A staggering 65 percent of UK SME’s will use freelancers to support their business, according to a recent study by iwoca.

Also, 22 percent SME owners suggest that web design is the most-likely role to be outside.

Digital roles hold top 3 spots for highest average hourly pay, whilst developers have the highest volume of live jobs.

“Freelancers can allow companies to focus on more important aspects of the business. It’s an excellent way to minimise disruptions when your team or company is experiencing change or an elevated workload. It means my team can focus on important tasks while delegating those that require less oversight to an outside source,” according to CEO and Founder of Home Grounds, Alex Mastin.


Nearly two-thirds of small business owners are likely to use freelancers 

The research shows just how reliant small business owners could be on freelancers with nearly half (47%) of respondents saying they had used a freelancer before, and 65 percent claiming they are likely to use one to help grow their business.

The top three roles that business owners are most likely to outsource are:

  1. Web Designer- 22%
  2. Accountant- 20%
  3. Social Media Manager- 15%


Digital roles revealed as the highest paid freelance positions

iwoca’s research on freelance site Upwork identified that the freelance skill costing the most, on an hourly basis, was Search Engine Marketing Specialist (SEM).

SEMs specialise in using paid advertising methods to improve search rankings, as opposed to SEO specialists who use organic means.

SEM Freelancers advertise an average hourly rate of £58.76, the most expensive skill of those studied on Upwork in the UK.

If hired as a full-time employee, the hourly rate for an SEM Specialist would be just £15.17 (based on average annual salaries from Glassdoor), only around 25 percent of what the equivalent freelancer would make.


Developers have highest volume of live jobs

Despite the high hourly rate of Search Engine Marketers, it’s not the role with the most freelance job ads. Only 13 SEM roles were advertised on the freelance site Upwork (up to 31 May) compared to the most advertised job, Developer, which had 243 openings, followed closely by Copywriter, with 234 job openings.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.