Online Freelancing: A ‘Dream Job’ in the Globalized World?

freelancerToday is different than before. Long, long time ago people used to settle in one place and remain there for their lifetimes, in large because there were no roads or public infrastructure available. Then people built roads, invented cars and trains, and started moving between cities. Next, planes were invented, people started learning languages, and started moving between countries and continents. Today, with all its transportation technology, visa and visa-free regimes, and generally high levels of education, people are as global and as mobile as ever. If before we tried to build family homes, which were in use by many generations, now we try to be as little attached as possible: renting is being preferred to owning.

Naturally, today’s job market reflects these differences as well. A lot is spoken about Generation Y and their strive for flexibility and diversity in the workplace. Today’s ‘dream job’ is shifting from the stability of home-based office positions towards a position with no time or location boundaries. ‘No office, boss or desk are needed anymore, just give me a laptop and an Internet connection’ – could be the motto of the modern workforce. Certainly not for everyone, however, certainly for the ones called online freelancers.

The spread of online freelance jobs

According to a global survey carried out by one of the leading platforms for online work, Elance, freelance workers thrive as independent professionals, exhibiting more happiness and productivity compared to their past roles as full-time employees. It seems that this new way of arranging work is also favored by businesses, who can get lots of work done fast and cost efficiently. According to Elance’s 2013 survey data, compared to 2010 the amount of freelance jobs posted has doubled, and freelancers’ earnings have tripled. The range of skills in demand is also increasing, with the majority of jobs posted in the categories of writing and translation, IT and programming, finance and management, as well as design and multimedia. As for the top hiring countries, Elance data suggest that the US leads, followed by Australia, the UK, Canada and UAE. The list of countries with most freelancers is topped also by the US, and followed by India, Ukraine, Pakistan, and the UK.

Recent articles by Forbes and The Economist also echo the notion of the changing job market, highlighting the several advantages for businesses to hire through the cloud.

Indeed, as the main online job portals report, there is demand for just about any job that can be done in front of a computer, starting from simple tasks of data entry up until the complexities of law or designer jobs. As such, businesses that need this kind of job done are in great advantage, as their potential hires are just a click away. Moreover, the pool of potential hires gets truly global and diverse, which also allows for substantial price negotiations. As The Economist story implies, if before the main option of getting a short video translation done was to pay $1,500 on a local rate, then today the same job is being bid to be done by several international freelancers for the prices of up to just $33.33. Great deal, isn’t it?

What are the risks involved?

In a virtual reality anonymity may be one of the biggest risk factors. In essence, how can a company make sure that the freelance professional is real, and that the job is done by the one who accepted it, rather than being passed on to someone else?

Given these risks, online job platforms introduce online ID verification systems, use ratings and recommendation data for their registered freelancers – and general website reputation ratings are also available. As The Economist puts it, with the spread of online work there is also a big improvement ‘on the old method of picking someone at random out of a phone book’.

Naturally, there are more risks to consider, on both the job provider and freelancer sides. However, the pure fact of how rapid online work is developing says it all: As reported in the Forbes article, the size of the global online work industry is expected to grow from currently $1-$2 billion to $5 billion by 2018. In the same vein, the CEO of oDesk, the world’s largest online workplace, estimates that by 2020 one in every three workers will be hired online. This makes one wonder what will happen with all those that are motivated (and strive) to physically relocate internationally for work…

 

29 thoughts on “Online Freelancing: A ‘Dream Job’ in the Globalized World?

  1. Freelancing is not such a bed of roses as the article would like us to believe. yes there is the flexible working hours and working environment, but there is the untold story of the not so stable source of income

  2. Thanks for the article, which reflects my own experience.
    It is of note, however, that international legal/tax frameworks have not kept up with this trend at all: Once I have attracted repeat customers from overseas, they are quick to pressure me to ‘normalize’ by registering a business etc. From there on, trying to figure out e.g. where, how and to whom to pay social security deductions can get diabolically confusing.

  3. As a freelancer i think it needs a serious attention to get success and make it as a full time career with flexible time and activities.The benefits of being a freelancer include the ability to make your own schedules and control your own workflow.
    If you rightly know your skills or get the skills where there is low competition then you are successful.If you are good in python or ruby on rail then you can get job easily on odesk,freelancer etc as compared to wordpress.For students Academic writing services is the best way to be a successful freelancer as compared to programming or VA.
    In simple words you are successful as a freelancer if you get to know about what is being demanded in the market.

