Pakistan’s Freelancing Future Looks Bright
When I started freelancing in 2008, I was wary of telling people that I worked independently. Back then, there was still a stigma against freelancing. Thankfully, since then, the stigma has lessened considerably as freelancing has gained more respect and acceptance — and has become more lucrative, too.
A 2014 report from the International Data Group indicates that an astounding 40% of working Pakistanis freelance in some capacity. As a result, Pakistani freelancers have helped the country earn a spot among the top 10 earning countries for freelancers – no mean feat.
Removing Obstacles to Freelancing
One of the drawbacks of freelancing in Pakistan was the lack of a strong community of freelancers. Today, all that has changed and new connections have been made thanks to online and offline groups who share advice, arrange events and celebrate each other’s success stories.
Not surprisingly, global businesses are taking notice of the active freelancing community, and as a result, international technology companies like WordPress are establishing themselves in Pakistan. There is also a growing culture of co-working spaces and incubators in metro cities, which provide an encouraging environment for both new and established freelancers.
Obstacles to lucrative freelance opportunities have also been overcome, as Pakistani freelancers are successfully building their skills in web development, mobile application development and graphic designing. Within these verticals, there are good quality projects available with higher earning potential and possibilities for long-term engagement.
Additionally, competition is still low in these sectors, boosting chances for being hired and acquiring repeat clients.
Expanding the opportunities for freelancing is the emergence of online job marketplaces, with Upwork and Fiverr being two of the fastest growing marketplaces in Pakistan. Envato, 99designs.com and Guru also have a significant following in the Pakistani market.
Finally, archaic payment systems that have made getting paid for freelance work difficult are being replaced. With top freelance platforms adopting payout services that use local bank transfers, freelancers’ earnings are deposited directly to their bank account, no matter where they live in the country, with no hidden fees.
Outlook for Pakistan, 2016 and Beyond
It always surprises me that people enter freelancing without understanding the dynamics of freelancing. When freelancers start on any one of the crowdsourcing platforms, they need to be aware of the fact that this is a full-time career for many freelancers on these platforms. They need to expect real competition.
In non-IT services, customer service, SEO and content writing are popular skills, the competition is high, but with persistence all of these present great opportunities.
Another roadblock is cultural differences and lack of communication skills which can lead to misinterpreting requirements and not being able to deliver a product that reflects the freelancer’s expertise.
Although the government has shown keen interest and has launched supportive initiatives such asForeelancing, work still needs to be done to capitalize on the fast-growing freelancing industry, with opportunities to offer organized training reaching the entire nation, and not only centered in the large cities.
Understanding payment cycles and how to withdraw payments is also a challenge that freelancers deal with daily. Many new freelancers win projects, but struggle to identify the best payout service and get mired with payment delays and hidden fees. In an emerging market like Pakistan, if you can’t get paid efficiently, you are handing over a significant percentage of your earnings. Choosing a payment provider that offers flexibility, speed and reliability is paramount.
Transpay is one of the better solutions for Pakistani freelancers, that connects directly with your bank account and send funds from platform to your bank account.
Transpay offers the widest coverage and bank network in Pakistan so there is no question about how reliable it is. Freelancers do not need to wait for months to get verified/or get their PIN/cards delivered. Having a bank account now is enough to be paid on time.
Pakistan has a bright future in freelancing, with platforms available now those were not here even a few years ago. The global digital ecosystem is offering up new platforms, new marketplaces, new skills, and new tools. Pakistani freelancers who are able to adapt to changing environments and compete in the global market will find a solid competitive
Mohsin is a technology entrepreneur and a solution finder, working as Country Manager for Transpay in Pakistan.