2021 may have been the year that freelancing skyrocketed, but 2022 saw more and more businesses adopt freelance services, and self-employed professionals enter the mainframe of workforce solutions for all types of companies, all over the world.
Over the past 12 months, we've seen businesses and freelancers alike break the mould of 'traditional' working structures, adapt to a rapidly changing landscape, prepare for uncertainty ahead - and prove hugely successful in the process.
So, as we mark the close of the year and look forward to a fresh beginning, we've rounded up what's changed, what's stayed the same, and how freelancers have benefited from our platform in 2022.
Insight #1: Freelancers' average rates increased - significantly
The Work Crowd saw a huge increase in average rates and invoice amount this year. In 2021, our top-earning freelancer brought in over £43,500 on our platform alone. This year, however, our top-earning freelancer brought in an incredible £128,350. And the success didn't stop there.
The second top-earning freelancer this year earned over £65,700 - that's in comparison to £43,485 in 2021 - while the third highest earned £56,440.
We also saw an increase in invoice amounts for the majority of our segments, including PR & Communications, Social Media and Marketing efforts. Proving that freelancing is on the up and up, and businesses are realising the benefits.
Insight #2: Businesses are tackling economic uncertainty differently this time
Rewind nearly 15 years to 2008 and the UK saw one of its worst economic dips in decades. As a result, many businesses cut expenses where they could, often starting with marketing efforts, and it wasn't the cost-saving strategy many thought it would be.
Now that we're facing new economic uncertainty, many brands are taking a different approach by increasing marketing and communications budgets. Some findings suggest that around 24.2% of UK companies increased their overall marketing budget in Q2 2022.
Having said that, WARC's Global Marketing Insights found that marketing budgets began to decline in Q3 and early Q4, potentially as UK businesses grappled with economic projections, before steadying in November '22.
Insight #3: Freelance marketers are reaping the rewards
If we learnt one thing in 2022, it's that companies' marketing needs were as diverse, complex, and demanding as ever. And self-employed marketers were there to step up to the plate and meet those needs.
Fractional CMOs and Marketing Managers proved to be a key growth market in 2022. It accounted for around 15% of work completed through our platform, compared to just 6% in 2021. This was a reflection on the massive surge in businesses searching for their perfect marketing support in imperfect times.
Our October webinar, The Changing Role of the CMO for Start-Ups and Scale-Ups was one of the most popular we hosted this year, and the average invoice raised by freelancers working in this area increased from £1,237 to £3,366 year-on-year.
Insight #4: Content projects grew, but rates didn't always follow suit
Proving ever-consistent, content marketing projects grew significantly on The Work Crowd platform this year with an 84% increase in market growth and value. And it'll come as no surprise that video content such as TikTok and Instagram reels continued to dominate market demand and performance this year, with 74% of marketers say video generates greater ROI than static imagery.
However, unlike other segments, content was the only hub which saw a decrease in average rate amounts in '22. Why? There are a few theories. A maturing market could mean that freelancers are becoming more 'specialised' in their capabilities, and not needing to charge as much for research. There's also increased demand for content, in turn buying some economies of scale.
Similarly, as businesses create more holistic strategies across the board, content as a plug in solution could be resulting in a more competitive landscape for freelancers, and cost-effective service for brands. According to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing - but still produces high calibre results.
Insight #5: Freelancing and globalisation are expanding together
Businesses taking advantage of globalisation have been on the up and up for some time, and now both brands and freelancers are noticing the benefits.
In 2022, The Work Crowd supported businesses across the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, United Arab Emirates and further afield with finding the ideal freelancer for their strategies, projects and campaigns.
We also saw more and more freelancers expand and build on their 'micro-businesses', offering more services and bringing in greater revenue by joining forces with other self-employed professionals - either in their field or another.
So, what's next for 2023?
We might be bidding adieu to another successful year, but it's hard not to project and predict what's in store for 2023. Will the freelancer network expand even more? How will businesses grow their workforce - and capabilities - using self-employed professionals? And what can you achieve with The Work Crowd?