It’s well known that the face of the workforce is changing. Technology is making it increasingly possible for people to work on their own terms and the emergence of the ‘gig economy’ has led to a number of new ways for businesses and freelancers to engage more effectively.
As the gig economy continues to take shape and the freelancer market expands, we conducted a study looking at the way Australian businesses are using freelancers to drive their businesses forward. The research found some interesting trends that will help small businesses leverage freelancers wisely.
The freelance revolution is gaining momentum
Our research found that almost three quarters of Australian businesses have been using freelancers for more than two years. On average, businesses are commissioning more than five freelancers a year, and spending an average of $53,810 per year on freelancers.
Importantly, 70% of Aussie businesses expect to be doing more work with freelancers in the future. Supported by technology, this highlights the shift in traditional work structure as companies opt for staffing models with fewer core staff, supplemented with outputs provided by experts from the freelancer community on a needs basis.
Technology breaks down the barriers of location and helps businesses find the right person for the job. It gives businesses access to a huge pool of potential employees and also allows Australian businesses to access experts from all over the globe.
For example, eight in ten Australian businesses are using international freelancers from the US, UK, China and India, and businesses are using freelancers most for infrequent projects to keep up with changing technology. Skills like web design, mobile development and programming are most in demand.
Why freelancers are important for your business
At PayPal, we believe continuous innovation is essential to business growth. As a partner to Australian small businesses, we know that they are already innovating, adapting and developing creative solutions to ensure their businesses are equipped to perform at their best. However, the pressure of international competition is only likely to increase.
With technology breaking down so many barriers for trade, small businesses should use this newfound freedom to their advantage by integrating freelancers as a core part of company processes. In doing so they will have greater capacity to consistently achieve business objectives and remain competitive in the global market.
Our research found that businesses employing freelancers experienced a number of benefits, including: providing extra resources during busy times; keeping costs down; keeping overheads low, and helping to keeping a small business lean, agile and competitive.
Here are three tips for small businesses looking to leverage freelancers:
1. Prioritise skills over fees
Our research shows that when it comes to selecting a freelancer, it is important to ensure you are getting the most value out of your investment.
Businesses who are using freelancers effectively are prioritising skillset and project experience over fees and years of experience when selecting freelancers.
2. Take advantage of freelance platforms to find the right fit
Sometimes finding the right talent can be difficult, but technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to find larger pools of talent to choose from.
Our research found that freelance platforms are most effective when it comes to finding contract workers, followed by employment agencies, word of mouth, and online portfolios and websites.
Of the two thirds of Aussie businesses that have used a freelancing platform, the preferred platform is, followed by Fiverr and Shutterstock.
3. Optimise payment processes to make your business attractive to freelancers
Knowing how to manage payments is a key factor to attracting (and in some cases retaining) the right talent.
More than three quarters of businesses using freelancing platforms pay directly through the freelancer platform and the majority use PayPal.
The research found that security, low fees and ease of use are most important for businesses when paying freelancers, followed by fraud protection and customer service.
Payment security is the number one driver for freelancer payment and businesses looking to tap into freelancing must invest in secure payment platforms to remain attractive to freelance workers.
To learn more about making secure business payments with PayPal, visit