Passionfruit has connected hundreds of companies with top-quality freelance marketing talent. Those companies were kind enough to share their experiences of working with freelancers for this report. It’s clear from their responses that freelancers have become a core component of modern marketing for companies of all sizes, from pre-seed startups without a marketing team to multinational enterprise businesses facing hiring freezes. From financial flexibility, operational agility, and a proven track record of boosting productivity, freelancers offer many different benefits. Today, freelancing is no longer an alternative to traditional employment but a vital feature of today’s marketing ecosystem, driving change, creativity, and innovation.
The internet is full of statistics showing this is a global phenomenon.
A 2022 paper from freelancing platform Upwork reports that the percentage of the American workforce freelancing has grown significantly, with 59 million Americans freelancing in the previous year, representing 36% of the workforce. That same report notes that in 2022 freelancers contributed $1.35 trillion to the US economy in annual earnings in 2022, up $50 billion from 2021. In the UK, that figure is £162 billion. The worldwide freelance market is estimated to be growing by 15% every year.
Data from global payment platforms such as PayPal or Payoneer, which are widely used by freelancers, show a rise in international transactions for freelance work, emphasising the global nature of the freelance economy. This comes as The World Economic Forum identifies the skills crisis as a significant global challenge, ranking it second only to climate change, with an estimated value of $11.5 trillion.
It’s no surprise then that Passionfruit has seen a 58% increase in inquiries in 2023 compared to 2022 (and the year isn’t over yet!). And, when we asked Passionfruit clients about their future plans for freelancers, 65% said they plan to increase their use of freelancers.
Everything suggests that freelancing is only going to get bigger. This article will explore how and why freelance marketing is growing, according to freelancers and the businesses that hire them.
Top 10 most in-demand marketing skills for 2023
- Social media marketing
- Other digital marketing
- Lead generation
- Sales and business development
- Search engine marketing
- Email marketing
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing automation
Most in-demand Passionfruit Specialist Skills
What’s driving the growth in freelancing?
The benefits of working with freelancers
Freelancers allow organisations to bypass the lengthy and resource-heavy recruitment process, providing immediate, specialised skills and swift execution. They offer a strategic solution for enterprises looking to maintain or enhance productivity and innovation during hiring freezes, providing a flexible, cost-effective, and skill-specific workforce on a project-by-project basis. Their agility helps companies scale and adapt fast, without the long-term commitment of permanent staff. They enable businesses to test strategies and adapt quickly, drawing on diverse expertise to meet changing market requirements.
👩🔬Test different approaches
82% of Passionfruit clients said freelancers give them flexibility
“Working with freelancers helps us find our footing without having to commit to a full-time hire right away” - Willa Frej, Director of Marketing at TeraWatt
Being able to adapt swiftly to changing demands and priorities is vital for marketing teams. Enterprise businesses might want to trial different approaches as they move onto new channels, such as TikTok or Threads, while startups might want to test different ways of connecting with customers. Freelancers let them do this without the investment of new hires or an agency.
Mars hired Passionfruit specialists when the marketing team wanted to start using TikTok, but wasn’t sure what approach to take. “We started to partner with Passionfruit, which is a brilliant community of marketers and specialists.” says Lindsay Barrett, Head of Data-Driven Marketing, Europe at Mars. “Through them we were able to put multiple brands on TikTok, and then to start to iterate and learn, in a way we never could if we started to follow the old ad agency model.”
For Willa Frej, Director of Marketing at TeraWatt, the agility freelancers offer is indispensable. By working with freelancers, her team can scale their workforce up or down as needed, allowing them to experiment with different tactics to find what works with their business model.
“Working with contractors and freelancers enables an early-stage marketing team to remain nimble, flexing up and down as needs and priorities shift,” she says. “A huge part of the role consists of experimenting with different tactics as we figure out what fits with our business. Working with freelancers is ideal in these situations, as it helps us find our footing without having to commit to a full-time hire right away."
