Empowering the Freelance Economy

The most active freelancer markets in the world and how much they pay

This country is the second most active freelancer market among OECD countries. Can you guess where it is?/ Photo by Kadir Akman: via Pexels
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SPECIAL REPORT

We look at the OECD countries with the most freelancers, their most common job functions and their average hourly rates. You might be surprised at the findings and how freelancer economies are becoming more competitive

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New data from global HR and payroll company, Remote, and one of the world’s largest contractor marketplaces revealed the most active freelancer markets, the most commonly outsourced job roles, and how much freelancers are on average charging per hour in each role and market.

Remotes key findings include:

  • Marketing and Web Design are the most common job functions to outsource internationally making up 33% and 11% of all freelancer projects
  • International & immigration law is the least cost-effective job function to outsource internationally with professionals charging $87.80 an hour on average
  • The best-value job function to outsource internationally is web development, with savings of more than $45 p/h
  • The US is home to the largest proportion of freelancers of all 38 OECD countries, with writing and editing being the most common job function

Remote and flexible working policies mean employers and hiring managers are no longer bound by geographical constraints when seeking out freelance support, so they can more easily hire contractors who are based in different countries or time zones. This also means that more established freelancer markets, such as the US and the UK are now in competition with other emerging freelancer economies.

This has drastically widened the talent pool and means hiring companies and recruitment agencies can bypass any local skills shortages by simply extending their search for talent to new locations.

With this in mind, researchers looked at the countries with the highest number of freelance and contract workers available amongst the 38 OECD nations. 

RankOECD Country% of OECD freelancers in this countryMost common freelancer job function available in this countrySecond most common freelancer job function available in this countryThird most common freelancer job function available in this country
1United States22.09%Writing / EditingArt / CreativeDesign
2Turkey13.55%DesignWeb DevelopmentArt / Creative
3Colombia9.54%Art / CreativeDesignWriting / Editing
4Mexico8.53%DesignArt / CreativeWriting / Editing
5United Kingdom6.35%DesignBusiness DevelopmentProject Management
6Spain5.30%Art / CreativeDesignWeb Development
7Italy4.94%Art / CreativeDesignWriting / Editing
8Canada4.67%DesignData AnalystBusiness Development
9Australia3.05%Business DevelopmentDesignData Analyst
10Germany2.98%DesignWeb DevelopmentBusiness Development
11Portugal2.43%DesignArt / CreativeWriting / Editing
12France2.13%DesignWeb DevelopmentArt / Creative
13Poland1.96%DesignWeb DevelopmentArt / Creative
14Chile1.81%Art / CreativeDesignWriting / Editing
15Greece1.25%DesignArt / CreativeProject Management
16Netherlands0.96%DesignWeb DevelopmentBusiness Development
17Costa Rica0.91%Art / CreativeWriting / EditingDesign
18Hungary0.80%DesignWeb DevelopmentData Analyst
19Israel0.67%DesignWeb DevelopmentBusiness Development
20Japan0.64%Data AnalystWeb DevelopmentBusiness Development
Source: Remote

The United States came out on top with almost a quarter (22.09%) of all the freelancers in OECD countries being based here. In the states, writing or editing is the most popular job function for freelancers.

After that, Turkey is home to the second-highest proportion of OECD freelancers with 13.55%. After design, web development and art/creative are the next most common job functions taken on by Turkey’s freelancers. 

Colombia follows in third place with 9.54% of all OECD freelancers, where design and creative roles are most common.  

The OECD country with the fewest freelancers is Iceland with 0.02%. On this basis, Iceland is the least suitable option for finding international freelancers at scale.


Marketing roles are the #1 outsourced job function/ Photo by Dominika Roseclay via Pexels

Which job roles are best suited for freelancers and outsourcing? 

To investigate this question, Remote analyzed data from one of the world’s largest contractor marketplaces to reveal the most commonly outsourced job roles and how much hiring companies can expect to pay to hire contractor talent in these roles. 

They then compared the average hourly contractor rates to the average annual salary of a full-time employee, to reveal the best type of contractor or freelancer jobs to outsource for the best value return for hiring clients.

