How do you get the best hourly rate in the gig economy?

A competitive freelance market can make getting a decent hourly rate difficult. What can be done?

It was supermodel Linda Evangelista who famously said, ‘I don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.’ Perhaps an hourly rate of a few hundred can be reasonably commanded from someone who made a cakewalk of the catwalk. But what price to emerge from the restless slumber of a modern freelancer?

The usual measures that affect the price of your services, such as the quality of your work, standard market rates, and scarcity of skills may still be factors, but competition for jobs has made these problematic. The chances are, someone else is at least as good, and skills are in ample supply, meaning the market rate naturally plunges.

Almost three million people have worked in the ‘gig economy’ in the last 12 months, statistics show, and its ‘sharing economy’ cousin has meant sites like TaskRabbit and Gigwalk have enabled more people to take on flexible work.

As a result, unlike quality supermodelling, the supply of labour for freelancers is plentiful. And where once the self-employed earned a higher rate than staffers to offset the extra risk taken on by a relative lack of job security, now it seems that freelancers risk a race to the bottom in a cut-price free for all.

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It’s not all doom and gloom for freelancers in the UK. Recent research shows that because of the continued labour market shortages, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable employees –meaning 95 per cent of companies use freelancers, who can be deployed quickly and flexibly.

But if freelancers want to make an improved hourly rate, they need to consider whether upskilling is the way forward. According to research from freelance site Upwork, here are 20 skills that are gaining traction in the freelance market:

  • Blockchain
  • Tensorflow
  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • Voiceover
  • Subtitling
  • Art direction
  • Content strategy
  • Computer vision
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Augmented reality
  • Chatbot development
  • React native
  • Media buying
  • Go Development
  • Information security
  • Scala development
  • Instagram API
  • Adobe Premiere
  • Machine learning
  • Angular JS development

All of these skills can be learnt through online programs – so it’s possible to learn while you freelance in your everyday role, setting yourself up for a chance to command a better price doing something slightly different.

Getting the rate you want in the gig economy may be tough these days. But develop the skills that the market requires, and you, like Linda, can become accustomed to a princely sum to coax you out of bed.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

The Gig Economy