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The Indie List Freelancer Survey 2023

Over 7 in 10 freelancers within the marketing communications sector here reported a rise in projects in 2022 and most are quite bullish about their prospects in the year ahead, despite the current economic climate.

The freelance talent discovery company was set up during Covid by industry experts, Una Herlihy and Peter McPartlin, and experienced a substantial rise both in the quantity and quality of signups to their community in 2022.

'The Indie List numbers grew by a third from almost 900 in 2021 to over 1,200 specialists at the end of last year,' said McPartlin. This is driven by a combination of greater awareness and positive word of mouth of the service we provide, but also a general upsurge in people moving freelance either by circumstance or choice.'

The latest study shows that:

  • Average gross earnings for marketing freelancers were '66,000 per annum derived both through the Indie List and their own direct clients. This rose 12% year-on-year but the authors note this might be more a function of the change in freelancer type versus 2021 rather than a major increase per se.
  • The freelance category now embraces a range of different types, from full-timer freelancers (60%) to marketing consultants (18%) and so-called 'side-giggers' (22%), who are freelancing while in full-time roles.
  • As well as flexibility and independence, the over-riding drivers of people going freelance are the opportunity to work on interesting clients and challenges as well as the chance to work with interesting colleagues.

McPartlin described the general mood of freelancers as 'cautiously optimistic'.

'The future outlook of most of our freelancers is still very positive heading into this year but there is apprehension around issues such as late payments, fees being driven down and also more competition in a very open and growing talent market, particularly now with more skilled people from the tech sector becoming available.', he said.

Overall, the majority feel that the current business climate favours the freelance model and believe that more companies will hire independent expert talent in the year ahead.

Looking ahead, co-founder, Una Herlihy, made some observations on where the opportunities lie for freelancers. 'Based on what we're seeing and hearing from clients, there are opportunities across the main categories of Strategy, Client Service, Creativity and Content Creation. But demand will not be equally distributed and the traditional dependence by many

freelancers on advertising creation is likely to reduce. The need for upskilling, especially for all things digital, is essential, along with a nurturing of softer skills such as communication, collaboration, and negotiation.'

According to McPartlin, 'The independent talent base here is immense and impressive but still largely invisible to many enterprises who need help with their marketing strategy, communications, and execution. We will continue to champion this and provide support to our members with more value-added services that will help to sustain this choice of career path.'

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