How COVID-19 has Impacted the Earnings of UK Freelancers

A new study of over 25,000 UK freelancers reveals how COVID-19 has impacted earnings.

Freelancers During 2019

The freelance industry was booming during 2019 with good prospects for daily rate as well as project length. New research from YunoJuno looks at how freelancer prospects in 2019 compare to 2020 across a range of industries.

 

Increased Day Rates

2019 saw an average increase in day rates of around +3% from the previous year. Regarding overall average rate, £300-350 per day was the most common day rate range amongst freelancers in 2019. However, when taking into account rates across all sectors, experience levels and project lengths, the average day rate was £390 per day. The top 10% cohort for day rate in 2019 was a minimum of £570 per day. 

 

Project Lengths

There was a lot of variation within the project lengths but the average across all disciplines was 32 working days (6+ weeks). The most common project lengths amongst freelancers in 2019 was 25-35 days. Amongst the top 10% of contracts, projects could have on average a duration of 80 days. 

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Freelancers During Covid-19

Many organisations within the creative and technology sectors are re-evaluating the structure of their teams to be more heavily weighted towards freelancers in order to deploy a more tailored solution to their own clients’ needs and to ‘future-proof’ their businesses during times of uncertainty.

 

Acceleration into Digital

Developers, Project Managers, Quality Assurance, Social and Client Service all saw a positive increase in pay rates during the pandemic. These figures range from 3% (QA) to 27% (Social). With the switch to digital, it is clear why some of these services experienced an increased demand in the wake of coronavirus.

 

Industries Left Behind

However, not all industries experienced a positive impact. Data, Market Research and Strategy experienced the greatest suppression (-19%, -14%, -24% respectively). Rates amongst brands and technology companies, including start-ups, have either remained consistent or increased, whereas traditional advertising agencies have seen a decrease in rates offered to freelancers. 

 

The New Normal

The most radical change of the pandemic was the shift to remote working. While the norm was once for many freelancers to deliver their work on-site, all who contributed to the study unanimously reported that COVID-19 has rapidly made fully remote working the future of freelancing.