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68% of Indian freelancers rely on social media for work: Report

With changes happening in the nature of work across the world, freelancing is fast becoming a choice for many professionals across disciplines and levels of expertise. Freelancing is also creating a pool of talent for companies to explore.

The fifth edition of the Payoneer Freelancer Insights Report, which compiles responses from over 2,000 freelancers in 122 countries, has some insights into the evolving demand and supply situation. As much as 46% of the respondents saw an increase in demand for their work. Finding new clients was reported as a challenge for 73% of them.

How do the global demand and supply for freelancers compare with the situation in India?

Demographics, expertise and pay

Freelancers start young in India. Survey respondents in India were younger than the respondents in the rest of Asia and the rest of the world, with 40% under the age of 25 and another 39% under 35.

The freelancers in India had a wide range of expertise. Web and graphic design, IT, content writing, multimedia production, translation, programming and marketing were some of the key areas. About 70% of Indian survey respondents work exclusively as freelancers or for their own businesses, compared to 76% in the rest of Asia and 67% in all other regions. While some spend more time at work, 48% work 30 hours or less per week as freelancers.

Wages show a gender disparity. While the overall average hourly rate for Indian respondents was $22 an hour, higher than the rest of Asia ($19) and lower than other regions ($26), the average rate for women was $19 against $23 for men.

India’s freelancers are highly educated: 61% of the respondents have a bachelor’s degree and 19% have postgraduate degrees. But the hourly rate does not completely mirror their education which shows that there is still a mismatch in terms of freelancing expertise, payments and qualifications in some cases.

Decoding the demand

The demand is increasing in India but it is still lower than the rest of Asia. India’s survey respondents under the age of 35 has seen a significantly higher increase in demand compared to older freelancers, although rates have gone up at a similar pace for all age groups. Two-thirds of the respondents in India said demand would continue to grow, and more than half of these respondents expected their business to grow significantly (>50% year over year).

Finding new work was the greatest challenge faced by survey respondents in India and around the world, followed by managing their time and fee negotiations.

As more people are taking up such choices, 69% of India’s freelancers reported witnessing increased competition. This is less than the rest of Asia (73%) but more than in other regions around the world (59%).

Ways to find work

As much as 68% of the Indian respondents relied on social media as their primary source to get new work. This is less than the rest of Asia but slightly more than in other regions. Compared to their peers, India’s freelancers make more use of social media platforms such LinkedIn, but conversely have less work coming from word-of-mouth referrals.

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