The way we do business in the freelance industry is changing at a faster pace than ever before and those who are in denial will face an uphill battle to survive. The value of freelance services in certain sectors has decreased while the cost of running a freelance business has risen. On top of this, there is greater competition flooding into the market as more and more people choose to freelance. So, how does a freelancer succeed? There are steps a freelancer can take to help adapt to our current economy. Here are four things to consider

Accept the reality. We know how hard this process is particularly if you're an established freelancer who has seen better times. Technology, a recession, and unaffordable university fees have resulted in more freelancers fast-tracking their way into the freelance market. In addition, self-learning, online courses and a new found confidence to try freelancing has seen the boom in the number of freelancers plying their trade. When the wind changes, we adjust our sails.

There are fewer high paying freelance roles now as more employers are finding cheaper alternatives in-house whilst competition is driving own the price. Equally, jobs that used to pay thousands such as fashion commissions, weddings or corporate work now pays hundreds. The value of photograph, for example, has dropped dramatically whilst freelance web developers or UX/UI specialists are commanding high rates. 

Adapt or die. Over the past few years we've seen a complete shift in our industry. Let's stick with our photography example. When a company needs images for it's social media accounts, blog or marketing content, they are either sourcing from stock sites (often free-to-use stock sites) or producing the shots themselves with their phone and a filter. Purists will say 'that's not real photography!' but the reality is that the work is often strong enough to justify not hiring a professional photographer. 

Copyright grey areas and our sharing society is making it very hard to protect images. Yet, there has never been a time when content is so much in demand. Every blog, online shop, digital magazine and even corporate company require content and lots of it. Look at markets that need fresh, bespoke content and tap into them.

We spoke to a photographer who provides style bloggers with bespoke images on a regular basis and a makeup artist who runs corporate pamper sessions during lunch hours. There are new ways to make money, it's a case of assessing what is currently in-demand and filling the gap in the market.  

Go niche. It can be very scary to pick a sector, stick to a style and target a niche audience. It seems counterintuitive as you're eliminating sectors that could pay. Our studies show a different picture. More employers and private sector clients are looking for experts in their field and often choose a freelancer who specialises in one area over another who can do it all. When starting out, focusing on a niche sector can be problematic. Your portfolio may not be filled with examples of your style just yet and you're probably not yet the specialist you'd like to be. Providing a wider service to begin with can help you find what you like and where the money is. Over time, you may start to narrow your focus and target a niche industry.  

 With competition at an all time high, it pays to stand out and be unique. One rule to follow, if you do go niche, make sure it's in an affluent area where there's plenty of paid work available. 

#NOFREEWORK. Unpaid work is something we campaign against within our industry and an area we've spent a lot of time researching. With over 15 years freelance experience, speaking with hundreds of freelancers each year and witnessing the effects of unpaid work first hand, it is clear that it's creating a negative impact on freelancing in general. So long as there are freelancers willing to work for nothing, employers will continue to exploit this. It heavily devalues our industry and is contributing to a decline in day rates. 

Freelancer Club only posts paid work or test shoots on our jobs board and continues to talk about these issues at universities, private courses and schools. To show your support, sign our #NOFREEWORK petition here