Emerging markets such as Argentina, Egypt and Pakistan are often overlooked in the international business landscape, despite the extensive entrepreneurism and professional talent on all corners of the globe. These markets have recently seen a rise in job prospects through freelancing, which offers earning potential that would have otherwise not been possible and enables businesses to hire talented, hardworking professionals at attractive rates without the limits historically associated with geographic borders.
Freelancing across borders offers professionals countless new job opportunities, the freedom for freelancers to be their own bosses and create their own schedules, the ability to set their own rates, and more. Some professionals turn to international freelancing as a means of supplemental income, while others are fortunate enough to make a career out of it, support their families and sustain an improved overall quality of living from freelancing. Those that really plan well and dream big build successful companies providing services globally and giving employment opportunities to many others.
While there are countless ways professionals in emerging markets can reap the benefits of freelancing, hiring international talent as a CEO or business owner offers equal, if not more benefits. Freelancers can help your business on a variety of fronts by supplementing your in-house team with professionals possessing different skills or simply offering fresh perspective. Popular skills that companies – both startups and mature companies – turn to freelancers for include website and app development, graphic design and copywriting. More specifically, hiring freelancers opens the door to a larger talent pool, enables you to hire talent on an as-needed basis, and enables you to identify and hire the right talent based on your specific budget. International freelancing also provides access to strong talent often at substantial cost savings compared to hiring locally.
As the freelancing movement continues to rise, success stories showcase the rapid change in career avenues and global projects available to professionals. Following are several examples of international freelancers who have excelled as full-time freelancers.
Web designer from Argentina gains financial independence
Gabriel Carrivale, CEO of Delreyagency.com, is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and currently lives in Ukraine. Prior to freelancing, Gabriel was a web designer in the corporate world seeking financial independence and creative freedom. To achieve this goal, Gabriel started freelancing, first on a small scale until his work eventually gained traction and led to starting his own company. He has grown his company to service clients internationally across the U.S. and Europe. Gabriel has turned his freelancing career into a business not only for himself, but for many others that have joined his growing team.
Video editor secures work amidst a revolution and job decline in Egypt
Mohamad Eldeeb is a senior video editor, color correction and color grating specialist in Alexandria, Egypt. Mohamad started work as a video editor for a local firm, quickly realizing his skills in color correction and grating were unique and had the possibility to become a full-time career. In 2008, he started a new career as a multimedia instructor for production, cinema effects and color correction. In 2011, the revolution in Egypt caused a dramatic spike in unemployment. Mohamad, along with many others, were left without a job and no real opportunities in sight, which led Mohamad to create an online portfolio of all the work he had done. Now, Mohamad has clients worldwide and earns more money than ever before.
Art director in Pakistan turns his freelance business into a top global agency
Arif Malik is based in Pakistan and started his own advertising agency in 2010 after more than a decade of experience as an art director with different national and multinational advertising agencies. Within four years his agency, Design Guru Communications, grew to be ranked as one of the top design and multimedia companies worldwide, working with more than 250 brands.
Filipino Freelancers returned from overseas to build a company that gives opportunity to dozens
Allan and Edna Donato are the co-founders of EASE Technology Solutions, symbolizing the energy and drive that has turned the Philippines into a leading exporter of services globally. After graduating as an engineer, Allan spent the first nine years of his career working for telco and IT companies in the Philippines and the Middle East. In 2009, while working overseas, he started freelancing part time as a technical support professional and content writer to supplement his income. This new career quickly grew and in 2011, he finally took the plunge, returning home to work as a freelancer on a full time basis. His business continued to flourish and after two years his wife Edna joined him when they formally established their own IT consulting and outsourcing company and started hiring others. They are active in their community in the Philippines and have given employment opportunities to dozens of young people in their local area.
Freelancer in Kenya leverages several skills to make a living online
Kevin Harter is an online marketer from Eldoret, Kenya who makes a living online through several online ventures. Since he started freelancing in 2009, Kevin has gone from making a few hundred dollars a month with online writing gigs to making thousands of dollars through writing, affiliate marketing, SEO and other services. Freelancing not only gives Kevin the flexibility to test his skills on a variety of fronts, but also enables him to be on the road while working and create his own schedule.
These success stories are only a few examples of regular people who have made a living from international freelancing. Innovations in communication – email, Skype, social networks – and payments have made it easier than ever before for businesses in the U.S. and other developed countries to tap into talent around the world. Given these advancements in technology, how can you access talented professionals from around the world to support your business?
- Open your search globally – The success stories above serve as evidence that as a U.S. business owner, you don’t necessarily need to work with local talent. Leveraging international freelance marketplaces can significantly expand professional prospects for your business. There are endless opportunities to work with freelance writers, developers or designers in other parts of the world. Consider signing up for and posting projects on freelance marketplaces such as Upwork or PeoplePerHour, which collectively offer entrepreneurs and business owners access to several million freelancers worldwide.
- Determine competitive pay rates – A freelance writer might charge by word count, whereas a developer might charge by hour or Web page; pay rates vary greatly depending on the location or skills needed. According to the Payoneer Freelancer Income Survey 2015, the average hourly pay for freelancers is $21, which is much higher than the average pay in many of the emerging markets surveyed, but significantly lower than the cost of hiring in most developed markets. Setting the right rates – based on industry standards and the skills your business needs – can ensure you attract and hire the best freelancers for your specific business needs.
- Offer flexible payment options – Professionals often seek freelancing career paths because of the increased pay opportunities and work-life balance and flexibility. Yet, one of the biggest challenges international freelancers face is the logistics and cost of getting paid. Each freelancer listed above initially faced roadblocks with getting their businesses off the ground due to the complexity of getting paid quickly, securely and in their local currency. Traditional banking, often the only option some businesses offer for freelance payments, might send payments through several intermediary banks with added fees before it reaches the freelancer’s bank account. This not only results in the freelancer making less money, but also takes away the flexibility that drew them to become their own boss in the first place. To keep freelancers satisfied, businesses must ensure they have the tools to pay freelancers just as quickly and seamlessly as they would their local employees – regardless of currency and geographic differences.
- Leverage your social networks – The same survey found that social media is a common channel for finding work as a freelancer. Freelancers also often promote skills through social media, with Facebook being the most popular channel at 38 percent. There are a variety of ways to find freelancers through social media. This might include promoting jobs on your Facebook page or identifying LinkedIn groups specific to the freelancers your business is targeting.
As a business owner, working with international freelancers (if you aren’t doing so already) will prove to be mutually beneficial. Doing so will take your business to the next level by exposing it to global entrepreneurs and professionals who can bring fresh ideas to the table and increase your business’s productivity. At the same time, hiring such professionals can drastically change the lives of any freelancers you employ – for the better. As long as you have the right tools in place to communicate with, manage and meet the flexibility expectations of professionals across borders, languages and time zones, hiring global freelance talent will set your company up for continued success and growth.
Written by Scott Galit, CEO at Payoneer Inc.