and New Zealand
- OzLance – OzLance is a portal for Australia and New Zealand businesses to connect with freelance writers, translators, app developers, programmers, network administrators, web developers and designers.
- Yudoozy – Yudoozy is a free service that connects freelancers with New Zealand based employers.
Price your services accordingly
Appropriately pricing your services when expanding to new markets can be tricky. While you obviously don’t want to reduce your fees too dramatically – you need to make a living, after all – you also need to appreciate that your typical rates might not be applicable in other markets.
To get a better idea of how different services are priced in a specific country, your best bet is to get involved in community groups, either online or in person, where other members can give you a better idea of how the local marketplace works.
At the end of the day, remember that rates are typically set according to job type, and not client location. For experienced freelancers, it’s best not to dramatically alter your fee structure, as long as you’re priced competitively within your niche. For a better idea of how much freelancers in different jobs charge per hour, have a look at the following table:
Localize your website
After determining which countries you want to target, it’s time to localize your marketing materials, i.e., your website, blog, etc. This can be done in any number of ways, including:
- Localizing content – Featuring content on your website, e.g., blogs, site copy, that reflects the market you’re targeting is a great way to show potential clients that you understand their country’s nuances.
- Redesigning your site – A new site design that reflects the market you’re targeting is also a great way to instill confidence in your services.
Use social media
Social media is a good way to localize your services. Consider creating different social media accounts and, if possible, post in your target country’s native language. For example, optimizing your LinkedIn profile to highlight the countries you’ve worked in, the languages you speak, etc. will help illustrate your ability to move into new marketplaces.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to join different social media groups in your target country. These groups are a great way to:
- Learn how to market yourself – Marketing yourself in different countries can be tricky. Do clients in your target country respond to
an informal or formal marketing strategy? Are there different ways of reaching out to potential clients? These are the questions that locals in your target marketplace can answer.
- Grow your network – Developing relationships with other freelancers in your target country is a great way to learn more about the local market.
- Reach new clients – Networking with other people in your industry can help you gain introductions to potential clients and get
your name and brand known in your new marketplace.
Expanding your freelance business into new countries can be an intimidating prospect. In addition to working with clients in a new country, you’ll also be dealing with a foreign payment system. That’s where Payoneer comes in.
With Payoneer, freelancers in 200+ countries worldwide can approach any market with confidence, knowing they have a reliable payment solution. Instead of the typically high fees and slow turnaround times associated with global payments, freelancers affiliated with Payoneer enjoy a host of payment services that remove the headache of getting paid.
Do you pay other freelancers internationally? Payoneer has you covered as well. Our network enables any freelance marketplace or company to easily and quickly send funds to their freelancers.
- Get paid by marketplaces – Connect with all the world’s leading freelance marketplaces
- Bill your clients – Send a payment request to your direct clients and offer them a variety of ways to pay
- Lower your fees – Keep more of your earnings with lower rates
- Get paid the way you want – Withdraw funds to your local bank account, at ATMs or pay your suppliers for free