A new nationwide survey by online jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour reveals that 2021 is set to be an excellent year for freelance talent with increased demand, more opportunities on offer and the potential to earn more money.

2020 was already abundant with opportunities with nearly half of business owners saying they had increased their use of freelancers this year. That trend is set to continue with 60% responding that they plan to use freelancers more in 2021.

At 67%, the most popular reason for using freelancers was to introduce skills the business didn’t have in-house. 42% took advantage of flexible talent to speed up projects. Only a third (35%) said the reason they had used freelancers was to save money. Interestingly, and perhaps as a response to COVID, 28% said they’d turned to freelancers to help move their business online.

The survey involving 500 business owners and 1000 freelancers found that 65% of freelancers said they expect their earnings to increase in 2021 and 40% felt the climate was right to increase their rates.  The PeoplePerHour website experienced a big increase in interest this year with freelancer registrations up 111% year-on-year.

However, despite the Coronavirus pandemic pushing one in six people out of work and into freelancing it was by no means the primary reason for choosing to make the switch in 2020. The vast majority (48%) started freelancing to become their own boss, while 43% said they wanted to gain more flexibility in their work-life.

2021 is set to build on the growth many experienced this year. A fifth of freelancers said they took on more contracts in 2020. However, there will also be more people vying for the work. According to the research, 57% of freelancers have seen more competition for work since March 2020.

“2021 really could be the year of the freelancer,” said Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour. “Businesses are increasingly experiencing the benefits of using a more flexible workforce and people are taking the opportunity to take control of their work-life. Our research and recent performance clearly indicates there is every reason to believe that the freelance community will continue to grow over the next few years.”

“However, to be successful, it’s critical that people looking to make a success of a freelance career understand their skills and strengths and find the right company fit if they want to succeed in an increasingly competitive market. Freelancers offer true value, speed, and flexibility to organisations they assist, and next year this will be recognised even further.”

Case study – business owner – Chika Russell from Chika Foodsr:

Born in the UK as the youngest of seven children, from an early age Chika Russell was inspired by her African family who loved to cook and create recipes using unique African ingredients. Chika started her traditional African snacks business with a mission to do good whilst growing her business consistently. Chika has been a member since 2015 and uses PeoplePerHour for projects from legal, design, admin, development or even personal projects for herself.

Chika comments: “Before lockdown 98% of our business was offline, and we lost 40% of business as a result. However, we set up our website and now our ecommerce has grown by 800% which saved us. We’re now keen to be much more digital and have a very strong online presence. Thankfully, this meant we were better prepared for the second lockdown because of online growth from using a developer through PeoplePerHour.”

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.