The freelance sector is growing and it’s one to watch if you want to stay ahead of technology trends.
The technology site BestVendor has compiled a list of the most popular Cloud apps being used by freelancers. It shows that many self-employed professionals are turning to the Cloud to help them grow.
The number of freelance workers in the UK is growing. Based on the latest figures from August this year, the freelance population has grown by 12% and it generates 8% of the UK’s private sector output. That might be a surprising figure but it reflects a growing independence in the jobs market. The freelance network, freelance:UK said the independent way of working is now a key cornerstone of the UK economy representing 1.56 million workers. It covers a range of industries, is mostly male and is one of the most productive sections of society.
BestVendor, a site that recommends apps to freelancers, took note of this trend and decided to get a steer on how they are working and what they are using.
The survey found that freelancers are turning to the Cloud to help them do their work day to day. Gmail, Evernote, Basecamp and DropBox are the most popular cloud-based applications.
For those who aren’t freelancers they might be asking why this is important to them.
For a start we’re talking about more than one in ten of working people in the UK. Freelancing has grown significantly since the economic downturn. People who were made redundant are increasingly turning to their own skills and experience to get them back into the jobs market. The fact that the trend isn’t just limited to the creative sector shows it’s possible for anyone, with any background or training to set-up on their own and start earning money. To that end it’s likely more and more businesses will start employing and working with freelancers. Understanding how they work and how it is increasingly an option to outsource projects or services is good to know.
There’s also a more important idea that BestVendor touches on. The Cloud is clearly the technology of choice for the self-employed. It’s not hard to see why. Bespoke, cost-effective and quite often open source it means they can work almost entirely online with very little overheads. Programmes like Basecamp helps freelancers manage and invoice their time.
Freelancers are not cash-rich so they’re used to finding the most creative ways to help them still do their job and service their clients, without running up a large bill. Because freelancers work flexibly and are interested in technology trends it’s also likely that where they lead, the rest of us will follow.
The freelance community has led the way in terms of cloud adoption. Trying and testing bits of software, mixing and matching so they develop a product that’s right for them, they have embodied the spirit of the cloud while many businesses are still relying on desktop software. If we look at the applications freelancers are using they are predominantly focused on communications and file-sharing: Exchange hosting in the Cloud has not only made things like this possible, but professional. It allows them to work wherever they are, and more importantly wherever their clients are.
Freelancers are notoriously resourceful. Without being burdened by “traditional” working practice they can test out new pieces of software. The cream rises to the top so the applications that work are the ones that are adopted. Once they become mainstream they’re committed to getting an even bigger audience. It’s also about approach. If freelancers are leading the way in terms of using the cloud and Hosted Exchange then more and more businesses will start to adopt it, as they realise it will save them money, time and energy. Who doesn’t want that?