Mark Mwongela, Sales Development Director, Africa, Paypal
The freelancer economy has seen significant growth in recent years. According to Gartner research, 32% of companies globally are replacing full time employees with freelancers as it offers them greater flexibility in workforce management.
This trend has also manifested itself in South Africa, where workers are innovating and creating opportunities for themselves in the face of ongoing economic uncertainty.
The growing acceptance amongst local and global businesses for remote and gig economy workers, offering them short- term, on demand employment opportunities is helping these freelancers to grow and expand their business. Technology plays a pivotal role in helping them to deliver services to global markets. Here we look at a few things freelancers can do to support their growth:
An effective online/ social media presence: There are a number of platforms where freelancers can list their services for potential local and global employers including freelancer.co.za, NS.work, the South African Freelancers Association (SAFREA) and upwork.com, among many others. You need to clearly outline your skills and capabilities. It’s a good idea to explore having a dedicated website and easily searchable social media profiles to reach your audience. Ensuring that your site is regularly updated with projects undertaken, clients reviews and testimonials is also critical.
Talk the talk. In a country with 11 official languages, many South Africans are multilingual which isn’t a surprise. Census data indicates most South Africans speak two languages, with some being fluent in three or four. Coupled with relatively neutral accents and high degrees of EQ, in this digital age, freelancers can cater to a large customer base. It is, however, critical that you update your profiles with language proficiency to reach a wider audience.
Expand globally. Take advantage of exchange rate differences and branch into the US or European markets to earn more for the same amount of work. Rates vary from location to location, so do your research and work out what the optimal markets are for your services.
Collaborate. Nobody can do everything, so it’s important to collaborate with experts to ensure success. Managing payments to ensure that they are paid on time and protected against fraud is critical. Global leaders like PayPal offer freelancers a simple and fast on-boarding experience as well as provide other services like invoicing templates, personalised PayPal.Me link to be shared with clients via text, email, or messaging app to get paid quickly, and Seller Protection on eligible transactions. Get an email address, productivity suite, chat app and meeting space all in one (free) package with Gmail. Or for a more professional look, sign up for Google Workspace and get your own email@yourdomain plus all of the tools, storage, and support you need.