This is an in-depth analysis of the digital freelancing industry listing countries by their number of freelancer professionals.
The online freelance industry allows many professionals to work remotely from anywhere in the world. It is probably the biggest industry that supports digital nomads worldwide.
Note: I do not support, recommend, or have any kind of partnership with any company mentioned in this post.
To identify accurately the metrics of freelance worldwide I would need to have access to a huge database of freelancers, working in different fields, to the point it would be enough to determine with a decent precision where are these professionals and why freelancing is so popular in these locations.
My most immediate idea was to visit some of the main freelancing websites like upwork and freelancer.com. After visiting the sites and to my pleasant surprise, I noticed that they indicate each user’s country on their respective profile. The source for this research was ready to go.
Browsing around these websites I thought it would be fair enough to look for projects in which worldwide users would be able to apply, because, as I imagine at least, if you are looking for someone to do French translations, odds are that most users will be from French speaking countries like France or Lebanon, and not from Japan. Therefore, I focused on analyzing projects which would make virtually any professional eligible, regardless of his nationality and depending only on his skills,
How Payment Processors Made Life Easier for Freelancers
Before getting to the actual numbers and countries, I would like to stress how payment processors like Paypal, Skrill, Webmoney, Payoneer and others made life easier if you are a digital nomad or a freelancer.
Even if some online payment gateways are almost 20 years old (Paypal was founded in 1998), it was just in this decade that payment processors got popular enough worldwide, allowing anyone to send money from Bolivia to Vietnam in a matter of seconds. These improvements had an extremely positive impact on the life of freelancers and digital nomads which are not from North America or the European Union.
What Country is the Top Freelancer Nation in 2016
Just to make it easier to understand, in these freelancing websites mentioned above, normally a client posts a project, and then freelancers worldwide apply for this project.
I choose to analyze users applying for projects with at least 10 candidates, in different categories such as: web development, mobile development, article writing, 3d modelling, digital illustration, logo creation, SEO, social media marketing and virtual assistants.
A total of 100 projects were analyzed, summing up to 1948 freelancers from all continents. Here is a graphic indicating the number of freelancer per country:
As we can see, India has a massive presence in the freelance industry, followed by a sounded presence of Pakistan and then other countries sharing a similar slice of the pie.
Let’s see now a pie style chart, to understand how much percent each country has of the total freelancers analyzed:
While India has roughly 47% of the candidates and Pakistan has 15%, no other nation managed to keep itself above the 5% line.
Why India has so Many Freelancers
India has so many freelancers due to a combination of favorable factors in the country. The first, is its obvious huge population. The IT industry in India is growing a lot since the 1990’s and a lot of young Indian pursue careers in this domain, that is the second reason behind India’s presence. The third factor, which is also crucial. is the low cost of living in India, which makes Indian professionals offer unbeatable prices, to levels that would make it really hard for a person in Germany or Australia make ends meet with freelancing.
Conclusions regarding Other Countries
Pakistan has a very similar profile as India, with a large population, low cost of living and IT professionals in abundance. Even if I tried to pick projects in which language requirements are not that important, the fact that the IT industry is strongly polarized towards English helps countries like India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and the US to have a sizeable number of freelancers.
Ukraine and Romania have extremely low cost of living for European levels, and their highly qualified IT professionals have helped these countries to have a good presence in the freelance sphere.
There are other countries which could be on this list, but aren’t due to a number of specific factors. While Brazil and Russia have strong freelancing websites oriented to Portuguese and Russian speakers respectively, I was surprised not to see Indonesia on this list.
Iran could probably make it to this list too, if it wasn’t excluded from payment processing services to the sanctions imposed on the country.
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