The Rise of Freelance Marketing: A New Norm

There is no denying the expansion of the freelance economy. A recent report by marketing talent platform Wripple shows how much of today’s freelance workforce includes marketing professionals, with over one-third of U.S. workers identifying as independent.

In general, both freelancers and companies have positive opinions about their collaborations, according to the report that surveyed marketing/creative freelancers and the companies that hire them regarding the opportunities and challenges that exist in today’s freelance marketing space. 90% percent of freelancers and 99% percent of hiring companies expressed satisfaction with their current freelance work arrangements, according to the report. With a 15 percent increase in satisfaction since 2022, over half (51%) of businesses that use freelancers stated they receive good value for the caliber of the work that is delivered. That satisfaction is almost twice as high for independent contractors: 14%

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What’s more, 82 percent of freelancers said they anticipate the number of opportunities they accept will increase in the next two years. On the other side of things, 92 percent of companies said they similarly expect to increase the volume of the freelance work they hire.

Marketing freelancers are sought after for various tasks within organizations. The highest demand areas for freelancers include:

    • Marketing creative (87%)
    • Technology (78%)
    • Media (75%)
    • Data and analytics (74%)
    • Experience design (74%)
    • Artificial intelligence (71%)
    • Strategy and planning (63%)
    • Multimedia content (51%)
    • Project management (36%)

Though there are restrictions on the role that freelancers can play in the marketing industry, as well as enduring cultural and operational differences, it would be prudent for businesses to interact with the freelance employees they hire and inquire about ways to strengthen their working relationship.

For instance, while most freelancers (53%) feel that there should be more professionalism and stricter standards for the freelance experience, fewer than a third of businesses (30%) think that this is currently the case. Additionally, only slightly more than a third (36 percent) of businesses that employ freelancers agree that the freelancing industry faces ongoing operational challenges and that there is still a long way to go before it is managed and recognized as an integral part of the workforce, contrary to the beliefs of nearly half (47 percent) of freelancers.

Generally, according to 79 percent of freelancers, the role of freelancing isn’t handled consistently enough to make it an essential part of an organization’s workforce. In a similar vein, 75% of businesses that employ independent contractors feel that the overall role of freelancing in their workforce is limited.

Other persistent issues in the freelance world, according to freelancers, are a lack of professionalism or partnership (42 percent), unclear job specifications (38 percent), a poor fit for team culture (31 percent), a lack of expertise (31 percent), and a lack of management (30 percent).

Operational difficulties (63 percent), a lack of professionalism and partnership (49 percent), and a lack of commitment to DEI (36 percent) are the main reasons freelancers cite for ending their relationship with a client.

Conversely, the top three reasons cited by businesses for not moving forward with a freelancer are that the individual is not a good fit (22 percent), that the talent requests too much money (20 percent), or that the talent requests too little money (18 percent).

The report states that full-time freelancers are more likely to rely on company acquisition teams, their own marketing, or talent marketplaces, while part-time freelancers frequently use staffing firms to find work.

The average full-time freelancer has been in the industry for five to six years, according to the report, despite recent growth in the number of freelancers.

In late 2023, Wripple conducted a survey of over 400 marketing and creative freelancers and companies for their “2024 Team Up Report.”

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