  4. It is note, however, that the legal framework / international tax has not kept up with this trend altogether: Once I have attracted regular customers from abroad, they are quick to pressure me to ‘normalize’ by registering a business, etc. From there on, trying to figure know for example where, how and to whom to pay social security cuts diabolically can get confusing. Thanks for the article which already hosts fit, this reflects my own experience.

  5. Hi,

    Great article, thanks for sharing your views. Its nice that you have pointed out about both good and bad sides of the freelancing world. In my experience, speaking from an employer’s point of view freelancers can save you money compared to having a full time employee or hiring a company but there is always the concern of quality and time management. Therefore I feel it is probably better not to opt for the cheapest freelancers, rather pay a bit more to get someone with good ratings and experience. Note that in most freelancing websites you would also find companies offering freelance service. It may not be a bad idea to try them.

    As per point of view of the freelancer’s themselves the crucial factor is to find good clients who would not back out when the time for payment comes. Also some clients may request multiple repetitive changes to the project hence increasing work load while reducing profit. So the bottom line is judge well and move smart.

    Take care, keep up the good work.

  6. Freelancing is a great way to have an extra income, but there are some troubles to get an income that would free us from a day job. There is a growing number of companies that include in their policies not to hire people working for some other companies related to their subject. And they use some kind of IP tracking for acomplishing these odd rules. This limits a lot the place we could be working for at the same time in order to have wider sources of income.

  7. Freelancing is a great way to change your life, by working at your own place, at the time schedule you choose, and without spending time traveling from your house to your job and after it, from the office to your house. It is fabulous, once you have found the corrrect places and the correct jobs to do. It is one of the best products of this globalised world.

  8. Freelancing is one of the best career for individuals who want to work from home. Hundreds of freelance jobs opportunities are available on internet. But it is very difficult to find the best freelance jobs. This article helps to get an idea about how to select the freelance jobs. Thanks for sharing this valuable article.

  9. I love working from home. Nothing can beat that for me. income is not 100% stable but it’s stable most of the time. Most important is to save money while you are making it like with any other job, if something happens then you are fine with your savings.

  10. In a virtual reality anonymity may be one of the biggest risk factors. In essence, how can a company make sure that the freelance professional is real, and that the job is done by the one who accepted it, rather than being passed on to someone else

  11. Online freelancing has become a trend these days. Now companies and individuals are outsourcing their tasks to freelancers as its cost effective and the options are much more. Such freelancing options created the idea of virtual office and opened up different career options for many individuals.

  12. Freelancing job is a good option, it will let you to work independently and also allow you to take a decisions on your own. Freelancing experience is basically a much required one to every freshers before they get into big full-time jobs.

  13. Thanks for the article, which reflects my own experience.
    It is of note, however, that international legal/tax frameworks have not kept up with this trend at all: Once I have attracted repeat customers from overseas, they are quick to pressure me to ‘normalize’ by registering a business etc. From there on, trying to figure out e.g. where, how and to whom to pay social security deductions can get diabolically confusing.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this information. As I am an MBA Distance education student and searching for a job so this article is very helpful for me.

  15. reelancing is a great way to have an extra income, but there are some troubles to get an income that would free us from a day job. There is a growing number of companies that include in their policies not to hire people working for some other companies related to their subject. And they use some kind of IP tracking for acomplishing these odd rules. This limits a lot the place we could be working for at the same time in order to have wider sources of income.

  16. I have been a freelance graphic designer for 10 years and will not trade that lifestyle for anything else. It was super hard in the beginning to get clients but what I realize is that if you focus on creating tremendous value for your clients, they will always come back to you. That’s because once they like your work, they rarely go elsewhere since the idea of searching terrifies most people when it comes to specialized skills like graphic design and web development.

  17. Freelancing is the best nowadays but what if the client belongs to some other country and not understanding the specific language. One should know the languages like chinese, French etc to some extent. Asian Language School specializes in teaching Chinese, Japanese and many more. We have dedicated language programs, asia internship program for adults and children. Visit: http://www.language-school.io

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