Nov. 2012
Freelance, freelo, frilo, contract, temp, etc. etc. etc.

How much an idea costs is different from how much value it has and how much profit it can generate. The truth is that no one can answer any of these three questions until after the idea is in motion. Well, maybe the person who first had the idea can say how much it cost them, but they're almost never in a position to assess its value because they are just the supply, not the demand.

When we're emerging from a recession is not the time to begin looking for an answer to these questions, it's the time to find the answer. And having to look for and do freelance work is the empirical path to that answer. It seems to be the ideal time. On the one hand, most of the agencies have kept the personnel that are strictly necessary to maintain operations, but not enough to see their accounts grow, and much less to do RFIs, RFPs, biddings and everything else that makes an agency grow and the entire sector along with it (in other words, to emerge from the recession). And on the other hand, personal communications media Skype, email, ftp, and smartphones make it easier to work with the ideal professional than simply with the one that is closest by.

Lately, freelancing has been a marginal part of an industry that has lost its main business (media). But during this economic recovery it can be a secret weapon for those who know how to use it. The fact that we're in the USA, where nondisclosure and non-circumvention agreements (NDA and NCA) are signed and enforced, and where almost everybody respects payment times, sounds the final note that makes this modality even stronger.

The advantages for the agencies are that it can temporarily contract the professionals they need vs. the one they can (because of the costs of decision, contracting and relocation). Not only that. With this modality the agency can get to know the style of that professional in action. Because once the work overflow has passed, the agency can decide whether it wants to keep working with them on a freelance basis or if it wants to guarantee exclusivity by making them a permanent offer.

The advantages for freelancer are obvious. The office is wherever they are. Their commute may be from the kitchen to the backyard, to the beach, etc. The same is true for scheduling. Working 9 to 5 may have been fine for Lutheran monks, but a real creative never rests! Or, as in this case, they rest whenever they can. Their office mate may be the dog, and since it's a good idea to take it for a walk couple of times a day, they can. In other words, the freelancer can choose who they want to work with. Their team can be all the people they always wanted to work, toil, sweat and exert with, but who they never had money in the budget to hire (that is, if they can get them on board).

And for those who think freelancers are just an advertising phenomenon: think again. A Staffing Industry Analyst says that next year the hiring of temporary personnel in the USA is going to surpass historical levels. A survey among HR professionals shows it will reach 106% for all industries. It also shows that among marketing, creative and design professionals, this number will reach 106 and 111%, reinforcing the tendency of strong demand for qualified temporary personnel (see article).

Almost everybody is expecting the business to grow. And that's good news, since anybody who's been in this business a while has heard the old saying: If you're not growing, you're dying.