For Prajval Dsilva, Head of Special Projects at Allica Bank, it comes down to flexibility and a streamlined route to market. Working with freelancers is a way for his organisation to trial different skill sets and outcomes, leading to a clearer vision of the company’s marketing direction without a premature commitment to a full-time hire. “This approach allows us, as an organisation, to finalise our desired marketing direction,” he says.
Louise Read, an executive-level marketer, uses freelancers to test and validate concepts before heavy investment. This approach is not only efficient for iterating and refining marketing strategies, but also for winning over key decision-makers and unlocking larger budgets.
In her experience, freelancers are pivotal for businesses that operate on tight budgets or are accountable to venture capital firms, providing a cost-effective means to trial initiatives, measure success, and adapt accordingly.
“This not only speeds up the experimentation process but also enhances your chances of securing support from senior stakeholders or the CFO for a larger budget,” she says. “This is especially relevant for bootstrap or VC-funded businesses seeking to demonstrate the value and cost-effectiveness of their strategies. Working with a freelancer can help define your test budget, giving you the freedom to experiment, measure success, and refine your approach.”
🏃♀️Hit the ground running
73% of Passionfruit clients said freelancers enhanced productivity
“Freelancers expedite your ability to 'get things done'” - Louise Read, Executive-Level Marketer
Freelancers can be onboarded rapidly and starting work immediately is second nature.
Jaydon Sullivan, a freelance designer, put together brand guidelines and templates for Sprout.ai within a week of being hired — a task that would traditionally take much longer. The speed at which freelancers operate allows businesses like Sprout.ai to implement changes and updates rapidly, ensuring they keep pace with market demands.
“They previously didn't have any in-house design support and were struggling with consistency across their social media, documents and presentations, " says Jaydon. “Branding and identity work with traditional agencies or in-house can span weeks or months, so Sprout were happy to get this implemented so quickly.”
👨🍳Skills on demand
64% of Passionfruit clients said freelancers allow them to tap into varied expertise
“It's much more efficient to bring in someone with expertise, assign the task, and let them work their magic” - Henri Mackenzie, Comms Specialist
Freelancing unlocks a trove of specialised skills for businesses, particularly those that may not have such expertise on their payroll. From SEO to digital marketing and public relations, freelancers are a global talent pool bringing a wealth of knowledge. This is particularly useful when resources are stretched thin or hiring freezes have been imposed. At startups, a diverse in-house team isn’t always an option.
Freelancers provide startups with the specialist skills they need while retaining full flexibility, says Per Nyberg, CCO at ORCA Computing, “By tapping into a diverse talent pool, we can choose specialists for different requirements and scale commitments with our business requirements.”
Henri Mackenzie, a freelance comms specialist who hires freelancers for clients, highlights the importance of recognising the limits of your own skill set and the benefits of engaging a freelancer to fill those gaps. For her, it isn't about trying to master every discipline, but understanding when to bring in an expert. As a business evolves, so too does its needs, making the flexibility of hiring freelancers not just a convenience, but a strategic necessity. The efficiency gained from this approach is undeniable—assigning tasks to seasoned professionals allows businesses to harness their specialised skills quickly, without the commitment and time required to learn these skills in-house.
“Knowing where your skills end and where you need an expert is crucial,” she says. “It's about not pretending to be a specialist in something you're not. I think this approach works well for startups, especially when you have limited resources. As the company grows, you need different skills. Learning all these skills on your own would take a considerable amount of time. It's much more efficient to bring in someone with expertise, assign the task, and let them work their magic.
We can get dedicated time from freelancers, unlike an agency that may be part of something bigger, adds Prajval. “This dedicated time enables us to delve into the details and nuances, which is crucial, especially for complex products like ours. Working with the same person is beneficial.”
