How COVID-19 impacted advertising freelancers

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 3 February 2021

Freelancers in the advertising industry saw pay rates and average length of gigs fall during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.  

Day rates fell by 1.9% to $563 in 2020 from $574 in 2019, according Cavalry Freelancing's third annual Freelance Rate and Market Guide.

The report gives a detailed guide of the latest freelance market conditions in the creative sector, leveraging trends from the freelance markeplace's nearly 5,000 members in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.

According to its findings, the average length of a gig dropped 32.97% to 15 days from 23 days.

Sydney remained the city with the highest daily rates at $610 and only experienced a mild 4% drop.

Melbourne experienced a 7% drop to $538. Brisbane was flat at $539.

Singapore dropped 15%, Adelaide dropped 12% and Perth saw a 7% decline in average day rates. 

While on the whole companies were more likely to seek out mid-weight (34%) and senior (38%) freelancers, there was a shift to more senior skill-sets with demand for leads growing from 5% in 2019 to 10% and seniors growing from 32% in 2019 to 38%.

In contrast, many freelancers positioned themselves as less senior with leads dropping to 21% of freelancers from 26% and seniors dropping to 35% from 39%.

Mid-weights increased to 33% from 30%.

While demand for design skills led all categories at 21%, creative skills gained ground with an increase of three percentage points to 20%.

This was followed by technology at 11% and UX/UI at 7%.

“Being at the vulnerable end of the advertising food chain, freelancers were an early COVID casualty and experienced a slower bounce back to the industry as a whole," Cavalry CEO and co-founder Dave Bentley says.

"The brutal imbalance in demand and supply at the height of COVID drove freelance rates down while companies looked to shorten project lengths by up to 33%.

“Thankfully, freelancers are positioned to be an important part of the recovery with many companies opting to build more flexible teams models heading into 2021.

“Because of this, understanding how the freelance marketplace shifted during 2020 will be important for freelancers and those companies looking to leverage the incredible freelance talent available in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.”

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