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If you haven’t noticed, the worldwide workforce is shifting away from traditional nine-to- five roles and toward a flexible freelance economy.
English-speaking nations such as the US and the UK are both producing and hiring independent workers at a rapid rate. About half of the UK’s working population will be self-employed within the next five years, while one-third of the US workforce is made up of freelancers.
But why is this good news for South Africans?
Making the most of your business today means going far beyond your own backyard. As a result, non-native English speakers have the potential to work across borders to grow their companies on a global scale.
Thanks to the recent rise of the “gig economy,” entrepreneurs and business owners in South Africa have a worldwide reach when it comes to finding new clients, customers and streams of revenue.
Massive window of opportunity will also mean more global competition
The gig economy signals a massive window of opportunity for South African professionals. However, the emerging independent workforce also means global competition.
Those looking to truly take advantage of the gig economy need the right resources and tools at their disposal. Consider how following platforms and tools represent the building blocks of thriving in the gig economy regardless of your business or industry.
The Power of Freelance Bidding Sites
For business owners, the advantage of hiring freelancers is two-fold.
Firstly, freelancers provide businesses with flexibility with hiring as they can find talent on a project-by- project basis instead of relying on full-timers.
Secondly, freelancers can be hired at the fraction of the cost of a dedicated employee.
In pursuit of clients, freelancers and independent workers are flocking to platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr. In short, these sites allow freelancers in countries such as South Africa to connect with professionals from around the world.
From marketing and IT professionals to customer service reps and virtual assistants, these platforms encompass some of the gig economy’s most popular professions.
Freelance platforms essentially allow freelancers to bid for jobs on a project-by- project basis. Upwork’s bidding system is particularly useful for South Africans who can apply for gigs at a more competitive rate versus native English-speakers.
Bear in mind that sometimes non-native speakers are stigmatised by business owners in the West: it’s important to display proficiency in English on your profile and advertise authentically when searching for gigs.
Allowing freelancers to connect with professionals from over 180 countries, platforms such as Upwork provide a secure marketplace for freelancers to do business across the globe.
Blogging for a global audience
Blogging is not only a necessity for modern web-based businesses looking for more traffic and leads, but also represents a potential revenue stream in and of itself.
As noted by marketing guru Neil Patel, starting a blog that generates income is possible in just about any industry. Considering that businesses that blog receive 67% more leads, the benefits of blogging are difficult to ignore regardless of what you might be selling.
Similar, blog and content writers are among the most sought-after assets for today’s businesses.
Whether you’re writing for yourself or on behalf of someone else in another country, blogging can quickly become a full-time job for skilled writers with specialised knowledge.
By itself, blogging can plant the seeds of a full-time business in addition to advertising your company to a global audience. Especially given its relatively low financial investment, consistent blogging has become an expectation for companies today for rather than an exception to the rule.
Finding international homes for your products
Ecommerce has recently overtaken in-person shopping, with today’s shoppers making over half of their purchases digitally. The key takeaway here is that consumers today are not afraid to spend money online, especially if they’re working with a trusted marketplace.
As such, South Africans have plenty of options when it comes to finding places to sell their physical products. For example, Amazon represents a prime option for businesses due to its name recognition and the platform’s ability to handle selling millions of products. The same rings true for ecommerce
giants such as eBay and niche platforms such as Etsy which focus on arts and home goods.
Building a business via online content
Content creation is the cornerstone of today’s most successful companies. The combination educating your audience via blogging while also producing video represents the ideal content strategy for any business looking to expand their reach.
Consider that video is projected to account for about 80% of all web traffic within the next few years. As a result, video marketing has exploded in popularity as web-based businesses are searching for ways to inform, entertain and effectively sell to an audience glued to the screen.
With video consumption at an all-time high, savvy businesses are using video education as an effective means of growing their audience. Not unlike the world of blogging, video marketing can be used to both educate leads and ultimately feed them into your funnel.
Online tools such as Kajabi are helping businesses reach and teach their leads simultaneously. Video marketing through online courses is easy for your audience to digest and represents a cost-effective way to position your business as a leader in your industry.
Through Kajabi, just about any business can create and sell online content regardless of their industry.
From marketers and contractors to service-based business and those selling physical progress, just about any professional can effectively sell their knowledge.
Content creation goes hand in hand with attracting more business. Given that today’s consumers are more likely to watch a video versus sift through text, incorporating videos and education into your content strategy is a solid idea to make sure you aren’t missing any potential leads.
Make sure that you’re paid
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of succeeding in the gig economy is ensuring that you get paid in a consistent, timely manner.
While there are platforms out there for workers and businesses making transactions (such as Upwork), often freelancers must deal with businesses independently to ensure payment.
Secure online payment through digital wallets such as Due can give independent workers peace of mind as they juggle multiple clients in different countries. Not only are digital wallets more secure than traditional payment via check, but also process in a matter or days versus weeks.
Getting the most out of the gig economy
South Africans have all the opportunity in the world to find success via the flexible gig economy. That being said, competing on a global scale means finding opportunities that play to your strengths and finding unique ways to market your skills.
Itai Elizur is COO at Inbound Junction, a content marketing agency specialising in helping startups and business increase their online visibility. Find him on https://twitter.com/ItaiElizur