⏩ Avoid long hiring process
55% of Passionfruit clients said they valued being able to quickly find people with the right skills to cover temporary vacancies
“I was able to start building out a custom SEO roadmap within a week of our initial chemistry call” - Will Bradley, SEO Expert
While hiring a new member of staff can take months, companies can go from thinking they’d like to hire a freelancer to working with one in under a week. At Passionfruit, for example, businesses often start working with freelancers within 72 hours of enquiring.
When Henri found a technical glitch with email newsletters, resolving it could have been a prolonged headache. “We once encountered a peculiar situation with our newsletters, where some images got reformatted when recipients forwarded the email. It seemed to be related to the template and the image sizes, but I had no clue about how to fix it. Passionfruit had an email expert ready that morning. They came up with some great ideas and quickly resolved the issue.”
Louise points out that while recruiting a full-time employee is a lengthy process with significant costs beyond just salary — like recruitment time, interviews, and benefits — a freelancer brings immediate value. They are seasoned professionals ready to hit the ground running, grasping the business needs quickly and executing strategies effectively, without the baggage of additional costs and time delays associated with traditional hiring.
“A freelancer offers the invaluable asset of time-to-value,” she says. “You can quickly find an experienced professional who can grasp your needs and execute your strategy fast. Freelancers expedite your ability to 'get things done.'”
The transparent pricing models of freelancers allow businesses to clearly understand and manage their budgets, she adds. This is a vital consideration for any business, especially those in growth or adjustment phases.
“Sometimes, your requirements may not justify a full-time hire,” she says. “Freelancers allow you to efficiently achieve your goals without enduring a protracted hiring process, particularly if it's not imperative for your business at its current stage.”
Working as a freelancer allows Will Bradley, an SEO expert, to get results more quickly and efficiently than being full-time. “I can also tailor my strategies more than I could working at an agency where SEO projects tend to be very process-driven,” he says. “For example, with Nansen (a blockchain analytics platform), I was able to start building out a custom SEO roadmap within a week of our initial chemistry call."
👀 Fresh perspectives
55% of Passionfruit clients hired freelancers for specialised skills not available in house
“Companies can tap into a global pool of talent to find freelancers with the right skills” - Prajval Dsilva, Head of Special Projects at Allica Bank
Freelancers bring fresh insights and diverse expertise, which is particularly useful in industries that may tend towards conventionality. Freelancers have the advantage of drawing from a broad spectrum of experiences, which is useful when internal resources are stretched thin or too ingrained in the company.
“Freelancers aren't just skilled and experienced professionals; they're dynamic contributors injecting fresh perspectives and innovative ideas into our team,” says Per. “Their expertise and adaptability enable us to foster creativity and stay agile.”
For Henri, freelancers have been creative allies, offering fresh perspectives when marketing a highly technical product. When you're swamped with work, having a creative sounding board is essential,” she says. “Partnering on a creative journey can bring different thinking to the table, especially if you're the sole marketer in a highly technical company. We made improvements to our marketing strategy and reports, and bouncing ideas off someone was invaluable. You need a fresh perspective when you're too close to the technical details.”
Echoing that, Prajval attributes the accelerated progress of their projects to the skills and perspectives that freelancers bring. “Freelancers bring diverse skills and industry experiences to the table,” he says. “Companies can tap into a global pool of talent to find freelancers with the right skills. Working with the person actually executing the work, rather than an agency, makes the feedback loop better. This has significantly accelerated our journey. They have also been very responsive and effective in managing their time.”
Louise has seen the benefits freelancers can offer, especially in the B2B marketing space. Their experience of serving a variety of clients can bring a much-needed injection of personality and out-of-the-box thinking.
“Freelancers bring a wealth of diverse experiences from working with multiple clients,” she says. “This can infuse fresh perspectives, especially in B2B marketing, which can often become rigid and conventional. Incorporating the insights from both B2B and B2C experiences can inject personality and innovation into your marketing efforts.”
If you’re a startup, advanced business, or freelancer and would like to know more about Passionfruit, please reach out! We love connecting with passionate people 😉