With the global pandemic accelerating the shift to remote working, more and more workers are embracing the flexibility that freelance work brings and taking control of their own workloads by signing up to expert networks.
Here are Aalbun’s 5 reasons why expert networks are the future of freelancing.
Traditionally, figuring out the exact size and value of the expert network market has been difficult. The fact the market consists of many young companies, spread across many sectors, with differing approaches, has made quantifying the marketplace notoriously challenging.
A 2019 study that looked at the size, composition and future of the market estimated the expert network market to be worth $1.3 billion following years of double-digit growth.
With experts setting their own hourly rates, it could be argued that this is a welcome redressing of the balance of power between employers and employees. But then again, not all pricing models are the same, and not all expert networks pay the kinds of figures you sometimes see quoted and of course most rely on an upfront commitment to consult on more than one project. That being said there is a strong argument to be made that the expert network market is a seller’s one.
As previously mentioned, more of us are reaping the benefits of remote or flexible working environments and the result is a workforce that is moving away from traditional employment models. The World Economic Forum has even suggested that by 2030, most of us could be our own bosses. In a knowledge economy, it seems the old maxim “knowledge is power” could take on a whole new level of meaning as individuals are empowered to set their own schedules and negotiate their own rewards.
It should also be noted that expert networks are attractive to those who are wanting to use their skills in semi-retirement or perhaps are looking for more variety within their current role. The flexibility of the expert network model allows for this.
The growth of the industry shows no signs of slowing, even during the pandemic. The annual growth rate of expert networks across the world is estimated to be at 20% and the real selling point is that the expert network model is a young one with room to grow and learn, having only come onto the scene in the last 20 years.
But the growth is not limited to revenue. There is also expected to be an increase in the volume of work expert networks create as the market fragments and new players come to the table. With some expert networks even charging clients by the minute to access their talent, it’s easy to see the attraction of a model that is proving increasingly flexible and agile – for freelancers and businesses alike.
From a freelancer’s point of view, the attraction of being a member of an expert network is the relative ease with which one can earn money (and good money at that). There is also the cachet that comes with being an expert whose time and opinion is highly valued. And once an expert has an established profile within a network, it becomes easier for them to find more work and more lucrative for them as they complete more and more projects.
Don’t underestimate the power an expert feels when they know they are the main attraction.
When it comes to expert networks, there are several different types from global leaders all the way to sectoral challengers. With those that are champions of a sector, they are at their simplest level, communities of like-minded people who can share ideas and best practices. And it’s arguably the networks that have a laser-like focus on a certain area, that can provide the most benefit for freelancers – particularly those who are new to the model.
The greatest advantage an expert network can grant an individual is access to top-tier clients. Working alone, it can be difficult to get a foot in the door with some of the bigger names, unless you have an expert network to open that door for you.
Then of course there are the softer benefits that being a member of an expert network can bring. From a learning perspective, they can be a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas which facilitates the collaboration that often leads to groundbreaking innovations.