The Freelance Market: What do SMEs need to know when hiring freelancers?

We've taken an in-depth look at the freelance industry, from the skills most in-demand, to the hourly pay.

Freelancers are self-employed individuals who have a particular skill or service that they can offer to businesses. From graphic designers, to software engineers, freelancers are hired on a temporary basis by businesses to help with workload and expertise that they may not have capacity, or the ability to complete in-house.

With the number of self-employed workers in the UK rising by 14% in the past 20 years, it's clear that the freelance sector is thriving and is a space that business owners need to leverage. However, as the demand for freelancers grows, the ability for SMEs to effectively find, and hire, good talent becomes more competitive and it is essential that business owners know how to navigate this.

Over half of business owners are likely to use a freelancer to help their business grow

To gain a deeper understanding of whether freelancers are used by SMEs, we asked small business owners across the UK about their outsourcing habits. Nearly half of respondents, 47%, said they had used a freelancer and 65% claim they are likely to use one to help grow their business. But what skills are they most likely to use a freelancer for?

IN BODY IMAGE | in-demand freelancers

Whilst these skills are most likely to be hired by SMEs, we wanted to look at which ones currently have the highest demand in terms of search traffic, and open jobs. We scraped freelance site Upwork and found SMEs are currently seeking freelance developers the most - 243 job openings were advertised. This compares to the job with the least amount of live ads on Upwork, data analysts, where just five jobs were advertised by employers across the UK.

Whilst there are disparities in how many job openings there currently are for various skills, the demand for each one is always high and some lend themselves to freelancing more than others. For example, developers are required by SMEs periodically, and in the initial stages of a start up, so the job is more likely to be advertised on sites such as Upwork.

The discrepancies in demand do however suggest that before SMEs advertise for a role, they should consider how many businesses are also seeking a freelancer for the same job, as this could impact the hourly rates freelancers ask for. SME’s can then adapt their budget and hiring plans accordingly to ensure they stand out and compete to secure the best talent.

Read on below to find out the the most expensive and the most affordable freelancers to hire.

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Charlotte is a Senior PR & Communications specialist at iwoca. She's been sharing news and insights about the finance industry for over three years.

Article updated on: 13 July 2022

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