RankJob function% of freelance projects posted for this job function
1Marketing32.80%
2Web Design10.65%
3Web Development8.73%
4E-commerce Development8.59%
5Content Writing8.18%
6Customer Experience8.18%
7Digital Marketing8.02%
8Graphic Design7.78%
9Business Writing6.81%
10Mobile Development6.43%
11Architecture6.14%
12Audio Production5.90%
13Animation4.99%
14Illustration4.89%
15Translation4.71%
16Public Relations4.29%
17Photography4.01%
183D Modeling3.92%
19Game Design3.86%
20Product Design3.40%
Source: Remote

According to Remote’s research, marketing is the top job function that businesses are looking to outsource internationally to contractors

Marketing is an important key to growth with many specialist areas, so it is no surprise businesses are looking outside of their full-time staff for contractor help. As a result, this job function makes up 33% of job adverts posted. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing globally, so hiring talent that specialises in your target market can help the success of your campaigns. 

Cultural nuances, however, could be misjudged. Any freelancers doing work for a client outside their market must be in touch with not only their client’s culture but the markets they are marketing to.

That said, the report’s data demonstrates that a significant group of skilled marketing professionals are experienced in working as an independent contractor and many remote professionals around the world are open to working for an international employer. Forward-thinking employers should consider international hiring for hard-to-fill marketing roles to access this large pool of highly mobile talent.

Many other skilled roles such as web design, web development, and e-commerce development are also high in demand, accounting for 10.65%, 8.73%, and 8.59% of jobs posted. 

“There are many benefits to hiring an individual software engineer or app/web developer rather than engaging a large agency or firm,” said Remote. “Apart from the obvious cost and time savings, employers can also expect cleaner and faster communication, increased flexibility, and the opportunity to convert this talent from a contractor to an employee over time,” said the report.

Costs per hour to hire a freelancer based on job type

The table below shows the top 10 “most affordable freelancer and contractor roles” for outsourcing companies ranked by their average hourly rates in USD and GBP.

RankJob FunctionAverage cost per hour to hire a freelancer (USD)Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (GBP)
1Data Entry & Transcription Services$11.83£10.61
2Customer Experience & Tech Support$11.91£10.68
3Market Research & Product Reviews$13.20£11.84
4Virtual Assistance$14.10£12.65
5Data Extraction/ETL$17.66£15.84
6Accounting & Bookkeeping$20.37£18.27
73D Modeling & CAD$23.38£20.97
8Physical Sciences$23.50£21.08
9Translation & Localization Services$24.36£21.85
10Contract Manufacturing$26.04£23.35
Source: Remote

Data entry and transcription services prove to be the most affordable job functions to outsource to contractors or freelancers costing just $11.83 an hour on average. 

Customer experience and tech support follow in second place, costing businesses only $11.91 an hour. This is followed by market research and product reviewers which come in third place at $13.20 an hour on average. 

These roles are all highly competitive with plenty of contractors to choose from. This has caused contractors to lower their costs in a saturated market, said the report.

“Despite attractive low hourly costs, it’s important that employers must develop a fair global compensation strategy for their distributed workforces,” said the report.

“This includes considering statutory minimum wages and endeavouring to pay fair and equitable local market rates. The benefits of implementing this strategy are significant, as commitment to fair global compensation develops a stronger internal culture, increased retention rates, and increased quality of work from contractors who are more motivated to produce a better result.”

International law and immigration freelancers can often charge higher rates/ Photo by Olia Danilevich via Pexels

The table below shows the top 10 least affordable freelancer and contractor roles ranked by their average hourly rate advertised.

RankJob FunctionAverage cost per hour to hire a freelancer (USD)Average cost per hour to hire a freelancer (GBP)
1International & Immigration Law$87.80£78.74
2Photography$87.41£78.39
3Public Relations$74.10£66.46
4Community Management & Tagging$73.23£65.68
5Marketing & Brand Strategy$70.75£63.45
6Product Management$63.30£56.77
7Information Security & Compliance$61.85£55.47
8Management Consulting & Analysis$60.48£54.24
9Sales & Marketing Copywriting$58.91£52.83
10Public Law$58.60£51.09
Source: Remote

International and immigration law is the least affordable job function to outsource to a contractor or freelancer. On average, individuals specialising in this highly skilled role charge $87.80 an hour. “Remember that niche roles with dedicated expertise are often hard to fill with locally available talent, so the flexibility to source an international contractor for short-term project work can be well worth the short-term expense,” said the report.

Photography and public relations also feature in the top five least affordable contractor functions to outsource at $87.41 and $74.10 respectively. This is due to the high demand for this skill, meaning freelancers can have the power to increase their rates to match the demand. 

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